Obomney Takes a Hit in Massachusetts. Caucuses Give Majority of GOP Delegates to Ron Paul in Mitt’s “Home” State.

In the age of Obomba, there is nary a peacenik to be found among the Democrats. They are eagerly following Obama into the dark and odious swamp of “humanitarian” imperialism. So what’s an anti-interventionist (and civil libertarian) to do in this electoral season? Not much choice but to head for the libertarian wing of the Grand Old Party.

And there this antiwarrior found himself last Saturday morning, at the Republican Caucus in Massachusetts Congressional District 5. In Massachusetts, delegates to the Republican National Convention (RNC) are chosen by vote in these District caucuses, three delegates in each CD. The delegates are bound by oath to vote for the winner of the state primary, Mitt Romney this year, but only on the first ballot for President. After the first ballot they are free to vote their conscience. And they are also free to vote as they see fit for the VP, the platform and sundry other matters, great and small. So the caucuses matter; potentially they matter a lot. Any registered Republican can vote, but attendance is usually slender partly because media coverage is slight.

The Paulites were out in force with their slate of delegates, the “Ronald Reagan, Liberty, Unity Slate,” a name which fooled no one. The establishment marshaled its forces for the Mitt Romney slate. It was not hard to tell who was who in the auditorium; the older part of the crowd was with Mitt and those with kids in strollers belonged to Ron Paul. When the votes were tallied, the Liberty slate won by a 2:1 margin! That scenario was repeated again and again in most of the 9 Congressional Districts, with the Liberty slate trouncing the Romney gang and winning 17 of 27 delegates chosen by the caucuses.

There is one glitch. 14 more delegates will be chosen by the party hierarchy, and so the anti-interventionist contingent might not be in the majority of the Mass delegation, although some in the establishment are having second thoughts about the Liberty faction. After delegates were chosen and the Liberty landslide was evident, the alternates were voted on. One Romney alternate arose to aver that, as he thought about it, he agreed with Ron Paul on about 80% of policies! It did him no good. The Romney alternate slate went down by a margin of 2:1 to the Paul slate. But the careerist pols were now paying attention.

In another CD caucus, the irrepressible Rich Aucoin, once upon a time candidate for Lieutenant Governor and now running on the Liberty slate, elicited a defense of Obomba from the Romney camp! Aucoin writes:
“My speech touched on Obama’s declaration that he has the power to assassinate us without trial…and I ended with a semi-joke:
Q: Why isn’t the TSA catching any terrorists? A: Because they’re not screening passengers on Air Force One!
I got a thunderous response. The next establishment candidate took umbrage at this and inserted into his speech a retort to me, saying something to the effect that it is irresponsible to call the POTUS a terrorist without proof! He received dead silence. I would love to give the guy a follow-up slap down for defending Barack Obama at a GOP caucus (!!!)….and will do so once I have his name.”

And so it went. The mainstream media in Mass. has not covered any of this. But Republican establishment bloggers have taken. Thus, one pro-Romney blogger wrote on the day after the caucuses:
“The establishment is understandably shaken by the turn of these events. With big names like Kerry Healey (former GOP gubernatorial candidate!) and Brad Jones not winning (i.e., losing as delegates to the convention!) in their home district caucuses. They shouldn’t be. They should embrace the energy of these “new” people and not turn them away. This wing of the party, if treated with respect, forms a dedicated grassroots army.”
Translation. Let us see if we can coopt them. But there is an interesting kernel of truth here. The GOP has withered significantly in many places, including Massachusetts; and in such places the Ron Paul people may already have the numbers to take it over. They certainly have the commitment.

This scenario has been repeated again and again throughout the US. Here is what Tim Pawlenty (Remember him?) has to say about the future of the GOP:
“We’ve got to be a party that’s about addition and not subtraction. In places like Minnesota, the Northeast, the West Coast, the Mountain States, the Upper Midwest, the Great Lakes, we don’t have a margin of error where we can afford to shrink the party. We want to be growing the party if we’re going to win elections and also have the opportunity to govern and make a difference for the country. So this is about expanding market share, not contracting it.”

Pawlenty has hit upon the crux of the matter here. The GOP, sucked into Christian Fundamentalism and the vilest designs of the neocons and the Israeli lobby, is an endangered species in the 21st Century. Only the young libertarians offer it a chance of survival.

The core of the libertarian activists see their present activity as one step in a long-term effort to take the GOP back to its anti-interventionist roots. Many feel that Ron Paul is unlikely to get the nomination by capturing caucus votes. But they also understand that they are learning an enormous amount in the battle to make at least one major party – the GOP in this case – into a genuine antiwar and pro-civil liberties Party. The Dems (including the pwogwessives whose candidate was and remains Obama) have failed to field an antiwar candidate. It appears, as a wise friend tells me, that for now the road to peace runs through the Right.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

NPR Propaganda Watch. Faux Debate on U.S. Role in Syria.

Yesterday (3/14) NPR’s “All Things Considered” ran a “discussion” about Syria and the U.S. All options were not on the table – at least not the anti-interventionist option.

Melissa Block hosted three guests seriatim: the aptly named Anne-Marie Slaughter, former “director of planning” at the State Department. Paul Wolfowitz, architect of the criminal war on Iraq and Daniel Serwer, a former U.S. “special envoy” and “coordinator” for the Bosnian Federation. How is that for a broad spectrum of views?

Going first, Slaughter suggested that “no-kill” zones be established but that plan quickly morphed into the need for a supporting air campaign by the U.S. and NATO and “defensive” arms to the pro-Western forces in Syria. When Melissa Block inquired about the nature of a “defensive” arms, Slaughter conceded that there was no way to prevent the arms from being used in other ways, “revenge attacks” and “offensive actions” in Block’s terms.

For Slaughter time is of the essence, because there is “brutality on an extraordinary scale” in Syria (There are indeed 7000 dead in Syria – thousands on each side of the civil war there.) Enter the second guest Paul Wolfowitz whose Iraq war has resulted in the deaths of 1.4 million Iraqis and the displacement of 4 million. That, however, is not to be considered “brutality on an extraordinary scale.” Of course the U.S. was not killing its own people in Iraq but other people – which seems to make it OK. Block and her editors apparently were clueless about the irony of this juxtaposition of Slaughter’s claim and Wolfowitz’s appearance.

What was Wolfowitz’s prescription for Syria? “Defensive weapons.” Where had I heard that before? But Wolfowitz wants more US control over the weapons saying: “Hamas, which used to be in bed with Assad, has now distanced itself from the Assad regime. I’m sure the bad guys are figuring out how they can help the opposition so that they can have a position later.” Hamas the democratically elected government of all Palestinians and still in control of Gaza, daily under an assault by Israel (backed by the U.S.) is of course one of the “bad guys,” the infantile designation for official enemies, at least weak ones. Block concluded by raising what lessons Iraq holds for the present situation in Syria. And Wolfowitz had the answer. The problem was that the US did not invade earlier, in 1991, rather than 2003. No challenge from Block on that one.

So far two guests – one opinion. Surely the third guest, Mr. Serwer must be an anti-interventionist. Early on he made his position quite clear: “I don’t believe that there is a military solution in Syria without a massive U.S. effort to defeat the air defenses, the artillery, the tanks of the Syrian army and I see no will in Washington to do that kind of thing at the moment.”

Serwer simply says he opposes military action because it must be big and costly and there is no will “at the moment” in Washington to do so. That lack of will is due to the fact that the average American is fed up with the endless wars in the Middle East. Serwer continues: “You know, if you take military action, I think you have to think about taking serious military action. And serious military action would be aimed at decapitating this regime. The problem is you don’t know what comes after because there is no really consolidated opposition political structure.” Like Wolfowitz Serwer is concerned about “the bad guys.” Again no opposition to intervention but there is concern that once the dogs of war are unleashed, the new rulers may be one of “the bad guys.”

Serwer tells us that regime change could be effected if only Russia and China would go along. But Russia and China saw what happened in Libya, with “humanitarian” cover used to plunge Libya into an orgy of death and destruction; they are unlikely to be fooled again. So Serwer advises the “opposition” to bang on pans in the middle of the night.

Three interventionists, with one, Serwer, opining that intervention is impractical now so that we have to hope we can effect regime change through diplomatic means. The idea that we have no right to intervene in Syria is not even discussed. The anti-interventionist view is not even considered. Humanitarian Imperialism holds sway in the corridors of NPR.

NPR is one of the main opinion shapers for the intelligentsia in the US, and hence a very valuable asset for the Empire. What is an anti-interventionist to do?   This writer has stopped contributing.  If I want to listen to the occasional decent show (Car Talk is the only thing that comes to mind.), then I take heart in the fact that my tax dollars more than cover that one hour a week.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

Rick Santorum, Manchurian Candidate. Communism is in His Genes.

Rick Santorum has always seemed a little too good to be true. Michael Ledeen, for one, has fallen right into the trap, in his recent Wall St. Journal piece, “Santorum was right about Iran – When It was Unpopular.” But then one looks at Ledeen’s subtitle, “A grandfather who fled Mussolini taught him to prize freedom.”

That was enough to raise an eyebrow of this wary reader as I slogged through Ledeen’s tortuous prose. Who exactly was this grandfather, Pietro Santorum, the forebear whom Rick often praises on the campaign trail? I wondered. Why would he flee Mussolini anyway? What was he up to?  And exactly what does Ledeen mean by “freedom”?

And sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed. Pietro was a Commie! Rick is a closet Red Diaper offspring. Let us remember that grandfather Pietro is not just any member of the family but the one Rick relentlessly cites on the campaign trail as a humble coal miner who worked in the mines until the age of 72. Is harping on Grandad some sort of signal to other Commie operatives? Now disguised as campaign workers and “good Catholics” for Rick, will they stage a coup once Rick is in the White House and has sent our troops all over the world leaving us defenseless here? What is going on? Herb Philbrick, where are you when we need you.

I always thought Rick Santorum was just a little too good to be true.

The story was picked up by Barbie Latza Nadeau of the Daily Beast who found it in the Italian magazine Oggi. Writes Latza Nadeau:
“In the tiny town of Riva del Garda in northern Italy, 83-year-old-Maria Malacarne Santorum keeps her family’s secrets—including those of her late husband’s cousin, Rick. In an exclusive interview with the Italian weekly magazine Oggi, Mrs. Santorum recalls fondly when Rick visited her in 1985 during his law internship in Florence, and when he came back again in 1986 and 1989.
“But the elder Santorum matriarch doesn’t understand why he has diverged so far from the family’s longtime political stance. ‘In Riva del Garda his grandfather Pietro and uncles were ‘red communists’ to the core,” writes Oggi journalist Giuseppe Fumagalli, likening the family to ‘Peppone’ after a famous fictional Italian communist mayor who fought against an ultraconservative priest known as Don Cammillo and about which a popular television series is based. ‘But on the other side of the ocean, it’s like his family here doesn’t exist. Instead he draws crowds as the head of the ultraconservative faction of the Republican party, against divorce, gay marriage, abortion, and immigration.’
“Those politics don’t play well in Riva del Garda, a community of ultraliberals. On the campaign trail, Santorum often touts his grandfather’s flight from Italy ‘to escape fascism,’ but he has neglected to publicly mention their close ties with the Italian Communist Party. ‘Rick’s grandfather Pietro was a liberal man and he understood right away what was happening in Italy,” Mrs. Santorum told Oggi. ‘He was anti-fascist to the extreme, and the political climate in 1925 was stifling so he left for America. After a few years he returned to Italy with his wife and children, including Aldo, Rick’s father, who passed away late last year. It’s a shame he won’t have the joy to see his son’s success in his bid for the White House.’ She goes on to explain how the family then became pillars of the Communist Party in Italy.”

Et tu, Papa Aldo? What exactly did Rick learn at Papa’s knee?

Well Rick, the cat is out of the bag. Cousin Bruno was obviously talking about a little more than family fondness when he said, “When (Rick) wins, he will send the American presidential airplane and take all the Santorums to the White House.” And then Bruno and the rest of the Santorum reds will be running our lives. Rick your intent to deploy the troops to Iran and leave us defenseless upon your election stands exposed. And since Michael Ledeen is peddling your candidacy, we have to wonder about him also. He always seemed a little too good to be true.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com For those who have any doubts about this piece, the family history is true – but the part about the Manchurian candidacy is satire. To you I apologize since it must have taken you hours to read to this point.

The Infected Scalpel: An Exchange with Rocky Anderson On “Humanitarian” Intervention

A few days back I received an announcement from Rocky Anderson, announcing the platform of his newly formed Justice Party. Although social justice was mentioned prominently along with the desperate economic plight of many in the U.S., I was struck by the fact that the struggle against war was not prominently mentioned and the question of the U.S. Empire and overseas bases seemed to get no mention. “Human Rights,” an increasingly plastic category at least in the hands of the U.S. ruling elite, figures prominently in Anderson’s campaign literature and world view. I was further surprised that “High Road to Human Rights,” an organization founded by Anderson, counted on its board of advisers, Elie Wiesel, a defender of the Apartheid Israeli regime. On the other hand, Anderson was a staunch opponent of the war on Iraq and even the war on Libya, the latter because it lacked Congressional approval.
I wondered about Anderson’s commitment to anti-interventionism and his view on “humanitarian” interventions, something that should be crystal clear from someone who is trying to appeal to progressives. The following email exchange resulted:

From JW to RA:
Hello Rocky,
I wish that you would spell all this out a bit more clearly.
Are you for “humanitarian” interventions as in the Balkans? Have you read Jean Bricmont’s great (and short) book “Humanitarian Imperialism”?
Are you for getting rid of all our overseas bases and devoting a limited military to purely defensive purposes?
Many pwogs, for example Amy Goodman and CIA “consultant” Juan Cole, were cheerleaders for the Libyan intervention, despite Libya having had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa before NATO destroyed its infrastructure and reduced it to rubble in the name of human rights.
We have two versions of imperialism – the “tough guy” Dick Cheney brand and the “humanitarian” Susan Rice version. Both are the same in reality whatever the words attached to them. We must break with them both and cease viewing the world solely through the very arbitrary lens of “human rights,” a good sell among the pwogwessives. But what good are human rights to a starving illiterate woman in India, a category that Mao consigned to the dust heap of history in China?

From RA to JW:
Yes, so long as we are in compliance with the War Power Clause of the Constitution and the U.N. Charter, I favor the U.S. working with the international community in putting to an end massive atrocities. I strongly believe in living up to the promise of “Never Again.” Given all my work in this area (see www.highroadforhumanrights.org), I don’t know how you would have any doubt about my position. I don’t think political boundaries should control our moral obligations to our brothers and sisters elsewhere.
I recommend to you “A Problem From Hell,” by Samantha Power.
Your reference to Susan Rice was a curious one. She sat on her hands (as you apparently would have had her do) when she was with the NSC and failed to take any action to stop the genocide that led to the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days. According to an article in The Atlantic by Samantha Power, Susan Rice was apparently more concerned with the political implications in the mid-term elections in 1994 than she was about the horrendous fate of the Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Those who stood by when their action could have ended the atrocities are, in my view, complicit.

From JW to RA:
I think the Samantha Powers of the world are a big part of the problem.
I recommend that you read “Humanitarian Imperialism” by Jean Bricmont.

From RA to JW:
I think isolationist nationalists who don’t care about the suffering of other people who happen to be in other parts of the world are “the problem”. Sorry, John, we’re on completely different moral planets here.
I’ll try to read the book you referenced. Have you read “A Problem From Hell”? It’s heart-breaking — and a real indictment of the failure of the US to do what is required to stop the atrocities.

From JW to RA:
I cannot agree, Rocky. The “international community” is a euphemism for NATO and the US. The UN foolishly went along with the destruction of Libya – and we can now see that Russia and China are finally drawing a line in the sand at Syria.

You fail to see that the US is the most ruthless Empire in the history of humankind, and it will cover up its atrocities with appeals to “human rights.” It is the biggest lie of all. Would you favor military intervention to end apartheid in Israel? Will you take that position on the campaign trail?

For those of us living in the heart of Empire there is no alternative to being principled anti-interventionists. The Empire is incapable of waging a “good war,” whatever that may be. An anti-interventionist is not an “isolationist nationalist.” That is simply a smear.

Samantha Power has not written a heart rending account of what has been done to Iraq, I notice.

Finally, the Empire has always cloaked its wars in virtue, from the White Man’s burden to “human rights,” and it always will. The path to hell is paved with naiveté.

From RA to JW:
Samantha Power has not written that account of Iraq because we did not intervene on humanitarian grounds. It was an illegal war of aggression, at odds with the War Power Clause and with the UN Charter. You paint with a very misleading, broad brush. You can advocate abandoning people during genocides and other mass atrocities. I will always be on the other side. I share your anti-imperialistic views; I do not share your willingness to turn a blind eye to humanitarian disasters.

You will never convince me of what I perceive to be an extremely selfish, heartless isolationist position. I would always advocate doing what I would want the U.S. and international community to do if I were in the position of a victim of genocide. To advocate doing what is right is hardly naïve. And it is hardly countenancing wars of aggression. No one has a stronger record of opposition to the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq than I.

From JW to RA:
You are well meaning as far as I can tell, but you hold very dangerous views IMHO.
If people want to help those in far off lands, let them form their Abraham Lincoln brigades, something the US Empire also opposed. Of course that means putting one’s body on the line, not someone else’s body.
First do no harm.

From RA to JW:
So you would advocate repeal of the Genocide Convention? We couldn’t be further apart in our views on this.

But, then, I recognize the concerns with US empire that drive your views on this. We need to strive to be better on all counts. That’s why I have worked so hard in all of these areas over the years — and a large part of why I’m doing what I am now.

From JW to RA.
I never said that I wanted to repeal the Genocide Convention. Why do you conclude that?
But what is being done to the Palestinians is a slow genocide. Do you advocate military action against Israel to get rid of the Apartheid regime there? You should be explicit about that.
Noam Chomsky points out that the slaughter in the Balkans, greatly exaggerated, took place AFTER NATO’s bombs started falling. And that was not really a genocide either.
Nor is Darfur a genocide either – a brutal war on both sides apparently but not a genocide. In fact only the US and that outrageous liar Susan Rice label it as such.
And then there is the slaughter in Libya a country that once had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa. The concrete reality is that the US is always up to no good and will kill and kill to get its way. We should not be in the business of providing cover for that.
I do not think that you really appreciate that the formerly colonized peoples of the world do not want Western interventions. They have had quite enough of the benefits of such neocolonial acts.

From RA to JW:
You are so incredibly wrong. The people (at least the Tutsis) of Rwanda, and of Kosovo, view the U.S. as heroically coming to their aid and stopping the massacres. You would have been content with sitting back after the massacre at Srebrenica. To me, that is the greatest moral cowardice.
And how can you maintain that you would not seek the repeal of the Genocide Convention? It creates a legal obligation to take action to stop genocides wherever they occur.
I cannot countenance the U.S. continuing to build its empire; neither can I countenance people — or our nation — turning a blind eye to mass atrocities when they can be stopped.
This will be my last email on this topic. I’m dismayed that any person can be so insensitive toward victims of genocide or other mass atrocities. (I’m curious. What have you done, if anything, to help stop wars of aggression or mass atrocities?)
Good luck –

At this point someone on the list of those cc’d to this exchange jumped in, J.A., an Israeli expat who as a young man was swept into the Yom Kippur war and saw many of his friends needlessly killed. He left Israel in part to save his son from future slaughters of this sort and has vowed never to return. He wrote.
From J.A. to RA and JW:
Humanitarian intervention is a slippery slope argument, and is being used for imperialistic ambitions (The latest example is Libya, and still Afghanistan – freeing the Afghan women. If remember well, Samantha Power supported this view.), and in general, being used to justify our military power. (Humanitarian aid via aircraft carriers, being the good policeman of the world, etc).
BTW, you wrote “illegal invasion”; is there a legal invasion?
Here is a question: Since you support “humanitarian” intervention, do you support attacking Israel and freeing the Palestinians from the Israeli harsh occupation? You must know about the suffering of the Palestinians under the Israeli Apartheid and the stealth genocide by Israel, so should we invade Israel?
(It is a rhetorical question to demonstrate how absurd is the “humanitarian” intervention view).

From JW to RA:
You did not answer whether you would advocate in your campaign a military expeditionary force led by the US to end Israeli apartheid and the slow genocide of the Palestinians? Why can you not answer that?

And will you launch another expedition to restore the Tibetan theocracy? It will probably take a few million persons under arms and a return to the draft. Or how about an occupation of India where the most dire poverty continues and the farmers driven from their agriculture by agribusiness commit suicide in huge numbers? Or is that OK because “democracy” reigns?

And a second point. The greatest stimulus to nuclear proliferation is the huge conventional military force which the US has. That is the force that you need to preserve in order to save the world. The only protection for a small nation is nukes.

Long ago when the US was trying to take down the Chinese revolution and waging a war on Vietnam, Mao Zedong opined that US imperialism is the number one enemy of the peoples of the world. I am afraid that remains true.
I recommend again that you read Chomsky on the Balkans.

And you are proof positive that the progressive movement, so called, is no longer anti-interventionist or anti-Empire.
As they say, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
At least you admit it outright – and that amount of honesty deserves credit. I suggest that you openly proclaim the new humanitarian interventionism as part of your platform. Now if only other progressives would also do that, we could separate wheat from chaff more readily.
p.s. As a medical student I learned that there are some things that are beyond one’s control and that when one tries to control them the only thing that results is harm – sometimes fatal harm. Using the US imperial military to save the world is like operating with an infected scalpel.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com .

Progressives Cover Themselves With Shame in NH Primary

For the Left, the big news of the New Hampsire primary has been greeted with an embarrassed silence. For there the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, for example “Progressive” Democrats of America, failed completely to put forward a candidate for peace. This failure was not unexpected since the candidate of the progressives was and is Barack Obama who is out-Bushing Bush in the war and empire department. Nor did the wing of the progressive peace movement not formally associated with the Democratic Party raise its voice in any discernible way in New Hampshire. Here is a primary which is carefully watched in a state small enough so that a grassroots effort cam have a genuine effect and reverse the tide of war as happened in 1968 and 1952. Where were UFPJ, Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, Code Pink? Missing in action. What an abject failure, a profound indictment of what is called the “Peace and Justice” movement.

Lenin once remarked that each generation comes to socialism in its own way. It might also be said that each generation comes to oppose war and Empire in its own way. For the present generation of 20 and 30 somethings, libertarian philosophy is the vehicle to oppose war, as was evident in the New Hampshire primary. In part they chose Libertarianism, but in part Libertarianism chose them since the progressives have largely abandoned anti-interventionism, preferring instead Obama’s “humanitarian” imperialism. Many in fact are pro-war when you scratch the surface.

How different this was from 1968 when the young went “clean for Gene,” tromping around for Senator Eugene McCarthy in the snows of New Hampshire. Disgusted with inhumanity of the imperial war on Vietnam and threatened with the draft, they took up the cause of McCarthy, the only one willing to challenge Johnson. (Not widely known is that George McGovern, somewhat to the left of McCarthy, refused, as did Bobby Kennedy, another saint for the Progressives, brother of and adviser to the president who ratcheted up that war in the early 60s.) With a close second in New Hampshire, the McCarthy and his volunteers brought Johnson low and ended his war presidency. It was a reprise of the 1952 NH primary in which Estes Kefauver with his trademark coonskin cap bested Harry Truman, now lionized by the Democrats but widely reviled at the time for the war in Korea which claimed at least a million Asian and about 50,000 American souls. By 2012 the hold of the Democratic Party on the so-called Peace and Justice movement is so complete that no one dared challenge Obama.

Whose vote were the young libertarians able to deliver to their candidate, Ron Paul? That is another largely unreported story. The votes for Ron Paul came strongly not only from the under 40 set but among those earning under $50,000. In contrast Romney, a carbon copy of Obama on all major questions took the over $100,000 crowd and the older voters. “Proletariat Votes Libertarian” or “Proletariat Votes for Paul” are headlines which the progressives might find enlightening. At the least the Progressives might have joined Ron Paul’s antiwar, civil Libertarian effort, but they did not because, you see, Ron Paul unlike Obama is not a “progressive,” and the “struggle for peace and justice cannot be separated.” (I have noticed, however, that progressives these days from Occupy Wall Street to the Recall Walker effort find it quite easy to leave out questions of peace in the “struggle for justice.” MLK Jr. would be ashamed of them for that; but it is most convenient for Obama’s re-election campaign.)

As one who was on the ground in New Hampshire in the days leading up to the primary, I was intrigued by the characteristics of the volunteers themselves. It was not an elite crew; not a single Ivy Leaguer amongst them did I find – usually from state universities or colleges. Holding signs at one poll I visited was a 40 year old painter who had three or four employees, a young woman who ran a graphic designing business and another young woman, a divorced 37 year old lawyer with a 10 year old child. I would characterize this group as either working class or small businessmen and women. This is precisely the group that Progressives should be trying to organize and represent. In that regard the Progressive movement has been a dismal failure over the last three decades; and in fact has generally proved quite hostile to small businesspeople and their culture.

On a personal note going to NH this time was a dream deferred. In 1968 when others went “Clean for Gene,” I had a schedule that demanded I work every day, every other night and every other weekend. Never did I imagine that all these decades later the antiwar action would be on the Republican side. It appears that the “progressive” Left, not a genuine left or radical formation anyway, has lost a generation of activists with its subservience to Obama and its lack of spine. One begins to wonder about the entire Progressive movement. Perhaps when a genuine Left wing movement reemerges, it should give up on the very name “progressive”– or again to borrow a phrase, “take off the soiled shirt.”

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

Vets For Peace Calls for Impeachment of Obama for War Crimes

Veterans for Peace (VFP), a progressive organization if ever there was one, took the courageous step of voting for the “impeachment of President Barack H. Obama for war crimes” at its annual national convention in Portland Oregon in August. The resolution, which called on Congress to immediately begin impeachment proceedings, passed with a majority vote. If you did not read of this, you are a victim of the gatekeepers on the “Left” and the usual censorship of the mainstream media.

The resolution sounds the death knell for the view that advocates of Obama’s impeachment are no more than Right wing, Racist Birthers. Thus, David Swanson, a leader of the Impeach Bush movement, after a pro forma denunciation of Obama, wrote recently in response to charges of hypocrisy: “I can’t get 20 people into the streets to demand Obama’s impeachment (and if I did, they’d want him impeached for being born in Africa to aliens from Planet Socialism….” Is that VFP, David?

The VFP resolution is stark testimony that Swanson is dead wrong and that the tide is turning against the war criminal Obama even among his most faithful followers. A call for impeachment, whatever the prospects for success, makes crystal clear that the antiwar community regards the President as a criminal – whether that President is Bush or Obama. And it puts a stop to the nasty tactic of shutting up impeachment advocates by calling them racists.

The impeachment resolution is modeled on another that VFP passed some years ago calling for impeachment of Bush. The anti-Obama resolution merits reading in full here. It has telling additions to the one targeting Bush. It opens thus: “Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.” Bush told lies to get us into war. Such is his arrogance that Obama, acting in the Democratic tradition of Harry S. Truman in the Korean war, did not even bother to lie. He simply went ahead and trampled on the Constitution without pretense.
The seventh in the list of reasons for impeachment is a tight summary: “Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States.”
It concludes “Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.”

This victory of the VFP rank and file who submitted the resolutions did not come easily. It took three years. The first such resolution was written shortly after Obama took office, on his fourth day ordering Hellfire missiles to strike Pakistan, killing dozens of civilians including three children. That prompted Tom Santoni of the Central FL VFP chapter to pen a principled impeachment resolution. It was taken up at the national convention the following August and was supported by the admirable Adam Kokesh who was at a meeting next door of VFP’s sister organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War. But the VFP leadership, that is the Board, voted against it, thus requiring a two-thirds vote of the membership. This bit of gate keeping worked, and the resolution failed at the August convention. Santoni quit in disgust, a big loss to VFP. The Central Florida chapter tried again in 2010 under the leaderhship of its co-chair Phil Restino. This time Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan endorsed the resolution, but again it failed. Finally, this year the Central FL chapter once again submitted the resolution and this time the board did not vote it down! The unstoppable Restino reached out to all 128 VFP chapters urging support and passage. And spontaneously Jesse Perrier of Boston’s Smedley Butler chapter of VFP arose and gave an impassioned speech that brought down the house and won the day. The resolution passed.

Now what about the implementation? The Impeach Bush resolution was pushed aggressively in 2005 running up to the 2006 election when Dems were running on the promise of impeachment, on which they promptly reneged, most notoriously John Conyers, the poster Congressperson for impeachment. Mike Ferner, at the time executive director of VFP, made an indignant Bush-bashing speech for impeachment in front of the White House. You can view it in all its glory. A hard copy letter with the signature of the VFP president was mailed to each member of the House calling for impeachment.
How about the present resolution? Mike Ferner opposed it in the floor debate at the August convention. There has been no rally and none is planned – not in front of the White House or anywhere else. This time a FAX of the resolution has been sent to the House members without signature of the President. Currently the Central FL chapter is trying to send snail mail letters on its own to every House member – once it gets the signature of the president.

Unfortunately this story can be repeated in different ways in a variety of “progressive” organizations with leadership more loyal to Dems than to antiwar principle. This writer has witnessed it himself in organizations like PSR and United for Justice and Peace. But the ground is shifting, and much to its credit VFP has led the way.

John Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com. He thanks Phil Restino, co-chair of Central Florida Vets for Peace and Jesse Perrier of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Vets for Peace in Boston for their help. He attempted to reach a voice against the resolution but received no reply.


Text of VFP Resolution to Impeach.
IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT BARACK H. OBAMA FOR WAR CRIMES?Whereas, Barack H. Obama is Commander In Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces and the head of the Executive Branch of the United States government, and
Whereas, President Obama, on 19 March 2011, committed a criminal act by ordering the U.S. military to war in Libya without first obtaining the consent of the U.S. Congress in a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution, and
Whereas, the illegal U.S. invasion, bombing and occupation of Iraq initiated by the Bush administration continues under the Obama administration; and
Whereas, the U.S. government is currently engaged in illegal wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and President Obama pledged to increase the number of military personnel and tax dollars spent on the these wars, and
Whereas, the U.S. military used and continues to use depleted uranium munitions, cluster bombs and white phosphorous in densely populated areas in violation of U.S. laws and international laws and treaties prohibiting the indiscriminate killing of civilians; and,
Whereas, the Geneva Conventions specifically prohibit the use of especially injurious weapons and materials causing unnecessary harm that remain active and lethal after battle, and over large areas of land, and
Whereas, large numbers of babies born in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer life-long illness and deformity like severe disfigurements and brain damage, Down’s syndrome, and weak hearts doctors state are caused by the U.S. military’s massive and widespread use of toxic and radioactive materials, and
Whereas, millions upon millions of Iraqi, Afghani, Pakistani, Yemeni, Somali, and Libyan civilians have been maimed, poisoned, displaced from their homes, and killed in a direct result of ongoing, illegal acts of war by the United States, and
Whereas, illegal, immoral and counterproductive detainee torture and brutalization at the hands of the U.S. military’s Immediate Reaction Force continue at Guantanamo under the Obama administration and in particular, the torture of Pfc. Bradley Manning at Quantico, Virginia, and
Whereas, President Obama is an accessory after the fact in obstructing justice by failing to order the Department of Justice to initiate investigations into numerous and blatant U.S. war crimes committed by the Bush administration, for which it is manifestly accountable under the law, and
Whereas, millions of Americans, including Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now, supported the impeachment of Bush/Cheney for the same war crimes that are being committed now by Obama in violation of the U.S. Constitution, U.S. federal laws, the United Nations Charter, the Hague Convention, the Geneva Conventions, The United Nations Convention Against Torture and the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, and
Whereas, Veterans For Peace and Prosecute Them Now are committed to the stated mission to restrain our government from intervening overtly and covertly in the internal affairs of other nations, to seek justice for veterans and victims of war, to increase public awareness of the exact costs of war, and to abolish war as an instrument of national policy;
Therefore Be It Resolved that Veterans For Peace call on the U.S. House of Representatives to immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for failure to uphold his sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies foreign and domestic, and for his commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, obstruction of justice and the violation of numerous national and international laws, treaties and conventions.
Approved at the 2011 VFP National Convention?