'Nation' Readers on the Iraq War
Our editorial statement that "The Nation will not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the American war in Iraq a major issue in his or her campaign" received a record-breaking outpouring of mail. It was called noble, courageous, gutsy, brilliant and inspiring. Hooray and amen! Right on! Hear hear! Kudos! Thank you! were some of the comments. There were also the inevitable exceptions: Letters saying, Finally! What took you so long? Too little too late and calling us flip-floppers were mixed with those taking us to task for (a) endorsing John Kerry in the last election, (b) not endorsing Ralph Nader/Dennis Kucinich/Wesley Clark/the Green Party in the last election and (c) suggesting to Ralph Nader that he not run in the last election. But echoing the tone of the vast majority of the mail was the letter that began with fourteen Bravo!s across the top. Herewith, a sampling. --The Editors
Thank you for making the commitment to support no candidate who is not for an immediate end to the Iraq War and occupation. As always The Nation comes through, speaks the truth and does the right thing. With deep appreciation,
No message has inspired me more than The Nation's November 28 cover. That message is for Americans--the poor, the working class, the voters, our brave soldiers, the courageous dissenters--and the Bill of Rights. It is being framed and hung in my law office, and I eagerly await the T-shirt (make mine blue, XXL).
I have photocopied your cover statement and written "I agree" across it. I stuff them in envelopes kindly provided by the requests for donations I receive almost weekly from the Democratic National Committee, Friends of Hillary and other Democratic notables. This is my way of sending your message to the Democrats. I urge your readers to do the same.
Essex Junction, Vt.
We taped a note to the cover--"And neither will we vote for a candidate who does not"--ripped it off and sent it to Howard Dean (my former governor) at the DNC (430 Capitol St. S.E., Washington DC, 20003). How many covers might he receive if all your subscribers did the same?
DAN AND KAREN MAXON
No! No! No! No! Your clarion call sounds inspiring and pure in spirit--but once again Democratic candidates will kill each other off and assure more years of Republican rule (Jeb Bush, anyone?). Which is more important, internecine fighting, or getting a Democratic President and Congress--who are more likely to withdraw from Iraq--and saving our society from meltdown?
University Park, Fla.
I agree that the Iraq War is unnecessary, counterproductive and a terrible drain on our country. However, we should recognize that the war is one result of our longstanding presence in the Middle East and is a direct result of our desire for a secure oil supply. We would be naïve to believe we have seen the last of the oil wars. If The Nation wants to create a world where our children can live in peace, it should support candidates who make our reduced dependence on imported oil their highest priority.
Is this the same magazine that spent nearly all of 2004 vilifying Ralph Nader and treating him like a traitor because he came forward and spoke some extremely uncomfortable truths, truths that you now--more than a year later--acknowledge as truths? Welcome back to the fight, Nation. Better late than never.
Now that The Nation has taken a stand of absolute moral clarity against any candidate who is not antiwar, perhaps you can apologize to Ralph Nader and any voters who took a stand of moral clarity in the last presidential election.
It is well past time for you to recognize Gen. Wesley Clark as a leader among all Americans--not to mention Democrats, liberals, progressives and independents--who has continually argued against going to war in Iraq. In 2002 General Clark appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and stated that going to war against Iraq was a bad idea. Unfortunately, many now want us to "cut and run," a position Clark has never taken. As an expert in diplomatic and military matters, Clark recognizes our obligation to do more than that.
ELLEN A. GOLDSTEIN
I'm glad to read that The Nation, as well as the nation, is realizing that it's time to support candidates who are opposed to the occupation of Iraq. The Green Party of the United States (www.gp.org), which holds nonviolence, grassroots democracy and personal/global responsibility among its ten key values, was against the occupation before it began and calls for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Greens won about thirty-four seats in local elections this year, and we will be running candidates for many, much higher offices in 2006.
Editorial Board, Green Pages
Is The Nation on the verge of changing from a milquetoast Democratic Party fanzine back into the voice of progressive and radical politics it was in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries? I was a devoted reader until the 2000 election, when The Nation turned its back on--or rather, turned its scorn upon--true progressives. I canceled my subscription.
Now you have given me reason to reconsider. Since there will surely be very few, if any, Democrats running for national office who meet your criterion, the editors must mean that they will support Green Party candidates, who represent the only party that includes in its platform a commitment to nonviolence, social justice, environmental wisdom and respect for diversity. If the editors are not just posturing to shame the Democrats into turning lip service into action, I will happily renew my subscription and thank you for using your influence to promote peace, justice and democratic (lowercase "d") values.
I was very happy to see your strong stance. I appreciate the patriotic work you continue to do for our country. Your magazine is strongly standing up and speaking the truth while others cower behind corporations. Keep up the good work!
I too believe the invasion of Iraq was wrong-headed and illegal. However, now that America has destabilized the country, destroyed its economy and encouraged lawlessness and ethnic strife, I think it would be criminal to leave--and it amazes me to hear The Nation suggest such a thing. Should the country act like the Bush Administration--take risks that won't cost you a thing and then dump everyone else in the shit when the situation turns bad?
If you really believe America should withdraw, publish a plan on how it can be done without letting Iraq fall into chaos. Any politician who comes up with such a plan will certainly get my vote. Any politician who voted for the invasion will never get my vote, and any politician who suggests that we cut and run will never get my vote either.
Your editorial represents the wrong course in Iraq, the war on terror and the broader Middle East. It is OK for good Americans to disagree on the wisdom of removing Saddam Hussein from power in the first place, but it is obvious that we cannot withdraw now. Terrorists like Zarqawi know they cannot impose their dark vision on Iraq and the Middle East with the US military standing in their way. As for Democratic presidential candidates who support the war, such as Clinton, Biden and Bayh, they are saying and doing what they truly believe is in the best interests of the United States. There are many Democrats out there, including myself, who will not support a candidate who argues for immediate withdrawal.
New York City
For God's sake, enough is enough! The Clintons, Kerrys and Liebermans can take their hawkish rhetoric to the unemployment office. Yes, there is a war to be fought, but it's not in Iraq--it's here at home and it's a declared war on Democrats who do nothing while an insidious, reprehensible criminal enterprise continues to run America headlong into the gutter. To arms!
Hooray for The Nation in throwing down the gauntlet to prowar Democrats like Clinton, Dean, Bayh, Biden et al. You say you will be identifying the antiwar stalwarts. To show your objectivity and to reward the early and staunch opponents of the war, please do not overlook Republicans in the House--Walter Jones (North Carolina), Ron Paul (Texas), Wayne Gilchrest (Maryland) and John Duncan (Tennessee)--who questioned the war long before the Democrats who have lately switched sides.
My Congressman, Maurice Hinchey, has been consistent in his opposition to the war. He is one of the many good leaders to consider for President. He's tough under fire, right on all the important issues and a man of integrity (www.house.gov/hinchey).
Oak Harbor, Wash.
Allow me to offer someone who fits your bill. Mark Wilson will be running against Maria Cantwell for senator from Washington. Cantwell, a Democrat, voted for the war as well as other Republican agendas. Wilson, a founding member of the Marine Corps Veterans for Peace, is calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq (votemark.org).
Lake Oswego, Ore.
Quietly and with little fanfare a senator works diligently out here in Portland for the good of the country and the state he represents. He also voted against the war. Senator Ron Wyden (wyden.senate.gov/) is a Democrat you should be getting in touch with ASAP.
I was very encouraged to read that your editorial board will not endorse prowar Democrats in 2006. On December 15, I announced my intention to seek the Green Party nomination to challenge Dianne Feinstein for Senate in November 2006 (www.todd4senate.org).
West Pawlet, Vt.
I am an announced Republican/Independent candidate from Vermont who has called for an end to the Iraq War and impeachment of Bush/Cheney. In addition, I am attempting to recruit large numbers of "citizen" Congressional candidates to run with me who will pledge their full independence from both parties (www.2ltmorrisseau.com).
I am considering a run for a Congressional seat here in Texas. I've received a lot of encouragement from local Democrats but am having trouble making the party leaders understand my opposition to the war. Having considerable experience in and understanding of the Middle East, I believe the war to be not just wrong and a failure but a strategic and catastrophic disaster for America. Local Democrats do not want to campaign on such bad news. But if the people are not told in the 2006 election cycle, the Democrats may inherit the war and the blame in 2008.
I announced my candidacy for the Senate in June 2004 (www.michaelcavlan.org). I have consistently called the Iraq War what it is: a brutal, immoral, racist war, fought for oil and military industry profits. As a longtime peace activist, I have supported the immediate withdrawal of forces from Iraq and a stop to building permanent military bases there. Our campaign is fighting the root causes of the Iraq War--corporate power's influence on our government. I praise your clarity and insight and the voice you give those silenced by the corporate media. You embody the principles of Jeffersonian democracy and the Fourth Estate.
Sun City Center, Fla.
Jeeni Criscenzo (www.jeeniforcongress.com) is a candidate for Congress in California's 49th district. She is a hard-working woman with an antiwar position on Iraq who needs support.
Crystal Lake, Ill.
Richard Auman, former mayor of Galena and our Democratic candidate from the 16th Congressional District, has said, "Our policy in Iraq is a huge failure." (The incumbent responded to our letter protesting the war with a thank-you note for our support of the war!) It is critical that we change the face of Congress next November.
CAROLYN QUINN, LYNDA DIGREGOR, JOHN DARGER
Castle Rock, Colo.
I am running for Congress in Colorado's 6th Congressional District (www.winterforcongress.com). I have a total of ten years of service with the Marine Corps and the Navy. When I was 17, and again when I was 24, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. I believe that I am still bound by that oath, and I believe that our Constitution is under attack now more than any other time in my life. I believe that the majority of people in District 6 want some kind of rational plan to bring an end to the war in Iraq so that no more of our sons and daughters have to die for a flawed policy that does not make us safer!
Here in Maine we have a progressive, pro-peace candidate, Jean Hay Bright, running a grassroots campaign against Olympia Snowe for her Senate seat. Snowe, despite a reputation as a moderate, has consistently supported the Bush war. Jean is pro-peace, anti-torture, anti-surrendering our rights to government fearmongering and for taking back the country (www.jeanhaybright.us). And thank you for your work to save our country.
Takoma Park, Md.
I write not only as a candidate for the US Senate from Maryland who is making opposition to the war a central plank of my campaign but also as an antiwar activist who directs democracyrising.us. Now an even clearer stance is needed. Democrats like Senators Biden and Obama are calling for a gradual withdrawal that leaves 100,000 troops in Iraq after the 2006 election. Now the Bush Administration is saying that the Biden plan mirrors its plan. When "national security Democrats" and the Bush Administration agree, we'd better watch carefully. The leverage of the antiwar movement is the 2006 elections. We must continue to build pressure for complete withdrawal in 2006. John Murtha's six-month exit strategy is right on target--our position for more than a year (www.kevinzeese.com).
I stand with you 100 percent. My husband and I are the county chair and vice chair of the Democratic Party, and in the past few months we've threatened to resign on numerous occasions. I keep giving our leaders the benefit of the doubt that they will remove their thumbs from their mouths, put their blankies down, crawl out from under the bed and stand up and fight. So far, it's only been a fantasy. This is the prime time for them to fight like hell to get us out of Iraq, with public support for the war at an all-time low.
D. COLLEEN PARKER
The right wants to "stay the course," a policy that would compound the mistakes and crimes already committed. But the left seems to want to let those crimes stand. The first position is an abomination; the second is an abdication. Our misguided Iraq policy means that we will have to be involved in Iraqi affairs for years to come. Mitigating the damage inflicted by American imperialism ought not be any easier than its continuation.
I suggest that you also withhold support for any candidate who voted for invading Iraq in the first place. They were either stupid to be fooled by rhetoric and bluster that certainly didn't fool me, or they were complicit in the Bush conspiracy to go to war. The alternative is worse: They weren't fooled, they weren't accomplices, they cynically went along for political gain. Is that the sort we want in office?
BRYAN J. MALONEY
No candidate will have my support unless he or she supports ending the war. Thanks for being there all along.
Cave Creek, Ariz.
I support your call for a speedy end to the war of choice. Politicians who support Bush's "stay the course" strategy only do grave harm to our nation.
Fort Worth, Tex.
Your editorial is exactly what I, a Navy vet and active Democrat, have felt should be the core message of my party for far too long. It's time to wake up and smell the coffee, Democrats. It is not only the economy that has suffered but, more important, IT'S OUR NATIONAL SECURITY, STUPID!
DOYLE C. FINE II
As a war veteran, I say now is the time to honor the dead, heal the wounded and end the Iraq War. Now is also the time to read our Constitution and for Americans to discuss the causes and consequences of the war in public places--everywhere from coffee shops to City Council meetings to Congress and the press. And we must assist our nation's returning veterans--and distinguish between the honorable warrior and the catastrophic Iraq War started by reactionary leaders.
As a decorated Vietnam combat veteran, I hope the morons posing as leaders of the Democratic Party will read this editorial. Hillary and the other clowns need to know that their stance on the war and the continuing exploitation of whole populations is unacceptable to thinking Americans. Give 'em hell. Better that than votes. Peace,
RICHARD DE BERRY
St. Pete for Peace /Veterans for Peace
A pox on both the Democans and the Republicrats. They are just two sides of the same damn coin. We the people need to reclaim our government. Just some thoughts from a former marine and Vietnam veteran. Semper fi and peace to all human beings on this small planet.
New York City
Bravo! Words and fervent editorials are great. How about The Nation taking the lead in formulating an action plan, putting together a coalition of activists who will carry the torch in tearing down the war machine before the whole world turns against us?
PLEASE LEAD. WE WILL FOLLOW.
I. MEYER PINCUS