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February 5, 2008

MoveOn's Obama Endorsement


Why there is no "hope" for "change"

by Joshua Frank

MoveOn.org is mobilizing. The "antiwar" group's Political Action members across the country voted overwhelmingly to endorse the Democratic candidacy of Barack Obama last week. MoveOn claims to have 1.7 million members in states that vote in Tuesday's primaries. "[Our] endorsement means a fresh infusion of people-power for Obama in the critical days before Super Tuesday," read the organization's press release. "MoveOn will immediately connect thousands of progressive activists into the Obama" volunteer operation.

Obama's campaign is no doubt pleased, for its mantra of "hope" and "change" has begun to echo in the deep subconscious of many well-intentioned progressives. Obama's best quality at this point seems to be the fact that he's not a Clinton. When it comes to foreign policy, however, he may as well be, which makes MoveOn's shallow approval of his candidacy all the more hypocritical.

After Obama won his senatorial race in 2004 he quickly abandoned the antiwar rhetoric he had touted along the campaign trail. While remaining critical of the White House and the lies that pushed us toward war, Obama still maintained that U.S. military should remain in Iraq until the job was completed.

"Given the enormous stakes in Iraq, I believe that those of us who are involved in shaping our national security policies should do what we believe is right, not merely what is politically expedient," Obama proclaimed in a speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in late November 2005.

Later in that same speech, he said, "In sum, we have to focus, methodically and without partisanship, on those steps that will: one, stabilize Iraq, avoid all out civil war, and give the factions within Iraq the space they need to forge a political settlement; two, contain and ultimately extinguish the insurgency in Iraq; and three, bring our troops safely home."

Obama continues to favor a "phased redeployment" of our troops as well as "benchmarks" for the Iraqi government, but promises to not "fully withdraw" hence why the Illinois senator has supported the majority of Bush administration's pork-engorged appropriation bills that are draining the U.S. Treasury. Obama wants to keep cadres of troops throughout Iraq with others all other the region to strike if necessary.

So where would President Obama send the troops he's redeployed? A good guess might be Iran.

As Obama told the Chicago Tribune on Sept. 26, 2004, "[T]he big question is going to be, if Iran is resistant to these pressures [to stop its nuclear program], including economic sanctions, which I hope will be imposed if they do not cooperate, at what point if any, are we going to take military action?"

He added that "launching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in" given the ongoing war in Iraq. "On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse." Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if "violent Islamic extremists" were to "take over."

Iran is a "genuine threat" to the United States and Israel, Obama later expressed at a forum sponsored by AIPAC on March 12, 2007, in Washington, D.C. At the event Obama reiterated that he would not rule out the use of force in disarming Iran, a position he shares with rival Hillary Clinton.

Earlier that same month, on March 2, 2007, Obama spoke at an AIPAC Policy Forum in Chicago, where he succinctly laid out his position on how he would deal with the Middle East, promising not to alter America's lopsided relationship with Israel. "[W]e must preserve our total commitment to our unique defense relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defense programs," he said. "This would help Israel maintain its military edge and deter and repel attacks from as far as Tehran and as close as Gaza."

How could any critic of the war machine support a candidate like Barack Obama? MoveOn has quite a long history of supporting Democratic candidates despite said politicians' allegiance to the Bush doctrine, so their support of Obama doesn't come as much of a surprise. But even CODEPINK stalwarts such as Jodie Evans and Nancy Kricorian (the latter runs the popular ListenHillary.org) have endorsed Obama for president.

Perhaps betrayal is contagious.

In the end, Super Tuesday, despite MoveOn's public frolicking, won't end up being all that super when the votes are finally tallied. Pro-war candidates from both major parties will likely solidify their side's nomination.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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