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Democrats embrace former Iraq commander

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    Another slap in the face to antiwar voters: Democrats embrace former Iraq commander By Patrick Martin Nov 27, 2007
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2007
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      Another slap in the face to antiwar voters:
      Democrats embrace former Iraq commander
      By Patrick Martin
      Nov 27, 2007
      http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/nov2007/sanc-n27.shtml


      Six weeks after he denounced the American media and US politicians for
      undermining the war effort in Iraq and called for an all-out
      mobilization of American power to win victory, the former US commander
      in Baghdad, retired Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, delivered the
      official Democratic Party response to President George W. Bush's
      weekly Saturday radio address.

      The selection of Sanchez to make the broadcast November 24 is a
      calculated decision by the Democratic Party leadership to adopt a
      standpoint on the war in Iraq that criticizes the Bush administration
      largely from the right, rather than the left. The Democrats have
      rebuffed the desires of the vast majority of the American people,
      including those whose votes placed the Democrats in control of
      Congress a year ago, who want an end to the war as quickly as possible.

      Sanchez commanded US forces in Iraq from June 2003 to June 2004, the
      period immediately following the US invasion. He is indelibly linked
      to two episodes in the bloody record of American oppression in Iraq:
      the murderous onslaught on the city of Fallujah, then one of the
      strongholds of Iraqi resistance to the occupation, and the abuse of
      captured Iraqis in the American military prison at Abu Ghraib.

      The latter episode, which came to public attention in April and May
      2004, essentially put an end to Sanchez's military career. He was
      replaced as Iraq commander in June, returning to duty at the Pentagon,
      but was denied promotion because of the controversy over Abu Ghraib
      and ultimately retired from the military at the end of 2006.

      It is extraordinary that the Democratic Party should choose such a
      discredited and repugnant figure to serve as a public spokesman
      criticizing the Bush administration's conduct of the war. It
      demonstrates that there is within the Democratic Party leadership not
      a shred of moral opposition to the crimes that have been committed and
      are being committed by American imperialism in Iraq.

      The sole grounds on which Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid "oppose" the
      Bush administration on the war is that it has been conducted
      incompetently and unsuccessfully. They don't object in principle to
      imperialist conquest and plunder. They merely complain that Bush has
      failed to deliver on his promise of a quick and profitable war that
      would pay for itself through access to Iraq's vast oil resources.

      The selection of Sanchez is a further demonstration of the rapid shift
      to the right in the Democratic Party as the presidential nomination
      campaign enters its most critical period, with six weeks remaining
      before the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. This shift to
      the right has been accelerated by the recent media campaign portraying
      the Bush "surge" strategy in Iraq as a great success.

      As the New York Times noted, in a front-page report Sunday, "Advisers
      to Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama say that the
      candidates have watched security conditions improve after the troop
      escalation in Iraq and concluded that it would be folly not to
      acknowledge those gains."

      The Times cited Sanchez's radio appearance as a "boost" for the
      Democratic candidates, because he endorsed a Democratic resolution in
      the House that proposed a "goal" of withdrawing all US combat troops
      from Iraq by December 2008—although there are no provisions to enforce
      the goal, and the congressional Democratic leadership has adamantly
      opposed the use of the only constitutional means it possesses to end
      the war: cutting off funds for military operations in Iraq.

      The newspaper admitted that the Democratic presidential candidates
      were risking alienating antiwar voters: "By saying the effects of the
      troop escalation have not led to a healthier political environment,
      the candidates are tacitly acknowledging that the additional troops
      have, in fact, made a difference on the ground—a viewpoint many
      Democratic voters might not embrace."

      In his remarks broadcast Saturday morning, General Sanchez criticized
      "the administration's failure to devise a strategy for victory in Iraq
      that employed, in a coordinated manner, the political, economic,
      diplomatic and military power of the United States. That failure
      continues today." He blamed the Bush administration for failing to
      move aggressively on the diplomatic, political and economic fronts,
      particularly in pressuring the US-backed regime in Baghdad.

      As a result, he said, "the improvements in security produced by the
      courage and blood of our troops have not been matched by a willingness
      on the part of Iraqi leaders to make the hard choices necessary to
      bring peace to their country. There is no evidence that the Iraqis
      will choose to do so in the near future or that we have an ability to
      force that result. America lost that ability upon the transfer of
      sovereignty back in June of 2004."

      This language is remarkable, not only for its reference to
      "improvements in security," but for the expression of regret that the
      US restored Iraq's nominal sovereignty in June 2004, during Sanchez's
      final month as commander. Evidently, the retired general wishes that
      the White House had continued the colonial-style regime of the
      Coalition Provisional Authority until a satisfactory political
      settlement was imposed.

      Sanchez hinted at the real reason for the growing opposition to Bush's
      Iraq policy within the American ruling elite, declaring, "Having fewer
      American troops in Iraq will also allow us to devote more resources to
      refit our ground forces to respond to different contingencies in other
      parts of the world." What are those "different contingencies"? Do they
      perhaps include military attacks on Iran, on Syria, or within Pakistan?

      This is certainly the main thrust of the critiques offered by the
      leading Democratic presidential candidates, who have attacked the war
      in Iraq as a wasteful diversion of military forces that are needed to
      advance the interests of American imperialism elsewhere—particularly
      against Iran, regarded as the major threat to US dominance of the
      Middle East and Central Asia, the center of world oil and gas production.

      There is another and even more ominous aspect to the selection of
      Sanchez as a spokesman for the Democratic Party. On October 12,
      Sanchez delivered an address to the annual conference of the Military
      Reporters and Editors, held in Arlington, Virginia. The World
      Socialist Web Site called that speech an "anti-democratic tirade,"
      noting that "the implicit message of his speech was the
      incompatibility of democratic processes with the pursuit of a global
      war against `extremism.'"

      Sanchez devoted half of his October 12 speech to criticizing the role
      of the media in undermining public support for the Iraq war—ironic,
      since uncritical media coverage played a major role in promoting the
      war of aggression in the first place. The ex-general was clearly
      embittered by his career-ending encounter with a media firestorm over
      the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

      He combined this attack on what he called "agenda-driven biases" and
      "political propaganda that is uncontrolled" with a denunciation of
      "the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and
      killing our service members who are at war."

      Portraying democracy as incompatible with the national unity required
      in wartime, he declared, "Partisan politics have hindered this war
      effort and America should not accept this. America must demand a
      unified national strategy that goes well beyond partisan politics and
      places the common good above all else... Our politicians must remember
      their oath of office and recommit themselves to serving our nation and
      not their own self-interests or political party. The security of
      America is at stake and we can accept nothing less."

      What does it mean that an individual holding such extreme,
      authoritarian and anti-democratic views has now been selected to
      represent the Democratic Party on a national platform? As the WSWS
      noted in analyzing Sanchez's earlier speech, "The growing political
      power of the military, and the weakening of civilian control, is a
      process that has been developing over a protracted period, under both
      Republican and Democratic administrations."

      As far back as the impeachment of Bill Clinton, an attempted political
      coup by the ultra-right, and then the crisis over the vote-counting in
      Florida in the 2000 presidential election, we have emphasized that
      there is no significant constituency for the defense of democratic
      rights within the American ruling elite.

      In choosing Sanchez as its spokesman the Democratic leadership is
      underscoring its own subservience to the Pentagon and to those who are
      drawing the most reactionary and sinister political conclusions from
      the military debacle in Iraq.

      *********************************************************************

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