October 09, 2003

Let the general lead Democrats' charge

On Tuesday, Gov. Gray Davis(D-CA.), a good man, an
intelligent man and a worthy public official, was
politically mugged and beaten to death by a mob. In
the mayhem, Cruz Busto-Mondo (D-CA.) proved an
ineffectual champion of California's progressive
majority vote. In the shadow of the "Total Recall"
Putsch, the astute political observations that Bob
Scheer makes in this story are even more important to
read and share with others...


Robert Scheer
Creators Syndicate

Let the general lead Democrats' charge
Will voters like Clark, if Clark is like Ike?
In my reckless youth, I briefly sported an "I like
Ike" button, which didn't go over particularly well in
my corner of the Bronx, where support of even a
moderate Republican represented a betrayal of
everything decent.
In hindsight, though, I was right -- the genial
general-turned-president proved to be a warrior for
peace and an important critic of what he saw as a
"military-industrial complex" that threatened the very
fabric of democracy: "We must never let the weight of
this combination endanger our liberties or democratic
processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an
alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the
proper meshing of huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and
goals, so that security and liberty may prosper

I bring up this ancient history now because I think of
retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark as potentially another
Eisenhower, a leader for tense times who is properly
cautious about the deadly follies of war.

The juggernaut of defense contractors, hawkish think
tanks and a $400 billion annual Pentagon budget is
just as powerful as ever, wielding an agenda that
rarely matches what taxpayers want or the country
needs: war, or at least the constant threat of war,
and the most expensive war toys our scientists can

Isn't it odd that after a terrorist attack that relied
on $2 box cutters, we are redoubling our pursuit of
fantastical weaponry, giving billions in tax dollars
to the same war profiteers who sell to regimes, like
Saddam Hussein's, that will one day turn on us?

Of course, the U.S. weapons contractors win no matter
who loses on the battlefield because U.S. arms sales
account for at least 45 percent of total world
military exports. And the industry's big shots were
thrilled with Bush's effective transmogrification of a
regional tyrant, Hussein, into a new world-conquering
Hitler, further validating obscene expenditures in a
post-Cold War era that was supposed to find us
enjoying a "peace dividend."

Is it counterintuitive to hope another general might
provide the same wisdom Eisenhower did? Certainly
Colin Powell, who expressed some wise thoughts on the
limits of American hubris in Vietnam, seems to have
conveniently forgotten those hard-earned lessons to
fit in on the all-hubris-all-the-time Bush team.
Sometimes, however, it is the generals who know best
how to wage peace.

This is not to take any credit away from Howard Dean,
Dennis Kucinich or other Democratic candidates waging
an uphill fight to get their party to do its duty to
hold the Bush administration accountable for lying us
into the disastrous occupation of Iraq. Their
consistency has kept the Democrats on course, as
opposed to the likes of Joe Lieberman, who still
defends the war in Iraq.

But in the very least it is enormously clarifying to
have a battle-scarred former general front and center
to explain why the president's reckless policies are
weakening the nation's security.

As Clark put it last week, Bush's "headlong rush to
war" resulted in "dire consequences for our security."
And I don't care if Clark is a "pure" Democrat, a
question that seems to trouble some of his Democratic
opponents. Pure Democrats like Lyndon Johnson have
also ensnared us in disastrous wars. On domestic
issues, Clark demonstrated a commitment to the party's
progressive wing Friday, telling the Democratic
National Committee, "I want to make one thing clear:
I'm pro-choice, I'm pro-affirmative action, I'm
pro-environment, pro-education, pro-health care and
pro-labor. And if that ain't a Democrat, then I must
be at the wrong meeting."

But clearly Clark's main strength is in challenging
the neoconservative clique that has brainwashed our
naive president into a hare-brained scheme of remaking
the world into an American empire. In the process,
they have declared war, as Clark noted, "against
anyone who expresses dissent, questions their facts or
challenges their logic."

And just as with Vietnam, where Clark was wounded,
Iraq is proving to be a quagmire sucking up massive
U.S. resources that prevents us from addressing
pressing domestic problems: Social Security, health
care, education, jobs, violence. Last week, in
calling for an "independent, comprehensive
investigation into the administration's handling of
the intelligence leading to war in Iraq," Clark raised
the key issue facing this president. "Nothing could be
a more serious violation of public trust than to
consciously make a case for war based on false
claims," he said.

And there you have it -- the basic issue that the
Democrats must address in the next election, or it
isn't worth having one.

Posted by richard at October 9, 2003 02:45 PM