Highlights

 
Quotable
Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
Max Lucade
Original Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
November 11, 2006

Antiwar Voters May Get Less Than They Bargained For


by Jim Lobe

Democratic majorities in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, will not necessarily mean major changes for the war in Iraq, analysts say.

That's primarily because it is the president, and not Congress, that supervises the armed forces and prosecutes war.

"The main control Congress has is financial," said Pratap Chatterjee, who directs the non-profit group Corpwatch. "Congress can refuse to pay for the war, which is what they did in Vietnam, but they can't really dictate how it's waged."

At this point, defunding the war does not seem likely. The presumed next speaker of the house, Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, told reporters after the election Tuesday that she wants to "work together in a bipartisan way to send a clear message to the Iraqi government and people that they must disarm the militias, they must amend their constitution, [and] they must engage in regional diplomacy to bring real stability and reconstruction to Iraq."

Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, the likely majority leader of the new Senate to be seated in January, echoed Pelosi when he told reporters he wants to hold a "bipartisan summit on Iraq" rather than bring the war to a quick end.

Even Democrats swept into Congress on a tide of antiwar sentiment talk gingerly around the idea of defunding the war.

"It's very important to give our troops the things they need for their own security," Congressman-elect Jerry McNearny of California told IPS. "I don't know if defunding the war is the best way to go. I want to find a way to end that war that makes everyone more secure."

Since the Sep. 11 attacks five years ago, Congress has cast a series of votes authorizing 448 billion dollars in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the House, each of those votes has been overwhelming with a majority of Democrats, including Pelosi, supporting funding for the war. Every Senate vote on funding the war has been unanimous.

Not that there haven't been complaints. In a speech against the administration's war appropriations last spring, Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia complained that the George W. Bush administration was making deep cuts in domestic spending, roughly equivalent to the amount spent so far on the Iraq war. Those cuts, he said, included charging veterans for their medical care, underfunding the No Child Left Behind Act, and cutting dollars from the budget of the National Institutes of Health.

While casting his vote in favor of the plan, he noted: "By approving an emergency supplemental for the war," he said, "we are making a choice."

One area where Democrats may exercise their power is in oversight hearings over how U.S. tax dollars are spent in Iraq. The man who is poised to chair government oversight committees with subpoena power, Congressman Henry Waxman of California, and Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota have both indicated they plan to play hardball with the administration.

"They can say 'we want the head of military contractors like Bechtel or Halliburton to come and testify' and they'll have to do it because that's how the law works," Corpwatch's Chatterjee said. "Answers can be demanded from people at the top and they can be forced to turn over internal documentation."

"The problem is that it's not what people in Congress think that will stop the violence, it's what people in Iraq think," he added. "If you want to improve things, you have to actually talk to them and find out what they want and what they need. The Democrats are looking for ideas, but they don't have any yet."

Longtime antiwar activist and author Tom Hayden has a slightly different take. He sees the Democratic victory this November as the beginning of a long process that will eventually bring an end to the war, probably after Bush leaves office in 2008.

"It's very helpful that Democrats have found their voice in condemning the management of the war," he told IPS. "Where they aren't so good yet is what to do about it, and they don't have that obligation yet because they aren't going to take back the presidency – if they ever do – for two years."

"There will be an attempt by both parties to keep the war going and get rid of Iraq as a public issue, but that seems to me to be impossible," he said.

As a result, Hayden said activists may be best off putting the main thrust of their energies into convincing their friends and relatives not to join the U.S. military.

"Counter-recruitment at high schools, universities and community colleges is very important," he said "You have to have a well-rested military to fight a war and the anti-recruiting efforts are the most important. It's also important to keep popular sentiment against the war so there can't be another draft."

Resistance to the war is already building within the rank-and-file of the military. Last month, more than 100 active duty soldiers petitioned Congress for protection under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, and a variety of antiwar veterans groups have sprung up in recent months, including Iraq Veterans Against the War and Iraq Veterans for Progress.

(Inter Press Service)


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • US Jews Open to Palestinian Unity Govt
    3/26/2009

  • Bipartisan Experts Urge 'Partnership' With Russia
    3/17/2009

  • Obama Administration Insists It's Neutral in Salvador Poll
    3/14/2009

  • NGOs Hail Congressional Moves to Ease Embargo
    3/12/2009

  • Call to 'Resist and Deter' Nuclear Iran Gains Key Support
    3/7/2009

  • Washington Ends Diplomatic Embargo of Syria
    3/4/2009

  • Diplomatic, Aid Spending Set to Rise Under Obama Budget
    2/28/2009

  • Many Muslims Reject Terror Tactics, Back Some Goals
    2/26/2009

  • Lugar Report Calls for New Cuba Policy
    2/24/2009

  • U.S.-Israel Storm Clouds Ahead?
    2/20/2009

  • Calls Mount for Obama to Appoint 'Truth Commission'
    2/20/2009

  • Washington's Praise of Venezuelan Vote Suggests D├ętente
    2/19/2009

  • Rightward Shift in Israeli Polls Creates New Headaches
    2/13/2009

  • US Advised to Back Somalia Reconciliation Efforts
    2/12/2009

  • Hawks Urge Boosting Military Spending
    2/5/2009

  • More Troops, More Worries,
    Less Consensus on Afghanistan
    2/4/2009

  • Report: Most Citizens Kept in Dark on Govt Spending
    2/2/2009

  • Obama Raises Hopes of
    Mideast Experts
    1/28/2009

  • Obama Picks Israel-Arab, Afghanistan-Pakistan Negotiators
    1/23/2009

  • Rights Groups Applaud Move to Halt Gitmo Trials
    1/22/2009

  • Obama Offers Internationalist Vision
    1/21/2009

  • Around the World, High Hopes for Obama
    1/20/2009

  • Liberals, Realists Set to Clash in Obama Administration
    1/19/2009

  • Obama Urged to Take Bold Steps Toward Cuba Normalization
    1/15/2009

  • Clinton Stresses 'Cooperative Engagement,' 'Smart Power'
    1/14/2009

  • Bush Foreign Policy Legacy Widely Seen as Disastrous
    1/14/2009

  • Networks' Int'l News Coverage at Record Low in 2008
    1/6/2009

  • Amnesty Calls on Rice to Drop 'Lopsided' Gaza Stance
    1/3/2009

  • Israeli Attack May Complicate Obama's Plans
    12/30/2008

  • Report: Recognizing Hamas Could Help Peace
    12/19/2008

  • Business Groups Support Dismantling Cuba Embargo
    12/8/2008

  • Mumbai Massacre Seen as Major Blow to Regional Strategy
    12/5/2008

  • Obama Urged to Quickly Engage Iran, Syria
    12/3/2008

  • Diplomacy, Multilateralism Stressed by Obama Team
    12/2/2008

  • Obama Foreign Policy: Realists to Reign?
    11/28/2008

  • Hemispheric Group Calls for Major Changes in Americas Policy
    11/25/2008

  • Greybeards Urge Overhaul of Global Governance
    11/21/2008

  • Intelligence Analysts See Multi-Polar, Risky World By 2025
    11/21/2008

  • Obama Urged to Strengthen Ties with UN
    11/20/2008

  • Obama-Tied Think-Tank Calls for Pakistan Shift
    11/18/2008

  • Obama Advised to Forgo More Threats to Iran
    11/17/2008

  • First, Close Gitmo,
    Say Rights Groups
    11/11/2008

  • Obama's Foreign Policy:
    No Sharp Break From Bush
    11/11/2008

  • Coca Cultivation Up Despite Six Years of Plan Colombia
    11/7/2008

  • Obama to Seek Global Re-engagement, But How Much?
    11/6/2008

  • Two, Three, Many Grand Bargains?
    11/3/2008

  • Moving Towards a 'Grand Bargain' in Afghanistan
    10/19/2008

  • Top Ex-Diplomats Slam 'Militarization' of Foreign Policy
    10/16/2008

  • Bush Set to Go With a Whimper, Not a Bang
    10/15/2008

  • Pakistan 'Greatest Single Challenge' to Next President
    10/8/2008

  • Senate Passes Nuke Deal Over Escalation Fears
    10/3/2008

  • Brief Talks With Syria Spur Speculation
    10/1/2008

  • Iran Resolution Shelved in Rare Defeat for AIPAC
    9/27/2008

  • Bipartisan Group Urges Deeper Diplomacy with Muslim World
    9/25/2008

  • White House Still Cautious on Georgia
    9/6/2008

  • US' Somalia Policy Likely to Bring Blowback
    9/4/2008

  • Iran Could Reap Benefits of U.S.-Russian Tensions
    8/28/2008

  • A Really Bad Couple of Weeks for Pax Americana
    8/24/2008

  • Success of Attack on Iran's Nuclear Program Doubtful
    8/9/2008

  • US Gets No Traction in the Middle East
    8/5/2008

  • Gates Strategy Stresses Unconventional Warfare
    8/1/2008

  • Air Force Think Tank Advises Against Iran Attack
    7/31/2008

  • Pakistani PM May Be Pincushion for U.S. Frustration
    7/26/2008

  • Realists Urge Bush to Drop Iran Precondition
    7/23/2008

  • McCain Knee-Capped by Maliki
    7/22/2008

  • Jim Lobe, works as Inter Press Service's correspondent in the Washington, D.C., bureau. He has followed the ups and downs of neo-conservatives since well before their rise in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com