Monday, March 27, 2006

Bitter? Me?

Kevin Drum responding positively to Sen. Feingold's proposal for withdrawal from Iraq: An open-ended commitment in Iraq helps to fuel their civil war, not end it, and it's time to acknowledge this.

But when opponents of the war and occupation were saying this a year ago, it was apparently not yet time. Not because we were wrong, but because all but a few Democrats had made a calculated decision to follow rather than lead.

When, in early 2005, Democrats refused to take a position, planning to "make Bush own the war" without calling for withdrawal -- the only meaningful alternative to the Bush policy -- it struck me as political in the worst sense. Politicians who wanted to avoid the risk of 'soft-on-security' smears were counting on the deaths of Americans to do their political work for them. And they obliged: nearly 900 were killed and more than 2600 wounded seriously enough not to return to duty in the intervening year. (Not to mention, as those same politicians rarely do, the literally uncounted Iraqis killed by U.S. troops during the same period.)

One excuse was that leaving would ignite a civil war. Those of us who pointed out that a civil war was already underway with U.S. troops backing two of the three sides, and that the troops not only were doing nothing to stop it but probably could not do so, were simply met with fingers in ears.

Pretending (or at best wishfully thinking) right along with Bush that some kind of 'success' or 'victory' could be had was another tack. That might have sounded good on the op-ed pages and Sunday talk shows, but how could anyone seriously have believed it? And, from a purely political point of view, why would anyone vote for candidates who offered the same endless stay-the-course as incumbent Republicans?

Now that Bush and war approval are in the thirties, now that it's clear the troops can do nothing to stop civil war (and may easily make it worse; see Juan Cole today), now that approved moderates like Kevin say it's time, using the same arguments opponents of the war and occupation were making a year ago, now it's time.

Incredibly enough, many in the party are still unwilling to back Feingold's call for withdrawal, even now that the president has said that troops will be there for the duration of his term, even when they admit privately that withdrawal is the right policy. If it is, then stand up and and fight for it.

I can get beyond my bitterness, and accept that this is just how politics works. But I have a hell of a time saying honestly to the families of those 3500 men and women that they should have any confidence in politicians of either party, including mine.



At 5:11 PM, April 07, 2006, Blogger saurabh said...

I hear ya. The best way to respond is to be smarmy and superior when you encounter born-again Democrats who have suddenly discovered they are anti-war. The repeated reminder that they could have been right all along, but decided not to be, might even get through their thick skulls. Also, give up on Democrats. It'll make you much less bitter about their many, many failures.

At 2:28 PM, April 11, 2006, Blogger Nell said...

Saurabh, thanks for empathizing. But I can't give up on Democrats just yet; they're all there is at this point, and not nearly enough people have been radicalized enough to look further. Besides, I am one -- vice chair of my county party.

And I can't agree at all that the best response to newly anti-war people, Dems or otherwise, is to be smarmy and superior. That's the best way to drive them back into their previous positions.

This post was not an effort to show how superior my judgment is, but a safe place to express my frustration at being marginalized despite having been right -- but before it was politically safe to be right.


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