Those were hard days opposing the invasion of Iraq. Millions marched for peace, and still George W. Bush ignored us. But we’ve easily forgotten that Democratic congressional leaders also gave us their backs. Being against the war back then wasn’t for risk-averse politicians. Calculating office-holders wanted room to maneuver in case Bush came out of Iraq a hero.
As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd puts it, Democrats “held Bush’s jacket” when he launched the invasion. Most Democratic senators voted to authorize the invasion. Only after tens of thousands of Americans and Iraqis have been killed and maimed do we now hear liberal politicians claiming to be against the war. The very Democratic leaders advising candidates to turn the Iraq War to their advantage voted to send other people’s children to their deaths.
We had to fight for peace not only against Bush, but also against Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, Diane Feinstein, John Edwards and other great liberals who voted to unleash horror on the Iraqi people. The Democratic leadership worked with Bush to engineer the Iraq war resolution. The few who opposed the war, like Sen. Jeff Bingaman, were not in vogue when the party wanted partial credit for raining “shock and awe” on Baghdad. To his lasting honor, Bingaman voted against the war, even though he represented a state that had voted for Bush.
At home, we had to fight Mayor Martin Chavez' police department as it intimidated and attacked peace marchers. Undercover police infiltrated groups of old ladies and kids wanting only to avoid bloodshed. Gov. Bill Richardson, regretfully, was pro-war. Attorney General Patricia Madrid, who now claims “adamant” opposition to the war as she runs for Congress, was MIA when it counted.
Madrid never used her power to support the demonstrations for peace on Albuquerque’s streets. She didn’t speak at the rallies. I never saw her among the ranks of marchers. Her presence would have made a difference. I doubt any of us would have breathed tear gas, or looked down an APD shotgun (this columnist included), if a few Democratic leaders had stood with us for peace.
I can’t remember Madrid issuing a single antiwar statement until she started running for Congress. So I asked Madrid’s campaign spokesperson for anything Madrid had said or done in opposition to invading Iraq. Silence. Her campaign has produced nothing to show she stood against the war when it was politically risky.
Madrid has never criticized Democrats who voted for the war. It seems they all get a pass for exercising the same bad judgment as Bush. But she’s joined fellow Democrats in calling for an investigation into pre-war intelligence, insinuating that Democrats were duped. The thousands of New Mexicans who marched for peace were not misled. Though the media force-fed us Bush’s best arguments, we knew an immoral, stupid war when we saw it coming.
Madrid’s solution is simply a timetable for withdrawal of American forces. Sorry, Madame AG, that’s not good enough. Not now. America is responsible for the horror that is Iraq. We have lowered that nation into Hell. If our soldiers redeploy across the border to meet artificial deadlines, do we as a nation watch calmly as Iraqis slaughter each other, then recognize the side that demonstrates greater proficiency at murder?
I’m glad to hear Democrats running against the war, finally. But we need to hear the Democratic formula for peace, across the entire stage of death and destruction for which our nation bears responsibility. Do Democrats propose any different approach to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Will they punish Israel when it engages in the state-sponsored terrorism it practiced in Lebanon? What will Democrats do about a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan? Will Democrats condone another pre-emptive war, this time against Iran? What exactly will they do to bring peace and stability to a desperate Iraq?
Some of the most ardent proponents of invading Iraq will assume chairmanships of foreign and military affairs committees if (as is likely) Democrats regain control in Congress. Many have joined in rattling sabers at Syria and Iran, and have sworn to crush “radical” Shiite clerics who don’t appreciate all we’ve done for the Iraqi people. Nary a Democrat in Congress objected to Israel’s devastation of Lebanon.
We don’t want to throw out the Republicans only to find a war party still in control of Capitol Hill. We need much more than candidates repeating focus group-tested lines suggested by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. We need a fundamental shift in values and foreign policy that steers our nation onto a path for peace. Anything less, and Democratic exploitation of Iraq in their quest for power is just another brand of war profiteering.