Friday, May 4, 2007

Hillary and the End of Occupation and of the New Imperialism

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a surprise move, will introduce legislation with Sen. Robert Byrd to revoke the war powers granted to Bush in October of 2002. She says she had originally supported a Byrd amendment at that time to limit those powers to a single year. In the US Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, even though once it is declared the president is commander in chief. The Founding Fathers would have been appalled at the tendency of Congress to cede war-making to the executive during the past century.

As George Lakoff reminds us, actually what is needed is a bill to cut off Bush's authorization to occupy another country. The US was born in a revolt against colonialism and empire; it is shameful for it to seek to retain other countries as colonies now, in the mold of King George III. You may as well bring back slavery as to seek to go on occupying Iraq, as the Republican presidential hopefuls want to do.

And this is what I would add to Lakoff's suggestion. The war was over in 2003. What we've had since then is an occupation, at least in the Sunni Arab areas and some of the Shiite south, where US military presence is unwelcome. Although the Bushies trumpet the two elections, in fact the prime minister elected as a result of them, Ibrahim Jaafari, was unseated through heavy-handed US intervention in Iraqi domestic affairs. When Bush is telling Iraq who it can and cannot have as prime minister, then Iraq is not an independent country.

Such an occupation is just warmed over 19th century colonialism of the "white man's burden" variety. And, such colonialism is just as objectionable as slavery. When the revolutionary French National Assembly abolished slavery in 1794, its abolitionists voiced the hope that ending slavery would also end colonialism.

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