Click On Title To Link To "Common Dreams" Site And An Analysis Of The Obama Afghan War Budget. I Pass This Link Along For Informational Purposes Only. I Do Not Know What Their Political Perspective Is But I Doubt That It Is In Accord With Mine. The Budget Breakdown Is Interesting, Though. It Has The 'Wonkish" Aspect To It That Comes In Handy When Making Arguments Against The Bush (Oops, Again)Obama Administration's' War Policy.
The latest news out of Washington on the Iraq/Afghan war front is that President Obama (unlike the “dovish” Illinois Senator Obama) is asking Congress for some 85 billion additional dollars to cover the cost of his war projects in Iraq and Afghanistan (Associated Press, Andrew Taylor, Friday, April 10, 2009).
I am so sorry for my almost error in the headline to this commentary above concerning which presidential administration, Bush’s or Obama’s, is asking for a supplemental war budget of some 85 billion dollars to cover incidental war expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan over the next year or so. Over the past several years we have gotten so use to seeing this little ploy used and having to make an additional fight against the imperial war budget that I felt that I was in something of a time warp.
However, you can hardly fault me for my little mistake when the Obama administration takes a page from the Bush playbook and tries to do an “end around” by special pleading for separate funding for these little military adventures. The Obama administration does, however, promise according to the AP report that this will be the last time this little ploy will be used. So next time instead of an overall military budget of say, 500 billion dollars, it will be an overall budget of some 600 million dollars. Thank heaven for tender mercies. Then we will only have to do one propaganda fight to call for a NO vote on the war budget. Nice, right?
But enough of all this emphasis on the bloody Obama administration. The crux of the matter here is that the Congress must appropriate these funds and that is where the struggle lies. I have spilled no little ink each year around this time dealing with calling for a NO vote on these bloated imperial war budgets, supplementary or other wise. This year is no exception. Here is one of the good things about the Internet though; one can save information readily without the muss and fuss of spending a lot of time looking for it. Thus, I was able to conger up some old commentary from 2006 and 2007 around the question of the fight against the war budget.
I repost some of that commentary here. I have not done much editing so where its says Bush put Obama, where it says Republicans put Democrats and where it says political con job put political con job. The funny thing is that except for changing a few of the names of the politicians in charge, a few of the purposes that the money to be appropriated for and the fact that we are a couple of more years into this Middle Eastern quagmire they could have been written today. So maybe, just maybe, it was not some Freudian slip (or other psychological quirk of mine) when I make my 'mistake' in the headline. To be on the safe side let’s just leave it at this- Obama- Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. / Allied Troops From Iraq/Afghanistan. Vote NO on Funding For The War Budget.
“Hold Their Feet To The Fire”, April 22, 2006
FORGET DONKEYS, ELEPHANTS AND GREENS- BUILD A WORKERS PARTY
The election cycle of 2006-2008 has started, a time for all militants to run for cover. It will not be pretty and certainly is not for the faint-hearted. The Democrats smell blood in the water. The Greens smell that the Democrats smell blood. Various parliamentary leftists and some ostensibly socialists smell that the Greens smell blood. You get the drift. Before we go to ground let me make a point.
The central issue in the 2006 elections is the Iraq quagmire. As we enter the fourth year in the bloody war in Iraq many liberals, and some not so liberal, in Congress and elsewhere are looking to rehabilitate their sorry records on Iraq and are having a cheap field day. As militants we know that the only serious call is- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal of all U.S. and Allied Forces Now (or rather yesterday). Many politicians have supported a pale imitation of this slogan-now that it safe to do so. These courageous positions range from immediate withdrawal in six months, one year, six years, etc... My personal favorite is withdrawal when the situation in Iraq stabilizes. Compared to that position, Mr. Bush’s statement in May, 2003 that the mission in Iraq was accomplished seems the height of political realism. Hold on though.
After the last slogan has faded from the last mass anti-war demonstration, after the last e-mail has been sent to the last unresponsive Congressman, after the last petition signed on behalf of the fellowship of humankind has been signed where do we stand in 2006. When the vast majority of Americans (and the world) are against the Iraq war and it still goes on and yet the “masses” are not ready for more drastic action we need some immediate leverage.
The only material way to end the war on the parliamentary level is opposition to the continued funding for the occupation. For that, however, you need votes in Congress. Here is my proposal. Make a N0 vote on the war budget a condition for your vote. When the Democrats, Republicans, Greens, or whoever, come to your door, your mailbox , your computer or calls you on the telephone or cell phone ask this simple question- YES or NO on the war budget.
Now, lest I be accused of being an ultra left let me make this clear. I am talking about the supplementary budget for Iraq. Heaven forbid that I mean the real war budget, you know, the 400 billion plus one. No, we are reasonable people and until we get universal health care we do not want these “leaders” to suffer heart attacks. And being reasonable people we can be proper parliamentarians when the occasion requires it. If the answer is YES, then we ask YES or NO on the appropriations for bombs in the war budget. And if the answer is still YES, then we ask YES or NO on the appropriations for gold-plated kitchen sinks in the war budget. If to your utter surprise any politician says NO here’s your comeback- Since you have approximated the beginning of wisdom, get the hell out of the party you represent. You are in the wrong place. Come down here in the mud and fight for party workers can call their own. Then, maybe, just maybe, I can support you.
I do not believe we are lacking in physical courage. What has declined is political courage, and this seems an irreversible decline on the part of parliamentary politicians. That said, I want to finish up with a woefully inadequate political appreciation of Karl Liebknecht, member of the German Social Democratic faction in the Reichstag in the early 1900’s. Karl was also a son of Wilhelm Liebknecht, friend of Karl Marx and founder of the German Social Democratic Party in the 1860’s. On August 4, 1914, at the start of World War I the German Social Democratic Party voted YES on the war budget of the Kaiser against all its previous historic positions on German militarism. This vote was rightly seen as a betrayal of socialist principles. Due to a policy of parliamentary solidarity Karl Liebknecht also voted for this budget, or at least felt he had to go along with his faction. Shortly thereafter, he broke ranks and voted NO against the war appropriations. As pointed out below Karl Liebknecht did much more than that to oppose the German side in the First World War. THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS THE KIND OF POLITICIAN I CAN SUPPORT. AS FOR THE REST- HOLD THEIR FEET TO THE FIRE.
“ONCE AGAIN ON THE DEMOCRATS AND THEIR IRAQ WAR”, March 9, 2007
ON THE WAR BUDGET FIGHT FOR A NO VOTE
I can hold out no longer. It seems like a political eternity since I have commented on the question of the Democrats and their response to their Iraq war. I have been waiting patiently for my liberal political friends to cry “uncle” over my prediction, made in the wake of the midterm elections, that when all the hoopla died down their Democrats would take a political dive on the Iraq question. Oh, yes I forgot the House of Representatives did pass a non-binding ‘softball’ resolution that even my mother, a life long Republican, was in favor of-as long as it had not teeth. Be still my heart, that one sure had President Bush shaking in his cowboy boots. While my liberal friends wait until Iraq freezes over for their Democrats to turn the corner those of us who really want to end this damn war need to take stock.
For the past year I have been propagandizing for the formation of anti-war soldier and sailor solidarity committees in order to lead the way out of Iraq. If one thinks about it for a moment in that time anti-war soldiers and sailors have done more to end this war than all the parliamentary actions of Democrats and all the anti-war demonstrations put together. As noted in an earlier commentary in this space (SEE THE CALIFORNIA SOLDIERS MUST NOT STAND ALONE in the January 2007 archives) many anti-war service personnel have signed onto a petition for the redress of grievance- and that grievance is the continuation of the war in Iraq. That is a good start but more will have to be done than petitions to get out of Iraq before hell freezes over. More on this later.
The next matter is getting a little redundant, that is of having to bring up the question every time the war appropriations are up for a vote, but I will repeat it once again. In wartime the only parliamentary question that matters is the question of funding the war budget. You know, the way the war gets paid for. A few thoughtful Democrats know that but, more importantly, President Bush and his coterie damn well know it. And have thumbed their noses at Congress whenever any slight rumbling about ending the war funding comes on the horizon.
There is a Democratic-sponsored bill before Congress now that speaks to tying war funding to some specific exit date. It is, however, as is true of much such legislation, so filled with loopholes, exemptions, exceptions and fallback positions as to be worthless. This is not a supportable bill. Moreover, it has as much chance of passing the Democratically-controlled Congress as Iraq freezing over. Here are the ABC’s of the situation. For those who still suffer a belief in the Democrats pose this question, STRAIGHT UP-on the war budget – YES OR NO. I fear you will not like the answer. And if you do not like the answer then you had better hurry along and form those anti-war soldier and sailor solidarity committees. Forward.
“ON THE HOUSE WAR BUDGET VOTE-THE DEMOCRATS OFFICIALLY OWN THE IRAQ WAR”, March 24, 2007
NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE SOLDIER FOR THESE WARS!
On Friday March 23, 2007 the United States House of Representatives by a narrow vote of 218 to 212 voted for a 124 billion dollar war budget for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, among other things. That is more than the Bush Administration requested. However, attached to this budget was a binding (finally, something other than smoke and mirrors) resolution for withdrawal of troops from Iraq no later than August 31, 2008. President Bush in response stated unequivocally that he would veto this budget due to the withdrawal resolution and the fact the war budget was more than he wanted. Who would have thought?
Militants call for a straight no vote to any capitalist war budget. That is a given. However, some comment is required here. Clearly a war budget that was patched together with little goodies by the Democratic House leadership in order to get a majority vote is not supportable. Nor is a budget that is passed on the basis that the President is going to veto it anyway but everyone gets to look good for the folks back home. That is cynical but hardly unusual in bourgeois politics. What I find important out of this jumble is the amount of pressure that the House leadership felt was on it to carry out its mandate from the mid-term elections about doing something to get the hell out of Iraq. Unfortunately this is not the road out of Iraq. Increasing the war budget and then leaving it up to Bush to veto the damn thing smacks of parliamentary cretinism. Forget the Democrats (on this one the Republicans are not even on the radar).
A semi-kudo to Democratic presidential candidate Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich for voting against this charade. At least he had the forthrightness to state that if you wanted to end the war you needed to vote against the measure. That he is a voice in the wilderness and is in the wrong party is a fact of life. That his candidacy is thus not politically supportable by militants does not negate the fact that he is right on this one. NOT ONE PENNY, NOT ONE SOLDIER FOR THE WAR! UNITED STATES OUT OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN! BUILD A WORKERS PARTY THAT FIGHTS FOR SOCIALISM!