Dick Mulliken: Candidates and Iraq

There has been much talk recently about whether progressives can be comfortable supporting Democrats who do not firmly oppose the Iraq occupation.  I share these concerns.  But rather than speak of who I might not support, let me describe the kind of candidate I could back with enthusiasm.      

First, my candidate should publicly express the view that Iraq is far and away the most important issue confronting the nation today.  Solving the Iraq dilemma is practically and morally the greatest challenge and responsibility facing us.  While public sentiment is on strong agreement, my candidate should work to enhance and lead public opinion to an even greater determination to end the occupation.  Time has entirely undercut the notion expressed by Senator Schumer and the DLC that the public is not concerned with Iraq.  And regardless of public opinion, each day we stay is an unmitigated horror; only postponing the inevitable.

     Second, my candidate should loudly and unequivocally condemn the Iraq chaos as one of the most horrific and disastrous episodes in our history. Only absolute recognition of the mistakes made on all levels, including the press and the public, as well as Congress and the Administration, will let us put in place the kinds of safeguards that might protect usfrom similar monstrosities in the future. 

     Third, my candidate should advocate immediate and total withdrawal of all military and civilian personnel, including diplomats.  Any attempt to maintain smaller occupation forces or peripheral troops is only a futile continuation of a disastrous and doomed policy. Any ruling body (including the present Parliament), put in place under the occupation will prove unwilling as well as unable to govern. To expect otherwise would be akin to asking the French to accept the Vichy government after 1945.

       Politicians seem to have the most awful agony about ending even the most useless and destructive wars.  That was Lyndon Johnson’s tragedy. But the kind of equivocation and evasion so common today is like our leadership advocating that we ought to have left forces in Vietnam after April 1975.

      My three points can be summed up as Urgency,Candor and Objective analysis. As you may notice my concern is for a candidate who is willing to take strong public leadership positions.  I know I can be enthusiastic and work hard, whether federal, local or national, who vigorously supports these principles. I would tend to trust such a candidate to make the right choices on particular votes and strategies.

     Can I support a candidate not this decisive? I amfar from sure.


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