The Nation declares (posted November 9): "We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign." This is too little, too late and lacks the apologies that are in order.
The statement is too little. First of all, "a speedy end" is the key phrase here, so important that it is repeated verbatim two paragraphs later and again on the blog site of editor, Katrina Vanden Heuvel. The Nation does not call for "immediate and total withdrawal," thus leaving the door open to permanent occupation or another year or more of killing while discussions of “exit strategies” drag on, as R. Feingold and other "courageous" Democrats propose. Contrast this with Cindy Sheehan's simple and powerful declaration: "Not one more." There is a world of difference between the two statements, a difference which gives treacherous, pro-war Dems the wiggle room they need. Or compare The Nation's timid wording with the large headline blazoned across the cover of the American Conservative not so long ago: "We do not need an exit strategy. We need an exit." And the question must also be asked, will The Nation support non-Democratic candidates, like Independent/Green/Libertarian Kevin Zeese, a colleague of Ralph Nader, who is running for Senator from Maryland on an unequivocal anti-war platform?
The statement is too late. The war has been raging for years now. It is safe to say that most of The Nation's readers have been for total withdrawal for some time. And certainly they are beside themselves with the pro-war stance of the Dem establishment. But like MoveOn and a host of other Dem party mouthpieces, The Nation has been slow to acknowledge those sentiments and turn them into a course of action.
The statement lacks the requisite apologies. The Nation says: "We will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign." But the more accurate phrase is "We will not EVER AGAIN support any candidate...," because The Nation did endorse John Kerry in the election of 2004, in big bold words on the cover, even though Kerry was calling for more troops. In that campaign, The Nation was complicit in turning Ralph Nader, who called for withdrawal, into a non-person. And last January when Ted Kennedy, a real anti-war Democrat, called for withdrawal to begin at once, The Nation was silent except for part of a column several weeks later which discussed Kennedy’s proposal under the heading of dissension in the Democratic Party. In fact the mainstream media gave more attention to Kennedy's call for withdrawal than did The Nation. Looking through the cover pictures of The Nation since January 2005, there is nothing on the War on Iraq, excepting one featuring Cindy Sheehan and another on Military Recruiters. This is quite in line with the strategy of the Dem establishment to de-emphasize the war in favor of “domestic issues.” It would appear that The Nation has become entirely too cozy with the Democratic Party, including some of its most retrograde elements, Kerry, for example. (To see how pathetic Kerry and his ilk are). Partisanship is the lowest form of politics, if it is politics at all.
And now comes the call of conservative Democrat, John Murtha call for complete redeployment “within six months.” The editors of The Nation look quite timid by comparison. Many of us are deeply disappointed in the stance on the war adopted by the editors of The Nation. The Nation does not exist to serve as an acolyte of the Democratic Party, but to tell the truth about it, to hold its feet to the fire and to promote other alternatives when the Dems fall short. In this The Nation has failed miserably. We all hope The Nation can muster the will to be more militant on the issue of the war. It should step up to the plate and demand that the candidates it endorses support the clear demand: "Out Now. Not one more." And the candidates who want the support of Leftists and Libertarians against the war should adopt this slogan in a “speedy” fashion.
John Walsh can be reached at:
This open letter was written after the author tried more than once to
express the same sentiments as a letter to the editor. Although the
editors saw fit to try to answer these objections (unconvincingly) in
lengthy private e-mails, they steadfastly refused to print this sort of
letter. Hence I send it publicly.