The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The IWR trap

Voting for the War Watch

In the next seven months, as the Democratic party goes through a certain amount of infighting and decides who is going to be their nominee, you will hear that such and such a candidate "voted for the Iraq war" over and over again. Lieberman, Gephardt, Edwards, and Kerry all voted Yes on the Iraq War Resolution which passed last October. The media will say it, the candidates opponents will say it, and the candidates themselves will probably say it, too.

But it is important to understand what it was that they were actually voting for, so that the vote can be put into proper perspective. For one thing, the Bush people would like this to mean that criticizing the Iraq war is now off the table for those candidates. They will say, in mock horror, "How can John Kerry criticize this administration’s actions in Iraq, when HE VOTED FOR THE WAR?".

People will also say that these Democrats and other Democrats in Congress voted "to give Bush the authority to go to war". This is also not exactly true.

Bush always had the power to get us into a unilateral invasion of Iraq, with or without a blessing from Congress. As Commander In Chief, he can order the military to go anywhere and do anything, despite Congress’ formal power to declare war. However, because of the War Powers Act passed after Vietnam, Congress has the ability to cut funding from a military action after 2-3 months if they do not support it.

If Congress does not pass an authorization with limits and conditions on the President’s actions, then the President can wage war and continue to wage war with essentially no restrictions. So the first important point about the IWR is that it was absolutely crucial that such a resolution be passed, outlining the Congress’ goals and limiting Bush’s ability to wage war.

The Senate and the House began drafting separate bills. The House, largely Republican controlled, created a bill which essentially gave Bush free reign to wage war anywhere in the Middle East he wanted to, with few restrictions on cause. The Senate, more evenly divided, eventually came up with the Biden-Lugar bill, which would have been a bit more exacting in geographical restriction and burden of proof than what was actually passed.

Now, the Republicans control Congress. That being the case, it was pretty likely that some authorization which essentially favored Bush was going to pass, and he was going to be allowed to have his little war. That was inevitable. So, the only thing the Democrats could do was to make the authorization as responsible as they could. However, right away some of them started to jump ship.

Gephardt and Lieberman undercut the more responsible Senate position right away by stating that they would back the much more warmonger-friendly House version. This cut the legs out of the Senate position considerably. You may remember Gephardt and Lieberman standing shoulder to shoulder next to Bush at a photo-op last fall, trying to appear "tough on national security". Good luck with that, guys.

However, the Democrats in the Senate didn’t give up, and kept pushing a compromise bill which still had a lot of teeth in it. It forced Bush to go to the UN and attempt to win a UN security council vote of approval. This was the reason Colin Powell had to swallow the last bit of credibility he had and go to the UN and lie his way through that mendacious presentation of his. The resolution also demanded that all diplomatic avenues had to be exhausted before we invaded. This was obviously not met, and so technically, if the Congress wasn’t such a creature of this administration, they could now withdraw funding from our mission in Iraq. In the end, the IWR did much more good than it did harm, in that it forced Bush to lie in the face of the world, show that he actually didn’t have any proof before he went to war, and restricted the geographic constraints of our current actions.

When the compromise was completed and it was pretty clear that it was going to pass, the Democrats had a choice of whether to vote yes or no on it. This was largely a symbolic gesture, as the IWR was going to pass anyway.

A No vote might have made it seem like they didn’t want to limit the President’s power to wage war. But as a symbolic vote, this clearly would have been the better and smarter thing to do. Essentially you would be voting that Bush was going to screw up Iraq (which has certainly been proven correct in the aftermath) and based on his prior record that was the right call. But they also knew that Bush would try to make them look soft on that old debbil Saddam if they did.

Some of the Democrats were actually very active in the fight to make the authorization as responsible as it was, like Kerry. For Kerry to fight like crazy to limit Bush’s war making power, and then vote NO on his own bill, would probably have been seen in some kind of unflattering light. But, again, as I said, a YES vote was a vote predicting that this administration wouldn’t make a hash of the situation, and that was a very poor prediction indeed.

The good news is that in any case, there were Democrats who were watching out for the principles of diplomacy, international law, and proof, and they made the best deal they could.

The bad news is that we have to hear about how these candidates "voted for the war" for the next seven months.

Fun with Anagrams Watch

George Walker Bush == beer keg lush go war

Conservative Idiots Watch

It’s another week, so there are more conservative idiots to laugh at. We all need to laugh more. Here’s a selection:

Marc Racicot
Get ready to jump out of your seat and kick the cat! According to the Associated Press, George Whistle-Ass Bush's presidential campaign is "appealing for donations by portraying Bush as a fund-raising underdog." But... but... but... isn't Bush on target to raise an unprecedented $200 million dollars for his campaign? Isn't he holding $2000-a-plate fundraising dinners all over the place? Didn't he smash fundraising records during his previous campaign? Pah! According to campaign chairman Marc Racicot, all of that is completely irrelevant. In a fundraising email to supporters, Racicot wrote (added emphasis mine): "Democrats and their allies will have more money to spend attacking the president during the nomination battle than we will have to defend him. Cough-bullshit-cough." Look, if the people who support the GOP are really this gullible, they damn well deserve George W. Bush for another four years. Mind you, it's not really any surprise that Bush's campaign is reaching out to supporters by appealing to utter stupidity. After all, that is their target demographic.

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