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Cracks at the top over Iraq disaster

February 23, 2007 | Page 12

I TAKE serious issue with Andy Libson's letter in which he writes that Socialist Worker is in the wrong by recognizing "splits" in the ruling class on the question of Iraq ("What splits at the top?" February 9).

Libson believes that, beyond some heated Democratic rhetoric, "[t]his is a ruling class decisively committed around the need for more troops and more bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

What ruling class in Libson talking about? Splits abound, and it would be a terrible mistake for antiwar activists to view them merely, in Libson's words, as "grandstanding for position in the run-up to the 2008 election."

There is the entirety of the Democratic Party and a section of the Republican Party, racing to the nearest TV cameras to oppose Bush's "surge and a prayer." There are the editorial boards of every major newspaper not owned by Rupert Murdoch or the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

There are the dusty souls of the Iraq Study Group. There are the numerous generals who have gone public against the war. There are the billionaires like funder George Soros, and hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, who is heading up national fundraising for liberal darling Barack Obama.

Of course, these splits are not occurring because of any kind of humanitarian concern. This is the same ruling class that was united on both the 2003 invasion and the murderous Clinton-era sanctions on Iraq that killed more than 500,000 children.

They oppose the war now because it has turned out to be, in the words of former NSA chief Gen. William Odom, "The greatest strategic blunder in America's history." It is breaking the U.S. armed forces, turning the country against the "commander in chief" (an obscene appellation for the draft-dodging Bush) and stoking anti-American sentiment in the most strategic energy center in the world.

The ruling class is furious at the Bush administration and its coterie of neocon advisors, and like rats fleeing the Titanic, it wants out.

But despite the craven nature of all concerned, it is important for us to recognize the splits, because they provide long-absent oxygen for the majority--but largely passive--sentiment against the war.

As SW wrote, "The splits at the top over Iraq have profound implications for the antiwar struggle. The resounding defeat of the pro-war Republicans in November and the suddenly vigorous challenge to the Bush administration from Democrats and the media will give millions of people confidence that they were right all along in opposing Bush's disaster in Iraq."

Libson asks the right question: "If this is a split, then where is the alternative plan that any section of the ruling class is rallying around in opposition to Bush's surge? There is none." But that is more a function of the severity of the quagmire.

Once again as SW writes, "They don't want to see the U.S. military wrecked as it was in Vietnam, but neither can they squarely face the implications of immediate withdrawal, which would mark the greatest strategic defeat in U.S. history."

They have no plan for ending the carnage because they will not entertain the only alternative plan that will get the job done: stop funding the war, troops out now and reparations for Iraq. That proposal won't come from their think tanks and subcommittees: It will be thrust upon them by the international antiwar movement--and it won't be "nonbinding."
David Zirin, Washington, D.C.

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