“We, the undersigned, resolutely oppose the Bush administration’s plan to invade, conquer and occupy Iraq.” So begins an online petition to George W. Bush, Congress and the media, initiated by Democrats.com. Since it was posted the first week in August, 7,801 people have signed the hard-hitting petition, which can be visited at www.Democrats.com.
Bob Fertik, a founder of Democrats.com, initiated the petition campaign, reminscent of the Moveon.com online petition against the ultra-right impeachment of President Clinton signed by well over half a million people. Democrats.com describes itself as the largest grassroots movement of “left” Democrats with an e-mail list of about 100,000 people and 7,000 people visiting their website daily.
“Over time, as the public realizes that Bush really intends to invade Iraq, I think the majority of Americans will oppose the war policy,” Fertik said in a phone interview from his home in Washington, D.C. “Bush lost the popular vote and stole the 2000 election,” Fertik said. “He ran as a moderate but has gone completely to the right. He has no mandate for his policies.”
The petition points out that Bush’s standing in the polls is “falling quickly because of public outrage over corporate corruption scandals and the falling stock market, and so he needs another war to change the news headlines and boost his poll ratings. In other words, Bush is ‘wagging the dog.’”
The Republican Party, the petition charges, “is likely to lose control of Congress and key governorships in the November elections and Bush desperately needs to engineer a Republican victory. In other words, the war in Iraq is also Bush’s ‘October Surprise.’”
The petition continues, “Bush’s oil industry donors want to gain complete control of Iraq’s large oil reserves – by stealing them.”
Bush plans to muster 250,000 troops for the invasion, “risking tens of thousands of American deaths,” the petition continues. The 1991 Gulf War cost $61 billion ($80 billion in current dollars), a fraction of what Bush’s new invasion would cost, pushing the nation deeper into recession. With near-total world opposition to the war, the entire burden will be carried by the U.S., the petition warns.
Any danger that Iraq is developing biological, chemical or nuclear weapons can be countered through resumption of U.N. weapons inspections, it states. “Iraq has never attacked the U.S. and played no role in the Sept. 11 attack. All propaganda efforts by rightwing officials like Deputy Secretary of State Paul Wolfowitz to link Iraq to Sept. 11 have failed.”
Opposition to Bush’s war drive is also growing in the labor movement. The World asked several union leaders their views of the war buildup during the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council meeting in Chicago, Aug. 5-8. Bruce Raynor, president of the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), said, “I can think of no sensible argument to justify an invasion of Iraq. It does not serve the national interests of the United States. It sends the wrong message to the rest of the world. It’s the ultimate in Bush’s wrongheaded foreign policy.”
Gloria Johnson, president of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, said she has two grandchildren in the U.S. military who must not die in a needless war. Asked if Bush has made the case for war, she snapped, “No!”
John Wilhelm, president of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE), said, “We’ve got to straighten out the mess in the Middle East. An invasion of Iraq is a recipe for disaster.”
The Aug. 5 Washington Post exposed a July 10 secret briefing to the Defense Policy Board, headed by Richard N. Perle, at the Pentagon. Laurent Murawiec, a Rand Corporation analyst, prepared the briefing, in which he portrayed Saudi Arabia as an “enemy of the United States … the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent.”
The briefing recommended that U.S. officials deliver an ultimatum that the Saudis “stop backing terrorism or face seizure of its oil fields and its financial assets,” the Post reported.
The Post quoted Murawiec as telling the top Pentagon officials, “The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners, to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader.”
The Bush administration has rushed to distance itself from the “explosive briefing,” the Post reported. “Yet it also represents a point of view that has growing currency within the Bush administration, especially on the staff of Vice President Cheney and in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership, and among neo-conservative writers.”
Fred Gaboury contributed to this article.
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