Rob Kall / OpEdNews – 2007-10-28 22:13:29
(October 28, 2007) — The other day, I got the idea that we’ve been going about the effort to get congress to stop the war the wrong way, kind of like Bush attacked Iraq. Bush planned the attack but not the follow-up occupation.
I asked leading progressives what it will look like when and after the dems inform Bush that they will no longer fund the occupation. Responses came in from Dennis Kucinich, Cindy Sheehan, Jeff Cohen, Mike Malloy, David Swanson, Swami Beyondananda, Brent Budowsky.
Progressives, myself included, are calling for refusing to fund the war any further. The word is that Dems in congress are afraid they will be cast as failing to provide for the troops. I figured that if we explored the possible responses, plans could be made on how to effectively deal with them.
So I started talking to people, asking them what they thought things would look like AFTER the congress refused to fund the war any further.
What would Bush do?
What would the Republicans do?
What would the media do?
What would the Pentagon do?
What would retired generals do?
I put the word out to some of our writers, got a few replies, and spoke to Dave Lindorff and then, set up an interview with Democratic presidential primary candidate and congressman Dennis Kucinich. Kucinich has been the most outspoken advocate for de-funding the war. We talked about how this would work.
First, I spoke to journalist Dave Lindorff. Here’s what he had to say:
I think that they’ve decided that they want the war to continue ’til november. I dont’ think they’re afraid at all. I’ve concluded that they want Bush in power and they want the war running. (He writes about this in his article Dead Men and Women Walking)
Emanuel has actually said that– that Bush in power is good for Democrats and that the war is good for democrats.
If dems cut the budget for the war, the military would have to come up with contingency plans for how to get out. It would change the debate entirely. Obviously, there would be plenty of people saying we’re cutting and running. But there would be plenty of retired generals saying it’s about time. The dems would be cheered by the troops coming home.
With 70% of Americans and 80 or 90 % of Dems wanting the war to be over, who are they worried about– the die hard republican core who hates them anyway?
For one thing, democrats would finally NOT be called wimps, which is the disaster they face next november.
Only 11% support them. Everyone sees through them. THis crap about we need 60 votes in order to do anything is just ludicrous. It’s 41 (in the senate )to stop legislation.
Dave pointed out an article in Pat Buchanan’s magazine, Easy Out which describes how quickly the troops could be withdrawn from Iraq. At a cost of a billion every few days, we don’t have to bring back every refrigerator and soda vending machine. We just have to get the troops out.
Dave raised the idea that it really just takes the leader of the house or senate to keep a bill from coming to the floor. One person could stop the war. I decided to go over this with Kucinich.
I began by asking Kucinich the basic question– what would it look like if the congress refused to fund the war. The first thing he did was ask me what was basing the question on. “A hope and a prayer,” I replied, laughing.
Kucinich described how the defunding would work.
This is the way the war can end. The leadership of the house goes to the president and tells the president, “we’re not going to provide the funds for the war anymore.” That he has to use the money he has in the defense budget to bring the troops and the equipment home. That would cost about $5-10 billion and the money is there to do that now.
Concurrent with that has to be the creation of an internation security and peacekeeping force that would move in as our troops leave. That’s what would have to happen. That’s the plan that I’m promoting.
Kucinich believes there are several dozen members of congress who generally agree with what he’s saying.
Unfortunately, the leadership would have to WANT to end the war. Kucinich says,
But the leadership has made it very clear that they are not going to cut off funds.
They made it clear that they are not going to tell the president that they are not going to fund it. They are going to keep funding it and keep funding it under the notion that notion– under the fatal notion that this is the way to support the troops.
I mentioned Kucinich’s estimate of several dozen supporters to David Swanson and he told me about a letter on his afterdowningstreet.com site, which he describes here;
90 Congress Members have signed a letter saying they won’t fund the occupation except in a bill that ends it and funds withdrawal. The wording of the letter is weak in various ways, and most of the signers have already gone back on their word with the excuse that a Continuing Resolution doesn’t count as a bill. But this is the best tool we have right now for pushing Pelosi to not fund the occupation. If that 90 were 120 I’d feel a lot better about the chances of a great many Iraqis staying alive through the next 5 years: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/peacepledge
I asked congressman Kucinich, “Usually, in congress you work to put together a bill and pass it. Is there a mechanism, is there a way for you and those couple dozen to organize against further legislation? It’s not like you go into committee.”
Kucinich replied, “What has to be done has to be done by the leaders. The leaders have to go to the president and tell him, “We’re not going to give any more money.” It’s the leadership that schedules the bill.”
I honed in, “The fact is, if Nancy Pelosi or Harry decided not to let the motion come to the floor, either one of them, all by themselves, could stop this dead in its tracks, couldn’t they?
Kucinich replied, “The leadership of either the house of the senate, if either leadership determined, we’re not going to let a bill come to the floor of the house or senate, the war would be stopped. They’d have to, essentially, force the president’s hand on the war.
“That’s what they have to do. They have to take a stand and they haven’t done that yet. It’s exactly what they have to do.”
Here’s a transcript of the rest of the interview. It goes into even more detail on how the defunding must happen and what it will look like afterward. I love his final comment. It’s one the Dems should heed well.
RK: How can our readers help?
DK: Urge and send messages to the democratic leadership of the house and the senate, that ending the war doesn’t take legislation– that it takes the will of the leadership to go to the president and say that they are not going to offer a bill– that the president has to take the steps to bring the troops home. Now a parrallel process must ensue, and that is a peacekeeping and security force in the region would have to be assembled that would come in as our troops leave, because you don’t want to leave a vacuum.
Now some people will say, if the congress takes this action, the president is just going to refuse to do anything.
And I would say that’s a direct path to his removal from office, because he can’t leave the troops out there without protection. And if he’s keeping them there, despite the will of the congress being expressed, then he would be in kind of a tough way.
RK: So, the will of the congress will be basically be stated by one of the leaders in either the house or the senate…
DK: Actually, that’s what’s being done right now, by continuing to fund it. If they determine they’re not going to fund it anymore, and tell the president that, then it’s over.
RK: The one question I want to be relly clear on, either Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, individually, could stop this war by going to the president and saying, I’m not going to bring legislation to the floor that will fund the war any further. Either one of those individuals could do now, right?
DK: Nancy works on consensus, with the other democratic leaders. But if the democratic leadership, and I don’t work with Harry Reid, so I’m not sure how he works, but if the Democratic leadership went to the president and told him what I told you, we’d be on the way to ending the war.
RK: IF this happened, if we got this to happen, what would you expect the president to do? The Republicans? The media? How would they respond to this. It seems to me it is important to plan how to respond to their response.
DK: The American people already made the decision to get out of Iraq by voting for a Democratic house and senate, so the way you respond is to say you are just bowing to the will of the people as expressed in the 2006 election.
Now, Kucinich says they would also have to inform Bush. That would make it official.
Then everything would hit the fan.
I asked some leading progressives their opinions. Here’s the email I sent them:
I’m working on an article on the day after– the day after the house or senate refuse to fund the war anymore.
What will it look like? What will Bush, the republicans, the media, the pentagon, the troops, the retired generals do? What will they say? What can the dems do to be prepared? As weeks turn to months, what will it look like?
We ought to have an idea about this, if we’re going to advocate and plan for it.
You can answer any part of the question you like. I hope to integrate some of the answers into the article I’m putting together.
Brent Budowsky, a former staffer in the house and senate, said,
“Sadly I do not believe the current Congress will ever vote anything remotely resembling a cut-off of funds or a dramatic change in policy for the Iraq War. The most likely scenario is that a Democratic President announces a schedule for withdrawl in the next Inaugural Address which will stimulate national celebration from anti-war activists to military families and the rejuvenation of America’s image, prestige and influence throughout the free world.”
Jeff Cohen, founder of FAIR, in reply to my question, said
“There will be a rejoicing among much of the populace — and a vicious attack from much of the media on the patriotism of the brave legislators who are responsible for “losing Iraq and aiding terrorism.
Those legislators should be prepared to mount a powerful counter-attack against the inflamed media and pundits, reminding everyone over and over that Iraq was lost and the terrorists aided back in 2003 when these media voices cheer-led an illegal, unwinnable invasion that predictably worsened the terrorism threat and helped Al Qaida.”
David Swanson, co-founder of afterdowningstreet.com, said,
“When this happens, Bush and Cheney will continue the occupation by illegally misappropriating funds just as they did to begin the war over 5 years ago. The Congress will then have to raise impeachment or render itself entirely pointless. Of course, Pelosi and Reid know this, which is largely why they are opposed to cutting off the funding. That doesn’t mean they can’t be foreced into it if we compel enough of their colleagues to take the lead. That starts by pointing them to Senator Dodd’s example in putting a hold on the latest destroy-the-fourth-amendment bill.
Here is where we would see how fatally damaged the mainstream media really are. With most of the networks owned by megacorporations making money off the war, we can expect that those networks that have lost their journalistic integrity will focus on giving face time to right wingers attacking the Dems and their decision to no longer fund the war. Will they seek out former generals who have already been critical of the war. Will they give at least equal time to those who oppose the war? After all, we know that 70% of Americans really want the war ended. Will the media act to support the will of the people or will they support the profit motives of their boards of directors?
Steve Bhaerman, who also goes by the name Swami Beyondananda, answered,
That’s an interesting question … what would the world look like the day after a successful preemptive peace strike? One thing is for sure. Were this to happen, then for the first time in a generation or perhaps ever, we the people would know that we are in charge of our government. It would truly be a revolution, and in fact, it would be an evolution. The populace would have had to have evolved from passive victims to powerful participants. It would mean that the people would have at very least recaptured the Democratic Party from the neocon elements. It would mean that there would have had to have been 50 million or more Americans standing for the end of the war in such a way that their numbers could be counted and checked. It would mean that Bush-Cheney had been finally outed and checkmated, on their way to impeachment or resignation. There is only one thing that would lead to such a scenario, and that is a devastating revelation about the Administration’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Nothing short of that could provide the “shock” to the system that would cause a people’s “up-wising” and liberate the Democrats from the fear and intimidation they seem to be suffering under.
Short of this “Hail Mary” pass into the unknown, here is what we MUST do to bring this about and stop fascism in its tracks.
1. What is required is a high-profile, national organization with a marquee of notables on board, from Bill Moyers and Bruce Fein, to Willie Nelson and Bruce Springsteen to stand for the return of the rule of law in America. Clearly, the Democrats are incapable of doing it so it must be left to the people. This is the only conversation for now, and all progressive and libertarian organizations need to unite on this one stand for political health in America. It is an anti-fascist popular front to essentially take fascism off the table, but I wouldn’t put “anti” in the title. I’d call it Friends of Freedom.
2. This organization MUST be able to offer a outside-the-box meta-comment on politics in America, and call the situation for what it is — a coup by a faction in American politics willing to defend empire at any cost. In other words, it has to be made clear to the American people that we are not in Iraq to keep the peace, we are there to keep the pieces. This is something the Democrat misleadership has failed to do, because they are complicit — either because they are part of the ruling elite, or because they’re being blackmailed, threatened or otherwise leveraged.
3. The organization MUST acknowledge that the Administration has committed war crimes in the promotion and execution of this war. Legislators who voted for the war are tacitly complicit in these war crimes, so we must establish from the beginning a “truth and reconciliation” approach — those who come forward in a timely fashion regarding these crimes and how they were sold to the public will not be prosecuted. Congress people who were leveraged into voting for a criminal war now have the chance to “rewrite” their decision by support of revealing the whole truth regarding 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Why haven’t whistleblowers come forward? Because there is no protection. We the people — and those in Congress and elsewhere who show up as leaders — will provide that cover. Until it becomes clear that we have the numbers to prevail, no one is going to stick their necks out.
4. There must be a way for 50 million Americans to register their “vote of no confidence” for the current regime (Congress included). This can be accomplished via a mega-petition site where Americans can log on and register a Vote of No Confidence in the current regime. It can be done like one of those telethons or fund-raisers where people can go online and see the numbers rise. In addition, the website can educate the public about how this government has supported war and empire to the detriment of everything good in America. When people begin to see the charges against this government — compared to the War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg, for example — it will begin to become more and more clear. Here’s how it could work even for those citizens who don’t access the internet. Just as petitioners set up outside grocery stores, etc. people with laptops (I’d call them Jefferson’s Witnesses) can take online petitions …
5. Along with the petition campaign, and the notables all speaking as one voice to face the common threat of fascism, there needs to be a snail mail postcard campaign directed at Senators and Representatives, as well as CNN, Fox, and the other networks demanding that they cover this issue.
Right now, things look dire. It seems as if the fascists have it all sewed up. However, all it will take is a shift in the momentum for the whole wall of lies to fall apart. It’s difficult to see it now, difficult to imagine it except in some pipe dream. But this is our rendezvous with destiny. Now is the time … because it is too late to do it sooner.
Cindy Sheehan replied to my inquiry, after seeing what Jeff Cohen and David Swanson had said,
I think the peace movement has to make it very clear to the Reps that we will support them if they have the courage to do this.
I can’t really add anything to what Jeff, David or DK said. I know Fox News will probably crap themselves and call the Congress “unpatriotic” and say that they are not supporting the troops.
Like David said, George and Dick will continue the war, so the movement has to keep pressure on impeachment and removal from office.
Progressive talk radio host, Mike Malloy, replied,
Excellent question. However, under it’s current leadership, neither the House nor the Senate will ever stop the funding of Bush’s occupation of Iraq; not this year, not next, not ever. And the reason is two-fold: Cowardice and complicity.
Reid, Pelosi and others who are now in control of the Legislative branch are terrified that action on their part to end the Bush Crime Family’s “amusement” in Iraq will result in their own defeat at the polls next time they run for re-election. Thirteen years of Soviet-style Republican rule has turned Democrats into whimpering cowards where it concerns the requirements laid on them by their oath of office and the US Constitution.
The combination of screaming charges of “supporting the terrorists” from the Republican swine who still have found ways and means to control both (now fully corrupted) branches of Congress, coupled with the degenerate howl from right-wing dominated talk radio and television of “traitors!” that would flow like muck from a thousand backed-up, flop-house toilets, guarantees the Democrats are capable of nothing but empty posturing and whiney rhetoric. Bush’s criminal occupation (very likely soon to be Hillary’s) continues apace. Endlessly.”
Wrapping things up with the Kucinich interview, I commented, “There is a lot of talk that the Democrats are afraid of being attacked viciously, if they do this and stop the funding.”
Kucinich really nailed it with his reply, “Fear is not a basis to run a government in a Democracy.”
The biggest conclusion I reach from this is that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, the leaders of the Democratic party, are failing to stop the war. Either one could, virtually single-handedly, lead their parties by refusing to bring any funding legislation to the floor. No legislation on the floor– no funding.
So the the final questions have to be; “Do Harry and Nancy really want to end the occupation/war? They can, so why aren’t they doing it.
Rob Kall is executive editor and publisher of OpEdNews.com, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and organizer of several conferences, including StoryCon, the Summit Meeting on the Art, Science and Application of Story and The Winter Brain Meeting on neurofeedback, biofeedback, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology.
He is a frequent Speaker on Politics, The art, science and power of story, heroes and the hero’s journey, Positive Psychology, Stress, Biofeedback and a wide range of subjects. See more of his articles here and, older ones, here.
BTW, the book Rob’s holding in his photo is “HISTORY OF THE REBELLION” volume 3. by Edward, Earl of Clarendon, published 1816, describing the rebellion among the Irish and Scots, around 1656. This was a religious war between the Church of England, Catholics and Presbyterians. The Earl, writing for the Queen, calls the Irish far worse than terrorists.