Schiff Opponent Responds to Article

Dear Editor,

In your recent article on a May 8 campus appearance, you reported that Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff “voted to authorize the use of force” against Iraq “based on the intelligence reports of weapons of mass destruction,” but that he “has since changed his position.” You also reported that “Schiff is opposed to invading Iran.” Both statements are inaccurate.

Mr. Schiff has not changed his position on the March 2003 invasion and ensuing US military occupation of Iraq.

While, as you say, he now attributes his support of Bush’s “preemptive war” to “faulty intelligence,” at the same time he refuses to call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and an end to the occupation.

Mr. Schiff’s position is the same as that of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council, of which he is a member, that “Democrats must make it clear to the public that we stand for winning in Iraq, not a rush to the exits.”

Indeed, during his talk Mr. Schiff did not criticize the Iraq invasion or condemn its instigators for lying to the American people.

His only difference with the Bush administration’s present Iraq policies is to call for “strategic redeployment” of US troops from urban areas like Baghdad, where they are being killed at the rate of two to three a day, to highly fortified desert military bases, where they can more safely launch deadly strikes against the Iraqi population with aircraft, missiles and high-tech gadgetry.

The DLC’s call for “winning in Iraq,” like Mr. Schiff’s proposal for “strategic redeployment,” means continuing the brutal and illegal military occupation of a once sovereign nation, including visiting upon its people more death, torture and suffering for decades to come.

“Winning in Iraq” means propping up a succession of pro-US puppet governments, a policy causing increasingly bloody internecine conflicts between rival ethnic and religious factions competing for economic and political power under the framework of the ocupation.
In any event, for Mr. Schiff to claim now that he voted for the invasion of Iraq because of “faulty intelligence” is a dishonest evasion.

In 2003, thousands of his constituents joined tens of millions of people around the world in protest, shouting at the
tops of their lungs that the Bush administration’s claims about Saddam Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction were cynical lies intended to stampede the population into an unjust and criminal war.

Americans never would have supported the invasion had Mr. Schiff and other US government officials explained its true purpose: to seize control over Iraq’s vast oil reserves and to establish strategic positions for the U.S. military in the Middle East to promote the interests of U.S. businesses against those of their European and Asian rivals.

Mr. Schiff’s position on Iran is no different. Although he told the GCC audience that he is wary of current Bush administration alarms about Iran’s supposed pursuit of nuclear weapons, he did not indicate that he would oppose a military attack. Moreover, Mr. Schiff took a much different position during a 2004 debate on the House floor: “There is no doubt that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, along with the ongoing standoff with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, constitute the gravest threat to American national security today,” Schiff claimed. “How we deal with this threat will shape our global security environment for decades. When coupled with the desire by terrorists to acquire and use these weapons against the US, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran and North Korea is petrifying.”

The majority of voters in the 29th Congressional District reject such crass fear mongering just as they oppose the launching of aggressive wars in pursuit of control over natural resources located on the other side of the planet. These voters can find no political voice through politicians of either the Democrat or the Republican Party, however. I am petitioning for ballot status as an independent candidate for the 29th Congressional District in the November 2006 election as part of the national campaign of the Socialist Equality Party precisely to build an alternative to this antiquated and inadequate two-party system.

—Very truly yours,
John Burton