Funding the surge in Iraq:
Democrats cave in to Bush's warmongering

from Detroit Workers' Voice #66, June 4, 2007
(CV #40, August 2007)


. The Democratic Party won the Congressional elections of 2006 by campaigning against Bush. The majority of voters hoped a change in parties would mean a change in policy and a pullout from Iraq. Shortly after taking power as the Congressional majority in January, the Democrats passed a non-binding resolution opposing Bush's "surge" strategy and endorsing a partial withdrawal from Iraq. But they have continued to vote to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the "surge". They have provided even more money than Bush asked for. They grumble and threaten and grouse, but they continually cave in to Bush's warmongering.

. As a result, a wave of disgust with the Democratic Party has swept many activists and working people. They want an end to the war in Iraq. They expected the Democrats to do something with their new majority. And they are furious that the Democrats are playing them for fools.

. Cindy Sheehan, for example, became an anti-war activist after one of her sons, Casey, was killed in Iraq. She threw herself into activity, organized an anti-war encampment a few miles away from Bush's ranch in Crawford Texas, spoke at numerous meetings, and devoted herself to rallying people against the war. On May 26 she sent the Democrats a letter:

. "Dear Democratic Congress,
". . . my son Casey Sheehan was killed on April 4, 2004 in Sadr City, Baghdad, Iraq. He was killed when the Republicans still were in control of Congress. Naively, I set off on my tireless campaign calling on Congress to rescind George's authority to wage his war of terror while asking him 'for what noble cause' did Casey and thousands of others have to die. Now, with Democrats in control of Congress, I have lost my optimistic naivete and become cynically pessimistic as I see you all caving in to . . . 'Mr. 28%' [Bush's popularity rating].
. "There is absolutely no sane or defensible reason for you to hand Bloody King George more money to condemn more of our tired, brave, and damaged soldiers and the people of Iraq to more death and carnage. You think giving him more money is politically expedient, but it is a moral abomination and every second the occupation of Iraq endures, you all have more blood on your hands. . . .
. "We gave you a chance, you betrayed us."

. She says she is leaving the Democratic Party, and calls on people "to try and figure a way out of this 'two' party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives." In the next few days she was stunned by the torrent of abuse she suffered from apologists for the Democratic Party. She refused to retract her criticism of the Democrats, but she announced she was stepping aside as a public figure of the anti-war movement. She didn't see how to find support for building a movement free from the Democrats.

. Yet she is not the only activist who is upset. The Democrats are using the war issue, not to end the war, but simply to get elected. But millions of working people are increasing angry at the war. And thousands upon thousands of people who have come out to demonstrations large and small against the war are also angry. For them, the war isn't simply another subject for politicking. It is a crime that should be ended. They are not going to simply shrug and forgive the Democrats once more for saying one thing and doing another.

. As the war drags on, the Democrats will continue to posture against it, and new hopes will rise in the Democratic leadership and the supposed anti-war section of the Democratic Party. And these hopes will repeatedly be punctured. More and more people will ask, what is the alternative? Some people may leave the Democrats, and then return, and then leave again. Some people may leave the anti-war movement for a time, and new forces will enter. A period of political turbulence is upon us.

. It is time that workers looked into building our own political movement. The Democrats repeatedly betray the masses to the war machine because they are a party of the rich, just as the Republicans are. The rich profit from war and imperialism, and the workers and common people pay the price. Therefore only a movement of the working class and students and minorities can really stand against the wave of wars and foreign intervention that continue year after year.

Party of war under banner of peace

. The Democrats caved in to Bush's surge because they aren't really against the occupation of Iraq. They simply believe they have a cheaper way to accomplish it.

. Their proposal of a supposed phased withdrawal would not have ended the US military presence in Iraq or in the region. Many US troops would remain in Iraq to "protect US interests". Some would guard the Green Zone inside Baghdad, while others would guard air bases. There would also be troops to "fight terrorism" and "secure Iraqi borders". Moreover, an additional 10-20,000 troops would remain to train Iraqi army units. And it wouldn't affect the huge army of US. mercenaries in Iraq. And a huge US military presence would be kept nearby Iraq, ready to reintervene in Iraq, if the war went badly, or in Iran, or elsewhere in the region.

. The Democrats call this a phased withdrawal from Iraq. But it would be a mere drawdown, a partial withdrawal, contingent on the war not going too badly. It's a plan for victory on the cheap. That's not to say that it really would provide war on the cheap. After all, originally Bush too boasted that the war in Iraq would be cheap. That didn't work out. But that's what the Democrats are promising now.

. Thus the Democrats are not against the war in Iraq -- they are only against a losing and expensive war. They believe they can turn the war around by training more Iraqi troops to fight for US goals, by exerting pressure from the outside, and by finding multilateral forces (forces from other countries) to help intervene in Iraq. They don't criticize the imperialist idea of regarding Iraq as a sphere of US interests, to be manipulated according to the needs of US oil companies and overall US strategy. Instead they think that their plan to dominate the Middle East is more realistic than Bush's plan. In brief, they have the same corporate and imperialist goals as Bush. They simply think he is incompetent at achieving them.

. That is why Bush could blackmail the Democrats into dropping their own plan for phased withdrawal. The Democrats said that this was because they didn't have enough votes to override Bush's veto of their original funding bill of early May. But Bush wouldn't have been able, without cooperation from the Democratic Party, to pass any funding bill at all. Since he needed the money for his "surge", which the Democratic Party claims to be against, he would seem to be in a far more desperate position than the Democrats. But the Democrats are as committed to winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as Bush. They don't want the war to end, but for it to be more successful. And they are afraid that their corporate backers and the capitalist exploiters as a whole would blame them for disrupting the war effort. So, and not for the first time, they tore up their own plan and kissed Bush's ass.

. The Democrats walk a tightrope. For example, House Majority leader Nancy Pelosi continually tells the world that she is against the war, but she conspires with Bush to ensure that the "surge" gets all the funding it needs. She negotiated the funding bill of late May with Bush. She then turned around and, with the majority of House Democrats, voted against this bill. But at the same time she ensured that enough Democrats would vote for the bill for it to be passed. Thus she wanted to have working people regard herself and the Democrats as anti-war heroes, while ensuring that Bush got the money he needed to escalate the war.

. The Democrats also say that it doesn't matter that they are funding the surge for several months. Bush will again have to come back and ask for more money. Yeah, and then what? At that time we'll have a replay of the same grandstanding by the Democrats, while the war will continue.

The Iraqi war goes on and on

. Meanwhile the war goes on. Every day there are more and more car bombings and mass executions inside the capital city. Bush's "surge" of 21,000 combat troops into Baghdad has brought unheard-of levels of violence in Baghdad. May was the highest month of casualties for U. S. forces in two-and-a-half years, while the deaths of Iraqis escalate to horrendous levels.

. Nor is the war in Afghanistan going that well either. The Taliban was overthrown rapidly, and it was an unpopular government. But the occupation of Afghanistan by US and NATO forces has alienated enough of the population that the vicious Taliban is making a comeback. Casualties are rising there too, although they are still nowhere near the level of those in Iraq.

. And more wars wait in the wings. For example, the Bush administration was stepping up military pressure on Syria and Iran. But the overextension of US forces in Iraq has put a spoke in plans to intervene elsewhere in the Middle East.

The real story: imperialism

. The truth is that the war in Iraq is not about democracy, or weapons of mass destruction, or defending Americans from terrorism. The truth is that it's simply naked imperialism. Bush's real "surge" is the surge to control oil resources and markets.

. Bush is backed in this surge by the oil corporations and construction zillionaires like Halliburton. They see money to be made in Iraq, and they couldn't care less about democracy. This is the class of people who control policy in the US.

. Thus the real story about the war funding bills is about the class nature of our own government. The Iraq debacle reveals the truth about what sort of government we have in the US. It's a government that carries out elections but then ignores the results of those elections. It's a system that makes a fetish out of polls, but when every poll goes against the government and administration they simply ignore the results. It's a government that pretends to be democratic but is in fact simply imperialist.

. Thus a real struggle against the war has to be based on the working class. It's going to have to be based on demonstrations, and organizing among workers, students, and minority communities, and not on hoping that the government will become reasonable.

. Many people hoped that the victory of the Democratic Party in the elections meant a quick end to the war. That's not going to happen. The Democrats are going to continue to betray the anti-war struggle. Every few months they will grandstand again, and betray again. But this will result in people looking for an alternative.

. This creates the possibility that workers, activists, students and minority communities will look towards building an alternative to the Democrats. It should be a class alternative, that both fights against war and supports the struggle of the working masses for livable wages, health care, an end to discrimination, and an end to the fear of deportations. The more anti-war activists abandon hopes in Democratic Party electioneering, and turn instead to organizing among the working masses, the stronger the anti-war movement will be.

. The Democrats have caved into Bush on funding the surge, and they have repeatedly caved in to the militarists, the rich, and the exploiters on every other issue. Let's answer this by building an independent political movement, a movement not to elect fat-cat politicians but to set forward the working-class perspective on every issue. Workers should take this opportunity to expose the Democrats and help build an authentic anti-imperialist political movement that targets both parties of the rich.

To hell with Bush and the Democrats!
U. S. imperialism out of Iraq now!

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Last modified: September 10, 2007.