There is something obscene about the media enchantment with the congressional candidacy of Marine Major Paul Hackett of Ohio, a man who opposed the war yet volunteered to serve in it. That the Democrats seem infatuated with such a candidate is a spectacle that taxes the equilibrium of all reasonable observers. Clearly, the minority party has learned nothing from the failed candidacies of Albert Gore and John Kerry.
Only Bill Clinton, a man of extraordinary charm and the mind of a mainstream data base, could pull off such a delicate balance: Steering the ship of state hard right while managing to appease his liberal loyalists with the admonition that it could be worse.
The legacy of Bill Clinton will always be a mixed metaphor. The policies of Clinton --deregulation of industries, privatization of social services, expansion of global exploitation under the guise of free trade, and the militarization of global economics -- blended painlessly with the policies of the younger Bush administration, leaving the party of Roosevelt in a perpetual spiral of self-destruction, forever seeking the next great compromise, oblivious that a compromise at the core is certain demise.
What a strange and tortured legacy: To have a party actively seeking those who fought in the war while opposing it. Should we also oppose crime by being criminals? Can we oppose terrorism by being terrorists?
Shall we find the truth by practicing deception? Then neither can we oppose a war by volunteering to fight it.
There are far too many insoluble equations in the natural world without bothering to deconstruct political conundrums. Sometimes a contradiction is a contradiction. It belies an underlying absence of core conviction. We have too many politicians who decry corporate abuse yet sanction every new round of deregulation. We have too many politicians who claim to embrace a living wage and basic standards of labor yet vote for NAFTA, CAFTA and the policies of globalization. We have too many politicians who are champions of civil liberties but find the suspension of habeas corpus a mildly upsetting necessity. We have too many politicians who find it comfortable to oppose the war in hindsight but support the occupation in virtual perpetuity. We have too many politicians who want to make it comfortable for the majority of Americans to have been dead wrong on the war and for that catastrophic error in judgment to have cost so many lives.
To have been wrong in initiating a war of naked aggression is not like losing a football game. The cost in life, limb and treasure is extraordinary. Just as it is in Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi and in the far reaches of the Anbar province, the occupation should be a part of our conscious lives each and every day. We, as a people, were given every opportunity to learn the truth before this war began. A million voices literally rose up at once to tell us we were wrong. Honest members of the administration, the intelligence community, and officials of foreign governments informed us repeatedly that this was an unnecessary war and a colossal mistake.
We cannot now pretend it was solely our government’s doing. It could not have been done without our complicity and support. We cannot pretend that what began as one of the two most egregious crimes a nation can commit (aggressive war and genocide) has suddenly become virtuous because America is a virtuous nation with a peace-loving people.
We had a part in the commission of this crime and we have a part in its continuing execution. We cannot escape accountability for what we have done in concert with our government any more than we can avoid responsibility for bringing it to an end.
If you are the perpetrator of a crime and the creator of a monumental disaster, you simply cannot be trusted as the master administrator of the solution. We are no fools. Whether our real reasons for going to war were economic or strategic or both, we know they are still in place. The oil pipelines are still priority and our massive military bases do not have the appearance of temporary structures. Given these fundamental realities, our soldiers are the last on earth to create a stable and relatively equitable society in Iraq. Our allies in this disaster are similarly unsuitable.
The only responsibility we can and must assume is economic aid commensurate with the destruction we have wrought. The Iraqis, themselves, in cooperation and partnership with a community of nations not engaged in the war, must secure the peace, rebuild the nation, and create a government that optimally fulfills their needs.
America can have no part in this.
If we begin with an understanding of the great wrong we have done, it will lead directly to the only possible resolution. When we acknowledge that the occupation is what it undeniably is -- neither a liberation nor an exercise in international charity but an ongoing seizure of strategic geography and vital resources, then we will bring it to an end.
That is our solemn responsibility.
Do not give us candidates that will fight in a war they do not believe in. Give us candidates that will accept our responsibility and fulfill it.
Jack Random is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle, Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: www.jackrandom.com.
Other Articles by Jack Random
The Fine Art of Calling a Bluff