Memo to the Candidates: If not You, then Who? If not Now, then When?
by Anne Miller and Kevin Martin
U.S. Senators and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd and Joseph Biden have all been making the trek to New Hampshire to appeal to the state’s voters to choose them in the first-in-the-nation primary to be held in January.
They’re all talking about Iraq as a military failure in their efforts to play to decidedly antiwar crowds:
Biden: “The war in Iraq has been a failure,” with U.S. troops now acting as “apartheid cops.” There is no military solution to the “sectarian cycle of vengeance and revenge” (December, 2006 at Southern New Hampshire University).
Dodd: “I’m the one that believes that…there’s no military solution at all to Iraq. We need to move away from this idea that there’s a military solution… And so, I believe that we oughta start re- deploying this evening” (April 2007, MoveOn.org virtual town meeting).
Obama: “…I make a solemn pledge to you, as president we will be out of Iraq” (April 2007, addressing a New Hampshire voter in Nashua).
Clinton: “That’s what we’re trying to do in the Congress, working together to put the pressure on [President Bush] to set some deadlines on him. But if he doesn’t end [the war in Iraq], as president I will” (April 2007, interview with the New York Times’ Des Moines Bureau).
Sorry, Senators, but our troops and the Iraqi people can’t wait for the possibility of one of you to become President. By then thousands more Iraqis and Americans will be dead, and for what? Everyone with any senses knows the policy is a failure, so why should more people have to die?
End the war now – use your power as senators. It’s never too soon to take real leadership.
United State Senators, unlike members of the House of Representatives, can wield enormous power over the agenda and business of the Senate. A single determined Senator can bring business to a halt until his or her issue is addressed. The good news is there are four of you, not just one.
You can filibuster war funding bills. You can declare your refusal to vote for another dime of the taxpayers’ money for the war. You can respond to President Bush’s promised veto of the pending supplemental war appropriations bill with not a weaker bill, but a stronger one to fully fund the safe and orderly withdrawal of all US troops, bases and contractors within six months, as the Out of Iraq Caucus leadership in the House of Representatives advocates.
You can do this together so nobody grabs the credit and nobody feels slighted. It can be the first act of the “I Want To Be President”
caucus in the Senate. You’ll all be history’s heroes for ending an unjust war. Isn’t the promise of saving thousands of lives more important than calculating how to position yourselves on the war to best increase your odds of winning the Democratic nomination?
Skeptics will doubtless dub this leadership plan unrealistic, noting the Democrats do not now have the votes to end the war and bring the troops home this year, let alone fund an interim UN or regional peacekeeping mission in Iraq, reparations and reconstruction for the Iraqi people, and to do right by our homecoming troops, all of which must be addressed and paid for.
However, Democratic leaders have not tried to make a case for such a dramatic change in policy. We submit that if you laid out such a comprehensive plan, it would have massive support from the American and Iraqi people.
And the alternative – giving Bush nearly $100 billion in “supplemental” war funding to continue his disastrous policies in Iraq, with another $140 billion requested for the fiscal year that begins October 1 (all of this on top of well over $400 billion to
date) and crossing our fingers and somehow hoping it will make things better in Iraq – is that more realistic?
The only thing missing is actual leadership, which voters are hungry for, and which all of you fine candidates claim to possess. So why wait until one of you (maybe, and it’s more likely for some than
others) is president? Show some bold leadership now. End the war now.
Bring our troops home – now.
Anne Miller is the Director of New Hampshire Peace Action. Kevin Martin is the Executive Director of (national) Peace Action.