The rhetoric of the Democratic “progressives” only gives cover to the ongoing criminality of the U.S. state and its commitment to permanent war – with congressional approval.
“Progressives are not taking comprehensive anti-war positions and certainly have not embraced anti-imperialist positions.”
In the cynical spectacle that is called politics in the United States, the latest insult to the intelligence of the people is the Democrats who are posturing as anti-war champions in reaction to the Trump Administration’s assassination of Qassem Soleimani and the possibility of further attacks on Iran.
We are supposed to buy that the Democrats are concerned about war with Iran. The same Democrats who opposed de-escalation with North Korea; who blocked any attempt to remove U.S. occupation forces from South Korea; who continue to champion the NATO white supremacist structure; who were silent on Obama’s war on Yemen; who supported the assault on Libya; who were unmoved by the over 40,000 people who reportedly have died from U.S.-imposed sanctions on Venezuela; and who gave the Trump Administration another obscene increase in military spending.
It is common knowledge that there has always been a bipartisan antipathy to Iran, not because of anything that Iran has done to the U.S., but because of the geopolitics of the so-called Middle East in which the U.S. has sought to dominate. The Democrats had some of the loudest voices supporting confrontation with Iran up until the Obama-Rohani nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Trump abrogated. That is what makes the Anti-war posture of the Democrats – even the progressive ones – so incredible.
Therefore, since it is clear that the Democrats didn’t have any less of an appetite for war and global U.S. dominance than the Republicans, how should we understand this newly discovered “anti-warism”?
The Opposition is anti-Trump, not Anti-war!
Nancy Pelosi correctly understood that the politics of impeachment was a dead-end that would only result in satisfying the Democratic base but held out very little prospects for the longer-term strategy of defeating Trump in November 2020. She understood that politically the Democrats had gotten all they could from the Russiagate silliness when they reclaimed the majority in the House of Representatives. But an essential element of the Democratic party messaging leading up to the mid-term vote in 2018 was the implication that with a Democratic majority in the House the primary item on the party’s agenda would be the impeachment of Donald Trump. When that majority was achieved, Pelosi and the party establishment found themselves under tremendous pressure to find a way to impeachment. All their eggs for impeachment were in the Mueller report basket that had been held until after the mid-term election.
Unfortunately for the Democrats, the report, like Mueller himself, was a flop. The report failed to ignite a groundswell of impeachment fever beyond the increasingly irrational demands from the liberal base of the party. However, one of the unforeseen results of the 2018 mid-term for Pelosi and centrist Democrats was the emergence of a group of “progressives” who wouldn’t let the impeachment ploy fade away.
Consequently, Ukraine-gate became the issue for the foregone conclusion that there would be an impeachment. Pelosi and House leadership delivered on impeachment knowing that there would be no removal by the Senate. They could, however, claim that they met their supposed Constitutional duty, but importantly, their political imperative to impeach. The second act of this diversionary drama was scheduled to begin when the Congress came back into session in January – that is, before the current crisis with the possibility of war with Iran.
War with Iran: Everyone wins!
Pelosi wins because she delivered on impeachment and can now switch tactics and allow the progressives to take the lead with the new messaging that Trump’s recklessness and unfitness for office is now threatening the possibility of a new war. The hawks in the U.S. foreign policy community win. Those elements have always wanted a conflict with Iran and believed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to limit Iran’s nuclear capacity was a mistake.
Liberals win. Even though the more rational ones knew Trump was not going to be removed by the Senate, the developing crisis with Iran allows them to exploit the issue of a possible war with Iran to drive home the idea that Trump is a threat to global peace and should not be trusted with a second term. Trump wins. Iran shifted the focus from the impeachment trial in the Senate and the possibility, as remote as that might have been, that “new” information might flip the requisite number of Republican senators to vote with Democrats to remove him. Moreover, if the situation with Iran doesn’t escalate out of control, he can claim this as another victory for a muscle assertion of U.S. power and strong leadership. The U.S. state wins with the possibility that Iran will be obliterated and with it Chinese interests harmed with the cut-off of oil but also with the disruption of shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
The only elements that don’t win are the working class soldiers of the U.S. military who will be put in harm’s way for yet another war of choice, and the many thousands of innocents in Iran who may have their lives snuffed out by this crazed rogue state. But cares about either of those elements?
“The U.S. state wins with the possibility that Iran will be obliterated.”
There is a growing war-weariness that Trump understood and tapped into during his campaign. Trump never claimed to be anti-war or pro-peace. However, being an anti-globalist, “pro-American,” white nationalist, he understood the sentiments and orientation of his base who had grown tired of sending their sons and, now daughters, off on multiple deployments to fight for what they saw as an elite agenda of never ending wars for the “liberal bankers” (his base understood that coded reference).
That same war-weariness existed in the working class base of Democrat Party voters, with some 79% of Democrats supporting a general roll-back in U.S. foreign commitments, but the pro-imperialist elitists in the party could not recognize that position and speak to it from a progressive perspective.
Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, and even the queen of pandering Elizabeth Warren and a few others on the liberal-left of the Democratic Party have started to understand the growing importance of U.S. foreign policy issues to the public and specifically the issue of war, even if the corporate press, party establishment, and most of the candidates running for that party’s nomination haven’t given much attention to those subjects.
The progressives are not taking comprehensive anti-war positions and certainly have not embraced anti-imperialist positions. Their positions have not deviated that far from the party establishment that continues to take the morally dubious and legally unsupportable position that somehow the U.S. has a right to murder the general of a nation that the U.S. was not at war with if only Trump had consulted with Congress and had thought through all of the consequences of a possible war with Iran.
“Some 79% of Democrats supporting a general roll-back in U.S. foreign commitments.”
That is why this party is not the party that is capable of resisting U.S. imperialism. The rhetoric of the progressives only gives cover to the ongoing criminality of the U.S. state and its commitment to permanent war – with Congressional approval!
The role of these progressives is to keep the people on the Democratic Party plantation. The only countervailing force to U.S. gangsterism are the independently organized working class, nationally oppressed and all marginalized and exploited and oppressed people. This past weekend we saw the beginning of that resistance with demonstrations in close to 80 cities across the country in opposition to the possibility of war with Iran.
As the Black Alliance for Peace stated:
“The Trump Administration along with the democrats are united in their objective interests, despite the impeachment charade, to support white power in the form of their imperialist agenda. But they need us – the people – as the cannon fodder and the passive supporters.”
Obama was the ultimate sheep dog that not only kelp progressives and even radicals on the Democrat Party plantation but gave a new respectability to U.S. imperialist criminality. We will not fall for that again, not from the “squad,” Sanders or anyone else.
Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded the US Peace Memorial 2019 Peace Prize and the Serena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.
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