Four months before the end of the year 2005, an image in the political crystal ball is coming into focus. Reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s Secret Plan to end the war he had so faithfully prosecuted, Republicans are angling to become the anti-occupation party for the midterm elections. The punch-drunk Democrats, thirsting for the winning duplicity and deception of a Karl Rove special, are positioning themselves as the occupation party. The former mantra of the Republicans will become the bray of an ass: Don’t cut and run.
In the ultimate irony, those who oppose the occupation yet still embrace the pragmatic principle of politics, will confront the ultimate dilemma: Vote Republican to end the occupation or Democrat to prolong it indefinitely.
In truth, as it so often is in the politics of a two-party system, it is a false dichotomy and a shallow distinction. Neither major party will alter the course in Iraq. Whether we cut back our troop levels and replace them with strategic bombing campaigns, or reinstitute the draft to bolster our numbers, the occupation will drag on and our military installations will remain secure.
We have seized control of Iraqi oil fields and we will not let go.
The war is in fact not distinguishable from the occupation and those who claim to have opposed the war but support the occupation are disingenuous at best. They have advanced to the head of the class of political opportunism, pandering to both sides and blurring the lines of conviction.
As more Americans awaken to a familiar absence of real choice, the time is ripe for a third party or independent movement to challenge major party dominance at the congressional level. We need no surrogate lackeys of the Democratic Party and we only require unqualified opposition to the occupation. There is a field of potential candidates:
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, actors Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon for Congress.
Activist Ralph Nader, actor Warren Beatty, journalist Christianne Amanpour and Congresswoman Barbara Lee for the United States Senate.
Numerous principled candidates would be willing to step forward in a united assault on major party dominance if only an organized effort was in place. Why have the antiwar organizations yielded the political battlefield? As efforts are concentrated on mass protest, how can we ignore the midterm elections? We have already mounted the largest protests since the Vietnam War and we have learned that protest is important but it is not sufficient.
The Democratic proxy Move On has created a money-raising machine largely on the backs of the antiwar movement yet they are not opposing the occupation. Where is billionaire George Soros (the businessman who helped financed the political opposition to George W. Bush) now? Was there a seed of conviction in his efforts or was it all about party politics?
Twenty-one troops killed in a single weekend: When did we start calling soldiers “troops”? Soldiers have faces, friends and families. CNN accepts accolades for finally naming the dead and giving them identity. There should be a channel devoted to the lives of the fallen: 30-minute documentaries of who they were before they went to war and who they might have been had the war not happened. Is it too much to ask of our patriotic media?
14-21-42-64: The death toll rises. Ring the bells in every church, synagogue, temple or mosque: One for every fallen soldier, every day until the occupation ends.
How many Iraqis have died? Multiply American losses by twenty or thirty and you will have a rough answer. We do not count Iraqi dead.
While the occupation continues, is there another issue?
We are sick of politicians who make a show of opposition only when it does not matter and never when it matters most.
The nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations does not matter. The Bolton documents, sealed by the White House, which would reaffirm the lies of war, do matter. Where is the congressional outrage?
The fight against Supreme Court nominee John Roberts is little more than a Las Vegas review: all show, no content. Regardless of how it plays out, we will be saddled with a Federalist court and John Roberts will be affirmed.
When it might have mattered, the Democrats folded in authorizing the war, relented in approving and renewing the Patriot Act, turned their backs on the failed coups in Venezuela and the successful coup in Haiti. When it might have mattered, the Democrats yielded on CAFTA, energy deregulation, aid to the pharmaceutical industry (health care reform), and protection of the gun industry. The Democrats neglected voting rights and election reform and once again lost an election because of it.
The Congressional Black Caucus should be commended for their leadership on these issues but they have fought alone far too long.
The Downing Street memos and the Valerie Plame affair should be a daily drumbeat on Capitol Hill until New York Times reporter Judy Miller is released from prison to give testimony before the eyes of the world.
Again, the party of opposition falls silent.
Support for the war (less than 40% at last polling) is in steady decline. Even political pragmatism demands a strong and vocal opposition on such a compelling and popular position, yet the Democrats decline. There is only one reasonable explanation for this failure: complicity.
The dominant parties in American politics are united in supporting a war against the will of the American people and the death toll continues to rise.
Is there another issue?
When we have withdrawn from Iraq, given up our bases, and ended the occupation, then we can talk about Afghanistan, Haiti, Sudan, Niger and Palestine.
When we have ended the occupation, then we can talk about civil liberties, energy policy, massive investment in mass transit and renewable fuels, fair trade and labor standards, civil rights and the divisive social issues.
Who will be the last to die for a lie?
Until we can answer that question and our soldiers are no longer on the firing line, everything else must wait.
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
Other Articles by Jack Random
The New War
Candidate: Major Paul Hackett for Congress