Column No. 20 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - July 8, 2010
Note to readers:
As we are now approaching the run-up to the Democratic National Convention and the Convention itself, I am devoting a series of columns to what are primarily campaign matters, rather than the more historical and theoretical issues I usually deal with. It happens that I am going to be away during most of this period. Thus, not only these columns but also the first two for August are being prepared in advance. It is possible that some of what I will have to say here will be overtaken by events. Hopefully, whether or not that happens, you will find these thoughts of use as our attention turns to the principal problem facing the pro-democracy forces, not in Iraq, but here at home: how to defeat George Bush and assure the election of John Kerry.
I should note that some of these reflections have appeared in one form or another in one or more of my previous columns. If that is the case, obviously I believe they have merit. So please bear with me.
Dealing With The “Liberal Label” Issue
The Georgites will be using the “liberal as a dirty word” strategy with increasing intensity. This is because they have little else to run on and little other than invective and phraseology designed to distract the electorate from the real issues: the record of George Bush and how John Kerry would re-direct the course of our ship of state back onto that determined by our Constitution. To do this, the Senator might use something like the following recipe:
"If 'liberal' means . . .
protecting the Social Security System;
providing health care security for everyone;
creating a Homeland Security system that is more than a name and a vehicle for ending the security of our Constitutional rights;
creating environmental security and preservation for the benefit of all the people, not just the special interests;
maintaining the strong defense of our national security by ensuring that our military resources are not wasted on unnecessary foreign adventures, nor on unnecessary, unproven hardware;
restoring the security of a balanced budget and halting ever-upward spiraling Federal deficits;
reversing the addition of large amounts of extra pocket money for Bush's rich friends and contributors;
“If this is what ‘being a liberal’ means, then I am a liberal.”
Getting 20% of the 50%
I continue to believe that the primary electoral key to victory in November is held by the 50% of eligible voters who don’t ordinarily vote in Presidential elections. Over many years polls have shown that the number one reason for not voting is that eligible voters perceive no differences between the candidates to make getting out to vote worth the effort. If Kerry can get 20% of this 50%, he will win in a true landslide.
The lesson from the data on why eligible non-voters don’t vote makes it quite obvious what Kerry must do: clearly distinguish himself from Bush, by taking what are mainstream American positions (see the list above) that the Georgites try so hard to define as “left.” Distinguishing himself in this way will also draw that ever-increasing segment of “Anybody But Bush” customarily Republican voters to him.
As to those poll numbers that so many people are worried about, the ones that as of late June did not show Kerry pulling into a commanding lead over a Bush who is suffering one policy reverse after another, I have to say that I am not upset. The fact is that most polls simply do not reach the many non-voters who are hopefully going to come out and vote for Kerry. Further, even that being said, I think, given Bush's enormous build-up over his (false) "strength" in the face of 9/11 and the natural national rallying round at the beginning of the Iraq disaster, it is not surprising that the polls, such as they are, don't fully show the extent to which Bush support has dropped and will not likely recover, just as long as Kerry can manage to keep the focus on Bush and make the primary agenda for the election reversing the Bush Record.
The Bush “turnover” policy is obviously being driven by domestic politics. Wolfowitz and Negroponte had already (end of June) said that the US will be in Iraq indefinitely, apparently regardless of what form the Iraqi government might eventually take (and as of the end of June, its leaders were talking about a military dictatorship [!]) and what power it might have. We all know what happened to the WMD and Saddam/al-Qaeda links reasons for the War.
Now the “bringing democracy and freedom” argument is begin to ring quite hollow. Little noticed was the following statement by the inimitable Paul Wolfowitz: “The purpose of this war wasn’t to remake Iraq any more than the purpose of World War II was to remake Germany and Japan” (Tierney, John, “The Hawks Loudly Express Their Second Thoughts,” New York Times News of the Week in Review, May 16, 2004, p. 5). What was that? Next, will Wolfie be telling us that the primary reasons for the War were: 1. Iraqi oil, 2. permanent bases in the region, 3. American “hegemony,” just as his Project for a New American Century associates were openly saying in the 1990s?
Indeed, I believe that the primary goal of the Iraq invasion was No. 1, getting the hands of the US oil companies on Iraqi oil, but not all of it. (Warning: those anti-conspiracy theory readers are not going to like this paragraph much at all.) Southern Iraq is much too unstable and much too contested. No, I believe that the US oilmen have been focusing on Kurdish oil, ever since the American virtual protectorate for that region was set up following the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Thus, I think that all along the underlying Georgite goal for Iraq has been to have it end up as a "federated" nation in which Iraqi Kurdistan, and its potential enormous oil reserves, would be come a permanent US protectorate. A deal would be worked out with the Turks and the Iraqi Kurds to make sure that this would not make more than minor trouble for Turkey. (At the NATO Summit at the end of June, Bush was already trying to make nice with the Turks. Wonder what that was all about?) Further, as for the concerns of Iran about its own Kurds, could this become an excuse for a future invasion of Iran?
Now, whether the last paragraph represents reality or not, how could Kerry’s policy differ from Bush’s? Bush has attempted to appropriate both the UN and NATO for maintaining the military option. As of the end of June, neither organization was biting with anything like “boots on the ground.” But he did get a UN resolution and he did get the appearance of “turnover.” Under such circumstances:
First, Kerry could renounce any US interest in owning or controlling any fraction of the Iraqi oil reserves, regardless of what part of the country they lie in. Second he could announce that all construction on permanent US military bases would be stopped and the bases dismantled or turned over to the UN on an interim bases, for future transfer to the Iraqi government from the UN. Third, he could announce that, to the extent possible, given contractual obligations, reconstruction projects would be turned over to Iraqi companies. Fourth, he would renounce the infamous “Bearing Point Plan,” promulgated by the Bremer Regime in one of its first acts (see Antonia Juhasz, LeftTurn Magazine, No. 12, Feb/Mar, 2004, www.leftturn.org; Naomi Klein, The Guardian (UK), 6/26/04). It ‘privatized’ the whole Iraqi economy for pillage by foreign (mainly US) companies. Fifth, he could propose a realistic Federal structure for a future permanent Iraqi government. The country we know as Iraq was an artificial British construct dating from the 1920s. Realism could countenance going back to some form of the provincial arrangement, as it existed under the Ottoman Empire.
On the Choice for VP
Please note that this comment could well have been pre-empted by the time you read this column. BUT, if Kerry wants as his Vice-Presidential running-mate a person who: brings geographical balance; considerable experience in both the Executive and Legislative branches of government at the highest level; is, like himself, a Vietnam vet (although he didn’t see combat); has an extensive background in both domestic and foreign policy and brings a special expertise on the crucial issue for the survival of the species -- that is the environment and its protection/preservation -- and has made Bush and the Georgites a clear target and regards them as clearly different from any true Democrat; can be a terrific speaker; knows that the true primary issue in this election is the preservation of Constitutional Democracy as we have known it for 200 years, and who is proclaiming this loudly, clearly and with increasing fervor in his public appearances; the choice is clear. It is: Al Gore. Would he accept the offer? He just might, given the peril the Nation is in under the Georgites. Yes, extraordinary times do demand extraordinary choices and extraordinary sacrifices. Just recall that after his defeat by Andrew Jackson in 1828, John Quincy Adams went back to the House of Representatives, where he throughout the 1830s he was virtually the only voice protesting the existence of slavery and calling for its abolition.