Monday, May 09, 2005

''Democrats and Iraq''

"Hayden is impatient with Dean and the Democrats for abandoning their critique of the war. It’s understandable that Democrats have decided to take their stand against the Republicans on domestic issues. Defending Social Security and fighting the over-reach of the religious right are winnable issues. But they are not enough.

In framing his open letter, Hayden acknowledges his own position in favor of immediate withdrawal. “I do not believe the Iraq War is worth another drop of blood, another dollar of taxpayer subsidy, another stain on our honor,” he writes. “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,” Hayden continues, “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.”

Sharp words, but Hayden understands the political pressures that shape Democratic Party policy and so settles for something less than immediate withdrawal. His open letter suggests a moderate anti-war position that is politically achievable and won’t give the Republicans an opportunity to foment backlash. To build support for the Democratic position, Hayden calls for public hearings in Congressional districts on the ongoing billion-dollars-a-week cost of the war. The public needs to understand alternative economic priorities. How many schools, job programs, infrastructure projects, and health care initiatives are we losing to the Iraqi budget?

Additionally, Hayden says, Democrats need to unite behind Senator Rockefellers's call for public hearings on the torture scandals. If Republicans refuse to permit such hearings, Democrats should hold them independently. Low-rank soldiers are being scapegoated for criminal activities that the Bush administration has set in motion. "No taxes for torture" is a demand most Democrats should be able to support, Hayden says. And Republicans!

To those who think peace negotiations are folly, Hayden reminds us that “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.”

The Democrats’ silence on the war is unacceptable. The Party cannot remain quiet on the over-riding moral and foreign policy issue of our time. There is an alternative to Bush’s war on Iraq, and it’s important for the country that the Democratic Party raise it."-Marty Jezer. the weekend columnist for the Brattleboro (VT) Reformer, discusses Tom Hayden's recent "Open Letter to Howard Dean."

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