The capitulation of the Democratic Party’s congressional leadership to the Bush administration’s request for nearly $100 billion of unconditional supplementary government spending, primarily to support the war in Iraq, has led to outrage throughout the country. In the Senate, 37 of 49 Democrats voted on May 24 to support the measure. In the House, while only 86 of the 231 Democratic House members voted for the supplemental funding, 216 of them voted in favor of an earlier procedural vote designed to move the funding bill forward even though it would make the funding bill’s passage inevitable (while giving most of them a chance to claim they voted against it).
On February 7, 2007 Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice informed the House Foreign Relations Committee that she had requested 129 military employees to fill State Department positions in support of the President’s new Iraq plan. Officials at the Pentagon, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, bristled at the request—insisting that they had personnel shortages of their own. This vignette may appear to be just another incident of bureaucratic turf battles, yet it has dramatic and far-reaching implications, both for national security and for the U.S. Government. Beneath this tussle lies a first order national security policy dilemma: What should our government’s division of labor be for the post Cold War security environment? And, how should manpower and funding resources be distributed to prepare for this environment?
As we enter our fifth year of occupation, and as Iraq continues to degenerate into sectarian violence and civil war, I think it important that we talk, vet to vet. Real talk, talk from the heart, as we did back in Iraq, in the Nam, in Korea, on the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. Let us put aside, for a moment, all the bunk we have been fed over the years by those who were not there. You know who I mean. The politicians and war strategists who cavalierly make war, decide tactics, and send us off to fight, bleed, and die for a cause that is uncertain or non-existent. Self-proclaimed "patriots" who, while remaining safe at home, try to convince us that the threat to our way of life – – to America and to freedom – – is real and grave and that the disruption of our lives and the sacrifices we make, and that our brothers and sisters make, are necessary and glorious.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus talks about the anti-war movement and where we stand today on the cusp of the 4th anniversary of the war. Listen to this interview : mp3 or Windows Media Player Q: March 19th will be the 4th anniversary of the war. Where has the anti-war movement gone since the February 2003 demonstrations which brought out nearly one million people in New York City and around the globe to say no to war with Iraq? Rev. Yearwood: We’ve come in different directions. First thing we recognize is since that day 3,150 Americans have lost their lives in Iraq. There are reports of between 500,000-600,000 Iraqis who have died. There are reports that we’ve spent a half-trillion dollars so far fighting this war. We are at a point now where we see a sense of urgency in the anti-war community from the academics to the activists from the street heat to the revolutionary bloggers. There is a sense that if we do not do something at this juncture, especially as we reach the fourth anniversary, that humanity is on line. I’m sure others have felt that way when our world has been at war, in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and others. But this war is different because America is the only superpower. The stakes are raised putting mankind and humankind on the line.
The bombers fly so close you feel their engines
in your chest though none can say
where they’re headed or why
Boots from the American Friends Service Committee project Eyes Wide Open, a traveling exhibition on the costs of the Iraq War. Photo by Jochen Strack.
Five years ago the Bush administration launched its war on terror without end. About 90% of Americans applauded. The administration has been ramping up the fear to win elections ever since. This strategy is no longer working. Soon the talk shows and editorial pages will be chewing over exit polling to opine about the impact of the war on the election. But it’s already clear that decisive majorities of Americans have had enough of a militarized, unilateral foreign policy.
September was a hopeful month for those interested in the de-escalation of tensions between the Unites States and Iran. The extension of a U.S. visa by the Bush Administration to the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami despite vociferous conservative opposition was seen as a sign of possible change in U.S. foreign policy. In addition, a mixture of softer words employed by Iran’s current president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the UN and in his many media appearances in the U.S. regarding Iran’s intentions in the region brought hope of possible movement in Tehran.