[Marxism] Re: Cagan's support for Maliki

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Tue Aug 15 13:52:00 MDT 2006

I think Yoshie is right in that Cagan's letter is not that important in
the larger scheme of things and should by no means detract from ongoing
efforts to build a mass anti-war movement. In that sense, I may have read
too much into the letter.

Nevertheless, I believe Fred misses the mark. First, I never called for
"unconditional diplomatic and  political boycott of the current Iraqi
government," nor did I "urge the antiwar movement to demand the overthrow
of Maliki by an exclusively insurgent government." Nor, yet, did I "oppose
national  reconciliation in Iraq against the occupation." I didn't take
any of  these positions, simply because the correct position for a
U.S.-based  antiwar movement is simply respect for Iraqi (and Palestinian
and Lebanese and, etc...) self-determination.

The fact remains that the U.S. ran the election that put Al-Maliki into
power. He is NOT  supported by large segments of the Iraqi population.
This does not mean that he doesn't have a base of support, even a sizeable
one, but that, in the first instance, his election was a violation of
Iraqi sovereignty, and is seen as such by significant sections of the
population. To take the initiative in search of rapproachment with his
government disrespects the right to self-determination of the Iraqis.

Fred further states: "One of the things I disagreed with Mike F. about was
his tortured arguments that talking to Maliki was part of the orientation
toward the Democratic Party.  I don't believe that Cagan et al. are giving
up on the Democrats -- and a united movement is not based on their doing
so -- but in going into opposition in the streets against the invasion of
Lebanon, in making a trip to the Middle East to oppose that war, and, yes,
also in their proposal for a meeting with Maliki, they are heading into
sharper conflict with all but a tiny section of the Democratic Party."

As for whether my argument was "tortured," I'd refer to one of the things
Todd Chretien pointed out in the article I posted earlier today ("Weak,
Passive, Distracted..."), under the heading, "...today, the movement is
paralyzed waiting for Hillary Clinton, or some other savior to "end the
Bush regime." (This line of reasoning even leads some people to think that
Al Gore or John Kerry should give it another go!) Bush is a problem, but
he is not the problem. Of course, no serious anti-war person believes the
Democrats will bring peace to the world; however, too many anti-war people
still believe that the Democrats will bring us closer to peace. This idea
has a real impact on political organizing. For instance, rather than
throwing its weight behind the August 12 protests, United For Peace and
Justice merely asked people to call their Congressional representatives
"every day." The Peace Campaign on their website listed events from August
6 to Sept. 21, without listing Aug. 12 mobilizations , thereby failing to
identify with the thousands of Arabs and Muslims who took to the streets."

My question is, with the politically astute Cagan's adherence to the
Democratic Party, through her adherence to liberal Democrats, why on earth
would she go out on a limb and "head into sharper conflict" with the
Democratic Party? The simplest explanation is that she isn't, that there
is no real contradiction and in fact, her letter simply manifests this
strategic adherence to the DP. While there may be well-intentioned
motivations for the letter, as well, as Lou notes, the idea of this letter
is consonant with DP rationale, not mobilizing people here in the U.S.

It is false to think that the DP seeks to jettison Al-Maliki. His regime
still enjoys Washington's bipartisan backing, except where Democrats seek
to score the usual partisan points.

For example, in a recent Chris Wallace interview with liberal Democrat Ned
Lamont -- who supported Israel's invasion of Lebanon -- the latter
extended his recognition for the Al-Maliki government, "I don't know about
all circumstances whatever. But right now I think our policy ought to be
let's be clear with the Maliki government. We're going to have our troops
out within a year. We'll be there for reconstruction, training, everything
else in the background."

It is the Ned Lamonts that appeal to UfPJ. Cagan's letter falls squarely
within this framework. However, even the Hillary Clintons in the DP didn't
withdraw their support for the Al-Maliki government: they growled about
his denunciation of the Israeli aggression and threatened to spank him if
his bad behavior continues.

I certainly agree with Fred that the anti-war movement must invite
participation by all those willing to support the call for an immediate
end to occupation, including DP politicians. Cagan's letter was not
written in this vein, but that of wooing politicians and and tailoring
tactics to them.

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