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Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Norman Solomon on opposing the war (and on Obama)

In a piece today on CommonDreams, Normon Solomon voices some of the same thoughts I've offered here many times, but Solomon is a better writer with a much bigger audience:
Maybe it sounded good when politicians, pundits and online fundraisers talked about American deaths as though they were the deaths that mattered most. Maybe it sounded good to taunt the Bush administration as a bunch of screw-ups who didn’t know how to run a proper occupation.

And maybe it sounded good to condemn Donald Rumsfeld and George Bush for ignoring predictions that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to effectively occupy Iraq after an invasion.

But when a war based on lies is opposed because too many Americans are dying, the implication is that it can be made right by reducing the American death toll.

When a war that flagrantly violated international law is opposed because it was badly managed, the implication is that better management could make for an acceptable war.

When the number of occupying troops is condemned as insufficient for the occupying task at hand, the White House and Pentagon may figure out how to make shrewder use of U.S. air power — in combination with private mercenaries and Iraqis who are desperate enough for jobs that they’re willing to point guns at the occupiers’ enemies.

And there’s also the grisly and unanswerable reality that Iraqis who’ve been inclined to violently resist the occupation can no longer resist it after the U.S. military has killed them.

If the ultimate argument against the war is that it isn’t being won, the advocates for more war will have extra incentive to show that it can be won after all.
Unfortunately, after all that, Solomon shows signs that he doesn't even buy his own argument when he reaches the end:
These days, Hillary Clinton speaks of withdrawing U.S. troops, but she’s in no position to challenge basic rationales for war that have been in place for more than five years. At least Barack Obama can cite his opposition to the war since before it began. He talks about changing the mentality that led to the invasion in the first place. And he insists that the president should hold direct talks with foreign adversaries.
But, as I just wrote to him, Obama's opposition to the war was based precisely on the kind of things condemned in the rest of the article - that it was a "dumb" war, the "wrong war at the wrong time." To my knowledge he has not once condemned it as immoral or illegal, or disavowed the idea that the U.S. had the right to launch that war (and indeed he has championed the invasion of Afghanistan). And considering he has voted consistently to fund the war (unlike Kucinich, Woolsey, and other principled opponents of the war), the idea that he has been "opposed" to the war at all since he's been in Congress is debatable.

As far as "changing the mentality," again, he maintains the idea that the U.S. has the right to tell other countries how to run their affairs (cf. Iran, Cuba, and others) and furthermore completely buys into the "war on terror" meme (cf. his proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan), and of course he's advocating a larger military. Not exactly signs of "changing the mentality."

And as far as holding "direct talks with foreign adversaries," this week we learned that doesn't extend as far as Hamas.

Sadly, even for someone as perceptive as Norman Solomon, someone who's even able to write in the same article that "the best way to avoid becoming disillusioned is to not have illusions in the first place," the illusion that is Barack Obama is still too tempting to resist.

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