I wanted a new direction in 2008 – well, so much for that idea

I really wanted to vote Democratic in the upcoming presidential election. The Democrats came out so strongly, so critical of President Bush’s policies and the occupation of Iraq. However, our heroin-like addiction to oil is starting to show. One by one, the Democratic candidates have began moderating their anti-Iraq war rhetoric.

Both Clinton and Obama have begun to shy away from making definitive statements regarding a timetable for withdrawal and begun talking about the “vital national security interests,” which we can interpret as a giant flashing sign that says “OIL!” With the caucuses approaching and the Democrats quickly retreating to a middle ground position, I find myself disillusioned. It seems that for all the hot air issuing from the left, the ideology of the Carter Doctrine is still our rule of thumb for foreign policy.

The pivotal sentence from the Carter Doctrine, pulled from Carter’s Jan. 23, 1980 State of the Union address, is that, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” Since then, this sentence has explained our presence in the Middle East. As the Bush administration continues to spin the wheel of “Reasons We’re in Iraq” the elephant in the room is the $10 billion to $30 billion of oil beneath the country’s surface.

What all of this boils down to is that, since World War II, the U.S., along with Great Britain, has had an unhealthy interest in Middle Eastern foreign policy and there’s nothing to suggest that will change anytime soon. Indeed, in a recent interview, Col. Jeffrey Bannister, commander of the Second Brigade of the Second Infantry Division, made several remarks about a “five-year plan” for Iraq. Five years down the road brings us to 11 years, which is about 10 years and 11 months longer than I’ve wanted troops in Iraq.

Stony Brook University professor of sociology, Michael Schwartz, has defined the Bush administration’s policy in Iraq as a new catch-22: “The worse things go, the more our military is needed; the better they go, the more our military is needed.”

The depressing idea that we are going to the polls to elect a president who, in all likelihood, has long ago learned the importance of maintaining an armed military presence in a volatile region of key importance to U.S. foreign and domestic policy is one I am still struggling with.

I truly wanted to vote for change in this upcoming election. I wanted to caucus and choose the best alternative to the bellicose neoconservative hawks currently in office. However, the more I read, the stronger the implications become that U.S. troops will continue to maintain a presence in Iraq.

There is, of course, the likelihood a dark-horse candidate will take the nomination: John Edwards, or, God willing, Dennis Kucinich. But the complete lack of media attention given to “second-tier” candidates almost ensures they will not. A cursory check of Google News reveals a meager 3,700 news stories about Kucinich while Hillary garners 10 times that amount, with more than 40,000. All the while, the media continue to breathlessly inform us how much money the candidates are raising.

Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon perhaps said it best: “Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.” As the caucuses and the elections draw closer, it is more imperative than ever that we seek out fair and unbiased information on the candidates’ voting records and policies. Web sites like www.ontheissues.org and www.vote-smart.org are two user-friendly sites where readers can compare the candidates’ positions and voting records.

As with the midterm elections, we, the voting public, have an opportunity to express our feelings on the current situation; we can affirm the current administration’s actions and policies or we can make our displeasure over the acts that have been done in the names of freedom and democracy known.

Quincy Miller writes for the Iowa State Daily, the student newspaper at Iowa State University.