War on Iraq

There's Not a Dime's Worth of Difference Between Hillary and Obama on Iraq

Rep. Maxine Waters aims to stop Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton from tip-toeing around the issue of Iraq and says it's time for them to get serious about an exit strategy.
"No more nuancing and tip-toing."

Barack Obama will need another layer of Teflon if he intends to continue talking mush on Iraq withdrawal. Speaking on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Rep. Maxine Waters warned that she and other leaders of the 75-member Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus will soon journey to early Democratic primary states to determine "who is nuancing and tip-toeing" around the issue. Asked directly if she were referring to frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, Waters said "they both have to prove themselves." There isn't a dime's worth of difference between Senators Obama and Clinton on the war -- both harp on the Bush regime's "mistakes" and mishandling of the nearly four-year-long carnage, while twisting like contortionists on the question of when and how the U.S. will leave Iraq. Both call for "troop caps" to, in Obama's words "bring this war to a responsible end" -- "responsible" being the escape clause that allows him to fudge the terms of exit. Clinton's "cap" include pressures on Baghdad to meet certain, amorphous "conditions" or lose undefined amounts of U.S. financial support. Neither senator threatens the war's author, Bush, with a cutoff of funds -- just a "cap" on a troop escalation that is already underway.

Barack is trickier than Hillary. In December, Obama told a corporate foreign policy conference he favors "a phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq on a timetable that would begin in four to six months.... Such a timetable may not need to begin in 2007, but begin it must." Thus, Obama mouths the words "redeployment" and "timetable" -- throwing in "must" for masculine effect - while leaving in limbo the date for this fantasy schedule to commence; he doesn't even insist that the four to six month countdown start sometime this year.

"Barack is trickier than Hillary."

"The way to stop this war is to stop funding this war," Rep. Waters told CNN. The Black California congresswoman and other leaders of the Out of Iraq Caucus, more than a third of whose members are African Americans, are pushing legislation "that would wind us out of Iraq in six months."

Out -- not "on the way out." Out.

The "Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act," introduced last week by Rep. Lynn Woolsey and fellow Out of Iraq Caucus founders Waters and Barbara Lee, leaves no room for Clinton-Obama-esque wiggling.

"The Congress has already appropriated funding that will support our troops and keep this occupation going for at least another six months. That funding instead should be used to finance an aggressive withdrawal plan that brings our troops home to their families," said Woolsey. "Our bill would do exactly that." Iraq War is a Black Issue

Five of the Woolsey-Waters-Lee measure's original co- sponsors are Black. Twenty-six of the 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus - 62 percent - are also part of the Out of Iraq Caucus. African Americans have been overwhelmingly opposed to the war since before the invasion. In the run-up to "Shock and Awe," pollsters from the Zogby organization found that only seven percent of Blacks favored war if it would result in the deaths of "thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians."

Since the invasion, six hundred thousand Iraqis have disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Black America is a peace bloc, for the best historical and contemporary reasons. Having been lied about for generations, African Americans are always skeptical of the veracity of those in power. Understanding full well that the racist justifications for colonialism and war are the same rationales that underpinned slavery and Jim Crow, African Americans reject U.S. adventurism in the non-European world. And, as the group that has waited more than forty years for a real War on Poverty and Marshal Plan for the Cities to materialize, Blacks are painfully aware of where the nation's treasure is invested: war.

"We want the money directed towards domestic needs."

"I am absolutely prepared to not support more money for this war," said Rep. Waters. "There is plenty of money in the pipeline" to fund a withdrawal. "We want the money... directed towards domestic needs."

At $8.4 billion dollars per month, money spent on the Iraq war could fund a renaissance of urban America and the nation's infrastructure, creating real jobs anchoring real families in an economy that is not fueled by the U.S. weapons of mass destruction industry. Every lawmaker and candidate that employs "nuancing and tip-toeing" to avoid bringing the Iraq war to a quick and definitive end, is objectively opposed to domestic American renewal -- and to world peace.

Democratic primary voters will not speak for a year - all the chattering to date comes from corporate pundits, working their horse-race sheets. However, Barack Obama's cynical maneuvering presents a serious problem for the Black political class, most of whom are anti-war, as are their constituents. Where will they stand, in the face of corporate media-generated Obama mania -- when the presidential candidate is determined to stand nowhere at all?

Maxine Waters has made her choice. Her next stop is the January 27 "Peace March on Washington," expected to draw as many as half a million people. After that, "I'm going to work on Katrina. ..."
Black Agenda Report Executive Editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.