Derby changes war stance

Democratic U.S. House candidate Jill Derby, who ran for the House two years ago as a war hawk ("win the war once and for all"), now seems to be shifting to a more dovish position. It’s hard to tell exactly. She has not issued a position paper of her own; instead, she has signed onto one written by a couple of other House candidates.

Known as the “Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq,” it was drafted by House candidate Darcy Burner of Washington in consultation with military experts. The beauty of the plan is that it’s so steeped in protective language that it’s a Rorschach test—people seem to see in it what they want to see. AfterDowningStreet.org, a website devoted to Iraq issues, commented, “There is no irresponsible plan to end the occupation of Iraq, and the implication of the ‘responsible’ plan’s title can only be slowness. The sooner the occupation is ended the better.” But others claim the Plan is designed for a more rapid withdrawal than that envisioned by congressional leaders (whatever that is). Columnist David Swanson wrote that there is a difference between a war ("something that can be won or lost between two armies") and an occupation, and the plan does not recognize the difference: “[It] doesn’t actually include any plan in terms of committing any would-be members of Congress to doing anything at all, other than supporting a series of bills to recriminalize unconstitutional actions by the president. There is no mention of any commitment to ceasing to fund the occupation.”

Readers can judge for themselves at www.responsibleplan.com. (Derby’s campaign has issued statements saying she “was one of the first to sign on to the plan,” a statement reported by news people and bloggers as fact. Actually, at least 42 House candidates and several Senate candidates had signed onto the plan before Derby.)

The plan goes beyond issues surrounding the Iraq occupation and says Congress should “repair the underlying Constitutional framework of our republic and provide checks to executive authority” (by preventing presidents from altering the meaning of legislation with “signing statements” and prohibiting spying on U.S. citizens without warrants), protect U.S. servicepeople from torture by prohibiting use of torture by the U.S., break up media conglomerates that stifled full discussion of the decision to go to war, and create a “U.S.-centered energy policy.”