Wednesday, November 23, 2005

More on Murtha, Two Parties and War

I see I've upset an anonymous poster to this blog with my last entry, which discusses the left-of-the-Democrats interpretation of the debate around Murtha and the GOP effort to debunk him. To clear it up, let me begin with this. Being critical of Democrats who voted "no" to immediate withdrawal, and who "backed away" from Murtha in public statements in the press, as did Reid, Pelosi, Kerry and Clinton, does not mean that you have fallen for the Republican line. It means that you have the capacity to be critical of the Democratic Party's failure to oppose the war. Coming out in honesty and saying that makes it harder for Republicans like Bush who want to say that Dems are hypocrites for 'voting for the war and then voting against it..."
I don't have to defend the Democrats' absurd votes for the war because I didn't support those votes then either. The anti-war movement and anti-war sentiment is bigger than the Democrats in congress, and in my opinion, supporting the independent voice of an anti-war movement is more important that defending the Democratic party's mistakes. While a Republican cabal has dragged us into the Iraq war, they are part f a larger US foreign policy which included the crushing sanctions of the Clinton Admin. The war is not a partisan issue, no matter how either party wants to portray it.
60% of the public polled believes that the war is going wrong, supports an asap withdrawl, and believes Bush lied about WMD. However, the Democrats have, with the exception of a few, completely failed to take real anti-war positions. Instead, they have talked, just as republicans have, about some kind of continuing occupation. John Kerry actually ran on the position of bringing MORE troops into Iraq and "winning the war." I guess this was believed to be more politically expedient than the "cut and run" argument.
As Marc Maron might say, "Wake up, Sheeple!" The Democratic Party does not hold a monopoly on left wing views in this country, and carrying water for wimpy democrats is not the best way to end the war. It's a distraction. I sometimes think that even talking about the Democrats, or to Democrats, or even getting into it is just a divisive distraction, but when I read those comments in the press by Dem. leaders about Murtha, I had to say SOMETHING.
So, let me lay out the story as I see it. Murtha, a Democratic Hawk, proposesa six month plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. In a cynical move, Republicans respond with a proposal for immediate withdrawl, which Republicans say is Murtha's proposal, and which Murtha and Democrats denounce as "ridiculous." I agree with the anonymous poster that this certainly shows the Republicans to be cynical assholes - surprise, surprise- who will do anything to discredit and distort anti-war voices.
But the Republican treatment of the proposal isn't the only thing to talk about here. For those of us waiting to see a strong Democratic anti-war position, here was the chance that wasn't taken. And what did the dems do? Did they abstain from the vote, for instance? Did they vote "yes" on the immediate withdrawl? (three brave ones did). Did they come out and call Murtha a hero and say he was right to call for a six-month withdrawal and say they would support it when the real bill came to the House floor? Did they co-sponsor the bill? Are they working on a new version? Did they criticize the pro-war militarist aspects of Murtha's plan?

Maybe they are and I haven't been keeping up, so if they do, I'll happily be wrong.
They voted "no" and actually helped the Republicans to argue that "immediate withdrawl" is a BAD idea. Do you see why this is a problem for the anti-war movement? We can expect the Republicans to do everything shameless, but we don't therefore need to defend the Democrats when they fail to oppose them in a meaningful way.
Here is Gilbert Achcar, from Juan Cole's blog, pointing out that the straw proposal was better than the original one:
Congressional Republicans, in a transparent ploy, offered a one-sentence resolution stating that the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq be terminated immediately. Murtha called this "a ridiculous resolution" that no Democrat would support (Hardball with Chris Matthews, Nov. 18). In point of fact, the resolution was opposed by all of the pro-war Democrats and most of the anti-war Democrats, who (as the Republicans hoped) didn't want to be accused of "cutting and running." But actually the resolution wasn't ridiculous at all understood in the sense we have just explained.

The anti-war movement should and no doubt will relentlessly continue its fight for the immediate, total, and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and their allies from Iraq and the whole region. Its central slogan "Troops Out Now" is more warranted each day and will keep gaining in urgency until victory over the warmongers is achieved.

As Joshua Frank, author of "Left Out" puts it in a recent Counterpunch article,
A handful of House Democrats did take the podium to express their seething disgust over the Republicans' political feat. Talk is cheap, however. Votes are what count. If there ever was a subject that should gash the thin-skinned Democratic Party, it'd be the Iraq war. But as the House vote verified, the Democrats don't want US troops home now, let alone in six months as Rep. John Murtha proposed last Thursday.
Those whose main goal is not democratic party elections, but a swift end to the war in Iraq have no reason to defend Democratic party hawks like Pres. hopeful Hilary Clinton, who calls Murtha's sympathetic, but unwise. And even the folks at myDD are critical of the Dems. for voting "No" on the resolution. If the so-called left wing political party will not call, over and over again, for an immediate withdrawl, it is up to others to do so, instead of leaving such strategy discussions to the corporate whores on "both sides of the aisle" in Washington.
Focusing on the wickedness of the Republican party, while satisfying emotionally, will not end the war in Iraq.

No comments: