May 03, 2006

Cantwell to Iranians: We Kill Because We Value Freedom

I can barely steady my hands enough to type right now, I am indescribably furious and can only request leniency for the inevitable rhetorical excess to follow. I checked the Daily Kos this morning to see what new petty crime was brewing, only to discover that 58 senators have something worse in the waiting than scandal and corruption. Worse than bribery. Worse than deficits my grandchildren will be lucky to see the back of. Worse than standing by while that odious gang of thugs in the White House (and btw, Rep. Hoyer, you are a cowering toad) takes unto themselves the powers of a monarchy.

They are planning to put a happy face on war with Iran, meaning the deaths of who knows how many more people, under the maddeningly innocuous name of Iran Freedom Support Act.

The bill includes a section advocating regime change, under the guise of supporting democracy. While it's true that the US government has had a moderate budget for coup-plotting in Iran from what I'm aware is every year since the revolution, at this time, with this president, under these terms, passage of this bill would be tantamount to authorizing war with Iran. As the diarist notes, Condoleezza Rice has already been caught out sniffing for local countries from which to base an attack, which we only know because Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey have already declined to be part of the latest planned Bush regime killing spree.

I don't think I need to document the propaganda we've all heard in painful detail: Preposterous allegations that Iran might be within months of a nuclear weapon, when in reality they're years away from even being able to refine enough nuclear material for a single bomb. The notion that the ruling clerics would allow the mouthy, populist Ahmedinejad to destroy their relative peace and economic progress by becoming the first Iranian regime to start a war of aggression over a span of time that exceeds living memory. The ridiculous hyperbole suggesting that the former mayor of Tehran is a more wily and ideologically dangerous opponent than the Ayatollah Khomenei, who once personally set off a briefcase bomb in a chamber full of the moderate parliamentarian types who looked set to take over the government after the Americans were pushed out, literally beheading the most effective opposition to clerical rule. The screamers comparing Ahmedinejad to Hitler, a man who murdered millions and laid waste to what were in his day the cream of the world's military, coming undone largely due to overreach on his part in Russia and Africa and supported by some of the finest military minds ever to have walked the earth. The useless sods incapable of learning the tiniest lesson from Iraq, insisting that really, the Iranian people will greet regime change from the nation that laid waste to two neighboring countries as a liberation.

Have I got a bridge for these credulous mothercopulators. How many people have to die before these overblown, fearmongering, petulant wastrels figure out that you can't bomb your way to paradise? Isn't that supposed to be our central ideological complaint about a certain cave-dwelling, virgin-in-the-afterlife-dangling Saudi maniac?

And so this morning, when I saw that Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was one of the cosponsors of this crapulous pile of hypocritical legislative ooze pathetically wrapped in a nice, chocolate-covered title, let me just say that I saw red. Red like the blood of men, women and children spilled in Iraq. Red like the fresh wounds of soldiers rushed to Walter Reed. Red like the eyes of family members who will ask themselves every day between this breath and their last why they outlived people they loved as much as their own lives.

Don't try to keep feeding me this bull about spreading democracy and freeing the oppressed. You want to free some oppressed people, get off your sanctimonious buttocks and do something about Darfur. Go try to keep some peace in the Central African nations where rebel armies of brainwashed children run around murdering and mutilating without pity. You want democracy brought to a people who are crying out for it, put some pressure on the king of Nepal to stop using insurgency as an excuse for autocracy and help those people put an end to the bombings that have rocked Kathmandu for heedless years. You want to save somebody, fix Afghanistan. That country we already invaded, where the Taliban are swarming back, no foreign aid worker is safe and where we already have a military presence. If you want to flip the bird to a tyrant, free Uzbekistan from Karimov and his torturers.

Or are there just not enough good targets in any of those countries? Because God knows, even in those cases that probably could be resolved at a negotiating table, the Bush administration's diplomacy skills couldn't fix a tiff between identical twins over who wound up with a better set of birthmarks.

And maybe, HELLOOOOO, we could spend some time and money fixing this country. Pay the deficit down. Get some more healthcare. Support education. Start acting like you care about the public good, instead of trying to sell the internet and the parks and everything that isn't nailed down to your favorite contributors. Try to get back to the Clinton era prosperity that saw people being lifted out of poverty every year, instead of casting people down below the bright line in ever greater numbers, as we have now. Use your time to educate the public to be informed citizens with a sense of perspective about the issues facing us instead of playing on the fears of a debt and work-weary public. Restore support to the victims of Katrina, really victims of criminal negligence on the part of the government they relied on to prevent cities from drowning or at the least bring in emergency services on the double afterwards, and attend to the needs of every former resident of the devastated Gulf Coast instead of only the ones who can afford lobbyists. Deliver on the healthcare, pension and disability support promises made to the veterans that have served this country honorably, in spite of the fact that the 100 (at least) most powerful people in their government aren't fit to lick their boots.

If we as American citizens can't get these basic government services out of our democracy, it should be prima facie evidence that we have no business trying to export government to other people. People all over the world governed themselves for absolutely ages before patronizing white people came along to tell them how to fix everything for the low, low price of all their natural resource profits. And if you're still just crying to spend billions of American dollars to bring change overseas, pay off the national debt of a couple countries too poor to bring their citizens water, fund tropical disease research or support the rebuilding of educational and professional infrastructure in countries where AIDS has decimated the population of 18-49 year olds.

We have devastating problems in our world, including a shifting climate that already poses a serious threat to the global food supply. We have, here in the most prosperous country in history, cases of poverty and injustice that bring tears to every eye that sees them. We have loads of countries whose citizens are in such dire straits that they would beg to live in the conditions now present in Iran, short as they may fall of our own ideals and preferences. There are people trying all over this planet to solve these problems seriously and patiently, without resorting to violence, who would love a helping hand.

If the supposedly educated Senators of the United States of America can't find a better use of their time than laying the groundwork for another war of choice courtesy of the Worst President Ever, then I have a hard time seeing where hope lies. If a Democrat running for office in a very blue state, can't think of a better solution to this international micturation contest than to join Rick Santorum in supporting a bill that any country on earth would rightly regard as an act of war in and of itself, then there had better be miracles. Because this planet is in direst need of them.

And Senator Cantwell, pull my finger.

Posted by natasha at May 3, 2006 07:25 AM | Iran | Technorati links |

I knew about this a bit earlier, and brought a copy of the Senate bill (SB 33, I think) to challenge Maria with at our local district party caucus. I also passed copies to friends at the other caucuses across the Eastside.

For some reason I don't comprehend, she didn't show up anywhere except in Seattle's district caucuses, and NO ONE brought up the subject.

Maria needs to understand that she is in serious trouble, and not just from the "activist left." At the last King County Democrats meeting, which is packed with old guard Dems and local district Dem organization officials, they could not get an endorsement vote for her passed.

I mean, I'll be honest, I don't trust the folks in charge of Iran one bit. I think the nutjob presently in charge of the civilian faction of the government is playing chicken with us because it ups his standing with the militant poor (just as W's minions want to do the same so his poll numbers will somehow rise through the magic of nationalist-inspired bigotry), and the religous faction of the government has great fun funding far more nasty armed groups like Hezbollah and related terrorist organizations than anything Saddam ever considered in his dreams.

But for Democratic officials to give Bush virtually a blank check to do whatever he likes in Iran, without consequences, without a brake of any sort, with Bush's record of willful incompetence as bright and clear as the blood of literally thousands of souls on his hands as a result of said incompetence, only gives a public that sees a corrupt government another excuse to blame it on politicians and not neoconservatives, not Republicans, but only "those crazy, greedy folks in Washington DC." And that gives them no reason to vote for real change.

When Iran erupts into violence, when we try to "do Cambodia right this time," do you really think we will give you a pass, Maria?

Think again.

Posted by: palamedes at May 3, 2006 08:56 AM

Yes but Maria is our champion on energy and the environment. If a few (thousand) Iranians have to suffer, it is the price we pay to SAVE MARIA'S SEAT.


Chad (The Left) Shue

Posted by: Chad (The Left) Shue at May 3, 2006 11:17 AM


The bill is S. 333.

The senator visited the 36th LD caucus, and we brought it up with her. In fact, I introduced her to the 160-odd delegates. Here are my prepared remarks (the actual introduction included a few extra sentences):

Senator, first I'd like to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to come visit us.

And I'd also like to thank you for taking a stand on the depleted uranium issue. As I explained at our membership meeting on Thursday night, you are the only senator who's had the guts to deal with this issue. I appreciate that.

Beyond that, I'd like to thank you for your recent public statements on Iraq. I think the delegates would like to hear even more about your views on Iraq. I hope you'll share that with them today.

In addition, I'd think the delegates would like to hear about your views on Iran. In particular, why you decided to co-sponsor Rick Santorum's SB 333, the "Iran Freedom and Support Act."

So, have at it, senator—

After the senator's campaign speech, she mingled with the delegates, some of whom brought up S. 333 with her.

Posted by: DWE at May 3, 2006 12:42 PM

I am appalled that any democrat would give Bush support for any of his pre-emptive war plans.

Any attack on Iran is sheer stupidity, even talking about it has conributed to the rise in fuel prices and the de-stabilization of the Middle East, and world markets.

I met Maria once, and liked her gumption, and since then she has done lots of things I like. But her support for Bush on matters of war, especially the criminal concept of pre-emptive war, to me, is just incomprehensible.

The choice for me looks like one between Maria, and Mike McGavick which would be like voting for Bush himself, the very idea of that makes me ill.

Stop Maria! Stop!

This administration's approach to Iran is stupid, short sighted, intellectually shallow, and displays a willfull rejection of every lesson recent history has to offer. I can't understand why Maria would support that.

Posted by: Dan Griffith at May 3, 2006 04:35 PM



Chad (The Left) Shue

Posted by: Chad (The Left) Shue at May 3, 2006 07:11 PM

I fired off an email to Cantwell today. I imagine it'll have just about the same effectiveness as all the prior emails (addressing CAFTA, backruptcy, Bush's Folly in Iraq, etc.). But I needed to vent. I basically said that I'd hoped someone of her obvious intellect had learned from the drive to invading Iraq and would therefore not repeat those mistakes and how sorely disappointed I am. I also said something about how the best available information indicates that Iran is a LONG way away from having the ability to make a nuclear weapon. Not that the facts would necessarily cloud such a weighty decision like this one.

Honestly, I just can't believe it. Why any Democrat would support any Republican measure regarding foreign policy, Iran, Iraq, WMDs, regime chance, etc., etc., is beyond me.

Posted by: zappini at May 3, 2006 10:09 PM

Good Goddess, what is that woman smoking?

She is turning into a Bush Beast with each passing day. She thinks that because she is a Dem and we would never want that pissant McGavick in office, she can spew whatever loony bit of conservative balloon juice that comes along.

Who is feeding these nuggets to her? What GOP operative got into her office to monkeywrench the works?

I'm sorry but if she keeps this up I will be hard pressed to vote for her. Perhaps if we start working now, we can get the Green Party candidate elected.

She is a certified idiot and we should take every opportunity to remind her of that.

Why are we being punished?

Posted by: David Aquarius at May 4, 2006 12:10 AM

Somebody is smoking something, alright. I'm a bit surprised this post is still up. The complaint is without merit.

I hope natasha will observe that 52 of 62 Congressional Progressive Caucus members voted for IFSA in the House, including co-chairs Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee (with 2 others not voting) ... that she will investigate and reconsider ... and that she will take the next anti-Cantwell alarm with a grain of salt.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle at May 4, 2006 05:57 PM

You can run around to all the blogs you like, but transparent cheerleading for Maria on this is what is without merit.

Jim McDermott didn't vote for it, nor would anyone who wants to lessen the level of violence in the area.

I'll credit him for having the wisdom not to fall for the neo-con's wish list.

The Iraq War resolution passed with overwhelming majorities, too, and it was just as wrong.

Posted by: Harry Tuttle at May 4, 2006 06:19 PM

Ron, I hope you will observe that right now the US, probably under some similar ridiculous language about respect for human rights and democracy, is supporting and protecting in Iraq under the Geneva conventions a group of terrorists called the Mujahideen-e Khalq, or MEK. They've been on the State Dept's terror list for years and they've been blowing up Iranian civilians since the revolution, hoping it would bring them to power.

These are the kinds of groups America supports when we promote 'freedom and democracy' on unwilling countries, just like we picked the craziest mofos in Afghanistan to fund against the Soviets. And 'Johnny did it too' may be the most pathetic excuse for an adult to use ever.

Posted by: natasha at May 4, 2006 07:21 PM


I have read and studied S. 333, and I have a number of objections to it:

* Title I gives the President the authority to decide when the Iranian government has dismantled its WMD program. I object to (1) the assumption that it has a WMD program and (2) the authorization to give Bush the power to decide when they've dismantled it. Bush is so untrustworthy that he shouldn't be authorized to do anything with regard to Iran.

* Title III lays out 19 so-called "findings." These "findings," by themselves, don't constitute an act of war, of course. But they do lay the groundwork for a causus belli. Once these "findings" are passed into law, they become the future basis for a case for war. The problem is that many of these "findings" are questionable, not to mention provocative and insulting. Iranians will be reading this bill if it is passed, and they will read our patronizing revisionist history of our relations with their country. They'll also read our claims of their aggression in Iraq. I don't see how this bill keeps us from moving up the "escalation ladder"--something Sen. Cantwell says she wants to avoid.

* Title III authorizes Bush to lend financial support to individuals, organizations, and entities that support Democracy. However, we don't really know exactly what kind of groups the very untrustworthy George W. Bush would support. Again, I don't want to authorize Bush to do anything with regard to Iran.

In my view, this is bad legislation, and Sen. Cantwell and her fellow Democrats and Republicans in the Senate should not vote for it. But they probably will, if it ever gets out of the Foreign Relations committee. I will be interested to see how Democrats respond if and when Sen. Cantwell votes for S. 333.

Posted by: DWE at May 5, 2006 08:40 AM

Tuttle -- McDermott raised an objection to IFSA on pro-trade grounds. He may have other objections.

Is it your opinion that only 8 Democrats in Congress qualify as "anyone who wants to lessen the level of violence in the area"? That's a tough position to defend.

FYI, the Iraq War resolution did NOT pass with overwhelming majorities. A majority of House Dem's, for instance, opposed it.

natasha -- I believe your good sense will get the better of you eventually. "Pathetic excuse"? You have a (verifiably eccentric) theory of IFSA's meaning and implications. Is this theory falsifiable? If so, how would you test it? Does the fact that all eight founding members of the 71-member Out Of Iraq Caucus voted for IFSA carry not probitive weight?

Does Bush Administration opposition to IFSA carry any probitive weight?

Say, has Juan Cole raised any objection to IFSA? If he has, I seem to have missed it.

And doesn't your theory "prove too much"? Doesn't it necessarily entail a massive betrayal of the left by the left -- a betrayal that dwarfs any garden variety centrist/progressive tussle? There's a story for you ... if your theory holds.

Any interest in the Woolsey/McDermott event tomorrow?

FYI, I did some posts on MEK a few years back. Troublesome bunch, for all sides and angles.

Posted by: RonK, Seattle at May 5, 2006 09:23 AM

Ron -

I'm stuck in Oly today, schoolwork & whatnot, so no events for me. Maybe you can report back if you go, put up a dKos diary or submit a guest editorial here.

The thing is, American foreign policy has been almost bipartisanly neocon for a very long time. Even during the Clinton administration, American economic oppression of other countries and support for unsavory governments continued. During the Reagan era, when we were madly butchering our way through C. America via proxy, both houses of Congress were controlled by Democrats. I don't trust Democrats, even when they come around to being ardently opposed to an unpopular war, to be altruistic in foreign policy regarding other nations or to act as though they've been paying attention to our long and bloody history of foreign intervention. This country has committed atrocious crimes against humanity in the name of 'spreading democracy' and at a time like this, it's more dangerous than ever to turn a blind eye to it.

Posted by: natasha at May 5, 2006 10:38 AM

Q: Why does Maria do this to you?
A: Because you let her. Because you have proven time and again that she can count on you to scream and jump up and down and at the end of the day vote for her.

So if you want to know who puts these ideas in her head, just look in the mirror.

When you are done being taken for granted, come over to the Aaron Dixon campaign.


Posted by: Aram at May 7, 2006 11:57 PM