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8/02/2005

Paul Hackett: a dissenting view

Lefty blogs have been swarming in support of Paul Hackett, a Democrat and Iraq war veteran (as in, the current Iraq war - you know, 'Operation Iraqi Freedom') who is running for Congress in Ohio, and whom a Republican spokesperson promised, in a remarkably poor choice of words, to "bury." See here for details.

However, John Walsh at Counterpunch is not so enthusiastic about Hackett:
The latest Congressional candidate to be peddled by the pro-war Democratic establishment, including Howard Dean, James Carville, the Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Al Franken on Air America Radio, etc., is Paul Hackett in southern Ohio. He faces his Republican opponent in a special election this Tuesday, August 2. Hackett goes by the all too appropriate nickname, "Hack," and his claim to fame is that he is a marine who fought in Iraq and will be the only Iraqi veteran in Congress! The truth beneath this silly gloss is a lot uglier. Among his other "achievements," Hack is a proud veteran of the campaign which leveled Fallujah, killing untold numbers of innocent Iraqis and turning hundreds of thousands into refugees.

Here is how he characterizes, on his web site, what he did in Iraq: "I was against the war. It was a misuse of our military that damaged our credibility throughout the world and squandered our political capital. Still, I volunteered to serve, and I have no regrets." Translation "I will mindlessly do what I am told no matter what my brain says." And he has "no regrets" about the slaughter of innocents in Fallujah. On Fallujah, he says: "Religious fanatics and insurgents had seized the city. They had to be stopped."

So what does Hack propose now? Again in his own words, "The good news is we can successfully exit Iraq once the roughly 140,000 Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are adequately trained. The bad news is they are nowhere near the level of skill to accomplish that mission and are likely years away from that goal. No matter what your position on the war, if we pull out now the entire region will spiral into chaos. We must not withdraw our troops before the Iraqis are ready to stand on their own." Translation: "Stay the course." And he also takes a swipe at those who are against the war, saying that "too many liberals who opposed the war want to see the president's Iraq policy fail." Translation: "Those who oppose the war do so only out of personal hatred for Bush." Both these themes parrot the line of the war parties.

There is absolutely no difference between Hack and his Republican opponent Jean Schmidt on the war ­ or any other issue for that matter. Here is what she says: "The training of Iraqi and Afghan security forces is ongoing and will allow both new governments to begin to assume more responsibility for their security and sovereignty. Our troops should not withdraw from these nations until they can assume these responsibilities on their own and we are making rapid progress towards this end." Translation: "Stay the course." At least, unlike Hack, she did not volunteer to participate in the criminal slaughter of this illegal war.
I'm not sure which side I'd come down on here. I think Walsh is probably overstating things a bit; I seriously doubt that there is "absolutely no difference" between Hackett and Schmidt on any issue. However, it is worth remembering that Hackett isn't really an anti-war candidate, in any strong sense; while he says he was against the war in the first place, he leaves no doubt as to where he stands on continuing it.

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