The Utter Futility of Lesser Evilism

By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!

— George H.W. Bush

US Congressional Democrats, in “a wrenching reversal,” backed down on their demand for a timetable on the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.1 It flies in the face of the electoral will of Americans expressed in 2006, and it exposes, again, who the master of the Democratic Party is.

The mere fact that US occupation forces, British occupation forces, client states’ scanty give-a-veneer-of-coalition forces, and mercenaries are still being repulsed in Iraq by lightly armed guerrilla fighters, that the bombardment of the “safe” Green Zone is increasing, that Basra is spiraling, that the “surge” is sputtering, and that the US-UK are looking for a way out not of their choosing or timing, is clear evidence that the “war” is lost. It demonstrates a limitation of the hyperpower: it can wreak destruction from afar, but it is vulnerable when it attempts to impose occupation.

So what prevents the US from immediately pulling its troops completely out from Iraq?

With the end of the Bush administration approaching, Republicans are interested in preserving party fortunes and Bush is scrambling for a face-saving presidential legacy. The self-proclaimed war president dug a Sisyphean hole for himself when he foolishly declared the aggression against Iraq to be a mission accomplished. It is not just an invasion-occupation lost in Iraq; there is also the invasion-occupation that is also lost in Afghanistan. The neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century laid out its military policy in the paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” which warned that “even a small failure like that in Somalia or a halting and incomplete triumph as in the Balkans can cast doubt on American credibility.”2

For the Democrats, a troop withdrawal timetable would have hamstrung candidates running for the presidency. It would have put them at odds with their campaign funders (many from the Jewish lobby who support aggression in the Middle East) and the US voters (who now favor removing the forces from Iraq).

What Bush Jr. has done is bring back in full force what his father claimed to have vanquished forever: Vietnam syndrome. A resurrected Vietnam Syndrome will hinder American militaristic ambitions.

Despite the fact that the imperialistic invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are failed, Washington feels compelled to persist. There is so much at stake:

• control of oil. Imagine the shock among US oil oligarchs at seeing the oil in Iran and Iraq being under predominantly Shi’a control
• the future of permanent US bases in Iraq. It will be interesting to see how these bases without US forces would be explained
• lessons learned: resistance is not futile. Opponents of western imperialism know to develop a deterrent defense, that US occupation forces can be defied and defeated
• a potential backlash at the Jewish lobby that goaded the US regime to attack Iraq and is pressing for an attack on Iran
• implications for the Zionist occupation of Palestine: will the US continue to pursue a Israel-Palestine policy that supports the theft of land from Palestinians and slow-motion genocide against them? What will the defeat of US occupations forces in Iraq and Israeli occupation forces in south Lebanon portend for the the Zionist occupation of Palestine?
• the power of the corporate-political duopoly. Halliburton, Bechtel, and the military-industrial complex profited immensely from unleashing US violence abroad. In the meantime, wealth has been further concentrated among the wealthy few while social programs have been gutted. Will the shrinking middle class and expanding poor classes remain quiescent?
• the continued domination of the corporate-political duopoly. The Democrats have stood steadfastly during the Bush presidency behind the Republicans’ malapropistic “war on terrorism.”

What is palpable is that there are negligible differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party regarding corporation-driven and Zionist imperialisms. The two parties are colluding, and, hence, they can be regarded as the same.3

It is clear that Saddam Hussein was duped into attacking Iran and bleeding both countries for eight years. This belligerent policy served naught domestically in the US. But it served US corporate-political and Zionist purposes. Later, the Iraqi government was presented with a false green light to attack Kuwait, which was pressuring Iraq for a speedy repayment of loans used to fight Iran (something that served Kuwaiti oligarchic interests as well) and also, reportedly, slant drilling into Iraq’s Ramallah oil field. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait presented the contrived opportunity for president H.W. Bush to punt Vietnam Syndrome — with the aid of a 28-country coalition.

The Republican administration strong-armed UN Security Council backing for a resolution imposing a punishing disarmament and sanctions regime on Iraq. The Democratic administration of Bill Clinton did not waver an iota on the lethal sanctions regime; US official Madeleine Albright even admitted that the killing of half-a-million Iraqi children was worth attaining US foreign policy goals.

It is transparent that there is little to distinguish Democrats from Republicans on a most substantive matter: aggressive foreign policy. US foreign policy terrorizes, tortures, and violently kills people abroad. This policy did not begin with the “war on terrorism.” It has been around for a long time and is central to US hegemonic aspirations throughout history up to today.4

People who viewed the Republican party, especially while “led” by George W. Bush, as a great evil, identified the logical recourse to be voting for the Democratic Party, reasoning that whatever pain the Democrats inflicted on others would be less than Republican-inflicted pain: something akin to a quick death versus a lingering death. In the end the victim is dead anyway.

The tactics used to prevent or hinder the candidacy of third party contender Ralph Nader in 2004 was condemnatory of the Democrats. What kind of presidential slate did the Democrats offer? A man who vowed to boost troop levels and did nothing to placate the antiwar population. Even the propeace candidate Dennis Kucinich did an about-face and pledged solidarity to his warmongering leader John Kerry.

A Democratic Party breakthrough came in 2006 when they regained the Congress and Senate over public disaffection with US troops dying and being maimed in Iraq. Deluded people expected a change of course, that Democrats would parlay the antiwar sentiment to buttress their chances for a breakthrough in 2008.

Progressives see little attraction in the Republican Party. However, on the flip side of the corporate duopoly, Americans and the world public are presented with the bathos of Democratic presidential contenders prostrating themselves before the Mammon of the Jewish lobby. These candidates mouth platitudes of undying fealty to a foreign state, a state spawned through ethnic cleansing (similar to the US) that cares little for the US that provides sophisticated weaponry and generously pumps billions of dollars into it.5 The US wields its UN Security Council veto in a most irresponsible and self-damaging manner to protect the serial violations of human rights by Israel. This Israel-centric foreign policy means continuing the occupation of Iraq and not “taking anything off the table” regarding Iran.

The foreseeable result: Iraq Syndrome will be indelibly stamped on the American consciousness for years to come.

in November 2007, the American voter will be presented an option. A vote for either the Republicans or Democrats will, in effect, be a prowar vote. For peace to prevail in the policy of the United States, lesser evilism must be consigned to the political scrap heap. Only a propeace “third” party will set the US on a new path. Outside of a revolution, the election of a propeace “third” party is the only feasible direction on the horizon for Americans truly interested in steering their country toward peace and restoring the ensanguined US reputation.

  1. Carl Hulse, “Democrats Pull Troop Deadline From Iraq Bill,” New York Times online, 21 May 2007. []
  2. Thomas Donnelly, Donald Kagan, and Gary Schmitt, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century” (Washington, DC: The Project for a New American Century, September 2000): 5. []
  3. Frederick H. Gareau, State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism (Clarity Press, 2004). []
  4. William Blum, Rogue State (Common Courage Press, 2000). []
  5. Is caring typified by spying on one’s friends, the sinking of the USS Liberty, the plan to bomb US buildings in Egypt, and urging the US to put the lives of its citizens on the line and having the US’s international reputation besmirched? []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. CS said on May 24th, 2007 at 5:41am #

    Petersen’s recent articles have come with a sense of urgency in terms of urging action and potentcy in terms of content. The mind set of the House slave highlighted by Petersen (in a previous piece) in comparison to the situation in the Arab world was an acute observation. And now in this current piece, Petersen shreds the futility of rebuilding American defenses undergirded by the theology of lesser evilism. Think of Hiroshima, Vietnam, Iraq and a host of US global interests! Is imperialism a lesser evil as opposed to Corporation-driven democracy?

  2. sir jorge said on May 24th, 2007 at 6:05am #

    There are a lot of factors, but it does seem that on a daily basis there is a flip flop between democrats and republicans in so many different statements that the media puts out.

    It’s headache inducing, and unfortunately a sad state for those of us that want to learn more.

  3. Philip V. said on May 24th, 2007 at 7:06am #

    A very good article with many good points and insights. Your conclusion however, is inconclusive. First, exactly how do we get a third-party candidate elected. Second, how is that candidate to be prevented from succumbing to the same special interests?

  4. Kim Petersen said on May 24th, 2007 at 7:48am #

    I appreciate your comments Philip. How to get a third-party candidate elected is a whole other article, and right now, I am not a paid campaign strategist for any party.
    Obviously, the system must be changed to weed out the influence of special interest groups. But that is just a tweak. What is really needed is a revolution to overthrow the present system.

  5. RLaing said on May 24th, 2007 at 2:26pm #

    Vote, schmote. The sole purpose of the Democratic party on this score is to steer the energies of dissent into a dead end. They’re doing great at that, at least.

    The vote that actually counts is the one where people do or do not show up at a recruiting station to volunteer to fight a war. In that sense, and in no other, Americans as individuals have a real voice in how long and how intensely the politicians can continue their war.

  6. Philip V. said on May 24th, 2007 at 2:57pm #

    Thanks for your candid response. I agree.

  7. Hue Longer said on May 24th, 2007 at 2:59pm #

    On a different note, the fear behind “lesser evilism” is disgusting. It’s like choosing to become someone’s property because you fear what will happen if you’re not protected by the relationship, worse still is worrying about your collective submissive safety then cowardly attacking those who won’t capitulate to the rape. I coined this once and called it, “the penis or the gun syndrome” (Any who attacked Nader voters may want to try it on for size). I also stand by in disgust watching people confessing to ” lesser” logic, actually celebrate when Democrats get in. “Hooray! I’ll be getting raped by a nicer gang, I’m so glad not enough heroes risked this relationship”! If the Nader’s get attacked again, here’s hoping Republican’s get in… At least Democrats will understand how victimized they are and won’t be cheering

  8. Tony Jones said on May 25th, 2007 at 12:23am #

    An interesting article. It highlights at least two important points. First, that military might cannot solve what are esentially political problems (only political solutions can solve political problems) and second, that even the awesome power of the most militarily powerful nation on the planet has its limits. More military force is not necessailry better. To be effective it needs to be flexible. More is not always more – it may actually be less.

  9. Jose M. Tirado said on May 26th, 2007 at 11:29am #

    In an article I published here a while back I wrote simply, “You cannot get the system you want by voting for people who don´t want that system.” Nothing has changed.
    Greens have opposed this war long before it became a psedo-hip thing to do.
    Greens have advocated treating the environment as a national priority long before Democrats took this position and watered it down with nuclear powered dreams and more capitalistic fanstasies.
    The Greens favor the abolition of the Electoral College. If enough Greens were in Congress, Al Gore would have become President because Greens would have pushed this.
    If you want a different system you must vote for those who do too. Period. There is no way to get what we progressives want unless we choose progressivwes to represent us electorally. Mass movments can be effective but usually their agendas get quickly co-opted by the Dems.
    You (I say you because I live in Iceland) had a choice–to vote Green and finally get some Congresspeople you can trust.
    You didn´t. You voted for Dems. Yet again.
    That´s why nothing there changes.
    Vote Green next time.
    The whole world is watching.

    The American public overwhelmingly backed an end to this war in Iraq by selecting Democrats andthey have willfully ignored public opinion and the mandate they received.

  10. Jeremy Wells said on May 27th, 2007 at 9:44am #

    “What is really needed is a revolution to overthrow the present system.” Kim Petersen

    This level of understanding is hopefully emerging with the continuation of the war, with the bi-partisan support of the war, with the realization that all individual candidates of both parties are basically conservative. They wish to maintain their personal status quo and the status of quo of rule by corporate capitalism.

    Global warming will continue and intensify if corporate polluters refuse to stop pollution because it will affect profits. Wars will continue because the military-industrial complex is profiting from wars. Exxon and oil companies are making record profits. Privatization schemes to attack Social Security, public health, public schools, etc. destroy the living standards while enriching the already wealthy. The lack of affordable housing and living wage jobs are all results of a capitalism serving the intersts of a tiny minority.

    “The present system to be overthrown” is the entire global capitalist economy. The national and global capitalism economy must be redirected towards to fulfilling the universal economic survival needs of the vast majority of people. We must start this transition now if the planet is to survive global warming.

    Check out World Socialist Web Site http://www.wsws.org daily critical news analysis.

  11. Guess Who Said It? « The Unbroken Window said on July 29th, 2007 at 6:51pm #

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