The antiwar Democrats are crying betrayal
– and justifiably so.
For a Democratic Congress is now voting to fully fund the war in Iraq,
as demanded by President Bush, and without any timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Bush got his $100 billion, then magnanimously agreed to let Democrats keep the
$20 billion in pork they stuffed into the bill – to soothe the pain of their
sellout of the party base.
Remarkable. If the Republican rout of 2006 said anything, it was that America
had lost faith in the Bush-Rumsfeld conduct of the war and wanted Democrats
to lead the country out.
Yet, today, there are more U.S. troops in Iraq than when the Democrats
won. More are on the way. And with the surge and retention of troops in Iraq
beyond normal tours, there should be a record number of U.S. troops in country
by year's end.
Why did the Democrats capitulate?
Because they lack the courage of their convictions. Because they fear the
consequences if they put their antiwar beliefs into practice. Because they are
afraid if they defund the war and force President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops,
the calamity he predicts will come to pass and they will be held accountable
for losing Iraq and the strategic disaster that might well ensue.
Democrats are an intimidated party. The reasons are historical. They were
shredded by Nixon and Joe McCarthy for FDR's surrenders to Stalin at Tehran
and Yalta, for losing China to Mao's hordes, for the "no-win war" in Korea,
for being "soft on communism."
The best and the brightest – JFK's New Frontiersmen – were held responsible
for plunging us into Vietnam and proving incapable of winning the war. A Democratic
Congress cut off aid to Saigon in 1975, ceding Southeast Asia to Hanoi and bringing
on the genocide of Pol Pot.
Democrats know they are distrusted on national security. They fear that
if they defund this war and bring on a Saigon ending in the Green Zone, it will
be a generation before they are trusted with national power. And power is what
the party is all about.
Yet, not only does the situation in Iraq appear increasingly grim, with
rising U.S. and Iraqi casualties, other shoes are about to drop that will reverberate
throughout the region.
Support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his war in Lebanon a debacle
and his leadership denounced by a commission he appointed, is in single digits.
Waiting in the wings is Likud super-hawk "Bibi" Netanyahu, the most popular
politician in Israel, who compares today to Munich 1938 and equates Iran's Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad with Hitler.
If and when Bibi comes to power, he will use every stratagem to provoke
us into attacking "Hitler."
Also drumming for war on Iran are the floundering neocons and the Israeli
lobby. Under orders from the lobby, Nancy Pelosi stripped from a House bill
a stipulation that Bush must come to Congress for authorization before launching
an attack on Iran.
With Democratic contenders reciting the mantra, "All options are on the
table," and Iran defying U.N. sanctions, pursuing nuclear enrichment and detaining
U.S. citizens, Bush has a blank check to launch a third war.
Lebanon is ablaze. Gaza is ablaze. The Afghan war is not going well. The
Taliban have a privileged sanctuary. The NATO allies grow weary.
In Pakistan, the most dangerous country on earth – one bullet away from
an Islamic republic with atom bombs – our erstwhile ally, President Musharraf,
is caught in a political crisis over his ouster of the chief justice.
Presidents Musharraf in Islamabad, Karzai in Kabul and Siniora in Beirut,
and Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad, sit on shaky thrones. No one knows what
follows their fall. But it is hard to see how it would not be crippling for
With such volatility in this crucial region of the world, with such uncertainty,
it is easy to see why Democrats prefer to be the "dummy" at the bridge table
and let Bush play the hand.
The congressional Democrats are cynical, but they are not stupid. If the
surge works and U.S. troops are being withdrawn by fall 2008, they do not want
it said of them that they "cut and ran" when the going got tough, that they
played Chamberlain to Bush's Churchill.
And if the war is going badly in 2008, they know that the American people,
in repudiating the party of Bush and Cheney, have no other choice than the party
of Hillary and Pelosi and Harry Reid.
That is why congressional Democrats are surely saying privately of the
angry antiwar left what has often been said by the Beltway Republican elite
of the right: "Don't worry about them. They have nowhere else to go."
And that is why the antiwar left was thrown under the bus.
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