In Assessing Obama’s “Peace” Moves author and journalist Robert Parry calls on progressives to view the withdraw from Iraq as a victory of the anti-war movement.
The American Left is often hesitant to see anything positive in incremental changes like the pullout from Iraq and the combat shift in Afghanistan — preferring to focus on the dark clouds, not the silver linings — but some anti-war activists have found reason to cheer the recent shift in the political winds.
“If we don’t understand that we are beginning to move things in the right direction, many among us will lose heart and others will miscalculate,” wrote anti-war activist David Swanson. “Why leak this proposal now [about reducing combat in Afghanistan]? … What has changed is that people in the United States, and in Europe as well, are in the streets, the squares, and the parks.
Yes, perhaps Obama deserves more credit than he’s getting from progressives. But the mutual hostility and distrust between Obama and progressives runs deep.
For example, here’s a doubt about the withdraw from Iraq. A progressive facebook friend sent a link to the following article, Iraq PM: Immunity issue scuttled US troop deal, which says “Iraq’s prime minister said Saturday that U.S. troops are leaving Iraq after nearly nine years of war because Baghdad rejected American demands that any U.S. military forces to stay would have to be shielded from prosecution or lawsuits.”
My facebook friend went on to write
To my Democratic peers: Please help me out here. The talking point is that Obama kept his campaign promise to end the Iraq war. But by all accounts, the White House was trying to EXTEND our stay past the Dec 31, 2011 complete withdrawal agreement signed by Bush in 2008. Iraq says the US demanded continued legal immunity for US troops–a sore topic for Iraqi citizens–and that’s why Iraq’s not extending our occupation. What am I supposed to do with that information? Recite the White House spin until I believe it? Post facts and be called a troll by my Democratic peers?
Another friend writes, “The agreement to leave Iraq was made by Bush. The Obama administration has been working overtime trying to extend the occupation.”
Will Obama get credit for the withdraw and for his other political victories (mixed though they are)? Moreover, the GOP benefited from the Tea Party movement. But as a result of progressive distrust of the President, it’s unclear whether the Occupy Movement will help or hurt the Dems.
At least part of the fault for Obama’s rift with progressives lies with the President. It’s almost as if Obama bent over backwards to make sure he didn’t please progressives, who refuse to see any good in what he does. I share that distrust of the President and sure wish he’d compromised less with the Republicons, appointed more progressive advisers, and thrown out more olive branches to progressives. Aside from the justness of the results, it would have been the politically smart thing to do too.