The Dog Days Of The American Anti-war Opposition
Here is an unfair question. Who, recently, has been more committed to seeking the withdrawal of American and Allied troops from Iraq- the American anti-war movement or Sheik Sadr’s Madhi Army and his political apparatus in the mosques of Sadr City? Answer: These days it is clearly Sadr and his cohorts. Not only have Sadr’s forces borne the brunt of fighting against American and Iraqi governmental forces this spring but every Friday over the past several weeks after prayers they have gone into the streets to call for the American withdrawal. On the American anti-war side there has been the infinitely harder task of..... breathlessly waiting for the other shoe to drop- the election of non-Bush, presumably Obama, to get America out of its quagmire one way or another.
Yes, I know that this is an unfair comparison but hear me out on this. This street fight that the two supposedly anti-war democrats Obama and Clinton have just completed has taken all the political air out of domestic politics. Such silly things as fighting to deny war funding have taken a back seat to the pressing questions of Obama’s religious affiliation and , my favorite, what does Hillary want. Moreover, I have noted more than once that, historically, the traditional pro-Democratic outfits like United For Peace and Justice and 'progressive' coalitions of that ilk have taken cover when these democratic parliamentary campaigns are in full swing.
Goodness gracious, the Quakers, pacifists and home grown professional radical leftists of every persuasion would not want to spoil the chances of the liberal parliamentary types (read today-Democrats) by filling the air with people and chants denouncing these same do-nothings. Moreover, the much ballyhooed mid-term Congressional elections of 2006 which were suppose to usher in the Golden Age after the turnover to Democratic majorities proves my case rather than theirs. We should now instead be screaming bloody murder in the streets to get the troops withdrawn-over the political corpses of these same Democrats .
When I made the comparison between the activity of Sadr concerning American troops and the American anti-war movement I was, obviously, overdrawing the picture in his favor. Sadr and his pals have their own axes to grind and are responding to their fraction of the Shia base, especially on the national sovereignty question. With the very real likelihood that American bases will be in Iraq for that McCain- predicted 100 years there is no political capital to be lost by leading Iraqi opposition to that move and to opposing the desires of the other Shia faction led by the Malaki government.
Moreover, Sadr's ‘opposition’ to American imperialism has been spotty, at best- he brokered the stand down of the Mahdi Army that has permitted the Iraqi government (and the Americans) some breathing room in order to stabilize their regime (or, at least, stem the daily slaughter on the streets of Iraq). But, even more noteworthy than that is that while Sadr has been our objective ‘ally’, as they say, remember in the final analysis his brand of Islamic fundamentalism is committed to imposing some form of Islamic Republic on Iraq that is counterpoised to our fights. So, when I headlined this commentary 'in the dog days' I was not just talking out of my hat but also expressing our real quandary- except I am not in any quandary about the main task that we still face- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal From Iraq and Afghanistan of American/ Allied troops and their mercenaries!