[Marxism] Tom Engelhardt on Kerry's "mandate"

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Jul 31 17:56:10 MDT 2004

Imagine, this is the capital of "our" Iraq where just yesterday in the 
Green Zone (yes, it's still there and we're still locked inside), 
according to Fisher and Somini Sengupta of the Times, "a notice went 
out… saying meal service was being cut back to military rations and cold 
cuts 'due to unforeseen circumstances.' An American official said the 
reason was that Pakistani workers in the Green Zone went on strike after 
the two Pakistani hostages were executed the day before." And more 
truckers (and trucking firms) seem to be leaving the country daily in 
this new guerrilla-war-by-supply-line-strangulation in which things are 
only likely to get worse. This, not the Democrats, is really what has 
driven George Bush to the edge of a disaster he never even dreamed 
possible -- and it could, all too quickly, do the same for a future 
Kerry administration.

This is what no Democrat should be celebratory about. As Jonathan Schell 
makes so clear below, in a piece the Nation magazine has been kind 
enough to share with Tomdispatch and that was written before Kerry gave 
his speech, the Kerry mandate is a dangerous one. Even should he win, he 
seems -- on the theory that Iraq is indeed "Vietnam on crack cocaine" -- 
to be heading directly into Washington's well-known Credibility Gulch 
(aka "Who lost Iraq?") and, with angry Republicans out of power and 
holding his feet to the flames, into what could be essentially a 
six-month (or maybe even six-week) presidency.

This is the Democratic bargain, interpret it as you will. There will be 
victors -- and we saw evidence of them last night -- but perhaps in the 
end, not Kerry, even if he wins. In what the conservative New York Times 
columnist David Brooks in PBS commentary last night called, with some 
admiration, a "nationalist" speech, in a hall that was so much flag 
wallpaper, amid the serried ranks of old Vietnam-era shipmates and 
generals, and with all that "strength" circling the electronic walls, 
and promises of 40,000 more troops and a doubling of the number of 
Special Forces, the winner was certainly an engorged Pentagon (and an 
increasingly engorged new American atmosphere of pure militarism), which 
-- no matter the winning party -- will only grow larger; and our 
multiple intelligence agencies which couldn't be seen, of course, but 
will also grow yet more obese under a Kerry or a Bush administration (on 
all of which, more to come here soon). Last night -- there can be no 
question -- John Kerry accepted the nomination not to be President but 
to be, as speakers on the podium reminded us again and again, 
Commander-in-Chief of a country, in Kerry's (as in George Bush's) phrase 
"at war."

In the meantime, consider Jonathan Schell's latest "Letter from Ground 
Zero" and the problems the Kerry mandate and the front-room Democratic 
deal are likely to bring in their wake. We face in all this a conundrum 
wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a pretzel. The question is who will 
choke on the pretzel this time around? Tom

full: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=1653

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