Friday, February 03, 2006

A-Paneling We Will Go...

Last Saturday night I, along with numerous SoCal Grassrooters (including fellow contributors T. O'Shaugnessy and Diva4Dem), attended an panel discussion organized by the California Democratic Party Progressive Caucus entitled "Leaving Iraq: Strategies for Immediate Withdrawal." Moderated by Steve Young [heard on KTLK Sundays 1-4pm], the panel members were Harlan Hobgood [former senior US Foreign Service Officer and current Foreign Relations Chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus], Dr. Michael Schwartz [founding director for the Institute of Social Analysis and extensive author of articles about the war in Iraq], Dr. Stephen Zunes [expert and scholar in Middle Eastern poilitics, international terrorism and US foreign policy, amongst other subjects], David Swanson [journalist, co-founder of and former press secretary for Dennis Kucinich], Ann Wright [29 year Army/Army Reserve veteran, resigned from the US Foreign Service due to her disagreement with the Bush Administration's decision to go war in Iraq] and Scott Ritter [former Marine, author, resigned chief weapons inspector for the United Nations Special Commission in Iraq].

Alternately engaging and slightly depressing (facts about the Iraq War always depress me and anger me, even when it's stuff I've heard before), the real revelation to your humble contributor was Scott Ritter. Because I haven't been living under a rock (if I were I probably would be siding with today's bastardization of the Republican party), I knew who he was and is. However, I had never heard him speak before.

Ah, what refreshing frankness. The man didn't sugar coat anything or talk around his points because he knew we were big boys and girls who could take the truth and maybe do something constructive with it. Not that the other panel members were dancing around the sorry, sordid facts about the war or caught up in their own mental gymnastics. All that was said Saturday night was forthright and honest.

Still, something about the way Scott laid it out on the table - in a way that there was no conufusion about his points - is something that Democrats and progressives could use more of. We have a sorry habit of getting caught up in our own heads and hearts (your humble contributor included, admittedly), so having someone basically hit us over the head is sorely needed on occasion.

What was most amazing, though, were the number of people in the audience that seemed to be surprised by his statements, especially his assertion that, if we Democrats don't take the Congress back, war with Iran is a certainty. Something I figured out somewhere around 2004.

(Psst - when this administration says it has no plans to do something, you can assume, with all accuracy, that it will be done, That is, if it hasn't been done already. Illegal wiretapping, anyone?)

I guess there are times when we folks to the left of center need a Republican in the room. Thanks for being that Republican, Scott.

Also brought forward at the event was the CDP Progressive Caucus' Plan for Withdrawing US Forces from Iraq - lauded by David Swanson and Scott Ritter as the best plan for withdrawal that they had read. And that includes plans drafted by Dennis Kucinich, Tom Hayden and Lynn Woolsey. Excellent work, my fellow progressives. (Details of the plan can be found at David's account of the evening.)

BTW, if you haven't joined your state's progressive caucus, I recommend you do so. If it's anything like the CDP Progressive Caucus, there are extraordinary people to be found there and it's a way to help reform the Democratic Party. Go to your state's Democratic Party web site to find out more about your progressive caucus. If it doesn't have one, help start one. That's how California got its Progressive Caucus - concerned and passionate activists deciding it was high time that something about the CDP be progressive.

Zunes, Swanson, Wright Steve Young Ritter, Schwartz, Hobgood


Jo Olson said...

Thank you Carol! I'd like to add that if anyone is interested in joining the Progressive Caucus, they should contact Mayme Hubert at

Carol Elaine said...

Thank you, Jo!