The War Party springs into action


Whatever one might think about the merits of Donald Trump’s erratic claims of wanting to pull US troops out of Syria and Afghanistan, it has made the War Party that spans both Democrats and Republicans go into a tizzy. The Republican party and its leader Mitch McConnell have been slavish in their devotion to Donald Trump, refusing to defy him even during the shutdown votes and utterly unwilling to criticize him for pretty much anything, however outrageous. But they are willing to defy him on the troop withdrawals, showing that when it comes to supporting the war machine, the senate can act with unusual speed and bipartisanship.

On Thursday, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Senate voted 68 to 22 to end debate on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for his planned rapid withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The amendment, which is now sailing toward easy final passage, was authored by one of Trump’s fiercest and most powerful allies: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Only 4 Republicans and 19 Democrats voted against it.

“The precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from either country could put at risk hard-won gains and United States national security,” reads the amendment, adding that “it is incumbent upon the United States to lead, to continue to maintain a global coalition against terror and to stand by our local partners.”

Precipitous withdrawal?. The US has been in Afghanistan for over 17 years!

Those who are reading this move as a fracturing of Republican party unity are mistaken. It is not that the Republicans love Trump any less, but that they love the war machine and its lucrative defense contracts more, and that goes for the Democratic party establishment too.

Bernie Sanders of course voted against the cloture measure but I noticed with interest that among the 19 Democratic senators also voting against are all those who have stated their presidential ambitions or are likely to run, such as Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar. How these people vote on major issues is a good indicator of where they think the sentiment of their party supporters lies.