The Democratic War Platform by David Swanson

Hillary Clinton painted portrait _DDC9374

Image by thierry ehrmann via Flickr

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy
July 3, 2016

The Democratic Party’s draft platform takes a government that spends over half of discretionary spending on militarism, as much as the rest of the world combined, with troops in most countries and seven wars underway, and says: Keep it going, only more so!

The Platform begins with support-the-troops propaganda, demanding military spending for the sake of the people recruited into the military, many of them of course for lack of the free college that the Democrats have left out of their platform.

“Support Our Troops and Keep Faith with Our Veterans,” is the opening headline on foreign policy. The words under that headline have nothing to do with what it suggests:

“Democrats believe America must continue to have the strongest military in the world.”

You’d have to eliminate the vast majority of it for that not to be so.

“We support a smart, predictable defense budget that meets the strategic challenges we face, not the arbitrary cuts that the Republican Congress enacted as part of sequestration.”

They don’t mean “defense” of course, which would also require cutting the vast majority of the U.S. military which serves only offensive purposes, in every sense of the word. They do mean: Vote for us for more militarism than the Republicans offer.

“… As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conclusion of long-term nation-building with large military footprints ….”

Call me crazy, but don’t you have to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to look beyond them? Wouldn’t a platform be the place in which to take a position on continuing or ending the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen? The Platform simply accepts wars, makes a nod to being aware of their existence, and moves along.

The Platform does make this promise, which I would believe about as far as I could throw Dick Cheney: “… we will audit the Pentagon, launch a high-level commission to review the role of defense contractors, and take greater action against those who have been involved in fraud.”

Greater than nothing isn’t much, of course, but at least that’s a useful promise if anyone were to ever try to hold them to it. The point of it, however, is not to reduce warmaking — rather to make it more efficient. So we’d need to hold them to it and then insist that wasted dollars be cut rather than spent on machinery that kills more economically and effectively.

The Platform contains the usual weak economic promises, with no universal education or healthcare or significant family or vacation leave. It chooses instead to propose decent policies only for veterans, as part of the war promotion it includes just before delving into anything related to foreign policy.

“… We are outraged by the systemic problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and will fight for every veteran to have access to timely, high-quality health care. The delays in processing claims and appeals are unacceptable.”

Whoever has been running this government in recent years sure has a lot to answer for.

When turning to foreign policy, the Democrats speak not of aid or diplomacy or disarmament, but of the need to “Confront Global Threats.” The failed, counterproductive war on terrorism would roll on: “We must defeat ISIS, Al Qaeda, and their affiliates, and prevent other groups from emerging in their place.” The Democrats will pursue more of what doesn’t work, but also urge other nations to do more of the same, not cease providing weapons and support but engage in more bombing:

“First, Democrats will continue to lead a broad coalition of allies and partners to destroy ISIS’ stronghold in Iraq and Syria. We will press those in the region, especially the Gulf countries and local forces on the ground, to carry their weight in prosecuting this fight.”

Also on Syria, where Hillary Clinton has long proposed wider war, the Platform says, “Donald Trump would inflame the conflict by alienating our allies, inexplicably allowing ISIS to expand in Syria, and potentially starting a wider war. This is a reckless approach. Democrats will instead root out ISIS and bring together the Syrian opposition, international community, and our regional allies to reach a negotiated political transition that ends Assad’s rule.”

So the contrast is between wider war through allowing ISIS to expand, and “rooting out ISIS” through something other than wider war but clearly amounting to nothing other than wider war — just what has allowed ISIS to expand.

On Afghanistan, one of those wars the Platform looks beyond, the Platform proposes to continue the war: “In Afghanistan, we will work with the NATO-led coalition of partners …. We support President Obama’s decision to maintain a limited troop presence in Afghanistan ….”

The same week that President Obama admitted to killing large numbers of civilians with drones, the Platform writes: “We reject Donald Trump’s suggestion that our military should engage in war crimes, like murdering civilians.”

The Platform repeats several times that it opposes using large numbers of U.S. ground troops, even at one point admitting that war on ISIS is counterproductive, at least when it uses this tactic which the Platform opposes for political reasons: “We also firmly reject Donald Trump’s willingness to mire tens of thousands of our combat troops in a misguided ground war in the Middle East. It would embolden ISIS, and there is nothing smart or strong about such an approach.” The same of course applies to a misguided air war on ISIS, but Democrats believe nobody will protest them if they do that.

The Platform then turns immediately to falsely demonizing a nation with which the Pentagon has long dreamed of launching a big ground war: “Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism. It violates the human rights of its population, denies the Holocaust, vows to eliminate Israel, and has its fingerprints on almost every conflict in the Middle East.” The first and last bits of this are U.S. projection, and Iran does not “vow to eliminate Israel.”

Next in the Democrats’ sights? North Korea and Russia!

“North Korea is perhaps the most repressive regime on the planet, run by a sadistic dictator…. Yet Donald Trump praises North Korea’s dictator …. Russia is engaging in destabilizing actions along its borders, violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and attempting to recreate spheres of influence that undermine American interests. It is also propping up the Assad regime in Syria, which is brutally attacking its own citizens.”

This while in fact the United States has backed a coup in Ukraine, put a missile base in Romania, begun building another in Poland, expanded NATO to Russia’s border, and is currently engaged in major war “exercises” near Russia’s border. Also, notice the new clue regarding the Platform’s vague position on Syria. Russia’s sins include “propping up” a government marked for overthrow.

The Platform culminates in a declaration of intent to dominate the globe: “It would be a dangerous mistake for America to abandon our responsibilities. We cannot, as Donald Trump suggests, cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to others who will not have our best interests in mind. American leadership is essential to keeping us safe and our economy growing in the years ahead.” This includes viewing as Chinese aggression toward the United States its use of the South China Sea:

“We will work with our allies and partners to fortify regional institutions and norms as well as protect freedom of the seas in the South China Sea. We will push back against North Korean aggression and press China to play by the rules. We will stand up to Beijing ….”

It also includes more hinting at overthrowing the Syrian government:

“In the Middle East, Democrats will push for a more inclusive governance in Iraq and Syria that respects the equal rights of all citizens ….”

It also includes whatever the Israeli government may want in the way of free weapons or suppression of free speech in the United States:

“… we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself, including by retaining its qualitative military edge, and oppose any effort to delegitimize Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.”

“… While Jerusalem is a matter for final status negotiations, it should remain the capital of Israel ….”

How can something remain something it isn’t?

“… And in Venezuela, we will push the government to respect human rights and respond to the will of its people.”

Oh good. Sort of like in Honduras?

“… We will also work to end the reign of terror promulgated by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, AQIM, and ISIS.”

So, good times ahead!

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. War Is A Lie: Second Edition, published by Just World Books on April 5, 2016. I’ll come anywhere in the world to speak about it. Invite me!

from the archives:

Jill Stein: Clinton Has Done What Trump Only Talks About

John Pilger: The Threat of World War Three

Women’s Draft? Sign Me Up To Abolish War by Rivera Sun

NATO’s Anakonda: A Beast That Preys on Its Own? by Finian Cunningham

Silencing the United States as It Prepares for War by John Pilger

Bush-Obama Powers Will Pass to Next President by David Swanson

Bernie Sanders Supports Obama’s Kill List, “ISIS Has Got To Be Destroyed”

Chris Hedges: Bringing In More Troops To Iraq Is Pure Folly

21 thoughts on “The Democratic War Platform by David Swanson

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  11. Whoopee ~ it’s war with everyone…!! Tin hats all round folks. Hubristic fantasists are the bane of public life.

    From the shores of a now spectral ocean of separation that laps gently against the moored Tridents, brooding over our dismal prospects in the gloom-laden Isles of a dispirited Albion (the White Giant ~ remember Blake? or California’s initial branding as Nova Albion?) & Scotia (“Alba gu bràth”…lit. until ‘judgment’ ie forever,) & Cymru (“… am byth” means in Welsh long-life) & don’t forget Erin (Roman ‘Scotia’ in Gaelic “Éirinn go Brách” ~ for eternity,) …..I detect the strong sense that a truly obscene neoliberalist epi-class of writhing yes-please-ma’am-yessirs, are basking in the winner-takes-all ‘comfortably numb’ mindless swarm-mentality, of a do-dumb-us-down complicit Demos ~ conditioned by Pavlovian expectation to worship and emulate slick and corrupt examplars of morally bankrupt success. “Our true saviours….” Hurrah!!

    Really intelligent critics are precious indeed. We should treasure them.

    So why is the US electorate so perversely deaf, dumb & paralytic? Are we all being petrified into self-absorption, by this 0.1% imperialist strategy of apocalyptic terror? Is an alienated and immigrant USA being forced into illiterate subordination ~ denied their ethnic multi-cultural heritage, deliberately bewildered & intimidated by Hispanglo-Americanised media gibberish? Why does the comic-book mainstream media have such a strangling grip on ‘New World’ societies? Is this a prescriptive exercise, culturally drowning the masses by throwing them a sinking Stone-Liberty to cling to?

    What is going on in the public schools, what diabolisms are being practiced in the churches, what is really happening in the aisles of Walmart?

    I think it’s is a type of lethal addiction, total infantile dependence. Is all the milk and water now so toxic that the world is witnessing a macabre mutation, a self-defeating threatened horde, emerging under the panopticonic ( scrutiny and mind-limiting guidance of the Big Controller ~ good ol’ pentagon sam with his hexagonal codpiece?

    • Well, David, you have to remember that there are only 6 corporations that run almost all the mainstream media in the US. That includes radio, too. The middle class has shrunk considerably just since 2008. Most people work at jobs without any sick leave, or vacation days. They work more than one job as well. The workers are exhausted. They are easy to take advantage of and propaganda works. I don’t blame the victims, I blame the corporations who run the US.

      • Thanks Lo, of course I agree. I can barely imagine how frustrating it must be trying to function as an ethical being in the US, when the tentacles of power are so diffused and simultaneously blocked in every direction.

        The big issue is that desperation tends to define change as reaction, resorting to protest rather than creative movement. Who pays the piper, and so on ~ of course we could try to persuade the piper to play in another way by a change of temperament; especially by re-assessing the dynamics of patronage and organizational logic.

        You have covered every conceivable approach I think, here on DS. Personally, I think the time has come to take this existential fight/struggle to the heart of the maelstrom, into the corporate mindset itself.

        There are many bold initiatives that seem to be taking hold, if you look into progressive business narratives and how innovative ideas are emerging in real time. Planetary sanity must prevail, and as you say, those who are simply exhausted and worn out by everyday existence, cannot be expected to summon the means to respond and to innovate robustly.

        To initiate beneficial, reasoned change, we have to engage with the most intelligent change-makers, so all people will be the beneficiaries; the momentum has to shift from prioritizing emphasis on insulated shareholder-rights, to community and (global) society’s stakeholder prerogatives and community participation through transitional economics.

        Things must change, and things will change, it’s a question of whether we take the hard route (possession as nine parts of the law) or the rational, resilient path of managing our resource thresholds ingeniously ~ linking maximum long-term sustainable gain to optimum mutual, localized, collateral & multipolar difference, by re-imagining currently gated domains, as porous but effective (biospheric) regulators of eco-systemic energy flows.

  12. I was just having a long think today about the intrinsic value of David Swanson. One of our finest minds. It’s just so sad there isn’t a antiwar movement to match his accomplishments.

  13. Disheartening, but wholly expected news. The drawing above is superb. The artist has perfectly captured Clinton, whose face is a relief map of fear and hostility.

    • Thanks, Lynn. While searching for a Creative Commons photo, I saw this one and thought it would work well for this article.

      And yes, no surprise at all at this platform. “Same as it ever was.”

  14. great article, tells the simple truth which is excluded from both the mainstream and alternative media. Saunders operatively supports US military imperialism, so only attacks economic oligarchy. the odious racist Trump attacks both, and his foreign policy is light years better for the people than Clinton-Saunders. The Dems, including Saunders, are not only for continuing US homicidal policy, but for increasing it.

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