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by STEVE ARGUE
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2003 at 4:37 PM
Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Carol Mosely-Braun, and Al Sharpton, are painting their candidacies as anti-war.
A Closer Look At The “Anti-War” Candidates Of the Democrat Party
By STEVE ARGUE
The main contenders for the nomination of the Democrat Party for US President are former Governor Howard Dean, Senator John Edwards, Representative Dick Gephardt, Senator Bob Graham, Senator John Kerry, Representative Dennis Kucinich, Senator Joseph Lieberman, former Senator Carol Mosely-Braun, and Reverend Al Sharpton.
Also running against Bush and the Democrat nominee will be a candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party as well as candidates from other socialist parties and potentially a candidate from the Green Party as well.
Four of the contenders for Democrat nomination, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and John Edwards, were amongst the many of Democrats in the House and Senate who voted for the US war against Iraq.
Dennis Kucinich, Howard Dean, Carol Mosely-Braun, and Al Sharpton, are painting their candidacies as anti-war.
Governor Howard Dean
Howard Dean has challenged the Bush administrations lies regarding Iraq’s supposed nuclear weapons programs and has called for an investigation. Yet Dean has also stated, “I believed then and I believe now that removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq was a just cause. But not every just cause requires that we go to war, especially with inadequate planning and without maximum support.”
So Dean has no problem with invading a sovereign country for the benefit of the US oil and arms industries killing around 7,000 Iraqi civilians and making US soldiers into a hated occupation army. That was a “just cause”. Dean’s issue is with Bush’s lack of planning. By inference Dean claims that as president he would plan imperialist wars better than Bush.
In addition Dean has stated, “General Shinseki's professional military advice that 200,000 troops would be needed was rejected. I would add at least 50,000 foreign troops to the force in Iraq.”
While the Iraqi people are fighting to liberate themselves from a foreign occupation army that has set up a completely subservient puppet government and caused the collapse of the Iraqi economy, Dean is calling for more troops from other nations to maintain the imperial order.
Dean states, "What I want to know is why in the world the Democratic Party's leadership is supporting the president's unilateral attack on Iraq?" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Feb. 22, 2003). Dean would have supported the war if it was done with UN backing. At the heart of Dean’s opposition is the idea that U.S. imperialist interests would be better served if the UN were backing the war. This view does not respect the right of the Iraqi people to self-determination. It should also be remembered that such “unilateral” action was also taken with the US war against Yugoslavia under Clinton.
Representative Dennis Kucinich
Dennis Kucinich is also portraying himself as an anti-war candidate in the Democrat Party. Yet on his web site the Kucinich campaign states that Kucinich, “Supports a strong and efficient military. He believes that the current practice of procuring ever more costly weapons has the effect of weakening military readiness. As the cost of new weapons systems rise, the cost of merely replacing aging weapons with new ones becomes prohibitively expensive. As a result, U.S. military forces shrink, while they become at the same time more expensive to maintain and more prone to failure.”
This is the same position taken recently by two U.S. generals waging the war in Iraq. During the U.S. invasion in the ongoing Iraq war General Stanley McCrystal complained, "It was enough for the enemy to show a little resistance and some creative thinking as our technological superiority begun to quickly lose all its meaning. Our expenses are not justified by the obtained results. The enemy is using an order of magnitude cheaper weapons to reach the same goals for which we spend billions on technological whims of the defense industry!"
Similarly General Richard Mayers commented on precision-guided munitions, "The rate of their use is incompatible with the obtained results. We are literally dropping gold into the mud!"
Kucinich’s position on military funding is not one that calls for an end to U.S. imperialist wars, but instead calls for a more cost effective and deadly military to terrorize and keep in line the semi-colonial people of the world. The contradiction here is limited to the difference between the pure profiteering of the military industrial complex and the desire for actual cost effective results for imperialist victory on the battlefield.
Dennis Kucinich spoke to a gathering of the Southern California Americans for Democratic Action claiming, "We [he and the congress] did not authorize an eye for an eye. Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan. We did not authorize the Administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases. We did not authorize war without end. We did not authorize a permanent war economy. Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy."
Yet that is exactly what Kucinich and the rest of the congress, with the exception of California Democrat Barbara Lee, agreed to with their votes authorizing Bush’s endless war on the world. The entire Democrat Party in both the Senate and Congress, with only one exception, voted for war.
Since votes have since been taken authorizing the US war in Iraq, the most practical application of this vote by Kucinich was to authorize the US war on Afghanistan. In stark contrast to Kucinich’s vote for war this author wrote on September 12, 2001, “Americans watched in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed. Yet it was a horror no different from what the U.S. government has done with it’s bombing of civilian populations in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Panama, and Korea. The U.S. bombings of these countries killed millions of civilians. Terror against civilians is never justified. Now the U.S. government is preparing to terror bomb Afghanistan.”
The U.S. war in Afghanistan has in fact killed well over 3,000 civilians and brought the Afghan nation to back to the chaos of fragmented warlord rule last seen after the various U.S. trained and financed Mujahideen forces defeated the Soviet backed PDPA government. Now those same Mujahideen forces have defeated the Taliban, once again with U.S. backing, and they are just as incapable of bringing a decent life, or even political stability to Afghanistan.
The same 9-12 writing also pointed out: “Today the clerical fascists of the Taliban rule Afghanistan. The CIA put them in power with billions of dollars in U.S. military aid. This massive U.S. intervention in Afghanistan was in opposition to the revolutionary PDPA government that came to power in 1978 on issues of promoting women’s rights and land reform. Literacy campaigns began teaching the poor and women how to read and write.
“Foreign religious fanatics and wealthy defenders of the old feudal system came together in a terrorist organization called the Mujahideen (from which the Taliban were later formed). With billions of dollars in assistance from the U.S. [starting under the Jimmy Carter presidency] these fanatical cutthroats waged a holy war that included killing woman for teaching little girls how to read and write and throwing acid into the faces of women who had become liberated from the veil. The Taliban came to power as a result of this U.S. intervention.
“Will a U.S. war now against the Taliban and former CIA aid recipient Osama Bin Laden set things straight? No. It will be the people of Afghanistan who suffer death and destruction from war as the U.S. attempts to install a puppet government friendly to U.S. corporate (oil) interests.”
Kucinich, the “peace candidate”, as much as he may now want to deny it, voted for the war on Afghanistan and played his part in making it happen.
Some may argue that Kucinich is not perfect, but he’d make a better president than Bush. Yet it is unlikely that Kucinich has any intention of winning the presidency. His role is one of bringing the anti-war movement and others who are breaking from the establishment and the twin parties of war back into the fold of the pro-war Democrat Party. Kucinich makes this point clear when he states, "The Democratic Party created third parties by running to the middle. What I'm trying to do is to go back to the big tent so that everyone who felt alienated could come back through my candidacy" (Counter Punch, April 2003).
Yet that tent Kucinich speaks of is one that despite its name, is not Democratic. It is a tent dominated by big capital and the politicians subservient to it. It is under this tent that the ruling class would like to swallow up the legitimate opposition of the people towards war and turn us into the water boys for “responsible” politicians.
On the third parties who are trying to build a real alternative to the pro-war Democrat Party Kucinich states, "I have no interest in a third party candidacy. None, I want to do it the other way -- bring third party candidates into the [Democratic] Party” (The Progressive, April 2003).
Reverand Al Sharpton
Another candidate who has opposed the war on Iraq and is much less likely to give his endorsement to the other openly pro-war and racist Democrats is Reverand Al Sharpton. Speaking on this issue the New Republic opined, "Anyone who rules out the possibility that in August 2004 an aggrandized Sharpton will, after a private conversation with Karl Rove, issue a pained statement declaring that the Democratic nominee has betrayed the party's base and doesn't deserve the reverend's endorsement should have a conversation with Robert Abrams, Mario Cuomo, or Mark Green." (The Village Voice, April 16-22)
Yet Sharpton’s lack of loyalty to the racist and pro-war Democrat machine has not meant endorsements for the authentic parties of the left that uphold much of the program Sharpton claims to represent. Instead Sharpton has stooped as low as endorsing Republican boss Al D'Amato to show his dissatisfaction with the Democrat Party. This has accomplished nothing but the bolstering of the twin parties of war and racism that rule America.
Sharpton’s support for both the Democrats and Republicans while pretending to be leading a crusade against war and racism makes particular sense in light of the fact that he is a self admitted informant for the FBI. The FBI, as America’s internal political police, play a role of carrying out spying, infiltration, disruption, harassment, disorientation, and even murder against anti-racist, anti-war, and other organizers in this country.
When asked about the new provisions of the Patriot Acts that allow for all kinds of FBI surveillance Sharpton himself responded, “What you're really doing is allowing the government to do overtly now what they did covertly in the '60s, not only to Dr. King but to every group from the [Black] Panthers to the anti-war movement. They tried a whisper campaign against Dr. King with illegal information. Imagine what they would do with legal information against anyone they would want. That is frightening. Big Brother is here, and has a license to do it.”
Yet the Times reported on July 22, 2002 regarding a 1983 FBI surveillance tape of Sharpton in an attempted cocaine deal that was aired on HBO last year, “The grainy tape was recorded as part of an FBI investigation into Mr Sharpton’s friend, the boxing promoter Don King. The drug deal never went through and no charges were ever brought against Mr. Sharpton as a result of the operation. However, the FBI was said to have used the material to pressure Mr. Sharpton into becoming a government informant for five years on figures in organized crime and black leaders, as well as Mr. King.”
Sharpton himself admitted in a two-hour interview with Newsday that he wore body recorders in meetings with subjects under federal investigation and that he also allowed a tap to be placed in his phone at his Brooklyn home. (Newsday Friday, October 21, 1988)
Sharpton’s FBI activities for five years or perhaps longer, his dealings with the mob, and his support for both the Democrats and Republicans while excluding the left should be cause enough for concern about Sharpton’s supposed anti-war and anti-racist credentials.
Senator Carol Mosely-Braun
Former Illinois Senator Carol Mosely-Braun moved into the presidential race as an opponent to the U.S. war in Iraq as well. Yet she has her own disturbing connections with the imperialist world order. As senator Mosely-Braun befriended Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha. It was General Abacha who hanged beloved Ogoni community leader Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other activists in 1995 for their activities exposing the environmentally unsound practices of Shell Oil in Nigeria that are poisoning the earth and the Ogoni people. Under Abacha the average annual income of the Nigerian people fell from ,000 in 1980 to 0 in 1995 despite the massive profits made by Shell Oil and the large Swiss bank accounts accumulated by Abacha and his cronies. While Abacha killed for Shell, Shell has now admitted that they imported guns for Abacha.
At one of Mosely-Braun’s meetings with the dictator, General Abacha used the occasion to present her with a letter endorsing Clinton in his re-election bid. Of course this was not the kind of publicity Clinton wanted, having had to try to distance himself from Abacha’s horrible human rights record with a weak set of symbolic sanctions that did not effect Nigeria’s oil exports.
The restrictions imposed by Clinton included a cut off of aid, restricted arms sales, and imposed visa restrictions on Nigerian officials. Obviously these restrictions didn’t bother Abacha who endorsed Clinton. Yet former Senator Mosely-Braun used several occasions to speak out against the restrictions that were placed on Nigeria. This issue played a large role in preventing Mosely-Braun from being re-elected to the U.S. Senate.
The Peace and Freedom Party
The Peace and Freedom Party is back on the ballot in California with 80,000 registrants and will be running a presidential candidate who actually represents the values of the hundreds of thousands who have marched in the streets against the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Yugoslavia. Founded in 1967, the Peace and Freedom Party has opposed all of the wars this country has waged since. At home we campaign for political freedoms, equality, full employment, spending on social programs rather than war, and for an egalitarian socialist society that redistributes the wealth and ends imperialist war by ending imperialist profits.
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