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March 1, 2005

Recovering From Kerry


The Left must abandon its illusions

by Joshua Frank

The Iraq war is an illusion. It is just a segment on the nightly news. The death and destruction doesn't concern us. Or so alleged all those who buried their antiwar convictions and signed on to support John Kerry in 2004. Since their pragmatic flop, the war has raged on. Thousands more have perished. Billions more spent. And for what?

The supposed antiwar Democrats have been mute since the Democratic National Convention last summer. Howard Dean is a prime example. Since the good doctor dropped out of the race for president, we've heard very little about the war from Howard, even though he is one of the few prominent "antiwar" Democrats in a position to raise some hell. Now that Dean has scored himself the DNC gig, we are even less likely to hear him speak out against the war, as his own party continues to support the Bush agenda at every turn.

In mid-February Senator John Kerry, along with every leading congressional Democrat, threw his weight behind the Bush administration's $82 billion supplemental funding bill. The passage of the bill is imminent, and it will ensure financing for Bush's military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not a single prominent Democrat has come out in opposition.

In fact, Washington liberals have gone as far as to condemn the Republican president's request on grounds that Bush is not asking for enough money. The Democrats even pledged to introduce amendments that could add up to $8 billion to the bill's already egregious price tag.

Senator Kerry has even stated that he wants to see the legislation include a call for an additional 40,000 troops for the U.S. military machine: 30,000 to the Army and 10,000 to the Marines. Kerry is assuring us that he plans on Bush's war proceeding for years to come.

Silence is complicity, and the antiwar movement is speechless. No visible opposition to the Iraq war has shown its face for months. Hopefully, that will change on March 19, the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion, when millions of protesters take to the streets around the world. Yet a concerted effort to assemble opposition to the war here in the U.S. has failed to develop.

Taking on the challenge of leading a reinvigorated fight against Bush and the Iraq war is Ralph Nader who has recently shifted his attention from domestic to foreign policy.

In a scathing indictment, Nader declares that the Bush family is profiting from the Iraq war. His new Web site, DemocracyRising.Us, explains in detail how members of the Bush cartel are cashing in on the catastrophe.

He isn't concealing why he has changed his focus from consumer advocate to war critic. Mr. Nader is openly attempting to play a role in rebuilding the antiwar movement. He asserts that the movement was derailed because activists "took the year off in 2004 out of deference to John Kerry."

Of course, he is right on the mark. But whether or not antiwar activists heed Nader's advice will depend greatly on their ability to acknowledge the reasons for their movement's collapse. They should not have suppressed their convictions for political expediency as they did when they abandoned their war opposition to support John Kerry in hopes he would topple George W. Bush.

So as we organize and struggle in these dark days to fight against war and empire, let's do it with our eyes open, and most of all, without illusions.

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  • Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush, just published by Common Courage Press. You can order a copy at a discounted through Josh's blog at www.brickburner.org. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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