The House and Senate, both with Democratic majorities, passed Barack Obama’s Afghanistan and Iraq war budget this week for the next year. With the trillion dollar bailouts for banks these days a measly 106 billion dollars might not seem like much…ha.
It far surpasses the gross domestic product of many of the countries of the world (you could buy the GDP of Afghanistan and still have billions in change) and is equal the combined total defense spending of Russia and China. Yet is it still only a fifth of the defense budget for the Empire which is over 500 billion dollars (you could purchase the entire GDP of Iraq and Pakistan with that much scratch).
It assures the continued occupation of those countries and all that goes with it. Only five Senators voted against it, and only two of those from an anti-war position (Sanders and Feingold). In the House only 32 Democrats voted against it while the Republican delegation voted overwhelmingly against it. It passed 226 to 202.
It is routine for the party in opposition to vote against the ruling party’s budget with enough members crossing over to make sure the budget passes. It allows them to say they are in opposition while allowing the wheels of the Empire to keep turning. The Democratic majority in the House makes this unnecessary so the Republicans can safely vote against it with out blocking it. It is in the Senate that this cross over is essential and that is why we see the difference in votes between the two chambers among the Republicans.
When the shoe was on the other foot and the Republicans had the majority the Democrats acted in the same way allowing for all of Bush’s war budgets to be approved. The Democrats have never been the “anti-war” party no matter what they claim at election time. The difference is that now they are taking open responsibility for the wars and occupations and there isn’t an anti-war opposition to hold them to account for that responsibility. The duopoly has worked as it has been meant to work.
If it was true that the anti-war movement during the Bush years had to be independent of the Democrats to be effective it is now essential that the movement be if it has any hope of rebuilding itself. I have hope, but I am not holding my breath.