Which Candidate Is Talking About Compensation for Iraqis?

The only genuine peace candidate still running is Ron Paul, right?

Roger Baker

Brother Roger,

Well, no. Ron Paul is not the only peace candidate still in the race. Barak Obama is also a peace candidate and for Dahr Jamail to say that there is no fundamental difference between the position of Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton merely demonstrates that indeed his “expertise is not necessarily US domestic politics”.

Allow me to quote at some length from Tom Hayden’s article written last Thursday.

“There are differences that matter between Clinton and Obama, not as great as between the Democrats and McCain, but significant nonetheless. They are these:

“Obama favors a 16-18 month timeline for withdrawing US combat troops. Clinton favors “immediately” convening the Joint Chiefs to draft a plan to “begin” drawing down US troops, but with no timetable for completing the withdrawal.

“Obama opposed the measure authorizing Bush to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, widely regarded as an escalating step towards another war. Clinton voted for the authorization.

“Obama opposed the 2002 authorization for war that Clinton voted for. Clinton still calls that decision a “close call” and refuses to say it was a mistaken vote.

“It’s true that both candidates support leaving thousands of “residual” American troops behind for a likely counterinsurgency conflict that we should all oppose. Peace activists should demand a shift to peace diplomacy beginning with a US commitment to end the occupation and withdraw all troops.

“But Obama’s position is clearly better than Clinton’s, and both candidates should be encouraged to see that the strongest anti-war position wins votes.” (After Super Tuesday, Time for the Peace Movement to Get Off the Sidelines.” By Tom Hayden, Thursday, February 7,2008. )

From Obama’s website:

“As a candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, Obama put his political career on the line to oppose going to war in Iraq, and warned of “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.” Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.

* In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail;
* In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
* In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors;
* In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
* In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president.

Bringing Our Troops Home

“Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.”

The position of Barak Obama is not my position. I, like Dahr Jamail, support unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces and reparations. But Obama’s position is a long way from John Kerry, circa 2004 also.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has made only rhetorical flourishes toward an antiwar position during her run for the While House in order to attract predominantly antiwar voters participating in Democratic Party primaries. Otherwise, she has done absolutely nothing substantive to oppose George Bush’s push for war. She can’t point to a single vote where she has opposed Bush on the war. She said she was fooled into voting for the war in the first place. I wasn’t fooled at all and probably you weren’t either. That’s monumentally bad judgement at best. And after having to resort to claiming she was duped the first time, only last year she voted for naming the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, a transparent step by Bush to prepare the ground for an attack on Iran, another illegal American aggression. Obama voted against it.

Another crucial difference is which element will dominate the Democratic Party. Will it be its corporately owned conservative wing, epitomized by the Clinton’s and the Democratic Leadership Council? Or will it be the left wing grass roots? To a very much greater degree, Obama represents the grass roots. He refuses lobbyest money and has significantly democratized fund raising.

I have not voted for a Democratic Party presidential candidate since 1972 (George McGovern). I have not worked on a campaign in the Democratic Party presidential primaries since 1988 (Jesse Jackson). I have proudly voted for Nader three times. I agree that both major political parties have been grossly corrupted by corporate money financing campaigns. But last month, Obama raised $32 million from 170,000 different contributors on the internet – an average of $188.24 per contribution.

Another reason to support Obama is that he is a genuine phenomenon. The guy has mojo – authentic charisma. This a practical matter. Every poll shows him running better against McCain. And every indication is that he has much greater potential to improve his standing with the voters further. His negatives are in single digits. On the other hand, Hillary has over 90% familiarity combined with intractable 40+% negatives and I am one of them. The Republicans are praying she’ll be their opposition. She’s the only candidate that can unite and motivate the Republican base – against her. Conversely, her candidacy will dispirit the insurgency now bursting forth within the Democratic grass roots.

Yesterday, a friend from my childhood called. Her mother was my mother’s maid of honor. She said she had never voted for a Democrat for president in her life. Always Republicans. She wanted to know if I knew where she could volunteer for Obama.

So, between now and the March 4th Texas Democratic Party primary, I’ll be volunteering for Barack Obama. I know that ultimately I will almost certainly be disappointed at some point. However, I’m taking a short term leap of faith and purposefully buying into the hype. Obama looks like the most likely candidate to support progressive change, perhaps fundamental change in the manner in which the US relates to the rest of the world. He is a virtual embodiment of change. And he can win.

The Texas primary is usually after the fact. This year it is likely to be highly important. The conventional wisdom is that Obama will win most of the contests in February and his momentum will at least be sustained. The March 4th races in Texas and Ohio will be Clinton’s last and best chance to regain the lead. I plan to work to see that she fails and that Barack Obama becomes the Democratic Party nominee for president. Hope you’ll be there too.

David Hamilton

Let’s not overlook one key remark that Barack Obama made a few months ago: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act,” Obama said, “we will.” (Read all of it here)

I read this to mean that Barack is willing to blow in the political wind the way any one of these folks is. It was convenient to say this for his audience at the moment, so he did. I do not trust him or any of the others. It is all lip service to the highest bidder, whether monetarily or politically.

Richard Jehn

I think it is legitimate to attack Osama Bin Laden.

The Bush administration has had the chance more than once, but failed to do so, preferring this very expensive and profitable war.

Janet Gilles

Brother Richard,

Although you bring up essential truths, your position lacks nuance and you end up in an absolutist box where all political candidates are indistinguishable. That’s not reality. For example, Hillary Clinton has pursued a “large donor strategy” while Barack Obama has pursued a “small donor strategy”. This is exemplified by his most recent fund raising figures for January 2008. He had 170,000 contributors with an average contribution of under $200. She has to loan her own campaign $5 million because so many of her donors had already given the maximum of $2300. He also doesn’t take corporate PAC money. Billary does. Are those difference of no significance?

David Hamilton

I’ll bet Senator Clinton had more than 170,000 individual contributors who ante-d up smaller amounts. I have sent in $10 repeatedly. I only wish I could contribute $2,300. I still object to, and am personally insulted by your reference to my favorite candidate in a pejorative way. How would you like to see Michbaral, or the Obamables?

Frances Morey

Hey Rog:

Love yah baby, but Ron Paul is and always has been a complete friggin’ idiot and a charlatan of the first class. I would rank him somewhere on the level of Kinky Friedman and Carol Rylander as being an absolute con who will do anything to advance himself and get personal publicity. Well, maybe not as bad as Friedman. There are back road circus carnies, Times Square pickpockets, Nuevo Laredo police officers, and Chicago pimps that have more scruples than Friedman.

Ask yourself — where is all the money Paul has raised being spent? I have prepared many a budget for statewide campaigns and I just don’t see it being spent. Minimal t.v. advertising, limited direct mail, etc. Just a good radio buy is all I can see. Paul has set himself up to be the grand old wise man of the party that people were just too stupid to vote for. He will get $30,000 a speech for the rest of his life from big business groups who just love some crotchy old fool to stand before them at a podium and tell them who much we need to get rid of the United Nations, return to the Gold Standard and abolish the IRS. And don’t forget to Remember the Alamo and Remember Goliad while you’re at it!

Just don’t mess with the U.S. Postal Service cause that’s how the rubes send him money!

The money keeps rolling in and Ron Paul keeps smiling. But, remember, he is “pure” because “he has never voted for a pay raise for Congress.”

I helped kick his silly ass when Bob Gammage defeated him for Congress in 1977 and it was a proud moment. Sadly, he was able to creep back in during the next election cycle when the Reagan Revolution made even the worst nut cases electable in Texas. Remember Jack Fields, David Duke, Dale Milford and countless others that were swept into office by the straight ticket Republican faithful?

Did anyone see Paul’s miserable attempt to defend himself when he was confronted by one of the national reporters with copies of his 1992 era newsletters that were OPENLY racist and nothing more than a thinly veiled white supremacy pitch? He claimed he had never seen the newsletter and, even though it had his picture on it and was called The Ron Paul Report, he had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Now that was some lame shit right there. Truly pathetic. I’ll bet that was an eye opener for some of his naive, youthful, well meaning followers.

Steve Speir

Brother David:

>>Although you bring up essential truths, your position lacks nuance and you end up in an absolutist box where all political candidates are indistinguishable. That’s not reality.
Fortunately, nuance is not relevant. And, in fact, you hit the nail on the head. Although there are indeed distinguishing features such as the example you raised, my fundamental position is that in the final analysis, the differences are so small as to be meaningless. We are offered, year after year, a red delicious apple and a golden delicious apple and told we are choosing between persimmons and pomegranates. I, for one, will call “bullshit” !!!!

You are welcome to find comfort in your subtle nuances, but I seek a candidate made from something other than cotton candy ….

Richard Jehn

Dahr Jamail: Beyond the Green Zone
Jeremy Scahill

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have indicated that US troops are not going to be withdrawn in any significant manner in the first term of a presidency. What do you think would happen if the US did withdraw immediately from Iraq?

We have a specific example of what would likely happen throughout Iraq if the US were to withdraw completely. When the Brits recently pulled out of their last base in Basra City late last year, The Independent reported that according to the British military, violent attacks dropped 90 percent. I think that goes to show that the Brits down in Basra, like the Americans in central and northern Iraq, have been the primary cause of the violence and the instability.

And I think it’s easy to see that when the US does pull out completely, we would have a dramatic de-escalation in violence. We would have increased stability and it would be the first logical step for Iraqis to form their own government. This time, it would actually have popular support, unlike the current government, where less than 1
percent of Iraqis polled even support it or even find it legitimate at all…

…I know your expertise is not necessarily US domestic politics, but like all of us, you’re following the presidential campaign. Do you see any marked difference for Iraqis in the event of a Hillary Clinton presidency or a Barack Obama presidency?

I don’t. They’ve both already officially taken the idea of total unconditional withdrawal of all occupation forces out of Iraq off the table, until after their first term, if one of them is elected. So it’s off the table already until 2013, even before one of them would come into power, if that is going to happen. In reality, they in no way are reflecting the will of the troops on the ground in Iraq, or the majority of Americans now who are opposed to the occupation. And certainly not respecting the will of the Iraqi people, where the most conservative polls I’ve found have shown that 85 percent, at a minimum now, of the total population of Iraq are completely opposed to the occupation and want it to end, right now.

Iraqis are willing to take the risk of what might happen if that much-discussed “power vacuum” is created. And the reality is that the only real first step to a solution in Iraq is full, immediate, unconditional withdrawal, while simultaneously re-funding all the reconstruction projects and turning them over to Iraqi concerns. So this idea of, “You break it, you buy it.” Well, there’s no buying happening. There’s nothing being done by Western contractors on the ground to improve the basic life necessities of any Iraqi in that country right now.

And the other factor is, which candidate is talking about compensation for the Iraqi people? Every Iraqi person who’s suffered from this situation deserves full compensation from this government. Because this is the government that perpetrated the war and continues on in this illegal occupation. So, I don’t see any of these mainstream candidates talking about any of these things, which are really essential if we’re going to talk about a solution to this catastrophe in Iraq.


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