Published on Monday, December 8, 2008 by CommonDreams.org
The Silent Winter of Escalation
Sunday morning, before dawn, I read in the New York Times that "the Pentagon is planning to add more than 20,000 troops to Afghanistan" within the next 18 months -- "raising American force levels to about 58,000" in that country. Then I scraped ice off a windshield and drove to the C-SPAN studios, where a picture window showed a serene daybreak over the Capitol dome.
While I was on C-SPAN's "
So, on Sunday morning, viewers across the country saw Barbara Lee speaking on the House floor three days after 9/11 -- just before she became the only member of Congress to vote against the president's green-light resolution to begin the
"However difficult this vote may be, some of us must urge the use of restraint," she said. The date was Sept. 14, 2001. Congresswoman Lee continued: "Our country is in a state of mourning. Some of us must say, Let's step back for a moment, let's just pause just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control."
And she said: "As we act, let us not become the evil that we deplore."
The footage of Barbara Lee was an excerpt from the "War Made Easy" documentary film (based on my book of the same name). As she appeared on a TV monitor, I glanced out the picture window. The glowing blue sky and streaky clouds above the Hill looked postcard-serene.
But the silence now enveloping the political non-response to plans for the
During the mid-1960s, the conventional wisdom was what everyone with a modicum of smarts kept saying: higher
Many people who think otherwise -- including, I'd guess, quite a few members of Congress -- are keeping their thoughts to themselves, heads down and mouths shut, for roughly the same reasons that so many remained quiet as the deployment numbers rolled upward like an odometer of political mileage on the road to death in Vietnam.
Right now, the basic ingredients of further Afghan disasters are in place -- including, pivotally, a dire lack of wide-ranging debate over
But the problem with such a foreign-policy "no brainer" is that the parameters of thinking have already been put in the rough equivalent of a lockbox. Dean Rusk, Robert McNamara and Lyndon Johnson approached Vietnam policy options no more rigidly than Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and Barack Obama appear poised to pursue
I was thinking about this when I left the C-SPAN building in the full light of day. The morning glow made the Capitol look majestic. Yet it was almost possible to see, streaked across the dome, an invisible new stain of blood and shattered bones.
Along with the grim patterns, there's a tradition of brave dissent on Capitol Hill. It's epitomized by Barbara Lee's prophetic statement just after 9/11 -- and by an earlier kindred spirit, the fierce Vietnam War opponent Senator Wayne Morse. If you'd like to see historic footage of them, retrieved from the nation's Orwellian memory hole, watch the "
Bedrock faith in the Pentagon's massive capacity for inflicting violence is implicit in the nostrums from anointed foreign-policy experts. The echo chamber is echoing: the
Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Information about the documentary film "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" is posted at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org . To view the C-SPAN "
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs