Vegetarians Between Meals This War Cannot Be Stopped By A Loyal Opposition
By Jeremy Scahill
11/18/05 "Common Dreams
" -- -- The refrain of the Democrats about being misled into supporting the invasion of Iraq has become really tired. And
someone other than the White House smearmongers needs to say it: The Democrats cannot be allowed to use faulty intelligence
as a crutch to hold up their unforgivable support for the Iraq invasion. What is DNC Chair Howard Dean's excuse? He wasn't
in Congress and didn't have any access to Senate intelligence. Still, on March 9, 2003, just days before the invasion began,
Dean told Tim Russert, on NBC's Meet The Press, "I don't want Saddam staying in power with control over those weapons of mass
destruction. I want him to be disarmed."
During the New Hampshire primary in January 2004, which I covered for Democracy
Now!, I confronted Dean about that statement. I asked him on what intelligence he based that allegation. "Talks with people
who were knowledgeable," Dean told me. "Including a series of folks that work in the Clinton administration."
of folks that work in the Clinton administration.
How does that jibe with the official Democratic line that they were
misled by the Bush administration? Sounds like Howard Dean, head of the Democratic Party, was misled by....the Democrats.
Dean's candor offers us a rare glimpse into the painful truth of the matter. As unpopular as this is to say, when President
Bush accuses the Democrats of "rewriting history" on Iraq, he is right.
None of the horrors playing out in Iraq today
would be possible without the Democratic Party. And no matter how hard some party leaders try to deny it, this is their war
too and will remain so until every troop is withdrawn. There is no question that the Bush administration is one of the most
corrupt, violent and brutal in the history of this country but that doesn't erase the serious responsibility the Democrats
bears for the bloodletting in Iraq. As disingenuous as the Administration's claims that Iraq had WMDs is the flimsy claim
by Democratic lawmakers that they were somehow duped into voting for the war. The fact is that Iraq posed no threat to the
United States in 2003 any more than it did in 1998 when President Clinton bombed Baghdad. John Kerry and his colleagues knew
that. The Democrats didn't need false intelligence to push them into overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime. It was their policy;
a policy made the law of the land not under George W. Bush, but under President Bill Clinton when he signed the 1998 Iraq
Liberation Act, formally initiating the process of regime change in Iraq.
Manipulated intelligence is but a small
part of a bigger, bipartisan 15-year assault on Iraq's people. If the Democrats really want to look at how America was led
into this war, they need to go back further than the current president's inauguration.
As bloody and deadly as the
occupation has been, it was Bill Clinton who refined the art of killing innocent Iraqis following the Gulf War. One of his
first acts as president was to bomb Iraq, following the alleged assassination plot against George HW Bush. Clinton's missiles
killed the famed Iraqi painter Leila al Attar as they smashed into her home. Clinton presided enthusiastically over the most
deadly and repressive regime of economic sanctions in history--his UN ambassador Madeline Albright calling the reported deaths
of half a million children "worth the price." Clinton initiated the longest sustained bombing campaign since Vietnam with
his illegal no-fly zone bombings, attacking Iraq once every three days for the final years of his presidency. It was under
Clinton that Ahmed Chalabi was given tens of millions of dollars and made a key player in shaping Washington's Iraq policy.
It was Clinton that mercilessly attacked Iraq in December of 1998, destroying dozens of Baghdad buildings and killing scores
of civilians. It was Clinton that codified regime change in Iraq as US policy. Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq but he could
not have done it without the years of groundwork laid by Clinton and the Democrats. How ironic it was recently to hear Clinton
call the war "a big mistake."
It's easy to resist war with a president like Bush in the White House. Where were these
Democrats when it was Clinton's bombs raining down on Iraq, when it was Clinton's economic sanctions targeting the most vulnerable?
Many of them were right behind him and his deadly policies the same way they were behind Bush when he asked their consent
to use force against Iraq. As the veteran Iraq activist and Nobel Prize nominee Kathy Kelly said often during the Clinton
years, "It's easy to be a vegetarian between meals." The fact is that one of the great crimes of our times was committed by
the Clinton administration with the support of many of the politicians now attacking Bush.
Herein lies the real political
crisis in this country: the Democrats are not an opposition party, nor are they an antiwar party-never were. At best, they
are a loyal opposition. The Democrats ran a pro-war campaign in 2004 with Kerry struggling to convince people that Dems do
occupation and war better. The current head of the DNC, Howard Dean, never met a war he didn't adore until he realized he
could exploit the energy and sincere hopes of millions of peace-loving Americans. Dean wasn't ever antiwar. In fact, during
the 2004 campaign he attacked Kerry for opposing the Gulf War while laying out his own pro-war record.
"In 1991, I
supported Gulf War. I supported the first President Bush," declared Dean. "Senator Kerry who criticizes my foreign policy,
he voted against that war. I supported the Afghanistan war, because I felt it was about our national defense-- 3,000 of our
people were killed. I supported President Clinton going into Bosnia and Kosovo."
How can Howard Dean look people in
the eye today and pretend to speak with any credibility as an antiwar voice?
When the hawkish Democrat Rep. John Murtha
bravely stepped forward to call for an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq this week, he was quickly blasted by the
White House and simultaneously disowned by powerful Democrats like John Kerry. Occupation lovers together again. The bloody
scandal of the Iraq occupation has opened a rare and clear window into the truth about this country: there is one party represented
in Washington--one that supports preemptive war and regime change. The reality is that the Democrats could stop this war if
the will was there. They could shut down the Senate every day, not just for a few hours one afternoon. They could disrupt
business as usual and act as though the truth were true: this war should never have happened and it must end now. The country
would be behind them if they did it. But they won't. They will hem and haw and call for more troops and throw out epic lies
about the US becoming a stabilizing force in Iraq and blame the Republicans for their own complicity and enthusiasm in the
15 years of bipartisan crimes against Iraq.
All of this begs for a multiparty system in this country and the emergence
of a true opposition. The epic scale of the disaster in Iraq calls for epic lessons to be learned at home. Like the Bush White
House, the Democrats have lost their credibility. They are undeserving of the blank check of "Anybody But Bush" and should
never be allowed to cash it again. Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who heads up the House Democrat's election campaign, criticized Murtha's
call for immediate withdrawal, saying, "At the right time, we will have a position." It is statements like that that should
result in Emanuel and his colleagues losing theirs. Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist
who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now!, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source:Information Clearing House