David Swanson: Senator Feingold's Peace Effort
Sex, Halliburton, and the State Department
Senator Russ Feingold (D., Wisc.) is preparing to give the Republicans in the Senate two more opportunities this week to grandstand and filibuster in favor of the occupation of Iraq. They will, of course, do so; and they will, of course, win.
Feingold cannot possibly have any doubt of that as he introduces his bills. As far as I know, he's not even trying to get the House to pass the same things, since they're guaranteed not to pass the Senate.
One of Feingold's bills proposes a delayed partial beginning of a withdrawal from an occupation that the vast majority of Americans (not to mention Iraqis) want completely ended. The other asks Bush to produce a report on his strategy for accomplishing the mythic mission that he uses to justify that same occupation. Both bills are written in Bush-Cheney vocabulary, promoting the very ideas they are intended to oh-so-weakly oppose.
The first bill, "S . 2633 To provide for the safe redeployment of United States troops from Iraq," by Feingold, Reid, and Menendez, says "The President shall promptly transition the mission of the United States Armed Forces in Iraq to the limited and temporary purposes set forth in subsection (d)." That sounds good, of course, until you read subsection d.
The bill even says that Bush "shall commence the safe, phased redeployment from Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces who are not essential to the limited and temporary purposes set forth in subsection (d). Such redeployment shall be carried out in a manner that protects the safety and security of the United States Armed Forces." And that sounds good until you read subsection d, and until you realize that redeployment means sending the troops elsewhere in the empire, and until you realize that Feingold is promoting the idea that withdrawal, rather than continued deployment, somehow endangers soldiers.
The bill also proposes, in its own wimpy way, to use the power of the purse: "Effective 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and except as provided in subsection (d), no funds appropriated or otherwise made available under any provision of law may be obligated or expended to continue the deployment in Iraq of members of the United States Armed Forces." And that, too, sounds good until you read subsection d or realize that Bush and Cheney routinely misappropriate funds as they see fit, knowing full well that Congress will never impeach them for it. Also, bear in mind that 120 days from passing this would be the middle of next summer were it not guaranteed to be filibustered and guaranteed to be vetoed in the miraculous case that it overcame a filibuster. Remember, the point of this is to allow Democratic Senators to pretend to want to end the occupation of Iraq. The bill is worded to attract as many of them as possible.
So, what about subsection d? Here it is:
"The prohibition under subsection (c) shall not apply to the obligation or expenditure of funds for the following limited and temporary purposes:
(1) Conducting targeted operations, limited in duration and scope, against members of al Qaeda and affiliated international terrorist organizations. [You could stop right there, as Bush and Cheney would consider point (1) to justify the whole occupation.]
(2) Providing security for personnel and infrastructure of the United States Government.
(3) Providing training to members of the Iraqi Security Forces who have not been involved in sectarian violence or in attacks upon the United States Armed Forces, provided that such training does not involve members of the United States Armed Forces taking part in combat operations or being embedded with Iraqi forces.
(4) Providing training, equipment, or other materiel to members of the United States Armed Forces to ensure, maintain, or improve their safety and security. [The troops to protect troops scam: this means occupation without limit.]
(5) Redeploying members of the United States Armed Forces from Iraq. [As if FUNDING is needed for that. As if the cost of bringing everyone home is not pocket change of a quantity that the Pentagon regularly "misplaces".]
Of course, Senator Feingold thinks this is a smart bill to get a vote on. He thinks it'll attract more Democrats than last time, and maybe even some Republicans. And, if it doesn't actually become what passes for "law" these days, well, at least it's a step in the right direction. After all, what else can a senator possibly do? And aren't we all just filling time as respectably as we can until the new emperor ascends the thrown? Isn't there an election breathing down our necks a mere 10 months away?
Oh, I don't know, Senator, what COULD you POSSIBLY do? Maybe you could commit to FILIBUSTERING the next chunk of the funding that you claim to oppose!
Since when did filibustering become an exclusively Republican tool? Would it be uncouth to propose such a thing when your party is in the (just barely) majority? Well, you know what, Russ, it's uncouth to get your head and limbs ripped off by American weapons in Iraq too, but it happens every day. The stains just don't reach the carpeting of the U.S. Senate.
And you could still push your bills too, but you'd be understood to have much better motives in doing so.
Why do you think an unsuccessful filibuster would be so much more humiliating than an unsuccessful bill passage? Even PROPOSING bills in the era of the Unitary Executive and his Signing Statements makes you look like a chump, and you know it. And allowing the Republicans to win debate after debate after filibuster after filibuster does not make you or your beloved party look good. I'm sorry to be blunt, but - you know - people are dying.
Feingold's other doomed bill is "S . 2634 To require a report setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates," by Feingold, Reid, and Menendez. It would "require a report setting forth the global strategy of the United States to combat and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates." Since when does the United States need a global strategy to "defeat" a foreign terrorist group that has grown primarily as a result of U.S. efforts aimed or pretended to be aimed at "defeating" it? Well, I guess since it became possible for threats to the United States to be made in almost any country around the world. The report would include:
"(1) An analysis of the global threat posed by al Qaeda and its affiliates, including an assessment of the relative threat [to whom? to what?] posed in particular regions or countries.
"(2) Recommendations regarding the distribution and deployment of United States military, intelligence, diplomatic, and other assets to meet the relative regional and country-specific threats described in paragraph (1). [Now we'll know where to redeploy all those stop-lossed soldiers.]
"(3) Recommendations to ensure that the global deployment of United States military personnel and equipment best meets the threat identified in described in paragraph (1) and does not—
"(A) undermine the military readiness or homeland security of the United States;
"(B) require the deployment of reserve units more than once every four years, or of regular units more than once every two years; or
"(C) require further extensions of deployments of members of the United States Armed Forces."
This will go down in a fiery filibuster denouncing it as micromanaging the work of the fuhrer in chief. And, worse than that, the PEACE movement will lament its failure to pass.
WAKE UP, America. I miss you. The world misses you.
WAKE UP, Senator Feingold. You could be a hero tomorrow if you so choose.
David Swanson is an organizer of the www.AfterDowningStreet.org coalition.