In recent weeks there have been quite a few stories about Maria Cantwell and her position(s) on Iraq and her efforts to better explain herself to the "anti-war wing" of the Democratic Party in Washington State. These stories go back from her infamous "no regrets" quote from the Seattle PI to her most recent meeting with a small group of activists after her appearance at the King County Democrats Convention. The Arthur Ruger account of that meeting can be found here . While there can be much gathered from these various reports, the one piece of information that has absolutely jumped out at me from between the lines is that Maria Cantwell is a genuine Scoop Jackson Democrat.
For those who are not familiar with Scoop Jackson, a brief bio is in order:
Born in Everett in 1912, Jackson was elected county prosecutor before winning a seat in the House of Representatives in 1940.
A visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp after World War II cemented his lifelong advocacy of Israel and other Jewish causes. In 1949, he argued for the development of the H-bomb.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952, and supported the troop buildup in Vietnam. In 1978, he fought President Carter's decision to forgo deployment of the neutron weapon, which could kill people while causing little damage to buildings and other structures.
By the 1970s, Jackson was one of the last Democratic Party standard-bearers of a get-tough approach to the Soviet Union. When President Ford announced he would not invite dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn to the White House in 1975 for fear of angering the Soviet Union, Jackson and a group of other senators asked Solzhenitsyn to speak at an office in the Capitol.
Such positions often placed Jackson at odds with members of his own party.
After the war in Vietnam, many prominent Democrats said the country's troubles abroad were caused by American belligerence and paranoia. Throughout the 1970s, Republicans wanted to control the Soviet Union through détente.
But Jackson opposed détente, never wavering from his belief that communism was inherently evil and needed to be confronted by American power. He attracted a group of like-minded people to work for him.
The list of former Jackson staff members reads like a who's who of foreign-policy experts.
• Richard Perle is an adviser to the Defense Department and considered a major influence on Bush administration foreign policy.
• Doug Feith is undersecretary of defense for policy at the Pentagon.
• Elliott Abrams, special assistant to the president focusing on Middle East affairs, worked as special counsel to Jackson.
• Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense and one of Bush's Iraq policy experts, never served directly under Jackson. But they had a long relationship that began when Wolfowitz, then a 29-year-old graduate student, helped Jackson prepare charts when the senator wanted to persuade fellow lawmakers to fund an antiballistic-missile program in 1969.
While this biography centers on Scoop's foreign policy stances, it is well worth noting that Scoop Jackson was one of the strongest environmental advocates in the United States Senate as well as a major expert on energy issues. Sound familiar?
So now we return to Senator Cantwell. In reviewing the positions that the senator has staked out on regime change in Iraq, supporting the resolution to authorize unilateral use of force in Iraq, and her recent co-sponsoring of a resolution on Iran, where she places sole responsibility for determining compliance with disarmament demands on the Executive Branch and expresses her support for regime change there as well, I see the ghost of Scoop. The question then must be asked: If Senator Cantwell is viewing American foreign policy through the prism of the neo-con/DLC (aka Scoop Jackson Democrats) and, with the potential for an endless "war on terror" that may keep us engaged militarily for years to come, is this the voice we want representing us in the senate? I ask this because so many have said that we should not fight to replace her in the upcoming primary but, rather, should wait until we have a safer Democratic majority in Congress. The folks who say this also suggest that this tactic would allow for more time to "work with" the senator to bring her thinking more in line with the Progressive view.
Friends, I believe the evidence is overwhelming that "what we see, is what we get" when it comes to Senator Cantwell and her views on the neo-imperialism of American foreign policy. To sit back and wait SIX YEARS for some hoped-for change in circumstance or attitude is pure folly. If Progressives want to see real change in this position, it MUST come via the primary in September. Scoop's time has passed. The cold war is behind us. American foreign policy must be based in diplomacy and the joining of the world community not on being the world's bully.
Chad (The Left) Shue