The Downing Street Memo
As originally reported in the The Times of London
, May 1, 2005Go here for a printable PDF copy of the document text
SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002
S 195 /02
cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell
IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY
Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.
This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.
John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.
The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.
The two broad US options were:
(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).
(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.
The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:
(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.
(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.
(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.
The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.
The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.
The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.
The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.
On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.
For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.
The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.
John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.
The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.
(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.
(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.
(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.
(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.
He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.
(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.
(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.
(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)
(Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
Notes regarding the document's validity:
"The newly disclosed memo, which was first reported by the Sunday Times of London, hasn't been disavowed by the British government. The British Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
A former senior U.S. official called it "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during the senior British intelligence officer's visit to Washington. He spoke on condition of anonymity.
A White House official said the administration wouldn't comment on leaked British documents..."
• Memo: Bush manipulated Iraq intel,Newsday
, May 9, 2005
"British officials did not dispute the document's authenticity..."
• Bush asked to explain UK war memo,CNN
, May 12, 2005
"Since Smith's report was published May 1, Blair's Downing Street office has not disputed the document's authenticity. Asked about them Wednesday, a Blair spokesman said the report added nothing significant..."
• Indignation Grows in U.S. Over British Prewar Documents,LA Times
, May 12, 2005
No More Coffee for Bin Laden
By Anthony Wadewww.OpEdNews.com
The news came out two weeks ago. The Bush White House got busted when they decided to stop publishing an annual report on international terrorism after the government's top terrorism center concluded that there were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985, the first year the publication covered such data. After five years of blustering and posturing from the cowboy in the Oval Office, he has managed to make the terrorism problem worse than it has ever been, in 19 years. Not exactly the press Bush was looking for.
How bad was 2004? The National Counterterrorism Center reported to the State Department that there were 625 "significant" terrorist attacks in 2004. In 2003, there was only 175 such incidents. These are the numbers that defy the Bush mantra of “smokin em out” and the repeated lie that we are winning this war on terror. Faced with these sobering numbers the Bushies do what they do best, they lie. They attempted to eliminate these statistics, prompting Congressman Waxman to correctly admonish:
"This is the definitive report on the incidence of terrorism around the world. It should be unthinkable that there would be an effort to withhold it - or any of the key data - from the public. The Bush administration should stop playing politics with this critical report."
Fast forward to this past week and the Bush White House had been coming under a fair share of criticism for this report and the apparent failed “war on terror”. Suddenly, there was good news! The report from the White House is that Pakistan, our alleged ally, had captured the number three person in Al Qaeda! We all watched in hushed tones as they announced the capture of…Abu Faraj al-Libbi.
Apparently, being third in command of Al Qaeda is akin to being the guy in the red shirt in any landing party from the original Star Trek series. Just like when you saw Kirk and Spock going to the transporter with a guy you never saw before you just knew he wasn’t coming back, whenever there is a key arrest in the war on terror, rest assured it is the third in command of Al Qaeda. I was never this cynical before Bush, but who can blame me? The number one guy in Al Qaeda is bin Laden. You know he can’t be caught because then he won’t be available to release a scary video before the next major election. The second in command is Zarqawi and we can’t catch him because he is too valuable a boogeyman to blame things on when something goes wrong in Iraq. That leaves the third guy. Like that third Tenor you can never remember, the third guy in Al Qaeda has been captured, or was he?
If you followed the GOP disinformation machine, you could have sworn this was the third most lethal man on the planet. Many hailed this as proof of progress in the failed war on terror. Bush wasted no time, milking the moment:
"Al-Libbi is a top general for bin Laden. He was a major facilitator and a chief planner for the al Qaeda network. His arrest removes a dangerous enemy who was a direct threat to America and to those who love freedom."
Well, not so fast Georgie. It turns out that this was not the third in command of Al Qaeda. In fact, intelligence experts referred to Libby as a middle-ranker derided by one source as “among the flotsam and jetsam” of the organization. Hmm, that is quite different than what we were told now isn’t it? I mean Libbi was described a “critical victory in the war on terror” and “major breakthrough in the hunt for Osama bin Laden”. Now, it sounds like Libbi was no closer to bin Laden than lets say, we are.
No, it turns out that Libby was not even on the FBI most wanted list, nor on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program. Strange for such a top guy, no? It has now been reported by a former close associate of Bin Laden living in London: “What I remember of him is he used to make the coffee and do the photocopying.” Ok, apparently we caught, Al Qaeda’s clerk. A senior FBI official has now admitted that, al-Libbi’s “influence and position may have been overstated”. Do you think?
Prior to this admission, the lamest excuse imaginable was offered by an American official trying to explain his absence from the most wanted list by saying, “We did not want him to know he was wanted.” Wow.
This is the GOP disinformation machine at its best though. Faced with its failed war and the pressures from the report on terrorism, they concocted a story about arresting the number three guy in al Qaeda, knowing full well, they actually caught the al Qaeda pizza delivery guy. Their media machine ran with it. It was the lead story on all evening news. It was the topic du jour on all the talk radio circuit. Right-wing talking heads immediately were praising the war on terror and demanding the naysayers apologize. Soon, it moved to prime time as all cable news shows ran with it. What we had was a week of free propaganda for the President and his war.
Then, after the smoke clears, it turns out they were lying all along. Quietly, an unnamed official admits the arrest was overstated. The media does not provide similar coverage; instead what has resonated in the minds of Americans is that we nabbed the number three guy in al Qaeda. We didn’t. We got his secretary apparently and in the mind of George W. Bush, that is a major victory in the war on terror.
I can understand that rationale. With Libby safely in custody, who is going to make the coffee for al Qaeda?
Bush Economic Report Card
XXIs it fair to place responsibility for the economy on the president? Yes, it is - when the president in question is the leader of a party with control of all three branches of government, they can create an environment for any type of economy they choose.Bush's government has chosen to keep the borders open to three million illegal aliens a year from Mexico and they have fought like Dickenson's Scrooge against any increase in the pitiful minimum wage of $5.15 per hour. They have passed tax advantages for companies that move jobs out of the country. Education and training programs on all levels have been slashed to the bone. All of these dracaena measures have worked together to keep down wages and to decrease the influence of the working class.So, yes, he is responsible and he gets a grade of F. His daddy might have been able to buy him a C average in college, but this time, anyone can read the numbers. Here are the ones for the years 2000-2004:S&P 500 ........................................................................ down 15% NASDAQ ....................................................................... down 36%Dow Jones ................................................................. down 5.3%Real Value of the Minimum Wage ........................... down 7%Dollar versus Euro ................................................... down 30%Dollar versus Yen ..................................................... down 11%Median Household Income ..................................... down 4%Now, I don't want anyone thinking the whole report was nothing but negative numbers. There were lots of positive ones. Here they are:Price of a Gallon of Gas ................................... up 46%Poverty Rate ................................................ up 11%Number of Americans without Health insurance ........ up 18%Federal Debt ................................................. up 39%Average cost of 4-year public college ....................... up 24%Monthly Trade Deficit ...................................... up 75%Annual Trade Deficit up ........................................... up 53%Americans filing for Bankruptcy............................. up 33%Annual Increase in Prescription Drug Prices .......... up 68%Home Mortgage Borrowing ..................................... up 100%Total Outstanding Consumer Debt .......................... up 28%Household Debt as a Percentage of Assets: ............. up 20%Household Debt as a Percentage of GDP ............... up 21%This doesn't tell me anything about Bush's government that I didn't already know but now it can be seen in black and white by anyone who cares to look. George W. Bush and Co. doesn't give a sh*t about you or me, the U.S.A, Iraq, Democracy, Freedom or our men in the military. All they care about is lining their pockets and the pockets of their cronies. This is absolute greed carried to its absolute extreme.I have heard and seen various references on occasion comparing Bush to Hitler. I want to state here that these comparisons are grossly unfair. Hitler was an idealistic murdering scumbag who caused the deaths of millions of innocent people. To compare the two men is just not fair. I don't think George W. Bush could be called idealistic by any stretch of the imagination.
The First Mother's Day
Mother's Day - I always suspected that this was just another day invented by greeting card companies and florists. Not that mothers don't deserve special recognition. They certainly do.
Unfortunately, in our society, the only mothers singled out for special recognition are the ones who drown their children in bathtubs or bash in their heads with a rock. So a day to honor the millions of mothers who resist the temptation that we all have felt is a good thing even if it is a conspiracy between greeting card companies and florists - but it isn't.
Originally Mother's Day was not to honor mothers at all. It was an attempt to organize women into a powerful antiwar movement by Julia Ward Howe in 1870. I think very possibly it was bastardized into what it is today by men trying to defuse something they couldn't control - that is, women organized for a single cause.
I can see it now. The men in 1870 patting the little woman on the butt, giving her a dozen roses, and telling her that her head was much too pretty to be used to think about something like war and politics. Besides, after you finish cooking supper and doing the dishes you'll be too tired to go to some old meeting anyway. Oh, and while you're in the kitchen, how about fetching me a cup of tea. Thank you Dear and Happy Mother's Day.
Anyway, I wasn't there. I don't know. But I did want you to see Julia Ward Howe's Proclamation for the first Mother's Day in 1870. I think it is just too damn bad they didn't manage to carry it off.
Julia Ward Howe's Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.
"Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
A Tissue of Lies
BY ANDREW GREELEY
As the criminal, sinful war in Iraq enters its third year, the president is in Europe to heal the wounds between the United States and its former allies, on his own terms, of course. The White House propaganda mill hails it as another victory for the president and ignores the fact that most Europeans still consider the war dangerous folly and the president a dangerous fool.
One hears new rationalizations for the war on this side of the Atlantic. After the hearings on Secretary Rice, a Republican senator, with all the self-righteous anger that characterizes many such, proclaimed, "The Democrats just have to understand that the president really believed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq."
This justification is not unlike the one heard frequently at the White House, "The president believed the intelligence agencies of the world."
Would it not be much better to have a president who deliberately lied to the people because he thought a war was essential than to have one who was so dumb as to be taken in by intelligence agencies, especially those who told him what he wanted to hear?
It is also asserted that the election settled the matters of the war and the torture of prisoners. These are dead issues that no longer need be addressed.
But the president received only 51 percent of the vote and carried only one more state than the last time (picking up New Mexico and Iowa and losing New Hampshire). This is a validation of the war and of prisoner abuse? This is a mandate to do whatever he wants to do and whatever the leadership of the evangelical denominations want? A percentage point and a single state are a mandate for more war? Never before in American political history!
Finally, we are told that the Iraqi election confirms the Bush administration policy in Iraq. The president's supporters must be in deep trouble to reach so far for that one. All the election proves is that the Iraqis want to run their own country. It also raises the possibility that Shia clerics will deliver Iraq into the hands of the Iranians. Some kind of victory!
How do these kinds of arguments play in the precincts? The survey data suggest that war has become more unpopular. The majority of the American people now think it was a mistake, in a shift away from the 51 percent that endorsed it on Election Day. Admittedly this is only a small change in the population, from a majority to a minority. Nor do the changers earn grace for their new opinions. They still endorsed the war on Election Day and are still responsible for it.
How long can the administration get along with its policies of spinning big lies into truth -- as it has more recently done on Social Security?
Note the three most important Cabinet positions. Rice said that it was better to find the weapons of mass destruction than to see a mushroom cloud.
"Judge" Gonzales said the Geneva Convention was "quaint" and in effect legitimated the de facto policy of torture.
Rumsfeld repealed the "Powell Doctrine" -- only go to war when you have the massive force necessary to win decisively and quickly. Brilliant businessman that he is (like Robert McNamara of the Vietnam era), he thought he could win with 130,000 troops (unlike the at least 200,000 that the Army chief of staff insisted) and hence made the current "insurgency" inevitable.
The presence of these three towering giants in the administration certainly confirms that the president is confident that he is "right" on Iraq and that he has mandates from the American people and from God which confirm that he is "right."
Nothing, in other words, has changed in the last two years. The war is still the "right thing to do," it is still part of the "war against terrorism," it is still essential to keep Arabs from blowing up our skyscrapers.
You can still get away with the "big lie" as long as Karl Rove and his team of spinners keep providing persuasive rationalizations. The American public is still supine, uneasy about the war, but not willing yet to turn decisively against it. Will that still be the case next year when we "celebrate" the third anniversary of the war? Is the patience of the American people that long-suffering? Is there no outrage left in the country? How many people have to die before the public realizes that American foreign policy is a tissue of lies?
DeLay's Napoleon Complex
by August Keso
It is painfully obvious that Tom DeLay suffers from a Napoleon Complex. It is a common trait among men with little penis'. They just aren't sure deep down inside, if they are man enough to take on the world, satisfy a woman's needs or confident in their own sexuality. Tom DeLay exhibits all the classical symptoms of a Napoleon Complex. Men that aren't truly confident in their sexuality feel a need, almost a compulsion to bash homosexuals. Guys like DeLay overcompensate, for their sexual insecurity by trying to prove to the world around them that they are indeed real men. Men that don't look at other men "that way" and believe that by bashing "queers", people see them as a man's man.
Generally speaking however, men like DeLay that engage in this absurd behavior are actually trying to suppress the "wood", which stirs and twinges whenever they see a nice lookin' man-ass.Everybody knows that the Republican icons are just a bunch of frauds, and DeLay is no different. It wouldn't surprise me in the least, if we were to find out in five years time, that Gannon/Guckert serviced DeLay on a regular basis.
Take a look at the other wannabe "man's man" Bill O'Reilly. Nobody whines more about the lack of Christ in Christmas, but fewer still have spent so much time on the telephone tugging on their tally-whacker while talking dirty to a woman NOT their wife.
Sean Hannity spends his days trying to convince the world that George W Bush - a pathological liar and manipulator of facts - is the second coming of Jesus, and he one of the Twelve Apostles. Yet, Sean will scream about hating people, call them "assholes" and wonder if the hated person - usually a Democrat - is "pissed" off, but it isn't like Sean "Drunk on Jesus" Hannity "gives a shit".
Rusty "Rush" Hudson Limbaugh the Third, preaches morals and values more often and more rapidly than O'Reilly's sweaty palm shines his pipe, and yet ol' Rusty marries and divorces with greater frequency than Ann Coulter proves her ignorance.
The entire lot, are nothing but a bunch of frauds and DeLay is no different. Other than being a bible thumping Jihadi for Jesus who is as criminal, vile and corrupt as they come, DeLay's need to protest so loudly and so often about gay people, leads straight to the realization that this is a guy who doth protest just a wee bit much. This is indeed a scared little boy who is trying to cover, for a major case of the man-ass arousal problem. But it isn't only Tom DeLay's need to overcompensate in the gay hating department, which points squarely at a serious case of Napoleon Complex.
Two years ago, when confronted by a restaurant manager for smoking on federal government property, Tom DeLay responded, "I am the government!" So sorry Tom, do try and reign in your little penis syndrome, because in the good ol' US of A, We The People are the damned government! You, for lack of a better word, in as much as Gannon/Guckert is yours, are just our little bitch. The people tell you how things are going to go down Tommy, it isn't the other way 'round. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner your ethics and criminal problems are likely to subside.
Even Tom's view of women indicates a young boy trying desperately to be viewed as a man. According to DeLay, "A woman can take care of the family. It takes a man to provide stability." Well, it really isn't likely that someone, so busy trying to convince himself and others that he is indeed a "real man" could speak with authority on that issue. But his statement does again, highlight the fact that he is a male not completely confident in his manhood.
DeLay's Napoleon Complex has been and continues to be manifest on an almost daily basis. The way he huffed and puffed his little chest, as he dove before the microphones to threaten judges over the Schiavo case...judges by the way, like all people Tommy threatens, that he knows aren't going to step-up and kick his silly little butt. His most recent gun waving NRA sponsored "When a man is in trouble or in a good fight, you want to have your friends around, preferably armed. So I feel really good," comments even leaves one to wonder if DeLay has a penis at all.
Indications and evidence of Tom DeLay's Napolean Complex could go on for pages. Suffice it to say, he is like the little bitty dog that barks and barks whenever something or someone comes near. It isn't barking because it is brave and hoping to take on the perceived threat. The little dog behaves that way, because he is terrified of nearly everything in the world that moves...just like Tom DeLay.
... Sometimes, You Just Gotta Laugh!
A big thanks to Lonoke99 for putting a smile on my face. I hope it brings some sunshine to you.
A woman in a hot air balloon
realized she was lost.
She lowered altitude and spotted a man in a boat below.
She shouted to him,
"Excuse me, can you help me?
I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago,
but I don't know where I am!"
The man consulted his portable GPS and replied,
"You're in a hot air balloon
approximately 30 feet above sea level.
You are 31 degrees,
14.97 minutes north latitude and 100 degrees,
49.09 minutes west longitude."
She rolled her eyes and said,
"You must be a Republican."
replied the man.
"How did you guess?"
"Well," answered the balloonist,
"everything you told me is technically correct,
but I have no idea what to make of your information,
and I'm still lost.
you've not been much help to me."
The man smiled and responded,
"You must be a Democrat."
replied the balloonist.
"How did you know?"
said the man,
"You don't know where you are,
or where you're going.
You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of
You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep,
and you expect
to solve your problem.
the same position you were in before we met,
No Taxes for Torture
xxx"I do not believe the Iraq War is worth another drop of blood, another dollar of taxpayer subsidy, another stain on our honor. Our occupation is the chief cause of the nationalist resistance in that country. We should end the war and foreign economic occupation. Period."
-- Excerpt from the following Open Letter to Chairman Dean from Tom Hayden in response to Mr. Dean's recent comments regarding the need to stay in Iraq "now that we are there."
Dear Chairman Dean,
Thank you kindly for your call and your expressed willingness to discuss the Democratic Party's position on the Iraq War. There is growing frustration at the grass roots towards the party leadership's silent collaboration with the Bush Administration's policies. Personally, I cannot remember a time in thirty years when I have been more despairing over the party's moral default. Let me take this opportunity to explain.
The party's alliance with the progressive left, so carefully repaired after the catastrophic split of 2000, is again beginning to unravel over Iraq. Thousands of anti-war activists and millions of antiwar voters gave their time, their loyalty and their dollars to the 2004 presidential campaign despite profound misgivings about our candidate's position on the Iraq War. Of the millions spent by "527" committees on voter awareness, none was spent on criticizing the Bush policies in Iraq.
The Democratic candidate, and other party leaders, even endorsed the US invasion of Falluja, giving President Bush a green-light to destroy that city with immunity from domestic criticism. As a result, a majority of Falluja's residents were displaced violently, guaranteeing a Sunni abstention from the subsequent Iraqi elections.
Then in January, a brave minority of Democrats, led by Senator Ted Kennedy and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, advocated a timetable for withdrawal. Their concerns were quickly deflated by the party leadership.
Next came the Iraqi elections, in which a majority of Iraqis supported a platform calling for a timetable for US withdrawal. ("US Intelligence Says Iraqis Will Press for Withdrawal." New York Times, Jan. 18, 2005) A January 2005 poll showed that 82 percent of Sunnis and 69 percent of Shiites favored a "near-term US withdrawal" (New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005. The Democrats failed to capitalize on this peace sentiment, as if it were a threat rather than an opportunity.
Three weeks ago, tens of thousands of Shiites demonstrated in Baghdad calling again for US withdrawal, chanting "No America, No Saddam." (New York Times, April 10, 2005) The Democrats ignored this massive nonviolent protest.
There is evidence that the Bush Administration, along with its clients in Baghdad, is ignoring or suppressing forces within the Iraqi coalition calling for peace talks with the resistance. The Democrats are silent towards this meddling.
On April 12, Donald Rumsfeld declared "we don't really have an exit strategy. We have a victory strategy." (New York Times, April 13, 2005). There was no Democratic response.
The new Iraqi regime, lacking any inclusion of Sunnis or critics of our occupation, is being pressured to invite the US troops to stay. The new government has been floundering for three months, hopelessly unable to provide security or services to the Iraqi people. Its security forces are under constant siege by the resistance. The Democrats do nothing.
A unanimous Senate, including all Democrats, supports another $80-plus billion for this interminable conflict. This is a retreat even from the 2004 presidential campaign when candidate John Kerry at least voted against the supplemental funding to attract Democratic voters.The Democratic Party's present collaboration with the Bush Iraq policies is not only immoral but threatens to tear apart the alliance built with antiwar Democrats, Greens, and independents in 2004. The vast majority of these voters returned to the Democratic Party after their disastrous decision to vote for Ralph Nader four years before. But the Democrats' pro-war policies threaten to deeply splinter the party once again.
We all supported and celebrated your election as Party chairman, hoping that winds of change would blow away what former president Bill Clinton once called "brain-dead thinking."
But it seems to me that your recent comments about Iraq require further reflection and reconsideration if we are to keep the loyalty of progressives and promote a meaningful alternative that resonates with mainstream American voters.Let me tell you where I stand personally. I do not believe the Iraq War is worth another drop of blood, another dollar of taxpayer subsidy, another stain on our honor. Our occupation is the chief cause of the nationalist resistance in that country. We should end the war and foreign economic occupation. Period.
To those Democrats in search of a muscular, manly foreign policy, let me say that real men (and real patriots) do not sacrifice young lives for their own mistakes, throw good money after bad, or protect the political reputations of high officials at the expense of their nation's moral reputation.
At the same time, I understand that there are limitations on what a divided political party can propose, and that there are internal pressures from hawkish Democratic interest groups. I am not suggesting that the Democratic Party has to support language favoring "out now" or "isolation." What I am arguing is that the Democratic Party must end its silent consent to the Bush Administration's Iraq War policies and stand for a negotiated end to the occupation and our military presence. The Party should seize on Secretary Rumsfeld's recent comments to argue that the Republicans have never had an "exit strategy" because they have always wanted a permanent military outpost in the Middle East, whatever the cost.
The Bush Administration deliberately conceals the numbers of American dead in the Iraq War. Rather than the 1,500 publicly acknowledged, the real number is closer to 2,000 when private contractors are counted.The Iraq War costs one billion dollars in taxpayer funds every week. In "red" states like Missouri, the taxpayer subsidy for the Iraq War could support nearly 200,000 four-year university scholarships.Military morale is declining swiftly.
Prevented by antiwar opinion from re-instituting the military draft, the Bush Administration is forced to intensify the pressures on our existing forces. Already forty percent of those troops are drawn from the National Guard or reservists. Recruitment has fallen below its quotas, and 37 military recruiters are among the 6,000 soldiers who are AWOL.
President Bush's "coalition of the willing" is steadily weakening, down from 34 countries to approximately twenty. Our international reputation has become that of a torturer, a bully.
The anti-war movement must lead and hopefully, the Democratic Party will follow. But there is much the Democratic Party can do:
First, stop marginalizing those Democrats who are calling for immediate withdrawal or a one-year timetable. Encourage pubic hearings in Congressional districts on the ongoing costs of war and occupation, with comparisons to alternative spending priorities for the one billion dollars per week.
Second, call for peace talks between Iraqi political parties and the Iraqi resistance. Hold hearings demand to know why the Bush Administration is trying to squash any such Iraqi peace initiatives. (Bush Administration officials are hoping the new Iraqi government will "settle for a schedule based on the military situation, not the calendar." New York Times, Jan. 19, 2005).
- Third, as an incentive to those Iraqi peace initiatives, the US needs to offer to end the occupation and withdraw our troops by a near-term date. The Bush policy, supported by the Democrats, is to train and arm Iraqis to fight Iraqis--a civil war with fewer American casualties.
- Fourth, to further promote peace initiatives, the US needs to specify that a multi-billion dollar peace dividend will be earmarked for Iraqi-led reconstruction, not for the Halliburtons and Bechtels, without discrimination as to Iraqi political allegiances.
Fifth, Democrats could unite behind Senator Rockefellers's persistent calls for public hearings on responsibility for the torture scandals. If Republicans refuse to permit such hearings, Democrats should hold them independently. "No taxes for torture" is a demand most Democrats should be able to support. The Democratic Senate unity against the Bolton appointment is a bright but isolated example of how public hearings can keep media and public attention focused on the fabricated reasons for going to war.
Instead of such initiatives, the national Democratic Party is either committed to the Iraq War, or to avoiding blame for losing the Iraq War, at the expense of the social programs for which it historically stands. The Democrats' stance on the war cannot be separated from the Democrats' stance on health care, social security, inner city investment, and education, all programs gradually being defunded by a war which costs $100 billion yearly, billed to future generations.
This is a familiar pattern for those of us who suffered through the Vietnam War. Today it is conventional wisdom among Washington insiders, including even the liberal media, that the Democratic Party must distance itself from its antiwar past, and must embrace a position of military toughness.
The truth is quite the opposite. What the Democratic Party should distance itself from is its immoral and self-destructive pro-war positions in the 1960s which led to unprecedented polarization, the collapse of funds for the War on Poverty, a schism in the presidential primaries, and the destruction of the Lyndon Johnson presidency.
Thirty years after our forced withdrawal from Vietnam, the US government has stable diplomatic and commercial relations with its former Communist enemy. The same future is possible in Iraq.
I appeal to you, Mr. Chairman, not to take the anti-war majority of this Party for granted. May I suggest that you initiate a serious reappraisal of how the Democratic Party has become trapped in the illusions which you yourself questioned so cogently when you ran for president. I believe that an immediate commencement of dialogue is necessary to fix the credibility gap in the Party's position on the Iraq War. Surely if the war was a mistake based on a fabrication, there is a better approach than simply becoming accessories to the perpetrators of the deceit. And surely there is a greater role for Party leadership than permanently squandering the immense good will, grass roots funding, and new volunteer energy that was generated by your visionary campaign.