Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Democrats in Congress

The Democrats in Congress

By Jerome Grossman

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the details of the Bush war strategy in Iraq, they will validate the illegal war.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the size of American troop cuts, they will concede that some troops can remain in Iraq.

If the Democrats in Congress argue for an American residual force in Iraq, they will be defending the occupation.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the degree of success of the military "surge", they will be accepting the right of U.S. forces to fight in Iraq.

If the Democrats in Congress argue about the performance of the Iraqi government, they will be treating it as a puppet.

If the Democrats in Congress accept a partial reduction in U.S. forces in Iraq, they will be accepting the remainder as legitimate occupiers.

If the Democrats in Congress accept the responsibility for training Iraqi troops and police, they will confirm U.S. control of the country.

If the Democrats in Congress support retaining any military bases in Iraq, they will confirm a policy of permanent occupation and control.

If the Democrats in Congress fail to insist on a firm date for total troop withdrawal, they will be accepting a long U.S. occupation.

If the Democrats in Congress accept a token troop withdrawal, they will give President Bush a clever victory: sending 30,000 troops, then withdrawing 10,000; diminishing the public pressure for withdrawal, the occupation goes on.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Out of Iraq Now

Out of Iraq Now
By Jerome Grossman

The nation is on the verge of a most important debate on the Iraq war. It is crucial that you send a message right now to your senators and representative with your opinion. Even if they have similar views to yours, try to spur them into more action. We must end this war now. We must withdraw all troops now. We must not leave a residual military force that would continue the illegal invasion and occupation. American lives and dollars are being sacrificed for no legitimate purpose. It must end now. Please do your part.

Military Intervention and Democracy

Military Intervention and Democracy
By Jerome Grossman

The paradox of American policy in the Middle East - and in other regions - is that almost everywhere there are free elections, the side supported by the Americans tends to lose. According to The New York Times, one reformer in Saudi Arabia said “It’s the kiss of death, The minute you are counted on or backed by Americans. Kiss it goodbye, you will never win."

The Palestinians voted for Hamas. The Iraqis voted for a government sympathetic to Iran. The Egyptians have voted in increasing numbers for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood. Hezbollah won a significant number of seats in the Lebanon election. President Musharraf is hanging on to his office in Pakistan, but just barely.

Western values revere democracy, but when forced upon a people it can raise serious questions about independence, sovereignty and freedom, even leading to violence and civil war. Bribery of the elites to accept the form if not the substance of democracy will not win elections when the voters are fully involved.

American policies around the world are so focused on military power, 737 military bases in 130 countries, manned by 500,000 soldiers, that we have forgotten how to influence political decisions. In the 2006 elections in the Palestinian Territories, the U.S. could have prodded it’s ally Israel to make concessions before the balloting, such as releasing part of the Palestinian import tax funds the Israelis were holding, or easing some of the checkpoints in the West Bank that inhibit Palestinian travel . Hamas won the election with the argument that only a hard-line can achieve concessions from the Israelis. After the election, Israeli policy did ease somewhat, but too late, Hamas had won.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah benefited in a similar fashion. The centrist government implored the U.S. and Israel for military equipment and financial help, but little was forthcoming - until Hezbollah made significant gains and achieved political power. Now, there is big help for the Siniora government, but too late, Hezbollah is already politically powerful.

The politics of Iraq have been a disaster. The original American plan was to install as leader an Iraqi émigré based in Washington D.C. When that failed, we turned to a strongman who also failed, then a Shi'ite who had spent 20 years in Iran. After World War II, MacArthur in Japan and the U.S. generals in Germany knew how to use military power to shape and control those nations. The Bush administration does not know how to use the power it has. At the same time, the immoral and illegal invasion has so badly damaged the US militarily and politically around the world that we suffer the worst of both worlds.

This is a familiar pattern, not exclusive to President Bush. Virtually every president has embraced the spreading of the American form of democracy abroad. For example, the Clinton administration conducted several military interventions, which they called humanitarian interventions, with the stated aim of establishing democracy. However, in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and Kosovo, American-style democracy failed to take root and the reputation of the U.S. has suffered because of the military interventions.

We are learning that there are limits to the power of the superpower, that the military can gain victories, but not always acquiescence.

Monday, September 3, 2007

The Democrats’ Dilemma

The Democrats’ Dilemma
By Jerome Grossman

When Democrats talk about their party these days, it sounds like a ritual confession. They apologize for being too liberal. They are afraid of being tagged as antimilitarist. They are talking about saying "no" to the large, influential special interest groups that have traditionally been identified with the party.

To do so would be to reject their history and their reason for existing. For more than 150 years, the Democrats have been the party of social and economic justice, representing the interests of small farmers, immigrants, religious and racial minorities, trade union members, poor people, women, and other out - groups. For the first hundred years, the Democrats were antistatist. Their platforms called for laissez-faire, states rights, and low tariffs. To Jeffersonians and Jacksonians, the state was a bastion of wealth and privilege, and to be antistatist was to be democratic and egalitarian. However, from Roosevelt's New Deal, the party learned to use federal power to promote economic justice. From the civil rights revolution, the party learned to use federal power to promote social justice. Now the party has to figure out how to keep its commitment to democracy and equality while weaning itself from an excessive reliance on government.

This is no small problem. The Democrats dilemma is a major issue for industrial societies in the twentieth century: Can you advance the cause of social and economic justice without increasing the power of the state to dangerous levels? The serious social democrat will say no, but you can ensure that the power of the state is democratically controlled. The answer won't get you very far in this country, where suspicion of government is a primordial value.

One thing is sure. The Democrats cannot turn their backs on the women, the workers, the blacks, and the peace activists, because without these special interest groups they wouldn't have a party.


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