Whew! Thank God that’s over!
The mighty wind you hear coming from Washington today is the huge sigh of relief from Democratic leaders, glad that they can now drop all the political posturing about ending the war in Iraq and get back on board with the imperial program. With the crushing defeat yesterday of what was purported to be a bill to “end” the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry “Give ‘Em Mild Heck” Reid moved quickly to give the Dear Leader all the money he needs to keep feeding the Babylonian inferno with the dead bodies of Iraqi citizens and American soldiers.
In fact, the bill in question, the Feingold Plan, would not have actually ended the illegal occupation of Iraq — God forbid! However, it would have curtailed the extent of the war crime to some degree — withdrawing “combat forces” but keeping troops in Iraq for “counterterrorism” (and aren’t we constantly told that all the Iraqi insurgents are “terrorists”?) and “training Iraqi forces” and protecting the fortress embassy being constructed in the heart of Baghdad. But even this slight slackening of the garrote would not have taken effect until April 2008 — or after 10 more months of savage “surging” by Bush and his sectarian death-squadding allies. (Such as this kind of thing.)
In any case, it was well known that the bill was dead on arrival and had no chance of passing; that’s precisely why the Democratic leaders put it up for consideration. It was a PR exercise to give political cover to those Democrats whose ambitions have forced them to at least nod toward the “consent of the governed,” as clearly expressed in the anti-war vote last year. But now that the stunt is over, it’s back to bipartisan business. As the New York Times reports:
After the vote, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader and a co-sponsor of the Feingold plan, said he was committed to delivering legislation acceptable to Mr. Bush by the end of next week. He conceded that the compromise was likely to disappoint war opponents who had pushed Congress to set a pull-out date…
In the end, the only proposal to pass the Senate [with overwhelming Democratic support] was a resolution by Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, which urged Congress to provide about $95 billion sought by the president for the war before Memorial Day.
Of course, those “war opponents” who will be “disappointed” that the Democrats failed to pass the Feingold “mild curtailment of the slaughter” bill include the majority of citizens in the United States who now oppose the war and want to see it brought to an end, according to all polls. This why they voted the Democrats into power in last year’s election — to do something about stopping the war.
It was a vain hope, of course. The Democrats (with a handful of honorable exceptions) had already displayed their preternatural spinelessness throughout the Bush imperium, culminating in their failure last fall to mount a proper, furious, public, frenzied — if doomed — resistance to the “Military Commissions Act,” the anti-Magna Carta measure that transformed the United States into a banana republic run by a tyrannical “Unitary Executive” and his military junta. (The essence of the bill allows the unchallengeable Commander-in-Chief to declare anyone on earth an “enemy combatant” and keep them chained up indefinitely, with only one legal recourse allowed: a military tribunal, set up by the Commander, for those captives he decides to put to the question. As for the rest, they can rot forever at his pleasure.)
The Democrats, afraid of looking “soft” on terrorism, put up only the most token, tepid defense of the Constitutional Republic and let the MCA sail through, all the while telling their supporters with a wink: “This is just tactical. Wait till we win back Congress in November, then we’ll get rid of this law.” Yet the mephitic measure remains on the books, in full force — five months after the Democrats were sworn in.
It was therefore the height of folly — or the depths of desperation — to believe that these Democrats would do anything substantial to upset the imperial apple-cart that Bush has set rolling through the Middle East and Central Asia. They are too cowardly, too co-opted, too corrupt and too comfortable to challenge the long-standing, bipartisan policies of loot and domination that have burdened us with a vast empire of more than 730 military bases on every continent, and endless, churning wars — overt and covert, direct and proxy — all over the world.
After all, the Democratic leaders are among the elite who have profited most handsomely from the imperial arrogance that has bankrupted the national treasury, distorted the economy, perverted our society and left Americans more at threat than ever before. (Arthur Silber has much more on the bipartisan imperium in his “Dominion” series.) The Democratic Establishmentarians, like their Republican counterparts, are wealthy, well fed, well wadded and secure behind their phalanxes of state and private security. The actual effects of their policies — the death, grief, ruin, hardship, suffering and fear they inflict on ordinary people, at home and abroad — never touch the elite. They hear the cries as from a great distance, they see the destruction as through a glass, darkly. And so it will go on, and on, and on. The Democrats — especially these Democrats — are not going to stop it.
Chris Floyd [send him mail] is the author of Empire Burlesque: The Secret History of the Bush Regime.