…are in some ways trying to “outhawk” Bush on the war: Hillary Clinton, the leading contender for the Democratic nomination for president, does not say that the war is wrong; she says the problem is that the war has been fought “on the cheap” and that “the Administration has lost focus on winning the war in Iraq.” Hillary Clinton has argued against an immediate withdrawal of troops, and she talks about phased redeployment over the next year (but with no firm timeline for when this would have to be completed). And Clinton complains that U.S. soldiers are “stretched thin.” Take this criticism (not enough troops or money) together with a goal of “winning the war,” and the logic of this can lead to a buildup of troops…maybe justified as a way of pulling out (a logic of “We had to send in more troops in order to withdraw”).
At a recent hearing convened by the Democratic Policy Committee (Senate Democrats) on the Planning and Conduct of the War, Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller IV raised this concern about the prospect of a failure for the U.S. in Iraq: “I’m talking about Indonesia, I’m talking about Africa, I’m talking about South and Central America, other parts of the Middle East, South Asia, et cetera, that—what the effect of this is going to be of an America in a diminished moral and physical and military capacity not being able to do something everybody thought we would be able to do rather quickly…”
Like a mob boss who is upset that his thugs have come back from a collection empty handed, Rockefeller is worried that Bush’s conduct of the war is messing up U.S. imperialism’s ability to operate as the top mobster in the world.
Why won’t the leadership of the Democratic Party call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, even though the base of the Democratic Party would overwhelmingly support it? In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Al Gore said, “We’re all, in some ways, lashed to the mast of our ship of state here.” Behind this metaphor, the “ship of state” is U.S. imperialism and its interests. And even if some at the top of the Democratic Party have real disagreements with why and how Bush invaded Iraq, they will not demand withdrawal because that would—in reality—be something that would undermine the interests of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, and globally.