After ten years as a staunch supporter of the U.S war in Afghanistan, Howard Dean has \”had a change of heart\” and now believes the war in Afghanistan \”is not winnable\”. Dean is now mobilizing his grassroots progressive group, Democracy for America, to start pressuring the Democratic Party to support pulling troops out of Afghanistan.
The U.S invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban refused to extradite Osama bin Laden, claiming that the U.S didn\’t have sufficient evidence he was the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Their claim was validated by the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, in April, 2002. Mueller told the Washington Post that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany.
What the U.S and Howard Dean didn\’t know in April of 2002, they couldn\’t have known 8 months earlier during the invasion of Afghanistan. Dean strongly supported the war then, and continued to support the aggression when he endorsed President Obama\’s troop surge in 2009.
However, Dean has had a change of heart, and is now arguing that we should leave for humanitarian reasons. Humanitarian reasons were not a factor, of course, when Dean supported the bombings and the drone strikes. He\’s pronouncing his newfound belief that the conflict isn\’t \”winnable\”, which happens to be what Hitler\’s central staff was telling him when the Germans were starting to lose in Stalingrad.
McKay Coppins (The Daily Beast, 4-18-2011) interviewed Dean and described his fresh perspective on the issue as \”a return to the passionate liberalism\” that\’s been absent on the left in recent months. Absent or not, Dean\’s recent revelation that the war in Afghanistan isn\’t winnable draws comparisons to liberal hero Eugene McCarthy\’s Vietnam revelation around the time of the Tet Offensive.
Economist John Kenneth Galbraith once said \”McCarthy\’s the real hero of the Vietnam War opposition,\” thus creating a legend of American liberalism. In reality, Eugene McCarthy was completely absent from the Vietnam peace movement for the vast majority of the war, dating back to the Kennedy bombings. Several of his colleagues, including Gaylord Nelson and Wayne Morse, bitterly condemned the bombings and the corresponding invasions, but not McCarthy.
McCarthy turned against the war in January 1968, when the corporate community started to oppose it and mass popular movements began to pick up traction in the media and elsewhere. Around this time, McCarthy famously told the peace movement, \”I\’m your leader.\”
He would go on to win the New Hampshire primary in 1968, but eventually lost at the \’68 Democratic Convention. Despite knowing that many of his supporters, the \”clean for Gene\” crowd of younger voters who volunteered for his campaign were getting beaten and gassed by the Chicago Police Department, McCarthy said nothing about the incident.
McCarthy would never again use his prestige as the self-elected spokesman of the anti-war movement, and never used that undeserved status to work against the war in Vietnam or Cambodia. There is a basic principle that \’leaders\’ like McCarthy rarely follow, namely that power and privilege correlates with responsibility. Instead, the liberal icon would totally abandon whatever there was of his former pacifist platform, and decide to write poetry and talk about baseball.
For ten years, the American public has been defiantly pushing against the mass media\’s propaganda, and gradually making progress in ending Western aggression in Afghanistan and the region. In 2007, a Pew poll found that 50% of Americans supported the war. By 2009, Gallup polled an 18 point decrease, stating that 68% of the population disapproved. Incidentally, Dean noticed this, stating \”it is true that American public opinion is not supportive of the war effort anymore\” in an interviewwith Chris Wallace.
Society in 2011 is quite different than it was in 1969, but it\’s still setting up the same fraudulent leaders for popular movements to follow. Howard Dean is no exception.