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The Republicans have rolled out the majority of their campaign strategy for the November Congressional elections: Mexicans Are Ruining America (illegal immigration); Gays Are Ruining America (attempted Constitutional ammendment to ban gay marriage); and now, People Who Support the Iraq War Have Big Hairy Balls.
Those first two platforms are nauseating enough. Scapegoating immigrants and latinos is a nice way to scoop up the racist vote, and possibly the votes of folks scared about their jobs. The pointless “attempt” to Constitutionally ban gay marriage was nothing but play acting (the effort did not have the slightest chance to pass, and everyone involved was aware of this), aimed at whipping up Fundamentalist fury, while also appealing to non-religious homobigots[*1] as well. If they had more time, maybe Republicans would try to reach even more repellent voter blocks, like the rapist vote, or the cannibal vote.
One tiny bit of good news is that the anti-gay ploy does not seem to be working out right now. Polls show that almost no one thinks that gay marriage[*2] is the top priority for the country.
But I want to focus on the other theatric ploys that Republicans are using to whip up votes on what would seem to be their weakest issue, the Iraq war.
On Thursday, Republicans led a two-pronged strategy[*3], in the House and in the Senate. In the Senate, Republicans re-used an old trick: force Democrats to vote on a quick removal of US troops, trusting that they’d be too scared to take an “anti-war” stance on the record. In this case, it was a Republican amendment to the 2007 Defense Budget Bill, calling for major troop removal by the end of this year (although strangely, the amendment seems to have been stolen from an amendment that John Kerry had planned to propose. I don’t quite understand what’s going on here). And the Republican ploy was completely successful, with a 93-6 vote against the amendment. It didn’t hurt that the Republicans had all pounced upon their new talking point, that “we cannot cut and run.”
But the House got it worse. Republicans submitted this resolution (.pdf) for a vote.
We really need to look at this thing to see the eye-popping gall necessary to put this out. Let’s first look at the title:
Resolution Declaring that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.
What? Congressmen now have eerie Nostradamus powers, predicting the future, assuring us that We Will Win.
Now, the text of the resolution frames absolutely everything in the neocons’ terms, complete with lies, spin, and misdirection. Here are some highlights (not gonna make you read all 4 pages of this crap):
Whereas the United States and its allies are engaged in a Global War on Terror, a long and demanding struggle against an adversary that is driven by hatred of American values and that is committed to imposing, by the use of terror, its repressive ideology throughout the world;
Whereas it is essential to the security of the American people and to world security that the United States, together with its allies, take the battle to the terrorists and to those who provide them with assistance;
Whereas by early 2003, Saddam Hussein and his criminal Ba’athist regime in Iraq, which had supported terrorists, constituted a threat against global peace and security and was in violation of mandatory United Nations Security Council Resolutions;
Whereas the mission of the United States and its Coalition partners, having removed Saddam Hussein and his regime from power, is to establish a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq at peace with its neighbors;
Whereas the terrorists have declared Iraq to be the central front in their war against all who oppose their ideology;
Whereas Iraqi security forces are, over time, taking over from the United States and Coalition forces a growing proportion of independent operations and increasingly leading the fight to secure Iraq;
Whereas the United States and its Coalition partners will continue to support Iraq as part of the Global War on Terror: Now, therefore be it
Resolved, that the House of Representatives–
Yes, all that previous stuff was a bunch of hot air to prepare for this last bit of hot air:
…(2) honors the sacrifices of the United States Armed Forces and of partners in the Coalition, and of the Iraqis and Afghans who fight alongside them, especially those who have fallen or been wounded in the struggle, and honors as well the sacrifices of their familes and of others who risk their lives to help defend freedom;
(3) declares that it is not in the national security interest of the United States to set an arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment of United States Armed Forces from Iraq;
(4) declares that the United States is committed to the completion of the mission to create a sovereign, free, secure, and united Iraq;
(7) declares that the United States will prevail in the Global War on Terror, the noble struggle to protect freedom from the terrorist adversary.
I hate these motherfuckers. This resolution argues that the invasion of Iraq was part of the war on terrorism (despite Iraq’s lack of links to Al Qaeda or other related groups), that things went well, and that things are getting better. And please note how the words “terrorist” and “freedom” are in almost every sentence.
This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists. This is a fight for freedom against terrorists.
Keep repeating it until you believe it.
The Republicans also managed to re-spin the debate to their advantage, a two-parter:
- If you want to withdraw the troops, you want America to fail in Iraq
- If we withdraw troops, we are cowards.
I think that last one has some real traction. Americans are a proud people, and most of us have been taught since birth that our country is better that other countries, and that the people of this country are better than people from other countries. Losing a war, or retreating from a war, is shameful, admission that maybe Americans aren’t better than other people. And I can see many Americans having a knee-jerk pro-war response to these arguments. To protect their pride and self-esteem, America Has to Win![*5]
Of course, cowardice has fuck-all to do with any of this. Rep. Dennis Hastert boldly claimed, “When our freedom is challenged, Americans do not run!” Leaving the fact that American freedom has never been challened in this war (except BY the Bush administration, of course), there is nothing brave about sending other people out to die. I mean, if he was saying “Americans don’t run!” while picking up a rifle and charging to the front lines, that would be brave. Saying “Americans don’t run” before driving the Bentley home for filet mignon dinner at the mansion with the wife and the servants… that’s cowardly. Repulsive. Spineless as a flock of jellyfish[*4].
And should we mention that “not running” effectively means “killing more Iraqis”? Hell, that’s only one element (intentionally) missing from this idiot simplification tactic.
So how did the “Neocon Lies Are Truth” resolution vote go? 256 for, 153 against. The vote went pretty much along party lines, but 42 Democrats still voted for it.
I really don’t know what the Bush administration wants to do in Iraq. I mean, of course they’d like to keep some amount of troops in the country forever. And in the near term, they want the level of violence to stabilize so that the new government appears legitimate and can maintain a friendly environment for oil companies and foreign investors. But I don’t think that’s possible. Even if the insurgency gave up today, that wouldn’t stop the ongoing civil war. And the White House doesn’t seem to have a realistic plan for taking care of any of it.
We ought to organize a “fly soldiers home” movement. Buy plane tickets on private airlines and have the US soldiers just fly back, orders be damned.
*1. “Homobigot” is a term used by Pam Spaulding of Pandagon and Pam’s House Blend to describe one who is bigotted against homosexuals. I’m going to try to start using it myself. First, because it’s a new term (I think), it packs more punch than the tired old “homophobe”. Second, because “homophobe” implies that such people are afraid of gay people, when I think that hate, anger, ignorance, self-righteousness and disgust play a bigger role.
*2. I sometimes like to point out this wisdom from sex columnist Dan Savage about gay marriage:
The problem for opponents of gay marriage isn’t that gay people are trying to redefine marriage but that straight people have redefined marriage to a point that it no longer makes any sense to exclude gay couples. Gay people can love, gay people can commit. Some of us even have children. So why can’t we get married?
Frankly, I think that gay marriage advocates have won the battle, but the anti-gay forces are trying to turn back time.
*3. This link shows that not only did Congress support these shameless pro-war resolutions, but they also voted to give themselves a pay raise (2%) and to maintain the US embargo against Cuba.
*4. Yes, I looked it up. A group of jellyfish is called a “smack” of jellyfish. I opted not to use that as it would confuse everyone.
*5. This sense of American supremacy has got to go. It’s this sort of thing that insists that we dominate our neighbors, allies and friends (yes, and enemies), instead of dealing with the world pragmatically. Author David Korten summed it up well when he said that Americans tend to see the world as a vast frontier, with everyone competing for the next big claim. But really, the world is more like a spaceship, with a certain number of people and a finite amount of resources necessary for everyone to live. What makes more sense, wasting those resources to fight for those resources? Or working together and compromising so that everyone has what they need?