The Democratic party leadership, so called, seems to me to be selling us two false premises, and we need to call them on both.
First, they keep saying that there’s nothing they can do to stop the war because of the thin margin in the Senate. Assuming that they’ve read the Constitution, or at least been advised by lawyers who have, they know this isn’t true. The House could end funding for anything but withdrawal, and within a couple months the administration would be forced to respond to the lack of money. But the Democrats, as usual, react fearfully, aware, as Paul Krugman recently said, that the Republicans will attack their patriotism no matter they do, and taking precisly the wrong lesson from that.
Second, they continue to claim that there are no good choices in the current situation, for example as George Packer presents it. This, it seems to me, is also false. In fact, the plan detailed by George McGovern and William Roe Polk last year in Harper’s was quite viable. Naturally a year-old plan might need a bit of updating, but the thrust was the important thing. The reason it didn’t get more of a hearing was that it didn’t validate the military-industrial model. Instead, it considered that the war was a mistake (except for the part about dumping a dictator), and that we should attempt to compensate Iraq for the damage. It envisioned the Iraqis doing the reconstruction, paid for largely with American dollars, with a total cost estimated at $17.5 billion, about what we spend on two months’ worth of occupation. Corruption, waste, danger, would all sap the buying power of our contribution, sure; but money would enter the Iraqi enconomy in a lot of ways, they could set up their country as they choose, and they’d learn from the experience of community involvement, which Saddam always prohibited.
What these two falsehoods share at base, I think, is either debilitating fear or complicity in imperial design. We’ve generally assumed the former, but as time passes it becomes harder to maintain that position. It’s harder to believe that we’ve made a long string of mistakes than that we’ve done what we intended but haven’t been honest about stating that.