America: Democrats Must Truly Change Course
By Ramzy Baroud
25 November, 2006
Democrats' ascendancy within the US Congress could signal the regaining
by the public, of its country's direction
The astounding results of
the US Congressional elections of 7 November were undoubtedly a welcome
sign of change, not in the American political apparatus, inasmuch as
it is in the unmistakable reclamation by the public of its role as the
driving force which shapes the nation's political posture
This having been said, one
must not confuse the redefining of the public relevance to political
discourse and processes, with the political machination and platforms
entrusted with translating the people's will, grievances or aspirations
into action. The early signs are not promising however, and suggest
that for any practical change to be achieved and consolidated, public
awareness and engagement must, for their part, be neither marginalised
Most analyses agree that
Iraq was indeed the decisive factor that helped turn the tide against
the Republicans and their president, with their tired mantras and slogan-based
foreign policy. The decisive outcome of the elections was a resounding
message that Americans can no longer operate on the basis of fear alone,
and that the people of the United States are no longer self-absorbed
and incapable of shaping their overall political outlook on the basis
of exterior factors. This time, it was not the economy, but war that
wrought an end, even if temporarily, to President George W Bush's administration's
expansionist and even imperialist view of the world.
For a few days, one indulged
in the sweetness of victory, at the sight of neo-conservative ideologues
collectively disowning their hegemonic project and their once-hailed
hero, now a lame duck president. The January issue of Vanity Fair magazine
is scheduled to highlight the full scale of the neocons' historic disintegration.
David Rose has reported on his findings, quoting the war architects
themselves: former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory
Committee Richard Perle, and former White House speechwriter David Frum,
among others. Frum, who coined the "axis of evil" slogan,
told Rose that the situation in Iraq "must ultimately be blamed
on failure at the centre, starting with President Bush".
Coupled with an earlier assertion
by former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz -- now the head of
the World Bank -- at the National Press Club that Iraq "is not
my problem", and former Defense Department official Douglas Feith's
abandoning of politics altogether for a teaching position at Georgetown
University, one can rest assured that the future of the disastrous "Project
for A New American Century" is, at best, uncertain. Not even the
most hopeful amongst us foresaw such an outcome, nor the chain reaction
that it is generating, starting with the dismissal of Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld and the expected relegation of Vice-President Dick Cheney's
position as a key player, in shaping the country's future foreign policy
The post-election scene is
indeed consistent with the larger picture, where the architects of war
in both the US and Britain, and their faithful allies in Spain and Italy,
are also plummeting. The downfall came in the form of awesome crashes
for some, such as the ones that brought down Spain's Jose Maria Aznar
and Italy's once invincible Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, last April.
The outcome of the US elections was no less remarkable; the latest episode,
in fact, is expected to reverberate for years to come.
The defeat of the Republican
Party however, should not be understood as one that substantiates the
ways of the Democrats. The latter offered no practicable solution to
the Iraq war. Moreover, their party fought and won the elections with
a majority of its nominees challenging the need, even, for a timetable
for withdrawal. It is also worth noting that Democrats are equally responsible
for the Iraq war: after all, a majority of their members in Congress
voted for it, tirelessly justifying it on legal, moral and national
The voters' dissatisfaction
with Bush's 'staying the course' approach, perhaps inadvertently, invited
Democrats back to a leadership position by a comfortable margin at the
House of Representatives. This development takes place now, after years
of indecisiveness and, frankly, of lack of purpose and cohesion. Despite
the fact that it was the antiwar fervour that created the opportunity
for the Democrat's political recovery, it could also be the reason sending
them back into a state of lengthy hibernation.
The 7 November vote was a
mandate that imagined a less hostile and more sensible and prudent America.
The vote could be said to envisage a country that neither negotiates
its civil liberties, nor 'pre-emptively' engages in brutal wars that
damage its global reputation and compromise its national security. But
does the Democratic leadership share that same vision, or will it simply
try to manipulate its supposedly 'antiwar' image -- illusory as it is
-- to advance its narrow and self-serving political ambitions?
While British Prime Minister
Tony Blair -- hardly known for his political autonomy -- had the audacity
to concede to the long-held argument that solving the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict is the key to a stable Middle East, the Democratic leadership
continues to reassert its unwarranted allegiance to the government of
Israel. This latter's violent, long and cruel occupation of the Palestinian
territories has brought tremendous harm to the Palestinian people, serving
as a rallying cry for anti-Americanism and, indeed, terrorism throughout
the Middle East, and far beyond.
Rep Nancy Pelosi, groomed
to be the speaker of the House when the Democrats claim the Congressional
throne next year, not only disagrees with Blair's recent revelations
to the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, but is so archaic and self- defeating
in her ideas that she sounds more like an iconic Zionist figure, than
a moderate American politician. In her speech to the American-Israel
Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last year she asserted that, "There
are those who contend that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about
Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This is absolute nonsense.
In truth, the history of the conflict is not over occupation and never
has been: it is over the fundamental right of Israel to exist."
If this supposed 'progressive'
figure continues to deceive the American people regarding the iniquitous
nature of her country's role in prolonging the instability of the Middle
East, thus committing America to more violence and counter violence,
then, Pelosi and the entire Democratic Party behind her would find themselves
answering to the same discontented public two years from today. Moreover,
if Israel, despite its horrendous crimes in the region, which again
serve as a powerful force behind counter violence and international
terrorism, continues to be treated as a Sacred Cow by American politicians,
then Americans should expect that their country, willingly or not, will
'stay the course', if not in Iraq, then elsewhere.
It is mind-boggling that
after so many years, and particularly five years of reprehensible bloodshed
that has been mainly inspired by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, few
American politicians possess the courage to say it as it is. However,
while discounting this conflict as an 'internal Israeli affair' in past
years was acceptable by American political standards, it will no longer
suffice. Such a summary dismissal is now threatening global stability
altogether, and will continue to inch America closer to more pointless,
albeit bloody conflicts.
To prevent the exodus of
Empire-driven neo-conservative ideologues from being replaced by self-deceiving,
Israel-comes-first Democrats, the American public must not be satisfied
with its democratic revolution of early November. Americans must continue
to push for a truly equitable, sensible and revolutionary foreign policy.
It should be one that goes beyond hollow dictum and reasserts America's
leadership globally. If it fails to do so, then America's Middle East
conflict will perpetuate at an exorbitant price. This will be paid by
ordinary Americans, and innocent people everywhere.
latest book: The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s
Struggle (Pluto Press, London) is now available in the US from the University
of Michigan Press and from Amazon.com.
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