Peace, Love, and Rock-n-Roll from a proud Lefty, Liberal, Socialist Hippie

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Not Our War??

After the video from Bill Clinton who spoke of Maria falling on a sword for him in 1994 (over her vote for the Clinton economic package of tax increases), after the live plea from Jim McDermott who recalled how Maria rebounded from the 1994 loss to become an environmental champion in the Senate in 2000, the sound of the war drums began. Pounding and pounding they grew to a crescendo as Senator Cantwell arrived at the microphone. “No More War, No More War, No More War” – the chant grew to compete with the beat of the war drums. Maria Cantwell delivered. She spoke no more of war. In almost twenty minutes at a podium before nearly 1,000 convention delegates, scores of other party activists, and the media, it was as if Iraq had already been resolved by the magical Democratic Leadership Council slogan “2006 – A Year of Transition” (created to replace the too Bush-like “Stay the Course”) Then, to the renewed beat of the war drums, an overhead bombardment of green and blue balloons, and cannon fire, she was gone.

The chants of “No More War” were still resonating through the hall when state party chair, Dwight Pelz rose to the microphone to utter the most amazing line of the convention, “Iraq is not our war.” He said Iraq is a republican war. This is not our war? Well then, that makes everything all right, doesn’t it? I mean, all of you anti-war folks can put away your signs and dampen that anger now because Iraq is “not our war.” You are now free to finish your Kool-Aid, take off that Mark Wilson tee shirt, and start supporting Maria. Did I mention, "this is not our war”?

How can this not be “our war”? Are the troops fighting and dying every day in Iraq not Americans? Are the men and women losing their limbs, their eyesight and mental capacities not potential Democratic voters or even future candidates? Is there a new standard in this country that somehow allows some to relinquish ownership of actions taken in the name of the entire country simply because it may cost them votes later? While I certainly agree with the sentiments of the “Not in Our Name” movement, I also accept the fact that, even without my explicit consent, the actions of this government are executed in the name of the entire country. As difficult as it may be for Chairman Pelz to accept, the Bush administration did not act unilaterally before they launched this country into military action. They sought and received Bi-partisan congressional approval for their actions. This is in fact a deed of ownership; especially for those senators and congressmen who voted to authorize the use of force.

Why is this important to acknowledge? Without ownership, we have no obligation to repair the damage caused. To her credit in recent accounts Senator Cantwell does accept ownership of her vote and her continuing support for the actions in Iraq. Chairman Pelz might look to that example. Where I (and so many others) differ with Senator Cantwell is in her acceptance of pre-emptive war as a means to achieve regime change as acceptable U.S. Foreign policy. I believe she understands this and realizing she will never sell that concept to the Democratic base has simply chosen a tactic of non-engagement on the issue. Unfortunately for both Pelz and Cantwell, Iraq is much too large to sweep under a rug or hide behind a curtain.

In a race for a seat that was last decided by fewer votes than the number of American troops lost in Iraq thus far, I would hope that Washington State Democrats would soon come to understand that “Iraq is not our war” is not a winning strategy. We need to support a candidate who is willing to not only take ownership but who will take the lead in working to resolve the one issue that drives all other issues before us in the coming years. The drain of national resources – human and financial – due to the invasion and occupation of Iraq will continue to have a direct impact on environmental, energy, healthcare, and human welfare issues in this country until we end that action and act to prevent similar ones in the future.


Chad (The Left) Shue


Todd Boyle said...

The WA Dem's platform is even less antiwar than in 2004, by my reading of it... in all those tens of thousands of words, there's only a brief sentence about Iraq at all.

The WA Dems platform now calls for "..developing and implementing an orderly complete and rapid exit strategy from Iraq of all US military forces and economic interests including all military bases in adjacent countries, and funding rebuilding under the UN of infrastructure destroyed since 1991... "

I offered an amendment from the floor, to strike the word "Strategy" and insert the words "By December 31, 2006" Obviously, the word Strategy leaves the occupation continuing permanently.

Out of the 1000 people in the room, not even 100 were willing to vote for my modification. Vast indifference, punctuated by a few antiwar voices and a larger number of Democrats for the status quo, not wanting to do anything that might undermine Cantwell's re-election.

Re-electing Cantwell is McDermott's key message everytime he speaks. I been videtaping these speeches and put two of them on google video already, I got two more from Friday and Saturday at the convention.

Same with all the other party bigwigs who spoke to this convention, and naturally, the rank and file closed ranks, that's what ranks do.

Whatever their concepts about the Iraq war, surely, the majority of the delegates at this convention are highly uninformed about Iraq as well as ignorant of the vision of the Democratic party itself, which is completely oriented around progressive social organization around nonviolent principles.

The very fact Cantwell (and the party leadership) cannot see the truth about Iraq proves they are unfit to lead the democratic party.

It proves they have no Grand Strategy for the nation. Their activities are a hodgepodge.

It proves that their skills and abilities in political organizing or speeches, exceeds their vision of Americas future and the meaning of civilization, of the human race.

I will say, the majority of the delegates at this convention were out of touch with their own humanity.


Arthur Ruger said...

Thank you Chad.

My wife and I along with other members of Military Families Speak Out and other activsts participated in a group discussion last night at a film festival (films about the military, the War in Iraq and the Iraqi people) at Tacoma Community College.

Afterwards we crossed the street to a pub and sat around a table with the father of Lt. Ben Colgan about whose unit the film Gunner Palace was made (Lt. Colgan was killed before the film was completed). Also at the table were two returned Iraq Veterans.

And - perish the thought - all but me drank liberally. (I can't drink alcohol - causes gout attacks)

Earlier, during the group discussion at TCC, one of those veterans, Josh Farris, spoke to an actual supervisor (invited by the festival sponsors) of seven TNT reporters at the News Tribune.

Josh voiced to that news person an excellent spontaneous rant about apathy in this country, the excess of citizen self-focus, "me, me, me" greed, and the obvious impact of the unequal distribution of the burden of risk and sacrifice by citizens of a country presumably united and invested in sharing the burden of a nation's engagement in war.

If I had recorded it, I could quote here on Washblog an unimpeachable indictment of citizen passivity directly from the mouth of a 20-something veteran who has been there and done that ... who has returned and re-entered what we ignorantly believe ourselves to be: a society in pursuit of the American Dream and all the goodness, the benevolent core values and civic involvment that make up that dream.

Words from a veteran who knows ... really knows and understands ... the importance of that which he speaks ... as opposed to the 20-something semi-skilled political key-boardists with their disinterested and distracted voices whining about "boring and depressing" topics for discussion ... because their version of the American Dream does not include taking immediate responsibility for their government's life-taking and life-costing actions and demanding that it stop ... right ... now.

I'm curious tonight as to what Joe Colgan and those two veterans will have to say about Mr. Pelz and his courageous party conventioneers?

This comment cross-posted as a comment at Washblog

Bill said...

"If you're not with us, you're against us." - George W. Bush

It's frustrating for me that the same mentality manifest in that statement is coming from so many of my fellow progressives. Just as it's possible to hate the war and still support our troops, it's possible to hate the war vote and still support Democratic representatives who, for whatever reasons, voted "for the war".

Democrats are not the problem. Whehter they voted "for the war" or not is not the issue. That's over. Done. Kaput. No time machine. We're in Iraq now because of Republican policy. The issue is what we do from here.

This is most certainly NOT the Democratic Party's war. Had Al Gore been sworn in, we would not have invaded Iraq. That, to turn a phrase, is an inconvenient truth which is ignored by many of my fellow progressives. How a rep or senator voted for the war is not the issue - - the issue is that if Democrats had been in power in 2001, we would not be in Iraq today.

Conversely, had every single Democrat in both houses of Congress voted "against the war", we would still be in Iraq today.

I get that some people believe that any Democrat who voted for the authorization of force ("for the war", if one insists) shares the blame. I could not disagree more. Why? Because the legislation would not have been on the table had Democrats been in power. That's the piece that so many are missing, and that's the piece that matters.

I understand anger at being in Iraq. I share it. That anger is appropriately aimed at Republicans, not Democrats. It's not a Democratic war. Pre-emptive war is not a Democratic policy. Some Dems were persuaded to vote for a resolution authorizing force as a last resort, others were not. Many Dems feel that, now that we are there, we need to stay as opposed to leaving the Iraqi people in the lurch like Bush Sr. did. That makes them liars and traitors and deserving of vitriol? No. Loudly and vehemently - NO!!!

If some members of a Party vote for a resolution proposed and supported by all of the opposition, then both parties do not share blame. The Party who proposed it is to blame. To say that any Democrat who voted "for the war" is to blame for the current situation in Iraq and must be judged solely on that basis is to claim, simply and succinctly, that..

"If you're not with us, you're against us." - George W. Bush

Proof: Now we're criticizing Jim McDermott?????????? Take a step back. Think. Please. We have a chance to take back the House this year --- or we can bicker and decide that it's all the Democrats' fault and stay home or vote for a minor party. That strategy really worked in 2000, didn't it?

Chad Shue said...

You said, "it's possible to hate the war vote and still support Democratic representatives who, for whatever reasons (My emphasis), voted "for the war". I am afraid I must disagree with you on this point. If someone voted for the resolution because they truly believed, based on the evidence they were provided, that our country was in danger that is one thing. In Senator Cantwell's case ,she has repeated that she voted more in line with her stated preference for regime change than based upon any specific evidence of threat from WMD. While I do understand the analogy of the horses already being out of the barn, it is Cantwell's refusal to denounce the policy of pre-emption ("not a democratic policy") that I have issue with. Just as with Joe Lieberman, the only complaint I hear from Senator Cantwell seems to be that Bush simply bungled a good plan.

The "If Al Gore..." argument is almost not worth responding to. It is the same as telling me, "If you hadn't left your keys in the car, I wouldn't have stolen it." Each member has a vote. Each member has the opportunity to cast that vote "aye" or "nay". The fact is there was a vote called for (Real World). I think somewhere in the logic is that if we had somehow worked even harder, Al Gore might have gotten into the Whitehouse. To that I would say, if just one Democratic Senator had spoken up while the entire Black Caucus of the House challenged the certification of the Florida electors, he might well have been in the Whitehouse.

You are most likely correct to say that, even if every Democratic member of Congress would have voted against the Use of Force Resolution we would still have invaded Iraq. I say most likely because we cannot say what public opinion might have been if we would have had a united party challenging the policy rather than a resolution that Joe Biden, Joe Lieberman, and Dick Gephardt helped to write. Had they all stood up to George W. Bush during the run-up to the invasion maybe we could have mounted a genuine challenge in 2004 rather than the "I voted for before I voted against" challenge.

As for when we leave Iraq, I would simply say this, when Rep. John Murtha attempted to advance a resolution in the House calling for a deployment of our troops from Iraq at the earliest practicable time, the republicans were allowed (by the timidity of our party) to morph it into "Leave Now!" Please do not do that to me. What I and most of the Progressives in that room want to see is something definitive; similar if not exactly worded as the Murtha Resolution. "A Year of Transition" has thus far accomplished nothing but more death and destruction. Someone has got to do better than simply expect me to trust that Bush and company will do anything different than they have to date. As a young John Kerry once asked, "Who will be the one to ask the last man to die for a mistake?"

Finally, as for the "challenge" to Jim McDermott, I believe that it is fair to say, just as with Russ Feingold, there are some who would choose to simply ignore the elephant in the room than to take it straight on. I was genuinely saddened to see Jim in that role.


Chad (The Left) Shue

Bill said...

Hey Chad -

Articulately said, as always!

It is true that some Democrats believed that 'regime change' was necessary. I disagreed with them *on that issue* then, and I disagree with them *on that issue* now.

My point, and it is the major one, is that this was a Republican war. That's why it was said that "it's not our war" - Democrats didn't conceive it. Republicans did.

I have no issue with anyone supporting someone in a primary, as long as that action is not seen as some kind of insidious act of disloyalty on either side. I am no more disloyal to the anti war in Iraq argument for supporting Senator Cantwell than you are to the Democratic Party for supporting Mark Wilson. You are a Democrat, just as I am against the war in Iraq. What matters is what we do in November, not September.

I hope we get a chance to chat some at Drinking Liberally in Monroe on the 14th. Lately I've been feeling the heat from all sides - with the solid Cantwell camp accusing me of not being anti-Wilson enough, while some supporters of alternatives to Cantwell see me as part of the problem. I simply believe we choose our sides in the primary and work together in the general election...without questioning one anothers' allegiance to either progressive ideals or Party bonafides. If we don't work together after the primary is history, then we will have blown a major opportunity.

All that being said, I realize some see me as - to borrow a Harry Potter phrase - a "mudblood" progressive at best. I can live with that if it means that I'm capabale of seeing more than one side of an issue. I just hate to see a "with us or against us" mentality fomenting within our party...on either side of the Senate or Iraq war question.

Chad Lupkes said...


I am not saying "with us or against us". Some are. I personally consider that foolish and counter productive, but everyone has their right to speak their mind.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that the vote is done. John Kerry voted with Cantwell, John Edwards voted with Cantwell. Both of them now realize and are willing to state publically that their vote was wrong. So, you tell me why Maria is so DAMN STUBBORN THAT SHE CAN'T EVEN ADMIT A MISTAKE!!

I'm pissed off. I'm fired up. Why? Because this war is a symptom of something bigger. It's a prevaling attitude that says that our elected representatives know better than we do what is going on and what the right choice is. Our Representatives work for us. They don't set the agenda, we do. They don't make the decisions about my future without letting my voice be heard on that decision.

I know this is impossible. So is going to the moon. Been there, done that. We can make the voices of our people mean something again. On the War, on Global Warming, on whatever. Until we do that, we don't live in a Constitutionally Limited Democratic Republic. We live in an Empire.

Empires fall, usually due to their own stupidity.

Sandy said...

To Chad L, Chad S and Todd B,

I say,,,,,, AMEN!

Sandy Gourley

Ozy said...

I can find sanity at The Left Shue blog
Thank you to many who post here. I find many other so-called progressive blogs are not at all.
Thank You Chad!

The hierarchy of the democratic party, both state and local, are doing all they can to help their incumbent Senator. This is the way it should be in the general election not in the primary. Primary elections are for the democratic registered voters to make the call as to whom they want to be the candidate in the general election.

The party officials should see to it that no one candidate, incumbent or challenger, should get the support of any official party leader. They should see too it that all are treated equally.

All information and support about candidates should be available to every registered democrat.

It is regrettable that this is not the case at the present time.

Democrats should demand to know who is running and if they may make a better representative than the incumbent. Equal time should be given to all candidates at any and all open democratic events especially conventions!

The best way to discourage people from voting is to deny them the information on whom they may want to vote for in the elections.

Wake up Democratic Party officials! Your attitude is a prescription for defeat in November.


Chad Shue said...

Unfortunately my friend, I must disagree respectfully with you about the assertion that the importance lies in what we do in November rather than September. I believe that we choose the candidate to best represent our shared values in September. In November, we simply march lock-step to the polls to support the nominee of our party. If we lose sight of this important distinction, (present company excluded) we lose sight of why we do this to begin with.

I also find it disturbing that "choosing sides" can be so personally divisive. As you well know, I have no quarrel with those who support Senator Cantwell based on her stands on the issues and on her values (including the acceptance of pre-emptive war for the purpose of regime change). My quarrel lies with those who would cast aside my right to choose in a primary simply because she is the incumbent as if that title annoints her with special powers.

Indeed, if she survives the primary, I shall march lock-step in November but I will not be bullied or deceived by this party to foresake my right to choose in September.


Chad (The Left) Shue

New10 said...

Cantwell has told her staff that she feels very strongly that she was correct to vote for the Iraq war in the first place, and that she would not change that vote and has been correct all along.

Her staff stopped trying to convince her otherwise a long time ago. Don't believe me, ask her staff.

This is NOT about someone trying to "adjust" a message or avoid an public debate with some activists.

This is about a Democratic Senator that actually believes her continuing support of the Iraq war is correct.

"Had enough" (of these Dems) yet?