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Democrats' second-leading hawk is right next door
Why Lamont isn't antiwar

September 8, 2006 | Page 4

JOE LIEBERMAN'S defeat in the Democratic primary in Connecticut for U.S. Senate put a smile on the face of anyone who hates the war in Iraq. But antiwar activists shouldn't celebrate Ned Lamont's victory as the beginnings of a Democratic Party shift away from its support for the war.

To begin with, Joe Lieberman is a fading star whose dismal 2004 primary run showed that his particular form of conservatism had begun to outlive its usefulness to the party--making it much easier for liberals like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to campaign for Lamont.

Next door in New York, Hillary Clinton has a hawkish record similar to Lieberman, but she is a favorite for the 2008 presidential nomination. Can you imagine Jackson or Sharpton campaigning for her opponent Jonathan Tasini? What's that, you've never heard of him? Well, now you know why.

But the most important reason we should stay off the Ned Lamont bandwagon is Ned Lamont.

The cable company millionaire is described in both the mainstream and progressive press as an "antiwar" candidate. It's true that he does call for troops to start leaving Iraq, but it's easy for a politician to say something he knows most voters have been dying to hear.

The "issues" page of Lamont's campaign Web site doesn't present a plan for ending the war. Instead, it offers a string of contradictory sentences like this one: "[O]ur frontline military troops should begin to be redeployed, and our troops should start heading home."

In classic Democrat fashion, Lamont offers phrases that most of us want to hear (troops heading home) and other ones (redeploy) meant for the political and business elites who decide with their checkbooks whether a candidate is "viable."

Sometimes these messages are a little more subtle: "America should make clear that we have no designs upon their oil and no plans for permanent bases...[W]e will continue to provide logistical and training support as long as we are asked." In other words, we're not interested in staying in Iraq--unless, of course. we're "asked to" by the puppet government that we installed.

There's nothing subtle about Lamont's unambiguous support for Israel's war on Lebanon and Palestine--which should wipe out any illusions in his being a candidate for the antiwar movement. According to Lamont, "It is not for the United States to dictate to Israel how it defends itself."

Not only is it morally reprehensible to support a war which has killed over 1,000 Lebanese civilians and made a quarter of the population homeless, but it insults our intelligence to assert that Israel's targeting of Lebanese homes, bridges and relief workers is an act of defense--or that the United States, which rushed an order of laser-guided missiles to Israel, doesn't already influence Israeli policy.

These are lies as blatant as the ones about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. In fact, "defending Israel" is likely to be the next justification the Bush administration uses for keeping the troops in Iraq. It would certainly be more accurate than previous winners such as WMDs, stopping al-Qaeda or spreading democracy. The fact is that an Iraq without a U.S. occupation would be hostile to Israel, as would Egypt or Saudi Arabia if the U.S. didn't back dictatorships to repress those populations.

The people of the Middle East (including Israel) recognize much more clearly than Americans that Israel is part of the project to eliminate all opposition to U.S. domination in the center of the oil-producing world. "Defending Israel" is code for defending American empire--for attacking all hostile forces from Hezbollah to Hamas to, inevitably, Syria and Iran. To call, as Lamont does, for ending the Iraq war and supporting the Israeli one is like telling your car to stop while you step on the gas pedal.

We need to ask ourselves whether we are satisfied with punishing war supporters like Lieberman (or Bush) by replacing them with other war supporters. Those who are looking for strategies to actually get U.S. troops out of the Middle East need to look beyond the Democrats.

Green Party candidates for Senate like Howie Hawkins in New York ( and Todd Chretien in California ( are calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq and to stop funding Israel's wars and occupations in Lebanon and Palestine.

Many progressives will argue that supporting a third party is unrealistic, and that Ned Lamont's primary victory is proof that they are "taking back" the Democratic Party. It looks more like it's the Democratic Party that is once again taking them for a ride.
Danny Katch, field coordinator, Hawkins for Senate, New York City

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