We all know how the antiwar movement fell silent in 2004 so as not to jeopardize the bloodthirsty campaign of John Kerry who promised to kill more Iraqis faster and cheaper than George Bush. Last week some of us experienced a similar phenomenon in Washington, DC and in other cities around the nation. When a demonstration was held to protest Israel's vicious attack on Lebanon, the antiwar movement, especially those associated with the Coalition for Peace and Justice did not participate. In fact, locally they have offered no response at all to the actions of Israel.
The hero du jour of the Democrats is John Murtha -- shades of Wesley Clark. Murtha is the Democratic Party's chief militarist who says verbally that we have to bring our troops home from Iraq but whose actual proposal calls for their redeployment to Kuwait so that they can be ready to invade Iraq or to stage an invasion against Iran or Syria.
Here is the exact wording of Murtha's proposal:
* To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces.
* To create a quick reaction force in the region.
* To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines.
* To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.
The Murtha Deception
When you remove the rhetoric, Murtha’s actual proposal says “redeploy” instead of “withdraw” the troops from Iraq. When Murtha says “redeploy” -- instead of withdraw -- the troops from Iraq, he makes clear that -- despite his rhetoric -- he doesn't want to really bring them home, but to station them in the Middle East. Murtha told Anderson Cooper of CNN: “We ... have united the Iraqis against us. And so I'm convinced, once we redeploy to Kuwait or to the surrounding area, that it will be much safer. They won't be able to unify against the United States. And then, if we have to go back in, we can go back in.”
Murtha's resolution calls for the U.S. to create “a quick-reaction U.S. force and an over-the-horizon presence of U.S. Marines” to be “deployed to the region.” To make matters worse, John Murtha indicated in a press conference that it would take six months even to redeploy our troops.
We are killing 100 Iraqis each day. That's 3,000 innocent Iraqis dead each month. Why do these Democrats want to kill 18,000 more Iraqis before they even redeploy to Kuwait?
Congressional Republicans, in a transparent ploy, offered a one-sentence resolution stating that the deployment of U.S. troops in Iraq be terminated immediately. Murtha called this “a ridiculous resolution” that no Democrat would support. In point of fact, the resolution was opposed by all of the pro-war Democrats and most of the anti-war Democrats, who (as the Republicans hoped) didn't want to be accused of “cutting and running.” But actually the resolution wasn't ridiculous at all understood in the sense I have just explained.
Lois Herr: A Case Study of Democratic Party Deception
How do the Democrats do it? How do they convince well-intentioned antiwar Americans to vote for pro-war Democratic candidates? The Democratic candidate in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, Lois Herr, provides an excellent illustration of the duplicity of the Democratic Party.
Last week George Bush came to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. As I moved in and out of the group of protesters handing out literature for my Congressional campaign, most of the people were polite enough to take the literature, but many told me bluntly that they were voting Herr.
Herr has done precisely the same thing that John Murtha has done. On the one hand while saying that it is time for our troops to come home, without skipping a beat, she then completely contradicts herself by saying that she supports the Murtha plan (and on her website places such conditions on the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq that, in essence, she would have them there forever). This Democrat has been supporting the war ever since it began. Now, for the first time however, instead of just facing a pro-war Republican, she is facing me -- the antiwar independent candidate. Now she's doing the John Murtha shuffle.
Smoke and Mirrors
Okay, now watch this little trick -- nothing up my sleeve. Here's exactly how the pro-war Democrat Lois Herr answered Project Vote Smart this month when asked about her position on Iraq:
“It is time to bring troops home! Congressman Murtha is right: American troops have become a catalyst for violence in Iraq. We must demand a near date for withdrawal. Our soldiers have won the war and deposed a brutal tyrant. American Marines and GI's have stood guard while the Iraqis held their first elections in living memory. We must now insist that civilian leadership honor their service and sacrifice by ending the occupation, and by fulfilling our mutual promises to veterans.”
Although many of Lois Herr’s answers to PVS are self contradictory -- her answers to the questions about the federal budget are a riot of contradictions -- I'm going to limit my analysis just to her position on Iraq as a case-in-point, demonstrating exactly how the Democratic Party lies to well-intentioned antiwar Democrats and thereby seduces them into voting for its pro-war candidates.
In the space of just one paragraph Ms. Herr tells us it's time to bring our troops home and at the same time she says we must set a date for a “near” withdrawal, and then goes on to tell us that she agrees with John Murtha who simply wants to redeploy our troops to Kuwait and not bring them home at all! You can’t make up stuff like this -- and the desperate Democratic voter buys this stuff like they've just been offered a super deal on some Enron stock.
Two Parts to the Democrats’ Big Lie
There are two aspects to Lois Herr’s reply to PVS that exemplify how the Democratic Party plays the antiwar voter for suckers. The first has to do with Herr embracing John Murtha's “solution” and the second has to do with her statement, “Our soldiers have won the war and deposed a brutal tyrant.”
Let's start with her statement about our soldiers having won the war and deposed a brutal tyrant. Of course this is not true. This is pandering. Ms. Herr is trying to find a way to declare victory and support our fine troops so as not to offend patriotic voters who may confuse the sobering reality that their loved ones along with other brave, self-sacrificing fighting Americans were nothing more than the moving parts of a failed bipartisan war machine. Ms. Herr cannot admit, God help us, that America has fought a war and lost.
Our soldiers have not won the war. They didn't just depose a tyrant, they destroyed an entire nation. The “de-Bathification” policy dismantled an entire state administrative system and its collective expertise that is still years away from being replaced. Considering the chaos, it will probably never be replaced, definitely not without the rise of a new tyrant to forcibly pacify the streets. Because of that policy, the Iraqi infrastructure is years away from functioning. Our government, through its military, dismantled the entire state security system and introduced two new forms of tyranny -- tribal militias and rampant deadly street crime -- that have cost far more lives than even Saddam had ever taken, and are far less predictable to the people of Iraq in terms of gauging how to act in the hopes of protecting their own lives.
Under Saddam, those who opposed him might be tortured or even killed. This was something an individual Iraqi could choose to deal with. Now people in Iraq get tortured or killed because of the street on which they live, who their parents are, there religious heritage, or for no reason at all, and the death rate far exceeds what it had been under the “brutal tyrant” Ms. Herr says that we deposed.
Our inept effort at helping the new civil administration to increase its security capacities has placed more arms and trained personnel into the militias and black markets than it has placed into the civil administration, so Lois Herr’s claim that it is somehow “now time” for that civil administration to start taking care of its own security is preposterous.
The truth is neither Lois Herr nor John Murtha, whose “plan” she has embraced, has a withdrawal plan -- they have not even acknowledged that Iraq is in a US-invasion-generated combination of civil chaos and civil war which would require the replacement of American troops with other, more culturally sensitive and local security assistance. Neither Murtha nor Herr acknowledge that no withdrawal of American troops is complete without the withdrawal of the Blackwater and other mercenary corporations that operate under contract and do not answer to American policymakers. She doesn't acknowledge the necessity of returning all seized assets to Iraqi ownership (like, say the oil fields, which are the sole source of revenue), or terminating all US military base construction.
Murtha and Herr, we must keep in mind, are not opposed to U.S. imperial designs or U.S. militarism. They criticize the Bush administration because its Iraq policies have led to cuts in the (non-Iraq) defense budget, threatening the U.S. ability to maintain military dominance.
The only difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party is over tactics and not over the strategic goal of U.S. domination over the Middle East and its peoples.
Flunking Miss Lois
Lois Herr’s replies to the Project Vote Smart questionnaire are survey-driven and, pathetically, represent nothing more that finger-in-the-wind politics. It is hard to believe they actually represent the responses of someone intending to run for House of Representatives.
Maybe I spent too many years as a high school teacher and a university professor before going into business. Maybe that's why the Democratic Party and its candidates like Lois Herr are so frustrating to me. I have been pointing out to Herr for a year all of the mistakes she made on her last test called Project Vote Smart 2004. This time around she actually got a couple of answers right. She now realizes what an atrocious idea it was for her to support the use of military tribunals for civilians accused of terrorism. Well, at least she corrected one mistake! But I'm afraid she still gets a failing grade.
What is even more frustrating is to find well-intentioned members of the Democratic Party actually supporting a candidate who has demonstrated absolutely no understanding of the major issues facing our country. By embracing the position of John Murtha, Lois Herr continues to maintain the same pro-war position she has maintained ever since the war and occupation began.
The position of Lois Herr is not the position of the antiwar movement and it is certainly not my position. It certainly explains why, when Lois Herr asked Michael Berg for his endorsement, he refused. Not surprisingly, Michael Berg has endorsed my campaign.
In good faith, antiwar Democrats must not vote for any candidate who advocates U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, whether over or under “the horizon.” We don't want U.S. troops remaining in the region and poised to go back into Iraq. They don't belong there. I don't know why Herr and the Democratic Party can't get that through their thick skulls but since they continue to fail, they must be left behind.
My campaign will relentlessly continue its fight for the immediate, total, and unconditional withdrawal of U.S. troops and their allies from Iraq and the whole region. The central slogan of the antiwar movement’s, “Troops Out Now,” is more warranted each day and will keep gaining in urgency until victory over the warmongers in both parties is achieved.
John A. Murphy is the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He has been endorsed by Michael Berg, Peter Camejo, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader and Howard Zinn. He has been endorsed by two county level Green Parties, two county level Libertarian Parties, the Pennsylvania Reform Party, the New American Independent Party of Pennsylvania and the GDI among others. He is also one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition, working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: email@example.com or through www.johnmurphyforcongress.org.
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