Since my discharge from active duty 3 years ago, I have worked hard to end the war in Iraq -- so far without any success. Lately, I have been pondering why the anti-war movement as a whole, myself included, has not been effective in influencing members of Congress, primarily the Democrats who won in 2006 on a platform of "changing course in Iraq" to follow through on their campaign promise.
Who is to blame? Of course, George W. Bush & Dick Cheney. But it goes further.
Democrats in Congress automatically assume they will get the anti-war vote just because of their vocal opposition of the Bush administration. Therefore, they become lax and complacent being that they feel their seats are safe. They boast that they are fighting for change, only to lose every showdown. Pathetic and inexcusable even -- being that they have more votes than their Republican colleagues who prevail every time, only because a substantial number of Democrats vote the same way the Republicans do, at least in regard to the war in Iraq.
Many Democrats vote for the funding, they just complain about doing it. That makes it worse since they fully acknowledge that they are voting for something that is wrong, and that they themselves don't believe in.
I can no longer buy the argument that we need to elect more Democrats in order to end the war -- that is just nonsense. However, I fully acknowledge that a Democrat in the White House will be far better than John McCain, who will certainly carry on Bush's Iraq policy and quite possibly start another war.
Right now the Democratic candidates are promising an end to the war in Iraq. Once the nomination is secured, watch how the nominee softens their language on the issue. Instead of ending the war, they will argue we need to leave behind residual forces for counter-insurgency operations, protecting U.S. infrastructure, and training the Iraqi military. McCain will probably gravitate closer toward the center and argue for something similar.
Even with Hillary or Obama in the White House, there is no way they will start pulling troops out within their first 60 days of office, as both have pledged to do. It will take years, and that is why the 110th Congress should have immediately started this process once they took control of both Houses in 2006.
I know Bush has veto power, and I know the Republicans have the power to filibuster, however, so do the Democrats. Sometimes I feel like the inaction of Congress regarding the war is purposely aimed at prolonging the war to make it an election issue. Yes, I am a Democrat, so naturally it pains me to write this.
Switching gears ...
Another contributing factor is the American people who, for the most part, are not affected by the war in Iraq. Most of my friends wouldn't even know an Iraq veteran if they didn't know me. So if it isn't their problem, why would they care? It is like crime -- the people in the suburbs don't worry about it until it starts creeping in to their neighborhoods from the city. Then they demand action.
Not until the American people are called on to sacrifice themselves will they resist. That is why the anti-war movement of the late 60s and early 70s was far more powerful than that of today. Primarily because there was a draft, and people were being ripped from their lives to go and fight a war they didn't believe in. Once it is your blood or money in the game everything changes -- everything. Even for the cowards and chicken-hawks chanting "victory" on behalf of our lame duck joke of a President.
If we in the anti-war movement, or anti-Iraq war movement, or whatever you want to call it, are going to be successful, somehow we have to reach the silent majority, who are the millions of Americans who are completely fed up with the war, but have no idea where to turn for their voices to be heard.
Why is that?
Most Americans are totally turned off by anti-war groups infiltrating official Congressional hearings where important facts need to be heard, then seeing outrageous disruptions. People being drug away by Capitol police officers, who are just doing their jobs, but are unfairly being labeled as some modern day Gestapo force or agents of Bush. God bless the brave activists that put themselves out there for justice in such a manner, but this is something that Joe Q. Public just isn't going to participate in, ever -- and more than likely will be 100 miles off the grid when it happens.
People are volunteering to be "water boarded" in public, in front of members of Congress, all in an effort to raise awareness that our government has engaged in acts of torture on prisoners of war. I understand their point, especially because it is true. The only problem is that they are scaring the shit out of people who are walking by witnessing these demos in horror. Those very same people are probably equally as outraged, however, they are not going to be affiliated with these organizations in any way shape or form because of a total fundamental disagreement in methodology.
Persecuting the military is a total "buzz kill" for any rational American. Furthermore, it is a total setback for the movement. The war in Iraq is not the fault of our troops, it is the fault of the policy makers in the Bush Administration, and their enablers in Congress. And lets get real -- we are not going to dismantle our military, EVER. We need a military to protect us and our country. However, it is wrong when our leaders force our military to fight an illegal war for their self-serving interests, such as oil and global dominance. And in the meantime, bankrupt our country.
Here is the news, people: Congress has the power to end the war. But they won't do a damn thing to end it until they feel that their jobs are on the line. One thing they truly care about is getting reelected. What it will take is average Americans, mothers, fathers, teachers, cops, and students walking right into their offices and voicing strong opposition to the war. When they become convinced that it isn't just the anti-war activists (who Congress could care less about) who are raising hell, but also "average & everyday" people who have been silent for so long -- members of Congress will reevaluate their past ineptitude and dysfunctional legislative approaches, and maybe, just maybe, actually do their jobs and bring us the necessary and positive changes that our country desperately needs.