October 13, 2002

A New Line of Demarcation

As the Senate passed the resolution that will send the U.S. hurtling into war, Florida Senator Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, uttered a dark premonition.

"I predict we will live to regret this day," he said. And for those who remember the quagmire of Vietnam, those words reverberate with a disturbing ring of historical truth. (See story in The Miami Herald; see Graham's statement in The Washington Post.)

Now the line is drawn, the die is cast. A disaster that may have been avoided through diplomacy and international cooperation is now in motion, and no one will stop it, not until a great deal of bloodshed and destruction has taken its toll on the world.

The historical and political instincts of legislators who vote on the war resolution may be a dividing line of great significance in the future. Today's reading of history past and future may determine who rises and who falls in the turbulent times ahead.

Graham is among those who have cast their lots against unilateral war against Iraq. A small number of other legislators have also taken the stand which is at this time a minority position in Congress. But it represents the majority of the population, and it is very likely that as the war progresses, those who took the stand against the war will be seen more and more as the ones who made the wise decision. It is very unlikely that this war will become more popular in the future. It is also difficult to imagine that the course of world conquest the Bush administration has embarked upon will not lead to disasters of massive proportions.

A spokesman for Al Gore said Gore would not have voted for the resolution. (See ABC News.) That separates Gore from most other Democrats, including most who are positioning themselves now for a presidential run in 2004. That list includes senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, John Edwards and congressman Dick Gephardt.

Gore's gamble may prove to be a more astute reading of history than the pro-war Democrats, who were swept up in the momentum of opinion in the halls of congress, but may be greatly out of step with their constituents. A White House spokesperson said the strategy is to use congress to bring the people around, but the people just may not be persuaded by their congresspeople, with whom they are not tremendously enamored these days. When the war builds momentum and its effects become more and more tangible to Americans, it is unlikely that their feelings will become more pro-war. Voting for this potentially very damaging war in a short-sighted attempt to line up with an administration that may become very unpopular once the dust from Ground Zero clears, could end up being the political blunder of the decade.

For a comprehensive list of who voted against and who voted for the disastrous resolution click on moveon.org/senatevote.html for the Senate and moveon.org/housevote.html for the House.

-- By David Cogswell

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