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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Candidates are not anything new

Published: August 31, 2007
Section: Opinions

Following an American presidential is a maddening enough experience, but the irritating trend of commencing the campaign two years in advance of the polls is becoming unbearable. Ive tried to avoid it, when friends ask me What do you think of Obama? or What do you think of Clinton? my answer is that I try my best not to.

Who could blame me? Even a cursory glance at the leading Democratic candidates shows that in the realm of foreign policy they dont offer an alternative vision to Mr. Bushs ruthless regime.

Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, and Mr. Edwards, who lead the polls as well as the crucial race for campaign cash, are not shy about criticizing the current administration. This is hardly surprising since Bush is a fabulously unpopular president waging a disastrous war. What is surprising is that the candidates have continuingly refused to take positions opposing Bushs most prominent policy viz. using brutal military force to advance the interests of the United States empire.

Clinton has staked out a decidedly hawkish position. Her Orwellian plan to end the occupation in Iraq falls short of actually suggesting that we end the occupation in Iraq. Instead her website suggests that the US might need a reduced residual force to remain in Iraq and continue their deadly operations in the country. This is in keeping with her statements to the New Yorker in 2006, we want to continue to export democracy, but we want to deliver it in digestible steps. In other words, she doesnt disagree with Bushs program;

she only wants to implement it more efficiently. In fact, her statements on possible military action against Iran suggest that shell plot a Bush-like course even in a situation where it is likely to fail miserably.

Obama responded with bellicose statements about a possible invasion of western Pakistan. Regardless of the odious nature of General Musharrafs government, invading a nuclear armed non-aligned country is perhaps not the wisest move. For his part, Edwards plan is not unlike Hillarys, except that his residual force would remain in an as yet undisclosed country somewhere else in the region, presumably ready to re-invade if events in Iraq start to irk American state or corporate interests.

I see an analogy here to a group that historians sometimes call the Tory Reformers, conservative politicians who used their right-wing credentials to accomplish liberal goals. The argument goes that it took someone like the staunch conservative Benjamin Disraeli to push through the Second Reform Act, just as it took the rabid anti-communist Richard Nixon to open up relations with the Peoples Republic of China. The current crop of Democrats is a comparable phenomenon;

we might call them the liberal reactionaries. They are ostensibly center-left figures who seek to seize power by capturing anti-war voters, but who show every indication that they will use the presidency to consolidate the imperialist gains of Bushs administration.

The only thing I can see averting such a catastrophe would be a serious transfusion for the anemic anti-war movement in this country. We need a united and powerful movement strong enough to convince our heroically unresponsive two-party system that the vicious overseas adventures of the Bush years ought to be consigned to history once and for all. Above all, this would mean resisting the powerful current of apathy which years of candidates like those mentioned above have produced in our political culture.

We need fewer polite protests where masses gently assemble in public parks to be lectured by the same speakers over and over again. We need the disruptive, street clogging protests which we saw in February 2003, before the war began, but which quickly subside. Such protests would make it clear that we are willing to bring the economic and political machinery of this country to a standstill as long as that machinery is used to murder Iraqis. What do I think of the lackluster prospects of such a momentous change? Well, I try my best not to.