The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved $161.8 billion in new funds to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the next year, without timetables for withdrawing combat troops.
. . . The Senate’s 92-6 vote to pass the war-funding bill marked a victory for Bush, who has vigorously opposed any move by Congress to impose timetables for ending the Iraq war, now in its sixth year.
. . .The new money for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan puts the war tab since late 2001 at more than $800 billion, with most of that money going to Iraq.
Governor Howard Dean, M.D., Address to California State Democratic Convention, Sacramento, California, March 15, 2003
What I want to know, what I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting the President’s unilateral intervention in Iraq? [cheers].
What I want to know, is what in the world so many Democrats are doing supporting tax cuts which have bankrupted this country and given us the largest deficit in the history of the United States? [cheers].
[. . .] What I want to know is why the Democrats in Congress aren’t standing up for us joining every other industrialized country on the face of the Earth in having health insurance for every man, woman and child in America? [cheers, chants “Dean”].
[. . .] As Paul Wellstone said . . . I’m Howard Dean, and I’m here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. [cheers].
People say we should not impeach Bush because it will divert us from getting out of Iraq. I think that approach has things backwards. I think we can’t deal with the problems of Iraq until we deal with getting Bush out. With Bush in charge we can’t have a rational debate about the best options for Iraq.
1) I believe that it’s wrong to just pull our forces out of Iraq. We invaded, we destabilized and we destroyed the existing institutions of order. We created the mess there. We created the civil war. We created the threat of regional conflict. So I think it is America’s legal and moral responsibility to provide security for the people of Iraq. And that’s also what international law says. Of course, providing security for the people of Iraq is not going to happen with Bush in office.
(Someone told me this idea is like being raped and then getting a ride to the hospital from the rapist. I can understand the sentiment, but the U.S. is not a person and Iraq is not a person. We and they are a bunch of people all with their own differing needs and interests. Countries have to deal with where things are on a given day, before they deal with where things were on a previous day. In other words, Bush did what he did — but where do we go from here that is best for us and best for them NOW?)
2) It is wrong to blame the Iraqis for what we have done and it would be wrong to abandon them to the mess we made. But the way our forces are being used by Bush just makes things worse. This must change but it will not change with Bush in charge of policy decisions.
3) Suppose we do vote to withdraw with Bush in office? How do you think a Bush administration will execute that withdrawal? Will they do it in a way that makes things better — or much worse? And will they just refuse, necessitating the impeachment I say has to happen first? In other words, we can’t deal with Iraq until we deal with Bush.
4) There is also a national security component. The current situation in Iraq really is making us less safe here. Leaving might only make that worse. This needs to be debated rationally – impossible with Bush in office spouting his focus-group-tested bullshit, designed to put up a smokescreen and distract us from reality.
5) Bush’s propaganda is causing us to doubt terror warnings that may be real. What if our intelligence agencies discovered that al Queda really is getting ready to use a nuke on an American city, for example? We simply can not trust our government right now to tell us the truth. The threat of a terrorist attack is too serious to allow this incompetent, lying gang of criminals to remain in office even one day longer than it takes to get them out.
6) Similarly, Bush’s lies about Iraq have forced us to doubt the claims about threats presented by Iran. But Iran is not Iraq, and their theocratic rulers are not our friends. We need to be able to trust what is being said to us and we can’t with ush in office.
So I think that the right path lies in a different direction from working to get the troops out. Options beyond the simplistic choice of doing what we are doing now or just leaving need to be discussed. But we are not going to be able to do what is right until we change the national leadership here. We are not even going to be able to properly debate the issues.
Finding the answers to the problems of Iraq begins with solving the problem of Bush.
Is the Administration trying to prepare the US and world publics for military action against Iran? Is Iran a threat to the US? We are seeing some mixed signals, but I two analysts I respect think that is what is going on. One of them, – an Arab, says war is coming and it is over oil.
Update – and just for the record: What I meant to say, and what I should have said, was that CHOOSING war is always wrong. Atrios posted a YouTube video of Elvis Costello singing “Peace Love and Understanding.” A simple message, but I’d like readers to reflect on this a minute.
I was born not long after the end of WWII. The world was sick of war and looking for ways to avoid it — line the UN. For example, the UN’s processes helped us back away from nuclear destruction during the Cuban Missile Crisis and has helped dampen many other conflicts. But somehow it seems that lessons have been unlearned since then, the most important of which is WAR IS WRONG. WAR IS THE WORST THING!
Today I turn on the AM radio and almost every station is blasting a message that war is a good thing. Seriously, listen to Limbaugh for a while. Or just listen to Bush the other day explaining why a cease fire is out of the question. And there are well-funded organizations working long-term to undermine the UN and other peacemaking efforts. Then there are the more subtle pushes toward war, the kind that ride under the radar of the media, doing things like encouraging India and Pakistan to develop ever MORE nuclear weapons. Or refusing to talk to North Korea or Syria or Iran… It is all cloaked in modern, soothing PR-speak, but it’s war and aggression and it could bring the same consequences to humanity that it has always brought in the past.
Now we live in the Propaganda Age. Marketers have figured out how to use words and images to trigger deep emotions, distract our focus, fog our thinking and get us to do things we would never do otherwise. This isn’t right or wrong – it’s just science. It’s just knowledge. But all of us need to catch up to the science here, and find ways to regulate it, counter it, protect against it. Europe learned the hard way what happens when unrestrained racist propaganda is put in front of people — so now in much of Europe it is banned. Look at what unrestricted marketing has brought us — a lung cancer epidemic, widespread obesity, massive debt, global warming and other forms of what I call “marketing diseases.” And now they are marketing war. We are going to have to learn, probably the hard way, that we need collective agreement about restrictions on marketing.
We live a good life in America. But that doesn’t mean it can’t go all wrong. We talk about “withdrawal” from the Iraq war, as if that would end anything we have started. Tell me, do you think Japan could have called for a time out and “withdrawal” after Pearl Harbor? No, that is not how war works. Japan thought it could do a quick, surgical strike and knock out our capability – and will – to respond. They guessed wrong. And now, like Japan, we have leadership that is bringing war to others. So it is our responsibility – each and every one of us individually and together – to do what we can stop this madness NOW. This could escalate and place us all in direct danger – here, in our shopping malls, in our own homes, not sanitized on a TV screen. That could be our children being dragged from bombed buildings. We all have to start taking real action to stop the madness, beyond just watching it on a TV screen and clicking our tongues. This is our country’s leadership doing this — in our names. We cannot accept this. We must stop it.
Feingold has argued that this kind of clarity, combined with an effective reconstruction effort and constructive assistance to the political process, could help the U.S. to:
• Undermine the recruiting efforts and the unity of insurgents;
• Encourage Iraqi ownership of the transition process and bolster the legitimacy of the Iraqi authorities;
• Reassure the American people that our Iraq policy is not directionless; and
• Most importantly, create space for a broader discussion of our real national security priorities.
I have a question for those who advocate that we “just leave” Iraq: We wrongly invaded, destroyed their infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands. Do we pay reparations? Do we pay to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq? Do we pay death benefits to the families? What TERMS do we offer to end the war? (If you think that wars just end when one side decides to “just leave” I suggest opening a history book.)
Do we prosecute the people who started the war? What do we do if Iran and their Taliban-like government ends up in control of the region?
I think it is urgent that the US not have invaded Iraq. We should do absolutely everything we can to prevent the United States from having invaded Iraq. But since the U.S. already did I think that the people who engineered that invasion should be brought before the World Court and hung for the crime of committing aggressive war. Just as after WWII the world needs to SEE that this is what happens to people who start wars. And I think the entire “conservative movement” machine with its corrupt DeLay/Norquist/Reed/Abramoff lobbying/funding should be dismantled and prosecuted and imprisoned. I think democracy demands this.
That said, what do we do now? Iraq is really a no-win situation, for millions and millions of people. So looking at what should be done about Iraq I think we need to undertand that the reality is that none of us have any say over what will happen. And another reality to consider: Bush is getting ready to cut and run and retreat because The Party sees a late-2006 “War is Over” announcement as a way to keep power.
Again — anything you or I say should happen is not relevant to what will happen. It is simply blowing hot air into the wind and nothing more.