This week's cave-in on Capitol Hill – supplying
a huge new jolt of funds for the horrific war effort in Iraq – is surprising
only to those who haven't grasped our current circumstances.
Public opinion polls aren't the same as political leverage. The
Vietnam War went on for years after polling showed that most
Americans opposed the war and even saw it as immoral.
Slick phrases about the need to bring our troops home can easily
become little more than platitudes on wallpaper in media echo
No matter how many Democrats are in Congress, they won't end this war
unless an antiwar movement develops enough grassroots strength to
compel them to do so.
Unfortunately – and unnecessarily – for years now the Internet
powerhouse MoveOn.org has often functioned as a virtual appendage of
the national Democratic Party. That close relationship has largely
squandered MoveOn's opportunities to help build strong deep
independent activism for the long haul. And, on crucial issues of the
Iraq war, MoveOn has failed to back the positions of such gutsy
progressive visionaries as Reps. Barbara Lee, Lynn Woolsey and Maxine
A statement issued Thursday by the national Progressive Democrats of
America (PDA) pointed out that "the approach of the Democratic
leadership has utterly failed – as they now prepare to give
President Bush $95 billion more war funding through a bill that no
longer has any timelines for troop withdrawal."
Asking a key question – "How can you oppose a troop escalation while
funding it in full?" – PDA reiterated its longstanding position that
Democrats in Congress should be "using the power of the purse to cut
off funds to Iraq, except those needed to safely withdraw our troops
(and for humanitarian/reconstruction aid to the Iraqi people)." And
legislators should be "using their investigative power to probe White
House deceptions and distortions that propelled the Iraq invasion and
occupation, and to impeach if necessary."
Memorial Day 2007 comes at a disastrous time. Political power brokers
and media elites insist on opting for a mix-merge of tragedy and
farce. A key reality is that we won't be able to change the
militaristic direction of the country without effectively confronting
the congressional Democrats who are fueling the engines of
When considering what to demand now, it's helpful to put the current
moment in historical perspective. The same basic arguments for
keeping U.S. forces in Iraq have long been presented by reigning
politicians and key media outlets as self-evident wisdom.
A cover story in Time magazine laid down the prevailing line: "Foreign
policy luminaries from both parties say a precipitous U.S. withdrawal would
cripple American credibility, doom reform in the Arab world and turn Iraq into
a playground for terrorists and the armies of neighboring states like Iran and
Syria." That was in April – 2004.