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This is Not Just “Bush’s War”
Write-in "Doug Mann" for School Board
by Doug Mann, 29 Oct 2004, Submitted to the Star-Tribune for publication 28 Oct 2004
By Jerry Gordan
As president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, George W. Bush bears direct and personal responsibility for the slaughter of the Iraqi people currently underway, and for all the other consequences of this war, including casualties of U.S. troops. But that does not make this “Bush’s war.” Such a characterization is both factually wrong and politically disorienting.
Plans for the conquest of Iraq and U.S. control of its oil were drawn up decades ago by a group of Washington foreign policy strategists seeking to ensure U.S. global dominance. It fell to the Bush administration to attempt to put those plans into effect.
There have been a number of articles published recently, which document the evolution of this strategy. One of the best is by Robert Dreyfuss titled “Playing for Keeps ¾ Washington’s Endgame for the Persian Gulf,” which appears in the April 2003 edition of Mother Jones. Dreyfuss’s central theme is explained this way: “In the geopolitical vision driving current U.S. policy toward Iraq, the key to national security is global hegemony ¾ dominance over any and all potential rivals. To that end, the United States must not only be able to project its military forces anywhere, at any time. It must also control key resources, chief among them oil ¾ and especially Gulf oil. To the hawks who now set the tone at the White House and the Pentagon, the region is crucial not simply for its share of the U.S. oil supply (other sources have become more important over the years), but because it would allow the United States to maintain a lock on the world’s energy lifeline and potentially deny access to its global competitors.”
The author goes on to quote Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author of Resource Wars, who says, “Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel. Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan, and China. It’s having our hand on the spigot.”
Dreyfuss traces the manner in which, beginning in the 1970s, proponents of a U.S. takeover of Iraq systematically campaigned to win support of key political and economic forces for their scheme. So this started well before Bush’s ascension to the presidency. But of course the administration of Bush and Cheney, both former oilmen, was ideal for bringing the plan to fruition.
The U.S. war against Iraq required bipartisan support, which was forthcoming from the day Congress was asked for its backing. There were three critical votes along the way.
On September 14, 2001, the Senate and House passed a resolution authorizing "action against those nations, organizations or persons" that the president determines "planned, authorized, committed or aided" the terrorist attacks of September 11. This vote gave Bush virtually open-ended authority to take whatever steps he chose, both with regard to military actions abroad and his war against constitutionally protected rights at home. The vote in both houses of Congress was unanimous, with the sole exception of Barbara Lee from California (who, despite her vote, went on to approve the $40 billion emergency fund, including the increase in military expenditures). It is reminiscent of Congressional approval of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1963, which Johnson and succeeding presidents cited as authorization for the massive escalations of the Vietnam War.
Then there was the vote in October 2002 approving a resolution authorizing Bush to wage war against Iraq. In the Senate, 29 Democrats voted yes against 21 who voted no (with the House Democrats voting 126-81 against the resolution).
What was especially revealing was the action taken on March 21 of this year, when the Senate voted 99-0 in support of a resolution that "commends" the president's efforts in Iraq and describes his actions as "lawful and fully authorized by Congress." The House approved a similar resolution by a vote of 392-11.
All of this shows bipartisan support for U.S. foreign policy. Moreover, the Democratic candidates for president who head the polls ¾ Lieberman, Gephardt, Kerry, Edwards ¾ support the war against Iraq. So this is not just Bush’s war. It is the traditional coming together of the two-party political establishment in support of a foreign policy of world domination, a policy promoted by the transnationals and giant corporations in their relentless drive for maximum profits.
WHY THE CHARACTERIZATION "BUSH'S WAR" IS DISORIENTING TO THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT
The main reason why the characterization “Bush’s war” disorients the peace movement is because it helps get the Democratic Party off the hook. Indeed, as the “war without end” continues and threatens to escalate even further, forces in the movement are casting about for a political alternative to Bush. With isolated exceptions, this takes the form of a pro-Democratic Party orientation. To the extent that responsibility for the war is affixed to Bush only or even just to his administration, the illusion is fed that the Democrats offer a genuine alternative.
Even if the Democrats were to nominate a “dove” like Howard Dean, that would not justify the antiwar movement’s abandoning its independent, non-partisan strategy. Such a situation actually confronted the movement in 1972, when the Democrats nominated George McGovern to oppose Nixon, who was seeking reelection. The McGovern people urged the antiwar movement to defer demonstrations until after the conclusion of the political campaign and concentrate on electing McGovern. But the principal antiwar formation, the National Peace Action Coalition, after full discussion and debate, voted overwhelmingly to stay in the streets and rejected endorsing McGovern or any other candidate, leaving affiliated groups free to do as they wished. Nixon trounced McGovern, the movement continued to build large demonstrations, and the war finally came to an end with super hawk Gerald Ford the president.
A key facet to building the antiwar movement is developing understanding and deepening consciousness. This is undercut by an over fixation on the role of any single office holder, whether it’s Bush, Lyndon Johnson or anyone else. Activists must understand the underlying social, political and economic forces that determine major policies. The politicians representing the two corporate dominated parties are there to carry out their bidding and those politicians who do it most skillfully and demonstrate competence in misleading the people into believing that the U.S. government’s motives in conducting foreign policy are altruistic are the ones who get promoted and financed.
With regard to the war against Iraq, the antiwar movement must raise ever louder its demands to “Bring the Troops Home Now!” “ U.S. Out of Iraq!” and “U.S. Hands Off Other Countries!” No one is suggesting that Bush be absolved of responsibility for the massacre his orders have unleashed. But it is neither accurate nor politically correct to confine the responsibility to him.
---Jerry Gordon was a staff representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union for twenty-three years. Gordon is still a labor movement activist and a leader of the Ohio Labor Party.