Antiwar Movement Gives Bush Reason to Rachet Up War in Iraq

If that headline creates cognitive dissonance in your brain pan, Norman Solomon’s article in the International Labor Communications Association’s on-line journal may give you some perspective.

Solomon points out that, while there appears to be increasing hand-wringing and breast-beating from a growing antiwar movement, it’s actually an “anti-lose” message that is the subtext. Much of the messaging in the media is focused on getting the hell out of Baghdad because we’re not winning or can’t win, and so can’t justify the ongoing loss of life or expense. That gives Bush an invitation to escalation, says Solomon.

A big ongoing factor is that George W. Bush and his top aides seem to believe in red-white-and-blue violence with a fervor akin to religiosity. For them, the Pentagon’s capacity to destroy is some kind of sacrament. And even if more troops aren’t readily available for duty in Iraq, huge supplies of aircraft and missiles are available to step up the killing from the air.

Back in the USA, while the growth of antiwar sentiment is apparent, much of the criticism — especially what’s spotlighted in news media — is based on distress that American casualties are continuing without any semblance of victory. In effect, many commentators see the problem as a grievous failure to kill enough of the bad guys in Iraq and sufficiently intimidate the rest.

The popular criticisms of Bush are A) he deceived us about the reasons for going to war, and B) he has mismanaged the war and as a result we are losing it. Solomon’s point is that the “winning” and “losing” messages are simply being repeated, with little understanding of what they really mean.

In the Democratic Party’s weekly radio address over the weekend, former senator Max Cleland said that “it’s time for a strategy to win in Iraq or a strategy to get out.”

Cleland’s statement may have been focus-group tested, but it amounts to another permutation of what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the madness of militarism.” All the talk about the urgent need for a strategy to win in Iraq amounts to approval for more U.S. leadership in mass slaughter. And the United States government does not need a “strategy” to get out of Iraq any more than a killer needs a strategy to stop killing.

Solomon says that focusing on “losing” gives the Bush administration an opportunity to create the illusion that, with more men, more weaponry and more money, the United States can come back in the fourth quarter and win, not lose, the war (think carpet-bombing and chemical defoliation in Vietnam).

Criticism of the war because it isn’t being won leaves the door open for the Bush administration to sell the claim that — with enough resolve and better military tactics — the war can be vindicated. It’s time to close that door



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