By Cindy Sheehan
Gold Star Families for Peace
How the Democratic Congress betrayed American voters, the troops in Iraq and extended the occupation for at least another 18 months.
03/24/07 “ICH” — — THE DEMOCRATS ARE FUNDING IRAQ ESCALATION: The Democratic leadership has proposed $100 billion of supplemental funding for an increased troop presence in Iraq. The leadership opted for the “slow bleed” policy over a month ago. This extends the occupation for at least another 18 months, and allows permanent placement of troops thereafter for “training” or “combating terrorism”. It also will permit the Bush Administration to initiate a war with Iran without Congressional oversight. The surge of 20,000 troops recently increased to 30,000 and will likely increase to 100,000 by year-end. Will the hapless Democrats then claim, “If only I knew then what I know now” as they have for the past year?
The “slow bleed” policy has some toothless requirements for presidential assertions of progress like those we’ve heard for the past four years from the Administration; these reporting requirements allow “slow bleed” proponents to make the preposterous claim they are “ending the war” by funding it. Amendments that would require withdrawal of US forces this year, the policy overwhelming favored by Americans, and the troops themselves, are not even being allowed for a vote by the leadership! The shameless short-term purpose of the Democratic policy is to embarrass Republicans with a Senate filibuster of the supplemental, or a presidential veto, and the longer-term aim is to help Democrats in the 2008 election by saddling the Republicans with intervention in an untenable civil war.
In 2002 the Democrats authorized Bush to invade Iraq (or any other country he deemed to support terrorism, for example Iran) in hope he would become involved in an unpopular war which would produce a Democratic White House. The Democrats 2007 policy is equally political, and may have the paradoxical effect of producing Republican victories in 2008. The prolongation of the occupation is now opposed by two-thirds of all Americans; we want our troops safely home by this Christmas, not political chicanery. As a consequence Americans now think even more poorly of Congress than ever; the failure to withdraw from Iraq dropped Democratic support of Congress from 44% to 33% according to the latest Gallup poll. The Democrats failure to stem what has become a Democrats war will be a factor in the 2008 elections.
A year ago 72% of the troops in Iraq said all troops should come home in 2006 but politicians did not heed their message. How much better we would be if our support included listening to them. Not another drop of blood should be spilled to protect cowardice by both political parties.
AMERICANS WANT TROOP WITHDRAWAL: The Democratic leadership has disregarded national polls showing that 60% of all Americans and 80% of Democratic voters oppose the increase troop levels in Iraq. Grassroots progressive organizations overwhelmingly oppose the occupation of Iraq and the recent escalation. One group closely allied to the Democratic leadership, MoveOn, has used antiwar sentiment to triple both its membership and fundraising, but has been AWOL from antiwar activity; its members are prohibited from demonstrations, and only vigils for the war dead are posted as events on their website. A month ago I wrote that MoveOn began efforts to support “slow bleed” while antiwar forces actively opposed it. Recently MoveOn fabricated a biased push-poll in which “85%” of respondents supported “slow bleed”; however, the 96% of the MoveOn members who favor withdrawal, and who were not offered a vote on that option, refused to participate in a sham. Congressional sources report that the spurious MoveOn poll, together with intensive bullying and bribing, was used to erode the principled opposition of congressional progressives.
A reliable poll conducted by True Majority, another group with progressive membership, found that only 24% favored the “slow bleed” policy while 76% favored immediate or near-term withdrawal. A Zogby poll sponsored by CODEPINK found that 90% of progressives/liberals favored near-term withdrawal. 96% of progressives question the push-poll used by MoveOn that gave such contrary results. Antiwar groups that fought for withdrawal (United for Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, US Labor Against the War, After Downing Street, Democrats.com, Peace Action, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, True Majority, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Backbone Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Voters for Peace, Veterans for Peace, the Green Party) are irate at the MoveOn duplicity.
MoveOn is now raising funds from antiwar supporters to attack Senate opposition to the supplemental., but the activist community is now aware that MoveOn is not the cathartic needed to address Democratic Party constipation. There is at least one Democratic senator, Russ Feingold, who could oppose the funding farce. MoveOn is an autocratic organization run by a small group of elitist wannabe power-brokers; it cannot be reformed, but you can let their politburo know your feelings firstname.lastname@example.org, Namrita.Chaudhary@gmail.com , email@example.com, and you can unsubscribe! You also can refuse to lend them your name (their petitions are mainly for fund-raising), your efforts, and your money, and instead join with one of the many active progressive and antiwar organizations (check out United for Peace and Justice- UFPJ for a detailed listing of local and national groups, which incidentally does not include MoveOn). None of the MoveOn leadership has served their country in the armed forces; like Dick Cheney and 95% of Congress they had more important things to do, which did not and do not include supporting the troops that are in harms way.
The “slow bleed” strategy favored by the Democratic leadership and MoveOn is an immoral political calculation that will cause more heartache and disaster in Iraq. That leadership should understand that being perceived as “weak on principle” is much worse politically than being “weak on defense”. Democratic politicians need to vote their conscience on the supplemental. On November 7th we voted for an antiwar, anti-Bush policy; make that vote count for peace.
Please tell the Democratic leadership: Bring Our Troops Home Now!
Please visit the Gold Star Families for Peace Website