THE BLOG

A Misunderstanding on Iraq

05/25/2011 12:30 pm ET

Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill are valued contributors to The Nation.
Their writing and reporting are essential to the magazine's
journalistic work and impact. However, their Huffington Post column,
"Players, Not Cheerleaders"
reflects a serious misunderstanding of The Nation's role in this
election when it comes to ending this disastrous war.

Klein and Scahill suggest that The Nation, along with "some of the
most prominent anti-war voices" has decided that we should "simply
pick a candidate who is not John McCain and help them win: we'll sort
out the details after the Republicans are evicted from 1600
Pennsylvania Ave."

Nowhere have we stated or even implied that this is our philosophy. It
is true that The Nation has endorsed Barack Obama. But as we have
explained, that does not mean that The Nation endorses every one of
his Iraq-related policies. Obama's plan to end the war falls short in
some important respects. We have been critical of the size of the
embassy he plans to maintain, his ambiguous stance on private
contractors and his plans for a sizable "follow-on force" (concerns
raised in Scahill's March 17, 2008 Nation piece, "Obama's Mercenary
Position
".

In the remainder of this presidential campaign, and no matter who wins
the Democratic nomination, the very definition of withdrawal will be
repeatedly contested. We will continue to publish articles and
editorials like Scahill's that strive to sharpen and clarify the terms
of that debate. Moreover, we will continue to oppose the commitment of
both Clinton and Obama to increasing the size of the military and to
spending more on our military than the rest of the world combined. We
believe, as Klein and Scahill do, that progressives must use the
continuing primary race to challenge these policies.

However, contrary to Klein and Scahill's assumption, there is no
reason to think withholding our endorsement would have given us
greater leverage over both of the Democratic candidates, on the war or
any other issue. To the contrary, progressives who are backing Barack
Obama have chosen to do so in order to exert pressure on him to
represent their values.

The Nation endorsed Obama as the better choice in this election, in
part because we believe that the new energy he is calling into
electoral politics will push the limits of his own politics. We
welcome his commitment to grassroots organizing and mobilization for
unleashing this new energy. But we also recognize that this is no time
to cheerlead. It will be our task -- and the task of activists, of
writers like Klein and Scahill and of others to across the country -- to
keep pushing beyond the limits that Barack Obama or any candidate for
president would define.

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