Following in the footsteps of similarly pseudo-progressive and corporate-imperial Democratic politicians like Bill Clinton, the current crop of leading Democratic presidential candidates can be counted on to make what Edward S. Herman calls “populist and peace-stressing promises and gestures that are betrayed instantly on the assumption of power” (Edward S. Herman, “Democratic Betrayal,” Z Magazine, January 2007).
Sometimes, however, the skids of betrayal are greased in advance of the attainment of the presidency, with no small assistance from a weak and myopic Left and power-worshipping “liberal” media.
Look, for example, at an interesting article that appeared on the first page of the most recent Sunday New York Times. “Even as they call for an end to the war and pledge to bring the troops home,” Times reporters Jeff Zeleny and Marc Santora note, “the Democratic presidential candidates are setting out positions that could leave the United States engaged in Iraq for years” (Jeff Zeleny and Marc Santora, “Democratic Field Says Leaving Iraq May Take Years,” New York Times, 12 August, 2007. p. A1).
“May take tears?” Interesting…A review of the leading Democratic presidential candidates’ campaign remarks about Iraq over the last six months leaves what Zeleny and Santora call “little ambiguity in their message: If the president refuses to end the war, they will” (Zeleny and Santora).
Lately, however, those “anti-war” candidates are saying something rather different. John (“Support the Troops, End the War”) Edwards is citing the need to “prevent genocide” as a reason to keep US troops in
Barrack (“It’s Time to Bring the Troops Home”) Obama says that the need to provide “security for American personnel” and to “train Iraqis” will require maintaining a military presence in
Hillary (“I’m Sorry, it’s Over…if this president does not end the war, I will”) points to the need to fight terrorism and stabilize the Kurdish section of Iraq as justifications for keeping the U.S. military in Mesopotamia into the next presidency. “These positions,” Zeleny and Santora observe, “suggest that the Democratic bumper-sticker message of a quick end to the conflict — however much it appeals to primary voters — oversimplifies the problems likely to be inherited by the next commander in chief.”
Zeleny and Santora’s Sunday Times article is disturbing in at least four ways. The first depressing thing is their suggestion that the desire for a rapid
The second problem is the Times’ unsurprising failure to acknowledge that the leading Democratic presidential candidates’ duplicity on
If anything, the “neoliberal” Democrats’ main foreign policy claim is that they can do a better job of conducting this imperialist foreign policy than the “neoconservative” Republicans. “We are the better, more effective and competent Men and Women of Empire” is the basic claim. Such was the essence of the John F. Kerry “Reporting to Duty” campaign in 2004.
Currently, Smith notes, aggressive militarist neoliberals (Hillary Clinton is an especially dangerous example) are probably more influential within the Democratic Party than aggressive militarist neoconservatives are inside the Republican Party. By Smith’s candid account:
“Although they now cast themselves as alternatives to President Bush, the fact is that prevailing Democratic doctrine is not that different from the Bush-Cheney doctrine…Many Democrats, including senators who voted to authorize the war in Iraq, embraced the idea of muscular foreign policy based on American global supremacy and the presumed right to intervene to promote democracy or to defend key U.S. interests long before 9/11, and they have not changed course since. Even those who have shifted against the war have avoided doctrinal questions.”
“But without a coherent alternative to the Bush doctrine, with its confidence in
The Democrats’ mealy-mouthed waffling on
The leading Democratic presidential candidates are walking the standard timeworn
The third alarming thing about the Sunday Times article is Zeleny and Santora’s accurate observation that “antiwar advocates have raised little challenge to such positions by Democrats…Four years after the last presidential race featured early signs of war protest, particularly in the candidacy of Howard Dean,” Zeleny and Santora note, “a new phase of the debate seems to be unfolding, with antiwar groups giving the Democrats latitude to take positions short of a full and immediate withdrawal.”
The half-dead “antiwar movement’s’” cringing captivity to the imperial Democrats is clear in the following pathetic comment from Moira Mack, a spokesperson for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq: “we are in a good position when leaders are debating the best way to bring our troops home rather than whether or not to bring them home” (Zeleny and Santora, p.A15).
The fourth problem is the absence of any discussion of ways the
Those candidates and that press naturally accept as unassailable doctrine the basic precept that the invasion of
It’s all unmentionable. Such, alas, is the profound moral and ideological poverty of the dominant political culture in the failing imperial-state “homeland” of the “world’s greatest democracy.”
Veteran radical historian, journalist, and activist