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November 2004 • Vol 4, No. 10 •

Editor's Page

Kerry: A Stalking Horse for Bush’s War Plans President

George W. Bush was not the only winner in the just concluded 2004 election. His Democratic Party opponent, John Kerry, went far out of his way to make amply clear that the only difference he had with the incumbent president was that he thought he could do a better job of winning the war and winning the “peace.” How do we know? Because he said so and continued to say so up to the time he “graciously” conceded the election to Bush.

All the liberals and ex-revolutionary socialists who caved into the Anybody-But-Bush syndrome, and who are now crying in their café lattes have only themselves to blame for their folly. During the presidential primary elections to choose their party’s candidate, most antiwar leftists, who had capitulated to lesser-evil politics, tended to support the Democrat who sounded most critical of the War on Iraq or Ralph Nader. But even Nader said he would support the war if it had UN sanction.

But, the big question is: why did Kerry choose to try to be more pro-war than Bush? Why didn’t he follow the Democrats’ policy in almost every recent war in the 20th century of having been opposed to those wars in their election propaganda but ending up supporting them?

To be sure, Senator John Kerry was already compromised by having voted—with both hands—for every one of Bush and company’s pro-war resolutions in the U.S. Senate. So, it could be argued, it would be fruitlessly hypocritical of him if he said he was against the war in order to get elected. But since when did any capitalist politician, Democrat, Republican or any of the smaller capitalist parties let hypocrisy or dishonesty stand in the way of getting themselves elected?

Woodrow Wilson also opposed the first World War during his re-election campaign in 1916, but took the country into war in 1917!

Lyndon B. Johnson also said he was against “sending American boys to war” in Vietnam in his 1964 re-election campaign. But he also came out full-blast for the war on Vietnam after his re-election in 1965!

So why couldn’t Kerry have also challenged Bush as the “peace” candidate. After being tricked and betrayed by previous Democratic “peace candidates,” voters may have been less likely to be fooled again and more likely to not bother voting at all. Had he done so, even with wary voters, he might have awakened on the morning of November 3rd as the next president, mightened he?

So the question is still, why didn’t he follow the usual Democrat game plan?

Let’s try to put ourselves in the shoes of Senator John Kerry and his most trusted campaign strategists and perhaps a few of his biggest corporate financial backers who stood to profit most from lucrative military and oil contracts. Since, we are not privy to such discussions and rarely do they ever come to light—at least, not until decades later, let’s try to make an educated guess about how such a discussion might have went:

An allegorical Kerry election-campaign strategy session

“Look,” one of Kerry’s more influential and competent strategists might have said, “We can’t afford to lose this war. We bet everything we’ve got on grabbing Iraqi oil and keeping it. We’ve got a lot of blood and treasure already invested in Iraq. Why should we be the one that pays more than our share of all the sacrifices as leader of the free world against the forces of evil, but give promise his allies their usual share of the loot? Where would they have been without us in the two World Wars, the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam and everywhere else without us saving them from the Krauts, the Japs and the Commies? Why should we continue to share the spoils of this war with our allies as generously as we have up to now?

“Sure, we did it for ourselves too. But why shouldn’t we take a little more of the loot than we took when times were real tough? The Russians had an awful lot going for them and our friends in Europe and Aisia could have lost everything if the Commies came into their countries and threw them out on their asses with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“Besides, though Bush and his guys did good by getting out in front by cooking up that fairy tale about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and—what a whopper that one was about Saddam being behind the Al Qaeda terror attack on us. Okay, now Bush and Dick Cheney and their money-guys are grabbing all the reconstruction contracts and the oil too. But they deserve it. They took most of heat, they deserve at least their share of the pay-off.”

Some one was sure to have reminded the one doing all the talking so far that Bush’s money men were also theirs, as well a few other facts that had so far been left out.

“Oh yeah, I know that these money guys are our boys too, but just the same they’re trying to hog most of the benefits we get for our work in doing what’s good for America. But listen guys, if we don’t want to be last in line, we’d better get out and hustle up the votes we’re gonna need to get our babies a new pair of shoes. Sure we knew that the Bush gang would try to take all the credit for grabbing Iraq’s oil. And, yeah, we knew very well what that would do for our economy. We knew that if it had worked out like Rumsfeld and his boys claimed, we would all profit from it. But, remember, we also figured that if things didn’t work out like Rummie said, Bush and his guys, especially the eggheads—who are mostly Jews, remember, will have to take most of the heat.”

Someone a little more sensitive than the speaker interrupts him at this point, “Hey, some of our best people are Jews, and they have also put themselves out on the limb getting Jewish voters to support us when the Commies among them tell their fellow Jews that you are doing to the A-rabs what Hitler did to us!”

The speaker then responds with a “Yes, I know all about that.” And returns to the subject at hand, working out a strategy to win the election for his fellow Democrats.

“Now, I know it’s unlikely, but as bad as things now look, there’s still a slim chance we can come out of this mess with most of what we had hoped for. Rummie may still be proven right about 9/11 being a blessing in disguise, giving us a chance to take full charge of keeping the rabble in the Mideast and everywhere else in line.

“Then, when we get things in Iraq under control, we’ll be in the catbird seat when the market nosedives, as some of our think-tank guys have been warning us. Sure all of us in the free world will be in deep shit, if that happens, they keep telling us. But if we can succeed in cornering the oil market, you know that with such a powerful lever, we have a good chance of exercising a great deal of control over the price of oil. Then, with a near-monopoly of the world supply of oil, we can keep the cost of production for the Frogs, the Krauts, the Ruskies the Japs and the Chinks high enough, so that if and when there is another big recession—or God forbid, a depression—we’ll be in the best position to work our way through it.

“Remember, guys, we managed to survive the Great Depression because we could afford to make some concessions to the angry mobs mobilized by the Commies of every shade of red except the nuts that were the followers of flaming reds like Lenin and Trotsky, and not the practical guys like Stalin and the big honchos in our unions.

“So Johnny, here’s the line that you have to take in the big debates coming up. We have to think ahead, if we want to get a clear idea of what the lay of the land will be like after the election. It sure as hell ain’t gonna be another cakewalk like when we took old Saddam down in the spring and summer of ’03.”

Another interruption might occur at this point with one of the more sentimental people in the groups saying, “You know, old Saddam was our bastard, remember. He did a lot of good for us. I still feel a little sorry for the guy.

“Yeah, I know, but the son-of-a-bitch was getting to be a pain in the ass. Anyway, here’s what I think Johnny has to do in the big debates coming up with Bush. And what he does there, will get us the votes in this election.

“We gotta think ahead. Winning the vote ain’t all we gotta take into account. We want to have a winning hand to play in Iraq no matter how the cookie crumbles on November 2.

“In the first place, we saw how far the lefties in our party got with their antiwar line. We stomped them, as we predicted—didn’t we? But, the Howard Deans and the Dennis Kucinich’s and all the others are loyal guys and they’ll stay on the team. In the end they’ll do the right thing and they’ll understand why we’re playing this kind of game. Furthermore, our lefties will guard our left flank and they’ll keep all their lefty friends in line. The only ones we’ll have to worry about are the crazies who want to get us the hell out of Iraq without getting what we shed blood and our hard-earned cash for—the oil and a firmer grip on the Middle East.”

At this point, a sprinkle of chuckling and snickering fills the roomful of schemers.

“So, Johnny, here’s the way you can win the debates, win away some of Bush’s soft pro-war guys and those who haven’t been able to make up their minds. We already got most of the peaceniks, we gotta steal some of Bush’s votes if we can. If it works out like some of our eggheads think, you can have your cake and eat it too. That is, it will be a win-win game. A game in which the good old USA will have a good hand to play no matter who ends up in the winner’s circle after November 2nd.

“First: Here’s what you gotta do, John. You gotta come out stronger for the war than Bush—no more playing for the antiwar vote—we’ve already got them in the bank, our guys have already got an Anybody-But-Bush gang of lefties banging the drums for you.

“And the second thing you gotta do is bang away on the theme that we could have at least got the Frogs and the Krauts on the team if we had really tried. (We can’t say this, but you know that had we made them an offer that they couldn’t refuse—a ‘fair share’ of Iraqi oil—they sure as hell would’ve come on board our fast track to Iraq’s oil. And once we had them hooked, though it might not have been the cakewalk that Rummie predicted, we certainly would’ve had enough troops on the ground in Iraq to do the job.)

“Now here’s the beauty part of the whole operation: One of our think-tank guys came up with this one: You gotta accuse Bush of planning to re-institute the draft! Then no matter what Bush says you have gotten the idea out. Then we’ll get some of our lefties who are among our pinkos to write for one of the big dailies, like the Times, to do a piece about how, since Bush and his Generals have made clear they will take Fallujah back from the terrorists right after the election, Bush will have two unacceptable options: 1) He will either have to invoke the draft and dragoon a conscript army to finish the job in Iraq, or, 2) drag our sad asses out of Iraq. And then the shit will really hit the fan.

“Our lefties are good at the game of manufacturing public opinion. Besides, they have the advantage of being able to tell a little more of the truth than we can. That’s why I’ve been telling you they’re so useful when there are too many rabble rousers stirring things up.”[1]

• • •

Now, whether or not something like this imaginary meeting happened or not, the events that played out in this election show that it cannot be very far from the truth.

Also contributing to the realism of our little allegory is a story that appeared in the October 29 New York Times entitled, “Many in Europe See U.S. Vote as a Lose-Lose Affair,” by Richard Bernstein. It shows that an imaginary meeting such as the one described above is certainly within the realm of possibility. Listen to how Bernstein sizes up the views of people in Europe high in business and government perceived the state of affairs in Europe and America a few days before November 2.

Europe knew what Kerry and Bush were up to

The Times reporter, writing from Berlin, begins a report describing Europe’s view of the 2004 U.S. presidential election and its likely outcome:

No matter who wins the presidential election next week, the consequences for American-European relations will be bad, according to a deeply pessimistic view taking hold here. If President Bush wins, the reasoning goes, pro-Kerry Europe will be astonished at what it will see as the bad judgment of the American electorate. Europeans will be confirmed in their sense that they are from Earth and Americans from some other planet.
But if Senator John Kerry wins, the result may well be an almost immediate trans-Atlantic crisis.

Bernstein goes on to lay out the reasoning behind the pessimism of Europeans he had interviewed:

Mr. Kerry, having presented himself in the campaign as the man who can restore a functioning alliance, will ask Germany and France to come to the aid of the United States in Iraq. … “If they say no to Kerry, the risk of a backlash against Europe in America would be large,” said William Drodzdiak, the director of the German Marshal Fund’s Transatlantic Center. “Americans would say, ‘We can’t depend on Europe, even though we protected Europe for 50 years.’ It will cause lasting damage to the relationship, a great sense of disillusionment.”

The Times reporter goes into some further detail describing the growing fear among “some foreign-policy thinkers in Europe” that no matter the outcome of the election, the existing crisis in relations between Europe and America—“the world’s most important alliance”—can only get worse.

Questions pose by the impending invasion of Fallujah

U.S. military strategy is clearly intended to send the message to the people of Fallujah that an all-out offensive is guaranteed. At the minimum, the military planners surely hoped, that most if not all of Fallujah’s insurgents will have melted away, believing that resistance to an all-out U.S. offensive would be hopeless.

Maybe the planners thought that if things didn’t go as planned, they would once again back off and arrange a truce—as occurred in Najaf when the leader of that city’s insurgents, Muqtada al Sadr, held his ground—with similar scenarios being played out in other Iraqi cities held by their rebellious inhabitants. Besides, the threatened invasion certainly results in civilians and many fighters leaving, but it also attracts reinforcements from the more foot-loose insurgents from elsewhere in Iraq.

But if most stay and fight, the problem for the invaders is that if there are too many bluffs it reinforces the determination of Iraq’s masses to continue their struggle against the alien invader.

But as I write these words (on November 7) the latest New York Times reports that the invasion of Fallujah has not yet begun and these reports also indicate that things are not going as well as U.S. generals and politicians had hoped.

One of the most revealing reports by Times writers James Glanz and Robert F. Worth, tells an unpromising tale—from the viewpoint of the American ruling class. Here are the relevant facts reported in a story datelined November 6, titled, “Insurgency: As Fallujah Waits in Despair, Rebels Attack in Samarra”:

The siege of Fallujah, which also includes Iraqi military forces, was not proceeding as smoothly as planned, either. Sometime Friday night [November 5], a captain in the Fifth Battalion, Third Brigade of the Iraqi Army deserted after receiving a full briefing from the Americans on the plan for the assault, military officials said. American soldiers believe that the captain, a Kurd, simply became frightened after receiving the briefing. He is thought to be heading north, toward Kurdish territory, and officials do not consider him a threat to leak the plan to insurgents.…
CNN reported Saturday [November 6] that the captain was believed to have taken notes during the briefing, and that when he departed he left behind only his uniform and a cot.

It’s not hard to read between the lines in this one as with many other reports in the bourgeois media. The ruling class has good reason to worry. We should also point out that this same report began with a paragraph outlining the big risk an assault on Fallujah entails—the possibility of a generalized uprising, here, there and in many, many cities in a country whose masses have reacted so unlike American imperialist expectations. Here’s the lead paragraph of this same report:

“Desperation settled over the residents who remained on Saturday [November 6] in Fallujah, the rebel-held city on the brink of being invaded by thousands of American soldiers and marines, as violence erupted in another Iraqi city that the Americans thought they had secured a month ago.”

Like an increasing number of reports that have been coming in lately, the story goes on to tell of the highly sophisticated guerilla-style strategy and tactics being adapted by the insurgents to conditions in each Iraqi city.

The call for help from the people of Fallujah

We placed the powerful appeal for help signed by Kassim Abdullsattar al-Jumaily, president of the Center for the Study of Human Rights and Democracy in Fallujah as the lead story in this issue of Socialist Viewpoint because it underscores the urgent need of the U.S. antiwar movement to issue a call for a major national and international day of protest against the slaughter of possibly tens of thousands of innocent victims of the criminal war on the people of Iraq.

The appeal is addressed to Kofi Annan and the UN. But it is also, whether so indicated or not, an appeal directed to what is overwhelmingly sympathetic world public opinion. Moreover, it is an appeal that is also a call to action by the millions of antiwar forces around the world. This places an extraordinarily heavy responsibility on the antiwar movement here in the heart of the beast.

Supporters and readers of this magazine include many who have been among the most active members of the antiwar movement. We have a terrible responsibility to answer the call for help from our sisters and brothers in Fallujah—who really speak for the suffering masses of all Iraq. Nay, more; the people of Fallujah speak for all the exploited and oppressed wherever in the world they are. It is the duty of the leaders and activists in the U.S. antiwar movement to immediately issue a call for a major protest action against this latest atrocity being planned and executed in our name. Unfortunately, the antiwar movement has been paralyzed by many of its leaders having turned the attention of the movement to the elections and for having been sucked in by the Anybody-But-Bush diversionary tactic advanced by the so-called “leftist” and “liberal” supporters of the Democratic Party.

The American antiwar movement—and most of all, its revolutionary socialist contingent—has a responsibility to also begin a campaign against the return of the draft. The evidence we and others have reported indicate that before the struggle between oppressed and oppressor in Iraq, the Middle East and the War Against Terrorism has come to an end, there will be a draft and more millions of innocent lives lost.

We also owe it to our young men and women who are being ordered to kill and be killed in Iraq to demand an end to this criminal war—not sometime in the indefinite future—but right now!

[1] Reflecting the realism reflected in this allegorical meeting, such a piece appeared in the October 19 New York Times. It was a piece titled, “Feeling the Draft, by the columnist, Paul Krugman.







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