Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tomgram: Klare on Being an Imperial "Defeatist"

Taking the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi on June 7th as an omen of triumph in Iraq, Karl Rove promptly launched the fall election campaign. On June 12th, he went to a New Hampshire Republican fundraiser and immediately began a new round of political trash-talking, attacking Democratic Congressman John Murtha as an advocate of "cutting and running" in Iraq. Within days the ideological grapeshot was whizzing through the acrid air and there was an instant whiff of fifties-style McCarthyism combined with a bracing dollop of implied treasonous behavior. It's clear that, if Karl Rove has anything to say about the matter, we're heading into the cut-and-run midterm election campaign, which will be down and dirty indeed. He's already set the mood.

Following his lead, the Republicans in Congress promptly took out after the Democrats. Majority Leader Bill Frist launched the first salvos: "If we break our promise and cut and run, as some would have us do, the implications could be catastrophic," he stated. He even offered the media a press release entitled: "FRIST DENOUNCES DEMOCRATS' PLAN TO CUT AND RUN." Republican senator from Arizona Jon Kyl typified the cookie-cutter attacks that followed: "If we cut and run in Iraq, what we will have done is prove what Osama bin Laden said." House Majority Leader John Boehner commented: "Achieving victory is our only option," and cast the Democrats, according to the Washington Post, "as defeatists who want to retreat in the face of terrorist threats. ‘We must not shy away.'"

The political opposition was all a pack of "defeatists" -- a term suddenly in the air -- and so were many others, all threatening by every imaginable subterfuge to undermine the will, fiber, and very security of the United States. At the end of June, for instance, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial, "Fit and Unfit to Print," attacking the New York Times for releasing a story about a secret government program to track terrorist finances. The Journal's editorial writers declared the Times in bad faith (for publishing a story the Journal had had on its front page the same day). Its editorial ended: "Forgive us if we conclude that [the Times]… has as a major goal not winning the war on terror but obstructing it" and issued a warning to the press about "the path the Times is walking."

Such attacks have a viral quality to them. They spread -- even into my own modest neck of the woods. The other day on the op-ed page of the right-wing Washington Times was a piece by one William Hawkins of the "U.S. Business and Industry Council," entitled, "Advocating a global U.S. defeat." It attacked a book series I co-run called The American Empire Project. It said, in part:

"Democratic Party leaders... also understand that setting a timetable for withdrawal [from Iraq] would be irresponsible but are pulled in a defeatist direction by the very vocal left-wing of their political base. The left wants a retreat from Iraq to be the prelude to a larger collapse of American pre-eminence world wide. It attacks U.S. policy everywhere, denounces America's allies and, most alarming, embraces foreign powers it hopes will be strong enough to confront Washington.

"The ‘American Empire Project' (AEP) is just one of several leftist campaigns that bring these themes of desired national decline together…"

Hawkins added: "Their willingness to embrace foreign powers to help bring down America raises fundamental questions about the proper limits of partisan debate."

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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