Beware the Progressives
by Stan Goff
feel compelled once again to be a skunk at the party, but it's a
role I'm growing into. Cindy Sheehan's squatter's camp has re-energized
the antiwar movement, but just as it has done so, it has also re-energized
the herd dogs of the Democratic Party who fear nothing more than
an independent mass movement.
plopped down outside the Bush gopher ranch on a 98-degree day. The
cops told her to leave. As tactfully as she could, Cindy advised
them in less scatological terms to piss up a rope, putting the cops,
the Bush administration, and the Democratic Party in a dilemma.
the cops nor the administration wanted to be held responsible on
camera for dragging away the grieving mother of an Iraq war fatality
(her son, Casey). For a moment, they were hopeful that there would
be an untimely end to this little action when Cindy collapsed from
severe dehydration on the first day; but alas she re-hydrated and
re-appeared the following day and began attracting mad media.
the Democrats, of course, of whom exactly one elected official (Maxine
Waters) has deigned to visit "Camp Casey," this presented
quite another problem the same problem that the whole movement
against the war presented prior to the last electoral farce in 2004.
The masses were moving to their left and threatening to expose this
moribund Weimar formation as the waste of both money and oxygen
that it has repeatedly demonstrated itself to be. But Joshua Frank
did an excellent job recently on this site of describing the Democratic
want to talk about something more specific, and that is one of the
tactics being employed by the partisans of this rotting political
edifice to try and contain the newfound energy that exploded onto
the scene at Crawford and threatens to fill the DC Mall with malcontents
on September 24th.
that is the "exit strategy" proposal drafted by Tom Hayden
and being vigorously pimped by policy-encrusted liberals all through
cyberspace, the print media, and soon enough on television. This
is the oral formulaic appeal to "reasonableness and realism"
of weak-kneed liberals every time a mass movement threatens to gain
any momentum we have to present a "reasonable"
alternative (always a POLICY alternative, of course), and we have
to face the fact that we can't "move" "our"
agenda without accepting a "realistic" (read: watered
down) approach. You kiddies have acted up enough now; go on and
play; leave the rest of this to Daddy and Mommy in Congress.
of course, are only at risk of losing a tiny sliver of their base
among the strictest libertarians over the war.
Democrats are already grooming a few 2008 candidates, including
the execrable Hillary Rodham Clinton who has stated her desire to
beef up the war against Southwest Asia. Let's not forget that her
husband presided over an Iraqi holocaust that George W. Bush is
still trying to match. The Republicans are secure for now with their
white nationalist popular base. An active and increasingly militant
left is a more immediate threat to the Democrats who have
prospered from Republican reaction for decades now by capturing
social bases that feel they have nowhere else to go. That dilemma
is real, but it is also predicated on the notion that to "go
there" we need to contain ourselves in electoralism and pluralist
policy fights that are engineered by corporations and NGOs.
why Sheehan and others who propose the radical option of simply
leaving Iraq are now being surrounded by the friendly faces of "progressives"
who will try and redirect this newfound mobilization along the acceptable
Tom Hayden with his "proposal" for disengagement in Iraq.
Hayden's proposal appeared recently in the LA Times, where
rallying cry of 'out now' expresses the belief that the Iraq war
is not worth another minute in lost lives, lost honor, lost taxes,
lost allies. But its very simplicity makes the demand easy to
ignore or dismiss."
thank you, oh wise one, for instructing us on the finer points of
political realism. And thank you for putting words in our mouths
that have us express precisely the kinds of chauvinist horse manure
being shoveled out of the DP stable. Most of us oppose the war because
it is a cynical, amoral, imperial crime. To hell with allies and
"honor." And don't worry. We will not be dismissed. Cindy
Sheehan, one of those naifs who say "out now" isn't being
dismissed, now is she? Except by Tom Hayden, who in a patronizing
tone, calls Cindy's "bring them home now" position a "moral
says that we "deserve a hearing," and that this means
we will have to propose an exit strategy of our own... which is
actually Tom Hayden's. By the way, Tom, we intend to be heard one
way or another, unless you mean we deserve to be heard with
our respectful hats in our respectful hands by the venal
"leadership" of elected official-dum.
statement is a non sequitur, by the way. There is not anything about
our deserving-ness that in any way suggests we have to propose some
abstract, unenforceable, debatable-for-the-next-five-years "exit
strategy." But thank you oh so much for validating us in our
the surviving families of those thousands of Iraqis whose corpses
rotted under the rubble of Fallujah that they "deserve a hearing."
Where do you people learn to talk like that? Is there some kind
of secret school for Democrats where they get a graduate degree
in Weasel Wording?
Tom Hayden's "plan":
as confidence-building measures, Washington should declare that
it has no interest in permanent military bases or the control
of Iraqi oil. It must immediately announce goals for ending the
occupation and bringing all our troops home in months, not years,
beginning with an initial gesture by the end of this year."
old boy, I can't help myself. This is bullshit.
you joking about this? Guarantees from the US? You been to Pine
Ridge lately? Ask them about guarantees from the US government.
Perhaps you can explain to some of us why this administration would
ever offer a guarantee to turn its back on the central goal of the
whole Iraq invasion. Let me propose a different confidence building
measure to reach out to Iraqis. We make the political cost so high
in the US for continuing the war that it threatens the entire US
state with destabilization... just an alternative suggestion, you
of Tom's "exit strategy":
the U.S. should request that the United Nations, or a body blessed
by the U.N., monitor the process of military disengagement and
de-escalation, and take the lead in organizing a peaceful reconstruction
are you having a mescaline flashback? The United Nations? What nationalities,
pray tell, will be under those Carolina-blue K-Pots? Or does the
UN employ angels? Moreover, why in the world would the US or the
Iraqis need anyone to "oversee" a disengagement? Here
you propose a plan that is allegedly going to conform to a set timeline,
yet it is utterly dependent on the script being followed by actors
over whom the US exercises little to no control. I can't help remembering
a similar notion that was enacted by Richard Nixon in 1969. He did
get out of Vietnam, however, six years and a million dead bodies
later with people clinging to the skids of UH1H helicopters.
me just say something about how to withdraw. This is my plan. Hey,
if Tom Hayden is qualified to write up exit strategies, why not
an old grunt like me, eh?
Plan: The National Command Authority orders all US forces redeployed
out of Iraq within one month and out of the theater in two months.
Any commander that fails to meet the deadline will be summarily
relieved, and replaced with a commander that will thereby be placed
on a shorter timeline. I can promise anyone who has no experience
of the military that this is perfectly feasible, and that with that
kind of command emphasis, the mission can and will be accomplished.
of course, is where we discern the liberal pre-occupation (pun intended)
with "overseeing" disengagement and other such poppycock.
Oh Gasp! they will declare. What then will become of these simple-minded
brown people who want nothing more than to drink each other's blood?
At the end of the day, a liberal can be every bit as much the white
nationalist as any rock-ribbed Republican Confederate. They really
believe that the United States is the beacon of civilization because
we have sitcoms and theme parks, and that the brutality of the US
military occupation is an aberration the antithesis of our
true nature. Under all this verbiage is plain, Anglo-American Kiplingesque
white supremacy. Remember the "white man's burden to civilize
the dark races?"
here is a delivery from the cluetrain. Iraqis were doing algebra
and astronomy when some of our European ancestors still believed
that a bath would leave you vulnerable to evil spirits number
one clue. Having smart bombs doesn't make you smarter. It just makes
you meaner. Get over your chauvinist self. Number two clue
the primary catalyst for the intensifying violence in Iraq right
now is... the US military presence. Tom, you say this yourself later
on in your proposal, which only makes this protracted and abstracted
"disengagement" thing all the more remarkable.
of course, Tom goes on:
the president should appoint a peace envoy, independent of the
occupation authorities, to begin an entirely different mission
in Iraq. The envoy should encourage and cooperate in peace talks
with Iraqi groups opposed to the occupation, including insurgents,
to explore a political settlement."
let me get this straight. The US authorities should be replaced...
by a different US authority, renamed, of course, an "envoy."
And the envoy would be the countryman of... the occupying military.
This bait-and-switch is... a "political settlement." Wow,
I'm really getting the hang of this now. I'm beginning to feel like
I might be able to CLEP out of Weasel Wording 101.
reminds us that "[n]either the Bush administration nor the
news media have shown interest in these voices [of the antiwar movement],
perhaps because they undercut the argument that we are fighting
to save Iraqis from each other."
You yourself are proposing a plan with this assumption at its very
even more astonishing is the attempt to lay the blame for this war
at the doorstep of Republicans (and of course the news media). There
is an entire party allegedly in opposition to the Republicans
your party, Tom that hasn't shown any interest in the voices
raised against the war, until of course two things happened: (1)
The polls shifted against the war, and (2) large numbers of non-Republican
people became disenchanted with the utter and gutless capitulationism
of the Democratic Party and started listening to actual leftists.
of us were saying all the way back when that Arkansas horseshit-huckster
was in the Oval Office that Iraqis were being killed off by the
hundreds of thousands in a war (and its sanctions) that started
by the way in 1990 and has not ceased for one moment
since. That war went on all the way through both terms of that sexually
exploitative (It DOES matter!) prevaricator, who bombed Yugoslavian
bridges and aspirin factories with the same enthusiasm that Bush
the Younger has displayed in bombing Afghani weddings and Iraqi
hospitals. Where were the Democrats listening to "these voices"
another voice the DP can listen to. "You're over." More
and more of us are learning that we can never let you take us for
granted again. And we can fight Republicans on our own terms...
by any means necessary.
you in September.
Goff [send him mail] is
the author of Hideous
Dream: A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti (Soft
Skull Press, 2000), Full
Spectrum Disorder (Soft Skull Press, 2003) and Sex
& War which will be released approximately December, 2005.
He is retired from the United States Army. His blog is at StanGoff.com.