(FinalCall.com) – If there was ever any real wonder as to whether the Democrats in Congress are more worried about being labeled “hypocrites” by the voters who support them, or “weak on defense” by the Republicans who oppose them, then that argument was settled in late March when both the House and the Senate narrowly voted approval of $120 billion-plus spending bills extending the war in Iraq for one more year.
Oh yes, against almost solid opposition from Republicans, both chambers approved billions of dollars to continue the war for another fiscal year, with language that sets non-binding target dates–“goals,” or “deadlines” depending on the version, but non-binding on the President just the same–for beginning the withdrawal of U.S. “combat troops” from Iraq.
They call that “ending” the war, or at least the beginning of the end.
Getting to the truth of what all the just-approved legislative verbiage really means is like peeling an onion: You never get to the center of it. For one thing, combat troops make up only half of what will be more than 170,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq by this summer. Then, the troop withdrawal suggestions from Congress do not apply to forces which the President declares are: training Iraqi troops, securing Iraq’s borders, or “fighting terrorism.” On top of that, before there can be any withdrawal, the President must “certify” that the Iraqi puppet government is “ready to stand on their own,” and what’s more, the numbers do not even include more than 100,000 “mercenaries”—private contractors paid for separately by the Pentagon and the State Department.
What the Democrats in Congress are proudly hailing as a change in the U.S. war policy is more like a mysterious conundrum, sealed inside an enigma, hidden inside a puzzle, masked in a charade, buried deep within a labyrinth.
“It is hypocrisy that in this supplemental the Democrats will be paying for the escalation (of the war) that they voted against last month” in a sense of the Congress Resolution, that one peace activist complains in a letter to Democratic House members. “The majority of U.S. voters want the troops to come home now. The Democrats were given a mandate to end the war when they gained a majority in the House and Senate in the last election. None of the Democratic leadership’s plans take into account the urgency of that mandate,” the letter continues.
“The Democratic Party (was) not elected and put into majority power status to extend the war. They were put in there to end the war. This current bill they’re so proud of passing, and claim is a change in course, extends the war for another year, and even after their deadline, there are such gigantic loopholes that any commander-in-chief could keep as many troops as he or she wanted to, after that goal or deadline is passed,” is how another peace activist describes the vote.
“We are here to express our outrage at a Democrat-crafted spending bill that would continue the Iraq war into August 2008, and leave thousands, potentially tens of thousands of troops on the ground in that country, even after that date,” is how another activist states it.
“I want to say that I’m very disappointed. We voted for a mandate of peace, and peace platform candidates on Nov. 7, which changed Congress. And we are expecting Congress to do their jobs, and support our troops. Bring them home out of this illegal, failed, endless occupation,” says another.
“I am tired of the Democratic Party saying: ‘Well, we tried.’ I have been hearing it for six years,” said the mother of a Marine who has been deployed to Iraq twice.
“The war has gone on too long, four years. It has put a lot of wear and tear on the soldiers. It has put a lot of wear and tear on the family members. Families are being broken up because the soldiers come back with P-T-S-D (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and mothers like me, don’t know which way to go. A lot of us have lost our jobs because we couldn’t deal with the death of our children. We’ve got to end this war,” said the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq.
“What we’re seeing in Washington, D.C. around this war, is political game-playing,” says another activist.
Meanwhile, President George W. Bush, the “War Hawk” in the White House–whose personal military record is clouded with charges of his being AWOL from much of his National Guard service during the Vietnam conflict–who led the country into this unnecessary war of aggression based on admittedly “flawed intelligence” reports, has vowed to veto any legislation even mentioning troop withdrawal dates.
The President and his War Cabinet of neo-conservative advisers, most of whom did not even bother with as much military service as their boss, want no conditions on their spending upwards of $2 billion per week as they escalate the bloody war now heading into its fifth year.
So, the White House and its Republican allies on Capitol Hill label Congressional conditions on the money to fight Pres. Bush’s war–and the Democrats who approved such conditions–as reckless, dangerous, and bad for troop morale. They say Democrats are proving themselves to be “weak on defense,” and unwilling to fight to win “the war on terrorism.”
But many veterans say otherwise. “Why is this military making such sacrifices if this Congress won’t stand up and be a co-equal branch of this government?” demanded one former Army sergeant.
At least one company of 120 active-duty Marines said in a two-page hand-written letter they composed in an Iraqi battle zone–a letter which was read by one of their colleagues in Congressional offices recently–that the White House and Congress actually “lost” the war with the ongoing U.S. occupation of that country, after the soldiers “won” it when they overthrew the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
So which argument are the Democrats most concerned about? Even members of the Congressional “Out of Iraq Caucus?”
Why, of course they bow to their political adversaries, not to the majority of voters who supported them and voted them into power.
Would, that there was a Wizard on Capitol Hill who could give courage to the cowardly, and hearts to the tin-men and women. Of the 70 members signed on to the Out of Iraq Caucus, including 35 of whom are Congressional Black Caucus members, only eight voted against the latest war funding bill.
The others perhaps were cowed into submission by the “weak on defense” argument, and then persuaded by the $25 billion in extra, home-town funding also known as “pork-barrel-spending,” which was added to that “emergency” supplemental funding for the war.
They now face an even more perplexing dilemma after the President’s veto.
But the cowardly could show their courage, the tin men and women could prove they have hearts by refusing to approve whatever legislation is agreed on after the President’s veto is sustained and a new funding bill is put forward by the House and Senate leadership.
Instead of capitulating to right-wing intimidation about “the troops,” and being “weak on defense,” enough Democrats could vote no, and thereby refuse to approve any more money, except money which brings the troops home immediately, period. They could refuse to sign another blank check with which the administration guarantees to its citizens:
1. The deaths of three U.S. troops and countless Iraqi children, women and men every day.
2. More than 500 U.S. troops wounded every month.
3. Increased suicides among returning Iraq war veterans.
4. Continued destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure.
5. Decreased readiness, both short and long term, of the U.S. military overall.
6. Decreased credibility for the United States in the world community.
7. Depletion of the national treasury, marked by under funding of health care, education and social services for people in the U.S.
Such resolve, such valor, might hasten the day when: Military veterans would not be homeless by the tens of thousands; when there would be enough money for school books instead of bombs; when adequate health care would be available to all; when there was enough food for all children and no poverty.
That would be the day when there would be enough money for all the day-care centers, and the Pentagon would have to have a bake-sale to fund the next generation of nuclear weapons.
That would be the day.