Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Edwards Makes a Good Progressive Turn on Foreign Policy by Norman Markowitz

On the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, John Edwards, one of the major candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, has separated himself from Senators Clinton and Obama, the two other major candidates, by advocating a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq within ten months of his becoming president, rejecting the positions of Clinton and Obama, who have called for continued "training" of Iraqi military and police forces over what to me is an indefinite period, as a continuation of the U.S. occupation.

Edwards will probably be lambasted by establishment sources (the initial press reports have comments that the military regards such a withdrawal as leading to greater death and destruction in Iraq) but this is a very good political turn for a candidate who has clearly positioned himself well to the left of his leading opponents on domestic policies, pointing to both corporate abuses of power and social and economic inequality in the U.S. as his major domestic themes, but who previously had taken foreign policy positions not too different from Senator Clinton in his support of U.S. military interventionism in the name of "democracy" and power politics manipulation.

Edwards also is beginning to attack major military contractors and this hopefully will develop into a broader and serious critique of what Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961 called a "military industrial complex" and the radical sociologist C. Wright Mills earlier called a "permanent war economy."

What is important about this turn by Edwards is that he obviously thinks that it can help him win the caucus election in Iowa and propel him forward in the upcoming major primaries against Clinton and Obama. It also means that he is taking the core constituencies of the Democratic party seriously, not seeking to win them over with personality and vague calls for change that his opponents have specialized in, assuming that he can triangulate the primaries and then the election, with progressive voters having no place to go, whatever positions he takes, if he wins the nomination.

Whether he succeeds or not, and I believe he has a good chance to succeed, Edwards has advanced the campaign on the major issues confronting the American people.

Edwards has also perhaps raised the "specter" that has haunted political reactionaries and the military industrial complex for decades, the "sprecter " of a class based coalition committing itself to reviving the labor movement, ending the deregulation and privatization that has deformed the U.S. economy, and also advancing an active peace policy that will roll back the military industrial complex, which has traditionally won over Senators and Congresspeople of both parties for its multi-billion dollar projects by falsely connecting those projects with jobs and general economic development.

Dennis Kucinich is still the best overall candidate among the Democratic hopefuls, but John Edwards is moving up, not only on Obama and Clinton in the race for the nomination, but also as a viable progressive candidate

Norman Markowitz

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