(By Chris Moore, LibertarianToday.com) -- Those Americans who believe that the new Democratic control of the US Senate and House of Representatives signals a watershed moment of change in American foreign and domestic policy related to the Iraq war are likely to be gravely disappointed in the probable course of events over the next two years. There is a huge disconnect between the expectations of the wave of voters who turned out to register their disapproval of both the Iraq war and the authoritarian “war on terror” with its accompanying erosion of domestic civil liberties and the intentions of the narrow elite that sets the Democratic policy agenda.
The Democrats were big winners on November 7 not because they have any intention of responding to voters clamoring for foreign policy change in any meaningful way, but rather because they have shrewd political operatives who were adept at exploiting political winds in the months leading up to the election.
A plurality of Americans had turned against the Iraq war as far back as March, 2004 when an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 49% of Americans thought the Iraq war was “not worth it” as compared to 46% who thought it was. Yet even as it became clear that the very presence of US troops in Iraq was fostering the terrorism they were purportedly put there to combat, the party never undertook a serious legislative bid to remove US troops from the region and allow the Iraqi people to begin the arduous process of political self-determination free from Washington’s attempts at coercive social-engineering. After voting to authorize the Iraq War in 2002, flip-flop Democratic Senator John Kerry’s resolution last summer calling for US withdrawal from Iraq by July 2007 was almost completely ignored by his own party and garnered only 12 Democratic votes. Instead, the Democrats engaged in empty rhetoric about “troop redeployment” without ever bothering to define what, exactly, that term meant and beginning the public and legislative process of making it happen.
Around the same time that Kerry was tepidly formulating a plan for withdrawal, likely 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton said in a speech “I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment…nor do I think it is a smart policy to set a date certain” for US troops to leave.
Such fence-sitting and issue-straddling became the Democrats’ campaign strategy leading up to the election. They wanted (and ended up getting) credit from the voters for being nominally “against” the war, but they never detailed the manifestations of such a position--and still haven’t. Once it became politically expedient (and well after the vast majority of Americans had turned against the Iraq war) Democrats began registering regular public criticism of the Bush regime’s execution of the Iraq undertaking--but never its violent interventionist principles.
Its initial support for the Iraq war (recall that the Democrats controlled the Senate when the Iraq War Resolution was passed), its ongoing consensus support for the war in the years that followed, its tacking towards the anti-war position in the months leading up to the election in order to benefit from the anti-war surge--but without an accompanying willingness to act in any concrete way to stop the war--all show that the party hierarchy is more interested in attaining power than maintaining any kind of intellectual honesty and political integrity.
Nonetheless, as the nominal “opposition” party in the gerrymandered, government-enforced two-party system, the Democrats became the beneficiaries of the American public’s election day wrath against the war and its GOP sponsors. Their victory was by way of default and deception--and most certainly wasn’t a result of the party’s earnest desire to carry out the American public’s level-headed yearning to extract itself from the Iraq mess and other foolish, expensive and immoral interventionist initiatives that tax us at home and stretch us abroad.
Perhaps indicative of the status-quo direction the government is likely to take under the “new” Congressional leadership was the post-election call for bipartisan agreement to continue the two-party war against Islamofascism. Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, was quoted as telling Fox News that the "threat of Islamic fascism" was neither "a Republican threat nor a Democratic threat" and that there was "no reason we can't work on a bipartisan basis on an issue like that."
Echoing that sentiment was the putative Madame Speaker. From McClatchy Newspapers: ‘Nancy Pelosi, who's expected to be the next speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, signaled Wednesday that she intends to steer a centrist course and work across party lines with President Bush to shape policy on Iraq, energy, Social Security and immigration…"Impeachment is off the table," she declared, spiking one dream that many liberal activists cherished…’
So "impeachment is off the table” but the open-ended war against the "threat of Islamic fascism" will go on. That’s the kind of “change” that the two-party system likes: cosmetic.
Chris Moore is publisher of LibertarianToday.com