Howard Dean: A hawk in a doves cloak
By Sean Donahue
Soon well find out who is the real revolutionary, I dont
want my people to be tricked by mercenaries. Bob Marley
Howard Dean wants the peace movement to believe that he is its best
hope for bringing change in Washington.
In television ads and presidential debates, Dean has emphasized his opposition
to Bushs decision to launch a unilateral invasion of Iraqand
downplaying his support for the continued U.S. military occupation of
Iraq, and his earlier waffling over whether he might have supported a
war in Iraq under slightly different conditions. Deans emphasis
on his opposition to the war in Iraq also obscures his earlier support
for the first Gulf War, the war in Kosovo, and the war in Afghanistan.
Indeed, Deans earliest statements on foreign policy in the presidential
campaign were written with the help of one of the architects of the war
in Afghanistan, Danny Sebright, who held the Orwellian title of Director
of the Executive Secretariat for Enduring Freedom at the Pentagon under
Donald Rumsfeld. Sebright oversaw military operations that claimed the
lives of over 3,000 civilians without achieving the stated objective of
finding and arresting Osama bin Laden. Under the Clinton administration,
Sebright worked at the Pentagon helping to oversee weapons sales to the
Middle East during the period in which the US became the largest weapons
exporter in the world. When Sebright left the Pentagon in February of
2002 he went to work for his old boss, former Secretary of Defense William
Cohen, at the Cohen Group, a Washingon-based consulting company. The firm
uses its political connections to help companies obtain contracts with
the Pentagon and with foreign governments. While it is discreet about
its clientele, the Cohen Group does list some of its successes on its
web site a list that includes helping to negotiate arms sales to
Latin American and Eastern European countries, and Advis[ing] and
assist[ing] [a] US company in working with US Government officials and
the Coalition Provisional Authority in securing major contract related
to Iraq reconstruction. The fact that a close Dean advisor works
for a consulting firm involved in pitching contracts for reconstruction
projects in Iraq raises questions about the true motives of Deans
support for the Presidents $87 billion Iraqi reconstruction program.
More recently, Dean has been getting foreign policy advice from President
Clintons former Deputy Chief of Staff, Maria Echaveste. Echavestes
record is mixed. To her credit, Echaveste led the Department of Labors
campaign against sweatshops in the mid-1990s and has worked for the United
Farm Workers union. But Echaveste also played a key role in shaping the
legislative and public relations strategies that helped the Clinton administration
get Congress to approve Plan Colombia. Echaveste traveled to Colombia
with President Clinton to help promote a policy that included aerial herbicide
fumigations of vast areas of farmland and rainforests in southern Colombia
and more US funding, weapons, and advisors for the Colombian military.
Over the past three years she has done nothing to distance herself from
a policy that contributed to the escalation of Colombias civil war,
the destruction of forests and farms, massive displacement, and dramatic
increases in assassinations and disappearances.
For his part, Dean has been vague about his position on US military aid
to Colombia. (Incidentally, Sen. John Kerry has chosen Rand Beers, who
oversaw Colombia policy at the State Department for both the Clinton and
Bush administrations, to head up his foreign policy team.) Dean comes
from the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, and draws his advisors
from the partys establishment, even though he tries to portray himself
as a progressive and an outsider. His opposition to the war in Iraq isnt
rooted in the moral vision or political analysis of the peace movement,
but rather in the foreign policy establishments skepticism about
the rash and impulsive nature of the Bush administrations military
actions in Iraq. In remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations last June,
Dean said that:
America must not shy away from its role as the remaining superpower
in the world. We are, as Madeleine Albright once put it, the indispensable
power for so many challenges around the world. Inevitably, some
will resent us for what we have, and some will hate us for what we believe.
But there is much in the world that we cannot achieve on our own. So we
must lead toward clearly articulated and shared goals and with the cooperation
and respect of friends and allies.
In other words, Dean doesnt object so much to Bushs willingness
to use military force, which he sees as indispensable to maintaining the
USs political and economic position in the world, but rather he
objects to Bushs refusal to play by the rules of the game and recruit
a coalition of allies to support US goals. Dean went on in the same speech
to hold up Harry Trumans role in articulating the US vision for
the world and creating the NATO alliance and the World Bank as examples
of the kind of foreign policy he would like to pursue.
Howard Dean admits that the war in Iraq was a mistake, but he supports
the underlying policy positions that led to the war. As much as we might
want to believe that changing presidents will change the US role in the
world, replacing George Bush with Howard Dean would do little or nothing
to advance the peace movements goals.
Sean Donahue is Project Director of the Corporations and Militarism
Project of the Massachusetts Anti-Corporate Clearinghouse.
An open letter to America:
Its time to take back our country
By John & Elaine Mellencamp
As the echo of the war drums fades away and the angry masses calling
for blood slowly disperse, we, as a nation must now confront the truth.
We face the unpleasant reality of an uncertain future, compromised safety,
a failing economy, and the question of how a society of otherwise reasonable
citizens was systematically lied to and manipulated into backing the political
hijacking of Iraq.
Before a single bomb was ever dropped, some of us, formerly called the
anti-American and unpatriotic, have questioned or opposed
this war. Now, each day, as the dust settles and the truth slowly surfaces,
more and more people come to the inevitable conclusion of what a debacle
this whole war was.
39,000 bombs later, no weapons of mass destruction uncovered, no dangerous
dictators captured, no connection to Sept 11. What have we gained but
relentless media coverage of a fallen statue and some stolen oil fieldsthe
spoils of this misadventure. Not to mention lucrative corporate payoffs
and an enormous price tag of over $80 billion . . . some tax cut.
But what have we lost? We have lost the lives of over 300 Americans. Approximately
two US troop deaths each day, 193 [as of Oct. 22] deaths since the war
was declared over. In total, an estimated 20,000 people have died, thus
far, in this conflict.
In addition to the lives given for this effort, our nation has suffered
the loss of respect within the world community, particularly the United
Nations. We have managed to squander any goodwill we once had to now succeed
in solidifying our image as the globes leading bully. Arrogant and
The word Democracy means literally by the people. This is
the basis of our government and society. It is what this country was founded
upon and what makes us American. It is not just our right
but also our duty to speak out and voice our thoughts and opinions. How,
then, was it possible that, in the land of freedom, those who opposed
the common opinion were called. un-American? Resentfully,
The song To Washington was met with criticism and was labeled
an anti-war song. That was not at all the case or intention; it was merely
a report of the political climate, in the age-old tradition of the troubadour
spreading the news through song and story. Professionally, we, the Mellencamps,
have the opportunity to travel extensively, and we take full advantage
of that by talking to, listening to, and experiencing the diversity our
vast country has to offer. The lyrics of To Washington are
not just a personal opinion, but also the view from a very wide horizon.
Who is to say what is or isnt patriotic? Do the flags
that wave from every minivan really offer any support? Where is the support
for the thousands of service men and women who return to the states to
see their benefits cut, their health problems ignored, their jobs gone
and their families living in poverty? How are they repaid for their efforts;
for risking or losing their lives? So far, dismally.
This nation was founded to enable freedom and diversity of opinion, and
many lives have been lost to secure that liberty. Paradoxically, some
still resist the open mindedness that is the very foundation of this country.
The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles.
And yet George W. Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders
secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created
financial chaos. How is it that he hasnt been recalled? Perhaps
this time we could even have a real election . . . but that wouldnt
fit the Bush administrations take what you want and fire people
later policy. Take an election; take an oil field; take advantage
of your own peoplea game of political Three-Card Monte.
The fight for freedom in this country has been long, painful, and ongoing.
It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas,
corporate greed and overall manipulation. It is time to take action here
in our land, in our own schools, neighborhoods, farms, and businesses.
We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time
to take action. Now is the time to come together.