2008 a year of opportunity for peace advocates

Published on Countercurrents.org, by Kevin Zeese, 20 February, 2008.

Senator John McCain has only one issue with the chance of uniting the Republican base and presenting a challenge to the Democrats in the General Election – war and more of it.

Senator McCain describes the “war” against “Islamic extremism” as the “transcendent challenge of the 21st century.” He describes Iraq as a war the U.S. must win and has promised there are “more wars to come.” He supports the use of military force against Iran, even singing about bombing Iran jokingly. And he has described the U.S. stay in Iraq as something that could last 100 years and be fine with him. Pat Buchanan says that “McCain makes Cheney look like Gandhi.”

McCain knows the election needs to be framed around the question he describes as “who can best make this nation safer?” If the presidential debate is about “change,” McCain looses. If it is about the “war against Islamic extremism” it plays to his strong suit. As a result the McCain campaign presents an opportunity for the peace movement to debate whether American militarism is appropriate, effective and the best use of U.S. resources …

… While the two remaining Democrats are far from being peace candidates they do present an alternative to McCain as both are calling for withdrawal of some troops as soon as they are elected. And, Senator Obama provided a framing of the debate that can be a useful starting point for discussion when he said he wants to “end the mindset that got us into the war.” And with Cynthia McKinney running as a clear peace candidate for the Green Party nomination; Ralph Nader, a long-term anti-war advocate considering a run either as a Green or independent and the Libertarian Party running several candidates on its anti-war platform – peace voters will have plenty to work with in the 2008 election.

The peace movement needs to be ready to make this election a real debate on the future of American militarism. The year is an opportunity to educate the public about the cost U.S. militarism, the ineffectiveness of the approach and more effective alternatives to achieving national security. It needs to be a time to organize peace voters and get them ready to be a “pressure force” in U.S. politics that cannot be ignored no matter who is elected president in November.

… (full text).

(Kevin Zeese is Executive Director of Voters For Peace).

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