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