for joy! The New York Times is telling us there's a "Call
in Congress for Full Airing of Iraq Policy" this after George W. Bush
has been rattling his saber in Saddam's face for the past year or so, developed
a comprehensive invasion
plan, and already decided that the US will occupy Iraq "for
a year or more." So what's left to debate the color of the new Iraqi
But then again, what kind of a debate can we expect when, as the
Times points out,
"Democrats and Republicans said there
was broad bipartisan support for ousting Mr. Hussein, even if that requires a
military invasion if other options fail."
Not that Congress
isn't complaining. Their beef, however, is not that we're initiating a bloody
war entirely contrary to our own national interests, not that the war will destabilize
an already tortured region of the world for many years to come, and will require
a major outlay of resources but that Bush is
a major commitment of American troops under a veil of secrecy, with too little
consultation with Congress. Members complain that much of what they know comes
from news leaks."
Yeah, why should the President and Rummy have
all the fun Congress wants a piece of the action, too! This is their
idea of a "debate" haggling over details and maneuvering for maximum
The big issue in Congress is not a question of war
or peace they're already practically unanimous on the desirability of the former.
The big bone of contention is whether or not the President is required to come
to Congress for formal approval of an invasion or if he's going to do it as
a "courtesy." To the Bushies, obeying the supreme law of the land
that is, the Constitution of the United States is a mere "courtesy,"
i.e. an empty formality. It's mostly Democrats who insist on paying lip service
to that nearly forgotten document, but even this "is being hotly contested
within the party," as the Times puts it.
Both the House and
the Senate will hold hearings on the Iraq issue in late summer or early September,
but the expressed concerns of legislators don't bode well for a wide-ranging debate.
The Times reports:
"Many legislators say the time has
come for a more robust discussion of several issues, including the threat from
Iraqi chemical weapons, whether the administration sees any potential successors
to Mr. Hussein, the views of European and Arab allies and whether the White House
has a strategy for extricating American troops after an invasion."
Mr. Hussein, indeed. The deadpan, largely unintentional humor of New York
Times-ese captures the grey miasma of American politics when it comes to making
decisions in the foreign policy realm. Where else but in the Grey
Lady could such a one-sided "discussion" be described as "robust"?
Instead of debating whether our role in the world is to effect "regime change"
wherever and whenever we so desire, they're already arguing over Saddam's successor!
Some "debate"! About as "robust" as any held at a Soviet party
If you're expecting visible opposition to this dangerous and
even fateful war of conquest from the Democrats, then you're sure to be disappointed.
piece by Dan Balz in the Washington Post [July 15], averring "Democrats
Speak Up on Foreign Policy," tells us that the reluctance to criticize Bush
"After months of hesitancy, leading Democrats have begun
to challenge President Bush directly on his conduct of foreign affairs,"
Balz writes forgetting to add from the right. We are told, initially,
that the Democrats are "offering pointed criticisms of [Bush's] policies
on the Middle East, U.S. relations with key allies and even the war in Afghanistan."
After this promising lead-in, however, disappointment rapidly sets in, and by
the time we get to the end of the article we learn that those "pointed criticisms"
are somewhat blunted:
"On the Middle East, Democrats have criticized
the administration's initial decision to disengage from the region, and some said
Bush's most recent speech, in which he called for Palestinians to replace Yasser
Arafat and others in the leadership, set out conditions that would be so difficult
as to be impractical. But they have been reluctant to offer public pressure on
Israel to alter any of its tactics, either in combating terrorist attacks or halting
Ariel Sharon tells Bush to "Jump!", his only question is: "How
high?" and the Democrats can't bring themselves to criticize this
sad state of affairs.
As the presidential wannabes of 2004 jockey
for position, Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), seems to have taken the initiative
in criticizing the Republican foreign policy, raising the sensitive question of
"Where's Osama?" but otherwise speaking in grandiose generalities, to
"In a recent telephone interview, Kerry offered an across-the-board
critique of the administration's foreign policy.
It's shifting. It's inconsistent and to some measure disengaged globally,'
he said. 'It's reactive, not proactive. Up until 9/11 it was singularly unilateral.
Since then it's less so, but not half as forceful and encompassing as I think
America's foreign policy ought to be at this moment. Not as bold and not as visionary.'"
Let's see: the conquest of Iraq, and the military occupation of much
of the Middle East how much more "visionary" can you get? In asking
for boldness and then denouncing unilateralism, Kerry cuts the ground out from
under his own feet. As for being "disengaged globally," this seems an
unlikely characterization of an administration that has recently asserted its
intent to pre-emptively
destroy an alleged potential
threat. Far from not being "all-encompassing," the ambitions of this
administration encompass far too much indeed, they encircle the globe, as the
US openly asserts its imperial prerogatives from Iraq to Venezeula.
Kerry opposes the Saudi peace plan mutual recognition and Israel's withdrawal
to its 1967 borders as "not
workable" and otherwise faithfully echoes the American Likudnik line.
When President Bush made some noises in April about how maybe Ariel Sharon should
please pretty please! withdraw from the West Bank, Kerry
commendation from William Safire for joining fellow presidential hopefuls
Joe Lieberman and Richard Gephardt in "speak[ing] out against the liberals'
crusade to force Israel to abort its clean-out of terrorist nests," as the
Amen Corner's columnist-in-chief characterized this open kow-towing to a foreign
As a former leader of Vietnam
Veterans Against the War, Kerry once seemed to understand the criminal futility
of a global crusade to impose American values throughout the world. Testifying
before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Senator William Fulbright,
in April, 1971, Kerry
"We found most people didn't even know the difference
between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without
helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing
their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with
this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in
peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military
force was present at a particular time, be it Vietcong, North Vietnamese, or American."
One wonders why, today, Kerry
thinks the Iraqis will react any differently to the prospect of their
by American (or American-backed) troops.
of the great lessons I learned in Vietnam the hard way is that bad things happen
when people don't ask hard questions."
Too bad he isn't asking
So I guess it's up to us you and me, i.e. The People
to start the interrogation. How, exactly, is Iraq threatening American
interests? Yes, yes, I know all about these alleged "weapons of mass destruction"
he's supposed to be on the verge of developing, but former UN weapons inspector
Scott Ritter doesn't
seem to think
so. And there's
no Iraqi connection to 9/11. As for the possibility that Saddam might have
chemical weapons, his neighbors aren't too concerned about that: indeed, Jordan,
Saudi Arabia, Iran, and even our old allies Kuwait and Qatar are all opposed to
a US invasion, and refuse to let us use their territories as a launching pad.
Only Israel is egging us on and there's the rub.
A US invasion of the
Middle East, sure to ignite the region in a general conflagration, serves the
interest of one and only one country, and that is Israel. After all, whatever
weapons Saddam has managed to cobble together out of rusted spare parts and Crazy
Glue will be aimed at Tel Aviv, not Toledo.
But it isn't only the Israelis who will benefit.
When the bombs start
to fall on Baghdad, once again, you can be sure that hosannas will be heard not
only in Israel but also in whatever cave Osama bin Laden is hiding in. As 200,000-plus
Crusaders come pouring into the epicenter of the Arab world, the Mad Sheik's promise
of an implacable struggle against the invading infidels will swell al-Qaeda's
ranks, provoking fundamentalist uprisings in Pakistan and throughout the Saudi
peninsula. The fundamentalist tide, rippling outward, will threaten moderate pro-Western
regimes in Morocco, Egypt, and Jordan: even the stalwartly pro-American Turks
will feel the tremors, as the houses of cards that constitute the governments
of the region collapse in rapid succession.
No American interest is
served by such a mad course. Yet not only do we continue to pursue it, but the
"debate" over our foreign policy becomes more one-sided, and less
democratic, the more our politicians bleat about opening up "a national
Look, guys, you can "dialogue" this!
We know you don't want any real discussion, "robust" or whatever,
over Gulf War II, and that whatever your party you all belong to the War Party
when it comes to foreign policy. Oh, a few of our esteemed representatives
remembering the wisdom of the Founders will warn
against the consequences of this suicidal course, but they'll be brushed aside
in the rush to war, unless they receive support from the public.
problem, as always, is that the interventionists are emboldened by greed and bloodthirstiness,
while the partisans of peace are largely passive. Visions of bombs dancing in
their heads of Afghanistan, Christopher
Hitchens declared "We bombed them out of the Stone Age"! today's
warmongers, left and right, are motivated by a dream of Empire, a vision of a
world remade. Clearly they envision a "MacArthur
Regency"-style regime in Iraq, as in post-World War II Germany and Japan.
If such hubris is not defeated politically, it will be humbled, in the end, by
As the Soviets learned to their dismay, overextension can be dangerous and even
fatal; the Romans, too, learned this lesson the hard way. Speaking of the Romans
[July 18] marks the anniversary of the day when, in
A.D. 64, Nero fiddled while Rome burned and that is exactly what our
Congress is prepared to do as New Rome is plunged into the Middle Eastern inferno.
Now is the time to get in touch with your representatives in Congress
and let them know what you think about the issue of war and peace in the Middle
East. Tomorrow will be too late.
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