They won’t pull out troops from Iraq and they won’t vote for any strategy that calls for immediate removal of United States occupation forces. Of course it took a Republican to put forth an "out-now" resolution, which was supposedly intended to split the Democrats. But the vote in the House late Friday didn’t slice a wedge in the Democrat Party — on the contrary, it united them behind a bloody and illegal occupation in Iraq. Of course this could well have been the Republican strategy all along.
Only three Democrats voted in support of the Republicans’ Iraq withdraw proposal: Representatives Wexler, Serrano and McKinney. And their point was well made. They want the troops home now and they don’t care who wrote up the legislation or the reasons why they did it. It was the right move to make. If US troops were pulled out tomorrow, Iraq would be a safer place for all of us.
A handful of House Democrats did take the podium to express their seething disgust over the Republicans’ political feat. Talk is cheap, however. Votes are what count. If there ever was a subject that should gash the thin-skinned Democratic Party, it’d be the Iraq war. But as the House vote verified, the Democrats don’t want US troops home now, let alone in six months as Rep. John Murtha proposed last Thursday.
Murtha, a veteran war hawk who championed the Iraq invasion from its inception, announced at a teary eyed press conference that he wished to withdraw the nearly 160,000 US troops in Iraq “at the earliest predictable date.” Recent polls indicate that the majority of Americans agree with Murtha’s call to pull out US forces, which wasn’t even close to an "out-now" proposition. Regardless, the Democrats took cover as Rep. Murtha began making headlines with his remarks.
“I don’t support immediate withdrawal,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid released in a statement following Murtha’s call to exit troops.
“Mr. Murtha speaks for himself," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gasped as reporters asked for her take on the matter.
The Democratic leadership in Washington was making it crystal clear that they won’t be cut and running from Iraq but from Murtha and the movement that prompted his change of heart.
The Democrats, however, are proving to be the Avian Flu of the antiwar movement. They are willing to divvy out just enough fodder in hopes of luring in the antiwar crowd, and then they strike.
First it was the Senate lock out, which ended up being nothing more than a charade masked as opposition. After all, debating pre-war intel is a non-issue — what we need to be worried about is how to bring our troops home now. But as we well know, the Democrats have neither a plan nor the desire to bring them home anytime soon.
Senator John Kerry and even Donald Rumsfeld are calling for a reduction of US troops after December. But the troops they both want to bring home are the ones they sent over to monitor Iraq elections in the first place. Pulling them out afterward was the plan all along. The Democrats, like the Republicans, still believe there is a mission to be accomplished here. What this mission is, nobody knows.
US presence in Iraq is only enflaming more anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and worldwide. It’s only increasing potential threats against the United States. Surely it can’t be democracy the Democrats and Republicans want. If that were the case they’d have yanked out troops months ago as Iraqis have overwhelmingly declared that’s what they desire. No, this ongoing mission is only about one thing: smug American pride. President Bush and his Democratic enablers can’t admit that this war was waged for no reason whatsoever. They can’t admit that all the lives lost have been for nothing.
Joshua Frank [send him mail] is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. To learn more visit www.BrickBurner.org.