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The anti-war phonies
By JOHN BRUHNS, Philadelphia Daily News
[Bruhns is the former legislative director for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq.]
I CAME HOME from Iraq in February 2004 and since then have fought tooth and nail for an end to the war.
I did so because I believe the war is immoral and illegal. I aligned myself with some high- profile lobbying organizations who I believed would have the most significant impact on ending the war. In doing so, I detached myself from the people of this country who are honestly committed to ending the war.
I traded my convictions for "special interest" groups who sometimes seem to be in place simply to smear those who disagree with their political agenda. But the agenda is not anti-war. The war is used by these organizations as ammunition against political foes - primarily Republicans. They are the enemy despite the fact that many Democrats vote the same way.
It was very hard for me to go "off the reservation." I didn't want to face the fact that these anti-war groups had other aims.
We watched as legislation that had no substantial impact on ending the war was debated. There ARE anti-war resolutions still floating out there that call for a real end to the war, but the groups I worked for wouldn't spend one dime to promote legislation considered out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party.
Any genuine anti-war message was filtered through media consultants who provide politically correct "talking points" to veterans for them to carry out a phony message that is beneficial to the campaign.
We threatened Republicans with "political extinction" if they didn't change their votes on Iraq. It was a partisan tactic that got us nowhere fast.
When I worked with these organizations, I did nothing to actually stop the war. I only put on a good show that would catch the attention of the media. We focused on America's desire for entertainment rather than the core issue of ending the war.
Our troops are still being killed on a daily basis and the main agenda of these well-financed anti-war groups, I think, is nothing short of the prolonged character assassination of all those who disagree with their message. In my eyes, it's just as bad as those who fight for a continuation of the war, and I'm no longer able to distinguish between the two sides.
I was not honest when I walked away and pursued the "lone wolf" route. Instead I painted a rosy picture of my departure in order to preserve my credibility and longevity within the establishment. This confession is the only way to restore my integrity. So I can go on to continue to fight against the war in Iraq with a clear conscience.
I didn't commit eight years of honorable military service to this country to be an indirect proxy of one political party. I saw the damage done to our country for most of the last seven years with the Republicans in control of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. There was no political balance whatsoever to keep our democracy pure. That's why we are so divided as a nation, and I'm not about to fight for the same partisan domination for the Democrats - even though that is my party affiliation.
THE Democrats promised they would bring change if given a majority in Congress. It didn't happen, and I'm not going to be fooled again. There are many courageous Democrats who vote to end the war in Iraq. But there are many who do not.
Republicans in Congress, for the most part, would follow George W. Bush to the gates of hell. And because of their unity, they are able to keep prevailing despite being in the minority of both houses of Congress.
If any candidate wants my vote, they first and foremost need to convince me that they will end the war in Iraq. *
John Bruhns is a writer and anti-war activist in the Philadelphia area.