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Beginning the War Debate: Strange Heroes PDF Print E-mail
Peace News
Monday, 21 November 2005 21:56
Beginning the War Debate: Strange Heroes

Jazzman Chronicles - Jack Random - As we observed the adolescent maneuvering, the bold hypocrisy, and the bitter attacks that erupted in the lower house of congress in response to Representative John Murtha?s impassioned call for withdrawal from Iraq, I confess I found it gratifying. The debate that has raged in towns and cities throughout the world, in taverns and cafes, in town halls and city council meetings, in barracks and on the internet, had finally broken out in the place where it should have begun.

www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com

Strange Heroes:
Second Thoughts about the War
Jack Random

JAZZMAN CHRONICLES: DISSEMINATE FREELY.


The voice of a million protestors hardly registered a notice in the mainstream media world, yet the voice of a single Congressman from Pennsylvania set off a tsunami of charges and countercharges that made its way, like a Swift Boat in a free-fire zone, to the floor of the House of Representatives.

As we observed the adolescent maneuvering, the bold hypocrisy, and the bitter attacks that erupted in the lower house of congress in response to Representative John Murtha?s impassioned call for withdrawal from Iraq, I confess I found it gratifying. The debate that has raged in towns and cities throughout the world, in taverns and cafes, in town halls and city council meetings, in barracks and on the internet, had finally broken out in the place where it should have begun.

Like George Carlin admitting in his latest rant that a part of him roots for nature in a natural catastrophe, it is sometimes useful if not therapeutic to acknowledge the lower nature of our selves.

As I watched John Kerry among others rise to the congressman?s defense, a part of me was angry. I wondered why it was even necessary to defend a man whose opinion was fully consistent with a strong majority of the American public. As I listened to the defenders ground their case on Murtha?s storied military history, I wondered if they would consider it appropriate to attack someone who had never worn the uniform, whose opposition is based on moral conviction and empathy.

Has it come to this: that only warriors can speak out against an immoral war?

When every revelation since the war began has cried out that this war was wrong at inception, when every report beyond the glitter of staged events informs us that this war is disastrous in prosecution, forgive me but I wonder why it took so long for one Congressman to admit he was wrong.

When soldiers and civilians are dying daily, how is it that we are so frightened by adolescent terms like ?cut and run?? If a bully beats up a small child, should we applaud him for persisting until the child is a bloody heap? Is there anyone among us that does not know we were being ?deliberately misled? into war? We were the recipients of the lies and deceptions yet we allow the vice president to strike an indignant pose: How dare they!

It is not the words that should offend us but the underlying truth that summons them.

I understand that these events must be interpreted in a political context. In keeping with our lower nature, we are inclined to shape facts to our predisposed opinions. When the president accused his opponents of ?rewriting history,? I instinctively scoffed.

It took an essay by Jeremy Scahill of Democracy Now (?Vegetarians between Meals: This War Cannot be Stopped by a Loyal Opposition,? Common Dreams 11/18/05) to remind me that the accusation has more that a grain of truth. Likewise, it took a commentary by John Walsh (?A Fractured Antiwar Movement,? Counterpunch 11/17/05) to remind me of my own theme: We must find a way to unite the cause of ending the war.

When Congressman Murtha made his plea, it immediately occurred to of us that it did not live up to its billing. He was hardly calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal but rather a conditioned, regional redeployment of troops on a flexible timeframe. The proposal was eminently modest in its antiwar sentiment. Nevertheless, as a step forward and one that thrust the debate into the national limelight, it was a courageous stand for which we should be grateful.

We are accustomed to being disappointed in the Democratic opposition and the response to the Republican-sponsored withdrawal resolution was no exception. The proposal read:

?It is the sense of the House of Representatives that the deployment of United States forces in Iraq be terminated immediately.?

That only three members of Congress (Serrano, Wexler and McKinney) signed on to such a simple, non-binding declaration of the antiwar position is a reminder that we cannot rely on Congress to lead. When we challenge them at the ballot box, then they will follow.

We cannot afford to be purists on the political battlefield but those who voted ?nay? must be held to account for they have failed the latest test of the antiwar cause.

Given the overwhelming margin of defeat and the notable absence of Barbara Lee, Dennis Kucinich and others from those voting in favor, how do we respond to this failure?

In the spirit of unity, we should accept the explanation that the proposal was disingenuous and its intent political but not without a measure of doubt.

Clearly, the Democratic Party still takes the antiwar movement for granted.

In the coming election, we need to adopt a graded approach to lending support to our friends and committing resources to defeating our enemies. We may prefer that a candidate opposed the war from the beginning but we should not require it. We may prefer to demand immediate withdrawal but we must also acknowledge that measured withdrawal is better than conditioned withdrawal and conditioned withdrawal is better than staying the course.

Similarly, we may believe that the war in Iraq is inextricably linked to any number of issues in international affairs (most notably, the occupation of Palestine) but we cannot allow those issues to divide us until the war and occupation of Iraq is ended.

The president continued to pound the drums of war, delivering the same tired lines of provocation, even as the walls of support crumbled around him. Even as he pledged to follow the advice of his commanders on the ground, we learned that Commander George Casey submitted a plan for a measured, contingent withdrawal to the Department of Defense. Perhaps that explains the conciliatory tone the president assumed for his parting remarks in Beijing and Mongolia.

We despise this president not for who he is but for the decisions he has made, the policies he has pursued and the actions he has taken. Despite a history of stubborn pride, it is possible that the president will distance himself from the neocon warlords who have tethered him to this course. It is possible that the president will choose to end the war before the war ends his presidency.

It is not the president that is of paramount importance now. It is the war and the wars that will follow if it does not end here.

If the president chooses to end the occupation by executive decree, we must be wary but we must not assume the posture of opposition by force of habit, as the Democratic members of congress appear to have done in reverse.

These are strange and trying times. They are times that call for strange alliances and even stranger heroes. The arms of the antiwar movement must be open to all applicants, regardless of political party or philosophy. If the president, himself, wishes to apply, we should not stand in the way.

Our eyes are focused and the endgame is clear: End the occupation. Bring the troops home now.

When the war is over and our occupation of that tortured land is safely consigned to history, then we can resume our advocacy of other causes. For now, there is only one.

Jazz.

JACK RANDOM IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE APPEARED ON DISSIDENT VOICE, THE ALBION MONITOR, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH AND PEACE-EARTH-JUSTICE. SEE RANDOM JACK: www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com.

Last Updated on Monday, 21 November 2005 21:56
 

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