Bringing Die-hard War Supporters and Feckless War Opponents to Their Knees

I was reminded of my mid-1960s high school days in conservative Lebanon, Pennsylvania, when I read that Senator John McCain recommended that MoveOn.org, “ought to be thrown out of this country,” because it paid for a full-page ad in the New York Times, which carried the headline, “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?” McCain’s outburst reminded me of the narrow-mind patriots in Lebanon, who used the illiberal clich? “America, Love it or Leave it” to deny the patriotism of America’s Vietnam War protesters.

Yet, there are at least two reasons to suspect that MoveOn’s ad had merit and critics, like McCain, were wrong. First, we have Gareth Porter’s exceptional reporting that General Petraeus’ superior, Admiral Fallon, accused Petraeus of being “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” for serving as a “front man” for Bush’s surge. Second, we have Alexander Cockburn’s CounterPunch Diary report of September 15-16, 2007, in which he claims that Petraeus’ testimony had been “freshly vetted and re-written by Vice President Cheney.”

If Cockburn’s report is accurate, then Petraeus not only lied when he asserted, “I wrote this testimony myself,” he also failed to present the independent report he promised. And THAT failure should be considered a betrayal.

McCain’s outburst also brings to mind the words uttered by counterterrorism expert, Michael Scheuer, during testimony to the House of Representatives on April 17, 2007. When Massachusetts Democrat Bill Delahunt told Scheuer, “You know, you are really tough on Senator McCain. You said he is ‘a little man with mediocre intelligence, a taste for bullying, and an appalling temper who thinks the presidency is his birthright,’” Scheuer responded by asserting, “Sir, he is a perfect example of a man who is tremendously courageous and patriotic, but that does not necessarily correlate with brain power.”

Moreover, now that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe this deadly and horrible war is lost and should never have been undertaken, were the hypothetical and illiberal question of who “ought to be thrown out of this country” ever seriously entertained (which I don’t recommend), shouldn’t we recommend deporting a handful of our warmongering neoconservatives to Israel, but only after shipping members of our executive branch, such as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice, to a current-day equivalent of Elba?

More seriously, both the feckless response to the Petraeus testimony by congressional Democrats and the misplaced outrage over MoveOn among America’s rightwing demonstrate that Americans must take matters into their own hands, before the war expands into Iran. After all, we still claim to be a free people, living in a democracy.

To that end, we might follow the suggestion of Harper’s Garret Keizer and begin to prepare for executing a nation-wide strike. Sound impractical? Consider Keizer’s October 2007 Harper’s account of Danes saving Jews during World War II: “In 1943 the Danes managed to save 7,200 of their 7,800 Jewish neighbors from the Gestapo. They had no blogs, no television, no text messaging – and very little time to prepare. They passed their apartment keys to the hunted on the streets. They formed convoys to the coast. An ambulance driver set out with a phone book, stopping at any address with a Jewish-sounding name. No GPS for directions. No excuse not to try.”

Although Keizer proposes a general strike for the first Tuesday in November (Election Day) to halt the slaughter in Iraq, a nation-wide shutdown in response to the invasion or bombardment of Iran seems more appropriate. Preparations for such a shutdown just might persuade the Bush administration to attempt serious, comprehensive negotiations with Tehran before expanding its war in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, Keizer’s absolutely correct to ask: “Are we willing to wait until the next presidential election, or for some interim congressional conversion experience, knowing that if we do wait, hundreds of our sons and daughters will be needlessly destroyed?”

Let’s demonstrate to both the war’s supporters in the Bush administration and congress, as well as their feckless congressional opponents, precisely where sovereignty resides in this country.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA). He can be reached at: waltuhler@aol.com. Read other articles by Walter C., or visit Walter C.'s website.

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Mark Kaplan said on September 22nd, 2007 at 9:07am #

    I agree that the organization of a ‘general strike’ across the nation, for the first Tuesday in November, is and could be a great idea. But it needs the support of the labor movement, the Democratic Party — and a host of private not-for-profit organizations promoting economic justice, and a halt to the occupation of Iraq. Such a campaign needs to be backed with tens of millions of dollars – and a commensurate media effort, at all levels — for it to have any impact.

  2. Joe said on September 22nd, 2007 at 10:55am #

    John McCain is completely brain dead and pretending to be a decision maker for millions of people…the ridiculous marionette show called american politics should ONLY be text of a discarded history book .

    Most activism is still treating the enormous crimes, the global turmoil as if it’s a refusal to put money in a parking meter…impeach they say…we have war criminals like this planet has never seen…it’s happening NOW…and the sheepish cry is impeach. The elderly woman said the condition in the u.s. is pathological………I can’t find a word to describe this horror of human behavior…profits from slaughter, profits from rebuilding, profits for the sake of profits, shared only by those who don’t need more profits…the sheep ask, please take me to slaughter…

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on September 22nd, 2007 at 5:59pm #

    Having recently heard a broadcast of a speech McCain gave in the UK, and having been amazed and dismayed by his arrogance,chauvinism and ignorance, I’m not at all surprised by his position on Iraq. In my opinion he and all his ilk, have the blood of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis on their paws. While a POW of the Vietnamese, McCain alleges he was tortured. I’m disinclined to believe him. While it is well known that the US launched a massive torture and assassination campaign in South Vietnam, along with members of that death squad the so-called ARVN, killing tens of thousands in ‘pump (for information, through torture) and dump (the dead bodies)’ operations, the most notorious being the Phoenix operation, I do not believe the North Vietnamese tortured captured US pilots. The murderous cowards who rained death on millions from the sky ought, in my opinion to have been strung up when captured. But, then again, I’m of European descent, hence hopelessly blood-thirsty. The Vietnamese turned out to be far more humane and civilised, and fed and watered the likes of McCain for years. On return to the US, the captured pilots decided, I believe, to ‘big-note’ themselves, and I’m of the opinion that their stories of ‘torture’ were exaggerated or totally concocted. But that alas, is the ‘American Way’, at least of that perennially aggressive and racially supremacist strain of Americanism that the likes of Bush, Bolton and McCain represent.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on September 23rd, 2007 at 6:26am #

    The truth is death
    But life is living as if it were life
    The truth is solitude
    But life is living as if it were community
    The truth is secrecy
    But life is living as if it were openness.

    Where trust departs
    Is where the ends don’t meet
    Where a fool at best exposes the game
    And gets us killed advertently
    Or inadvertently.

    Who would compare Europe in1943
    With America in 2007?
    Camus must be spinning in his grave.
    Every effective resistance has only
    Endangered itself,
    Has never proclaimed its strength openly,
    Has never underestimated the enemy.

    Let’s just say saving 7300 Jews from the Nazi holocaust
    Was a different proposition when
    Advanced electronics was
    Equivalent
    To breaking Enigma.

    Okay?

  5. Myles Hoenig said on September 23rd, 2007 at 6:31am #

    I think a national strike is an excellent idea. Sorry it can’t be organized for the first week of October, though, considering that would be when the Supreme Court reconvenes and an acknowledgment by all of us that the US experienced a judicial coup d’etat in 2000. On that matter, I disagree that we need the support of the Democratic Party along with labor to organize this. Labor yes, DP- absolutely NOT. The Democratic Party is no less an accomplice in this war and a willing participant in the coup d’etat. (They refused to stop it or challenge it)
    The very thought of the Democratic Party being part of an organized effort to end this war is like having the Danes giving the Gestapo the phone book and asking them to warn the Jews.

  6. johnnie said on September 24th, 2007 at 3:44pm #

    what does “big note” mean?

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on September 25th, 2007 at 9:12pm #

    Where do you see that, johnnie?

  8. johnnie said on September 26th, 2007 at 3:55pm #

    lloyd, second to the last sentence in the response from mulga mumblebrain. explanation please.

  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on September 27th, 2007 at 8:03am #

    I’m ignorant of the term, johnnie. But reading it in the context of MM’s entire post, I’m pretty sure that (s)he is saying that returned, captured American pilots, during and after the Vietnam War, largely went along with the United States media and public portrayal of them as having been severely mistreated by their captors. Whether or not, that is to say, severe mistreatment or torture occurred in a particular pilot’s case.

    This practice was a “big note” because ultimately, at that time, it made it easier and simpler for the returned pilots to readjust. But, needless to say (I love that expression), pilots are not ground soldiers. And then is then and now is now. I’d recommend that you purchase the DVD “The Ground Truth” for data on what readjusting to America can do to ground soldiers returning from Iraq. The DVD was made in 2006, a full 18 months ago if I’m not mistaken.

    My take on the whole returned pilot matter is: who in America so much as thinks about the impossibility of American pilots being captured unless this country is engaged in a war of aggression against another country?

  10. gerald spezio said on October 1st, 2007 at 4:53pm #

    Uhler, do you want the white trash and redneck assholes to come to the general strike.
    If so, they should dress properly.
    And no Boston beeah breath either.

    How can you have a general strike and stop production without the smelly working class, Walter?

  11. Lloyd Rowsey said on October 5th, 2007 at 1:02pm #

    Mulga. I have replied to your post of Sept 4, 2007, on the article “The Fight to Save the Rocky Mountians.”

    moc.liamtohnull@yeswordyoll