ANTIWAR DEMS WHIPPED:
There’s no way to put a positive spin on a House vote in which Democrats–many of whom were elected as antiwar candidates–provided the overwhelming majority of support for allocating $106 billion in additional funds to maintain the occupation of Iraq and expand the US presence in Afghanistan. But what made the June 16 vote on the supplemental appropriations bill (226-202) doubly disappointing was the fact that the Obama administration and its Congressional allies attached a measure that enables the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to extend its line of credit by $100 billion–with the actual cost to the United States estimated at around $5 billion but potentially much more.
The IMF, with its long history of structurally adjusting poor countries into deeper poverty, deserves no favors from the United States, as the antipoverty advocacy group
made abundantly clear during the debate. And as economist
has noted, much of this latest money will likely be used to bail out European banks. So why would progressive Democrats back this bad bill? Immense pressure from the White House and Speaker
got 221 Democrats to sign on, including almost a score of progressives who had opposed a previous version of the supplemental.
To their credit, thirty-two Democrats voted “no” for the right reasons–mostly opposition to the direction of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars but also frustration with backdoor bank bailouts. Ohio Congressman
get high marks for raising the alarm about the IMF line of credit in a letter to colleagues. But the real heroes were the freshmen members–such as Colorado’s
–who withstood some of the most aggressive lobbying yet by an administration that, at least on issues of war and global finance, could do with a lot more checking and balancing from Congress. JOHN NICHOLS
GREENLAND’S LEFT TURN:
On June 2 the incongruous forces of global warming and indigenous self-determination combined to bring the leftist
(IA) to power in Greenland, forcing a social democratic/conservative coalition out of office on the eve of the nation’s transition to self-rule. Greenland, a semiautonomous Arctic province of Denmark with a population of about 57,600, has been disproportionately affected by global warming, which has made large swaths of its permafrost-covered landmass increasingly accessible to oil and mineral exploration for the first time.
Emboldened by the prospect of resource-driven self-sufficiency, more than 75 percent of Greenland voters opted in November for increased devolution from Denmark, which has controlled the country since the early eighteenth century. Self-rule measures, including greater control over natural resources and a switch from Danish to Greenlandic as the national language, are due to come into effect on June 21 and will likely pave the way for a vote on full independence in the near future. In advance of Greenland’s empowerment, former Prime Minister
of the social democratic
, which had run the island since it was granted limited autonomy in 1979, called an early election because, “it seems fitting to ask the people who should lead them into that new epoch.”