We Always Owned The Iraq War
by Chris Bowers, Fri May 25, 2007 at 12:33:41 PM EDT
But that's politics, and politics is not everything. There are other ways to own this war. In fact, there are many other ways in which, as American citizens, we have all owned this war for some time. We grew up in, and actively participate in, a culture that led to this war. We operate in a political system that resulted in this war, and in many cases our inaction in electoral and media politics in the 1990's did not help prevent it. We consume news programs that helped lead to this war. We pay taxes that fund this war. Some of us serve in the military that carried out this war, and we all live in areas from which the personnel for the military are recruited. Our passports, social security benefits, and interstate highways all come from the government that has carried out this war. This war represents us all around the world, and impacts all of our lives here at home. When the politics of our country are set aside, there is really no way of denying that this is an American war, not just a Republican war. As much as I think I personally like to often think otherwise, American soldiers overseas are not flying a flag with an elephant on it. They are flying the stars and stripes, and they represent me.
I am writing this piece to remind myself that a current claim flying around the blogosphere--"Democrats now own the war, too"--is wrong for two different, and seemingly contradictory, reasons. First, in the wide-angle view of American politics, we still don't own this war politically. We might own it if we keep folding and if our nominee decides keeping 75,000 troops in Iraq is a good idea, but right now we don't own it, at least in a political sense, just yet. Second, the claim is wrong because in other, less political ways, we always owned this war, not just now. Back in 2002 and 2003, my full-time entry into politics was largely fueled by this realization. Even though I marched in opposition to the war, voted for candidates who opposed the war, and joined groups like "Not In Our Name," that fact was that to a very real degree, like all Americans, I still owned the war and was partially responsible for it. The idea that Americans who happened to be Democrats only now own the war is wrong simply because we always owned it. No matter what we do to try and stop it, as long as the war continues, we are all still at least partially responsible.
Of course, I am writing this piece not just to remind myself of this fact, or to remind everyone reading this post of this fact. Also, I want to remind those Democrats in Congress who have so far failed to end, or even deescalate, the war of this fact. If we aren't bringing the war to an end, then we are still responsible for it. That is a concern that should supercede any polling data, and any concerns about Republican talking points over Memorial Day weekend. It is a concern that more of our members need to keep in mind when crafting strange voting rules to try and skirt responsibility for the war, and something we need to remember going into the next fight over Iraq war funding this September. Even then, after nearly a decade of this being a Republican war, there will be very little we can do to shift political ownership of the war onto our backs. As such, that should not be our primary concern. Politics aside, the only way we can stop owning this war, and stop being responsible for it, is to end it. Over the next three days, as we are supposed to be remembering Americans who have died in service of their country, including the nearly 4,500 Americans who have died in Iraq (include the contractors and the journalists, too), remember that we are all partially responsible for those deaths, and we always have been. If that is something we want to change, then we are going to have to act differently this September than we acted this spring. Let's start owning opposition to this war as well.