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Dems claim vote for war budget is anti-war

Published Apr 5, 2007 11:19 PM

The Senate on March 29, by a vote of 51-47, passed a bill giving the Pentagon additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A week earlier, the House, by a vote of 218-212, had passed a similar emergency supplemental appropriations bill for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

The Senate bill approves an additional $97.5 billion, above the regular Pentagon budget, for the two wars and colonial occupations. It also includes smaller funds for hurricane relief, agricultural aid and other domestic emergencies, adding up to a total of $123 billion.

Along with the billions for the war, the Senate bill sets a deadline for beginning the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq—120 days after the bill’s passage—and a nonbinding deadline for the cessation of combat operations by March 31, 2008. The House bill supposedly calls for combat operations to cease before September 2008.

The votes were overwhelmingly along partisan lines, with Democrats in both houses voting aye and Republicans no. Bush is threatening to veto any final version of the bill that sets a deadline for withdrawal.

It is important for those in the anti-war struggle to understand what both versions of the bill mean and where this split in the capitalist camp emanates from.

While the capitalist media portray the bill as a line in the sand and Congress as embroiled in an epic struggle, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a Democratic contender in the coming presidential race, said after Bush vowed to veto the bill, “I don’t think that we will see a majority of the Senate vote to cut off funding at this stage.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said, “This is not any precipitous withdrawal.”

He says that the war funding would go ahead even if the withdrawal timeline were removed.

The Senate bill would also allow U.S. troops to stay in Iraq indefinitely to 1) protect U.S. and “coalition” personnel and infrastructure; 2) train and equip Iraqi forces, and 3) conduct targeted “counter-terrorism” operations.

Obviously, for the war to be stopped immediately, funding would have to be stopped cold. That’s not happening at all. The Democratic Party is just trying to position itself in a favorable light with the people for next year’s presidential elections.

It doesn’t want to anger the bosses, nor the masses that are calling for the troops to brought home now, so it is continuing its anti-war charade. Any attempt to corral the masses behind the Democrats in the coming election is sheer opportunism and would be the death knell for any organization that is truly anti-war.

The bill also seeks “benchmarks” that would have to be met by the puppet Iraqi regime; progress toward withdrawal would be contingent on the regime meeting those benchmarks. The benchmarks will be part of a classified campaign meant to shore up the regime for U.S. interests. This campaign, says the bill, “shall be implemented as part of a comprehensive diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq’s neighbors and the international community for the purpose of working collectively to bring stability to Iraq.”

After supporting the first Gulf War, having supported years of brutal sanctions responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, and after sanctioning the Bush administration’s drive to war by voting for each and every Pentagon budget and war funding bill, the Democratic Party wants to appear to be changing course now.

Last November it gained control of the Senate and House of Representatives because of the failing U.S. military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the resistance has grown stronger. But it is still Republican-lite. It is a capitalist party, and has been throughout its history.

What November and the current debates in Congress reveal is a rift in the capitalist class. The rift has developed because the Iraqi people have refused to go along with the designs of U.S. imperialism. Also, the rise of the people of the Arab world, Latin America, Africa and Asia, emboldened by the heroic Iraqi resistance, challenges U.S. corporate interests around the world.

The U.S. imperialist colossus, with the greatest military in history, is reeling. But it is as dangerous as ever, perhaps even more so, because it knows it cannot win and is looking to save face.

In addition, the approval ratings of this current administration are at their lowest and more and more people are awakening each day.

Talking about the meaning of elections in a capitalist democracy, Frederick Engels said long ago: “Universal suffrage is thus the gauge of the maturity of the working class. It cannot and never will be anything more in the modern state.” (“Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State”)

The duty of anti-imperialists and revolutionaries then is to expose this rift, widen it and break it open by actively resisting and charging forward together with the most oppressed in this society.