Michael: AZDP Endorses Meaningless Iraq StatementI recognize that politics is the art of the possible, and it is seldom possible to get everything you want. Still, one might think that in the midst of a war that the great majority of Americans no longer support, and that many thought, rightly, was folly from the start, it might be possible for the opposition party to make a strong statement against that war.
You'd be wrong.
At the recent Arizona party convention, some people whom I know to be good and honorable people brought to the convention a strong and uncompromising statement against the war. It read:
"Whereas the United States government, in its preemptive attack and subsequent occupation of Iraq, a country which had neither attacked nor threatened the U.S.:
1. Violated international law, the United Nations Charter, the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Accords and the Nuremberg Principles;
2. Caused the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Iraqis and more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers and the wounding and disabling of tens of thousands of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers;
3. Misused over $300 billion of U.S. taxpayers money which should have been used for health care, affordable housing, environmental protection, etc.
4. The continuation of this war and the continued misallocation of funds will cause grave harm to the people of the United States.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT THE ARIZONA DEMOCRATIC PARTY ON BEHALF OF THE CITIZENS OF ARIZONA CALLS UPON THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES TO:
1. Withdraw all U.S. troops and military bases from Iraq;
2. Cease all attempts by the U.S. government and corporations to control the economy, government and resources of Iraq;
3. Ensure that returning veterans receive adequate compensation, health care and education, disability, and rehabilitation benefits; and
4. Reduce the U.S. military budget and allocate that money to programs that provide for health care, education and environmental protection."
Right. Now we're getting somewhere.
This original draft does some vital work. It recognizes that Bush's 'pre-emptive' war was illegal under normative and positive international law. It acknowledges the wanton and useless death not only of our own people, but also of innocent Iraqis. It deplores the ruinous, war-profiteering costs of this misbegotten war and demands we re-align our spending. And it uncompromisingly demands an unconditional withdrawal of all American military personnel and equipment from Iraq, including any planned bases.
This sort of statement clearly draws a distinction between Democratic plans and principles and those of the Republican party. This is a statement that a political campaign can effectively use to mobilize support and to criticize the opposition. It even allows a candidate to hedge somewhat, if needed; and I recognize that hedging will be needed. But it also bolsters those who would take an uncompromising and critical stand. We need to give our champions cover to do the hard work of taking the truth to the people - this draft would have done that, what resulted from the convention process will not.
The version which eventually passed was so watered down by the party apparatchikis as to be vitually meaningless, and completely lacking of any political courage. It could be the statement of an average Republican with the addition of a strategic word or two. Not only does it fail to clearly criticize the Bush policies which led us to this disastrous war, it fails to call for withdrawal except with a loophole attached that's big enough to drive a Bradley through.
"Whereas the AZ Democratic Party is supportive of our Men and Women in military service and supportive of their families;
"And whereas the AZ State Democratic Party opposes the reasons previously stipulated by the Bush Administration for war in Iraq, the method of prosecution of the war, and its failure to have an adequate exit plan from Iraq;
"Be it resolved that the AZ Democratic Party calls upon the Bush Administration and the US Congress to support the families of our service people and to fully fund veterans and military benefits for our service personnel, and to remove our troops from Iraq in as responsible and expeditious a fashion as possible."
Note the tone of pre-emptively cringing psuedo-patriotism and the obsfucating generalizations of the preamble in comparison to the orginal clear and factual statements. Note too, the weak-kneed "in as responsible and expeditious a fashion as possible." You could toss a, "if it's not too much trouble, please, Sir, if you feel like it, that is..." in there without it looking out of place.
Though proclaimed as a victory by Progressives as a victory, and rightly so when compared with the vast wasteland of complicity and indifference by most Democratic officials up to now, this result illustrates how weak and pusillanimous the Democratic party as a whole remains on what will be the central issue in the voter's minds in 2006 and 2008.
Surely, we can do better at presenting this vital issue to voters as a real choice, instead of as a mealy-mouthed afterthought. If we don't do so, I don't want to contemplate what will become of the Democratic party, let alone of the American military and Iraq which remain firmly in the crosshairs of the Bush Administration's rocket-launcher of I-wish-it-were-so's.