Democrats support imperialism in Iraq


Richard Moore

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After House vote on non-binding resolution: Democrats won¹t cut Iraq war funding

By Patrick Martin
17 February 2007

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The US House of Representatives voted by 246 to 182 Friday in favor of a 
resolution opposing President Bush¹s decision to send an additional 21,500 
troops into the war in Iraq. Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed, ³The passage
of this legislation will signal a change in direction in Iraq that will end the 
fighting and bring our troops home safely and soon,² the vote is not a step 
towards ending the war.

The resolution and the three days of debate that preceded its passage are a 
further demonstration that the Democratic Party shares the imperialist goals of 
the Bush administration in Iraq, and that its criticisms are entirely on the 
level of tactics. In a literal sense, the resolution is not an antiwar measure 
at all, but merely a statement of disagreement with the method chosen by the 
White House to continue and escalate the war.

The resolution devotes half its 97 words to declaring support for US troops 
currently occupying Iraq, while stating that Congress ³disapproves² of Bush¹s 
decision to escalate the war. The resolution neither condemns the ongoing 
slaughter in Iraq, nor the initial decision to invade and conquer the country. 
If implemented‹rather than contemptuously ignored by the White House‹it would 
leave American policy in Iraq exactly where it was on January 9, the day before 
Bush ordered the ³surge² of additional troops.

The three days of speeches on the House floor included remarks by more than 
three quarters of the 434 representatives. These comments give a glimpse of the 
relatively narrow range of opinion within the two big business parties in 
relation to the Iraq war.

The Republican speech-making was a mixture of McCarthy-style terror-baiting 
(those voting for the non-binding resolution were supposedly guilty of 
encouraging Al Qaeda and demoralizing US troops), and taunts against the 
Democrats for their unwillingness to put forward legislation that would actually
compel an end to the war by cutting off funding. Adam Putnam, chairman of the 
House Republican Conference, noted that the resolution ³does nothing to help win
the war² and ³doesn¹t do anything to help stop it, either.²

Few Republican speakers actually defended the latest White House policy, 
following the guidelines for the debate spelled out in a leadership memorandum 
that was leaked to the press. This document was remarkably blunt in conceding 
the deep unpopularity of the war and the Bush administration: ³The debate should
not be about the surge or its details. This debate should not even be about the 
Iraq war to date, mistakes that have been made, or whether we can, or cannot, 
win militarily. If we let Democrats force us into a debate on the surge or the 
current situation in Iraq, we lose.²

Instead of discussing the war, much of the Republican response consisted of 
hysterical abuse. House Minority Leader John Boehner said passage of the 
resolution would mean that ³every drop of blood that¹s been spilled in defense 
of liberty and freedom from the American Revolution to this very for moment is 
for nothing.² Sam Johnson of Texas revisited every US military failure of the 
past 50 years, declaring, ³We cannot leave a job undone like we left in Korea, 
like we left in Vietnam, like we left in Somalia.² Virgil Goode of Virginia 
wallowed in anti-Muslim bigotry, suggesting that the result of the Democratic 
policy would be to replace the words ³In God We Trust² on US currency with ³In 
Mohammed We Trust.²

The Democratic speeches were far more restrained, giving little expression to 
the passionate antiwar sentiments of the millions of voters who went to the 
polls last November to remove the Republicans from power in Congress. Not a 
single Democrat accused the Bush administration of waging a war for control of 
oil resources, or suggested that the White House was guilty of a war of 
aggression Only a handful made any reference to the lies about weapons of mass 
destruction and Iraq-Al Qaeda ties that were employed to ³sell² the war to the 
American people as retaliation for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Instead, the Democrats largely opposed the surge on the grounds that it was 
unlikely to be successful, while declaring that American troops should not be 
engaged in policing a civil war in Iraq between Sunnis and Shiites. The quagmire
in Iraq was diverting military resources required for other tasks, they argued, 
whether the ³war on terror² with Al Qaeda, propping up the US-backed regime in 
Afghanistan, or confronting Iran, Syria, North Korea, China and other potential 
antagonists of American imperialism.

Typical were the remarks of newly elected Democratic Congressman Joe Sestak of 
Pennsylvania, a retired admiral who commanded an aircraft carrier battle group 
in the Persian Gulf. He criticized ³the continuing use of our national treasure 
in what is an inconclusive, open-ended involvement within a country where the 
long-term benefits do not match what we need to reap.²

Iraq war veteran Patrick Murphy, a former captain in the 82nd Airborne Division,
is a newly elected Democratic congressman from the Philadelphia suburbs. He was 
one of the first speakers in the debate, saying, ³Walking in my own combat 
boots, I saw firsthand this administration¹s failed policy. It is immoral to 
send young Americans to fight and die in a conflict without a real strategy for 
success.² Presumably, by this formulation, a more successful military strategy 
would have justified the sacrifice of American (and Iraqi) lives.

The real position of the congressional Democrats is expressed in their flat 
rejection of any cutoff of funding for the war (to say nothing of filing 
articles of impeachment against Bush for launching an illegal war on the basis 
of lies). Speaker Pelosi was adamant that no such measure would be proposed, 
claiming that to do so would harm the troops now deployed in Iraq.

In a question-and-answer piece published in the New York Times Friday, Pelosi 
declared her impotence in the face of Bush¹s determination to continue and 
escalate the war. Asked whether the nonbinding resolution would have any effect,
she replied, ³I don¹t know that the president can completely ignore us.² Asked 
if the House debate had moved Bush, she said, ³To be honest, I don¹t know if the
president is moveable in terms of the course of action he wants to take 

Most significant was her response to the next question, about demands for ³an 
urgent end to the Iraq war and asking Congress to cut the funding immediately. 
Is that a bad idea?²

³Why would it be a bad idea not to support our troops?² she said‹rephrasing a 
funding cutoff as an attack on the soldiers. ³They are in harm¹s way,² she 
continued. ³We have to protect them.²

It is a demonstration of the entirely artificial and false character of 
³official² US politics that sending hundreds if not thousands more soldiers to 
their deaths is hailed as ³support,² while removing them from the battlefield 
and returning them safely to their families is denounced as ³undermining the 

Equally unreal was the policy outlined Thursday by Congressman John Murtha, 
chairman of the House Appropriations military subcommittee and a leading 
spokesman for the Democrats on the war. At a press announcement co-sponsored by 
the liberal group, Murtha announced he would seek to attach 
amendments to an upcoming Pentagon funding bill to require that all troops sent 
to Iraq be certified by the military as fully equipped and trained for urban 
counterinsurgency warfare, and that all soldiers have at least one year 
stateside in between each deployment to a war zone. In other words, Bush is free
to continue sending these soldiers to their deaths. He is merely required to get
a rubberstamp from the Pentagon.

The US mass media is portraying the House vote as the first step in a titanic 
confrontation between the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Republican 
president. The purpose of such brazen distortions of reality is to maintain the 
credibility of an increasingly discredited and unpopular political system, in 
which both of the two official parties represent the financial aristocracy and 
defend its interests, both at home and abroad.

It is certainly true that the Democrats gained control of Congress because of 
mass antiwar sentiment. But the Democratic Party is not an antiwar party. It is 
a pro-war party that has significant tactical differences with the Bush White 

These differences may well spark serious conflict in Washington, particularly as
the Bush administration ratchets up its rhetoric and its provocations against 
Iran, openly threatening to launch a military strike that would vastly expand 
the Middle East battlefield, with incalculable consequences. But a dispute over 
what methods to pursue to best achieve the interests of corporate America is by 
no means the same thing as a rejection of imperialist foreign policy.

There is an unbridgeable gulf between the opposition to the war in Iraq on the 
part of millions of working people‹who instinctively recognize that the war is 
being waged in the interests of big business‹and the criticism of Bush¹s lack of
³success² in Iraq by Democrats like Pelosi, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator 
Barack Obama.

This gulf is symbolized by Obama¹s hasty apology this week after he blurted out 
that Bush administration had ³wasted² the lives of the 3,000 American soldiers 
killed in Iraq. For any genuine opponent of the war in Iraq, ³wasted² is the 
least that can be said of the tragic loss of life among Americans and Iraqis 
alike. Those responsible for launching the war of aggression in Iraq‹including 
Democrats like Clinton as well as the Republican cabal around Bush and 
Cheney‹are guilty of the same crime for which the Nazis were prosecuted at 

The struggle against the war in Iraq can only be conducted through an open 
political struggle against both the war parties‹the Democrats as well as the 
Republicans‹and the building of an independent mass political movement based on 
the working class.

See Also:

Obama¹s The Audacity of Hope: Portrait of a modern American political operative

[14 February 2007]
US Senator Barack Obama and the war in Iraq
[13 February 2007]

Pentagon report admits fabricated intelligence used to justify Iraq war

[10 February 2007]

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