On January 4, Congressional Democrats re-elected California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as minority leader in the House of Representatives. This comes despite that, since assuming her current leadership position two years ago, Pelosi has not only disappointed her liberal San Francisco constituency, but the majority of Democrats nationally as well, through her support for President George W. Bush’s policies toward Iraq.
Back in December of 2002, as independent strategic analysts were arguing that the evidence strongly suggested that Iraq had rid itself of its chemical and biological weapons some years earlier, Pelosi categorically declared on NBC”s Meet the Press that “Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There”s no question about that.
No progressive should be happy with the results of the presidential election. However, it is hard to predict what the longer-term impact on American politics of a particular presidential election result might be. For example, it would have felt terrible at the time if ‘ despite Vietnam and Watergate ‘ Gerald Ford had managed to defeat Jimmy Carter in the close election of 1976. However, if Ford had stayed in office for another four years, the Republicans would have been blamed for the recession and the Iranian hostage crisis of subsequent years and the Democrats would have almost certainly won in 1980, thereby sparing the nation and the world the consequences of the eight years of the Reagan administration.
The overwhelming selection of Nevada Senator Harry Reid as minority leader of Congress’ upper house shows that the Democrats are still willing to give their backing for the Bush administration’s reckless militarism and contravention of international legal norms.
While there are many negative things one can say about the late Yasser Arafat, he was not the primary reason for the breakdown in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. At most, he was the excuse.
Whether news about the 380 tons of powerful explosives found missing from a major weapons depot in Iraq will have any impact on the presidential election remains to be seen. Democrats hope that these disclosures have given a last-minute boost to John Kerry’s presidential campaign, which is depicting this debacle as illustrative of President Bush’s failure of leadership.
Even putting aside the many important legal and moral questions about the Bush Administration’s decision to invade Iraq, it has been a disaster even on practical terms. Mainstream to conservative strategic analysts and retired generals ‘ along with the majority of career professionals in the State Department, Defense Department, and CIA ‘ recognize that the invasion and occupation has made America less secure rather than more secure.
Still, the Bush Administration continues to defend its actions and public opinion polls still show that a majority of Americans trust George W. Bush more than John Kerry to defend America. This is in large part because, throughout this fall’s campaign, President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have been making demonstrably false and misleading claims about what motivated administration decisions as well as the results of their actions.
Even putting aside the many important legal and moral questions about the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq, it has been a disaster even on practical terms. Mainstream to conservative strategic analysts and retired generals–along with the majority of career professionals in the State Department, Defense Department, and CIA–recognize that the invasion and occupation has made America less secure rather than more secure.
Earlier this month, in a widely quoted interview in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Dov Weisglass–Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser–acknowledged what most independent observers have known all along: that the Israeli government is not actually interested in a peace agreement with the Syrian government or the Palestinian Authority. Israel has occupied the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights since these territories were seized by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, expelling thousands of Arabs and then colonizing these territories with Jewish settlers in contravention of international law.
The major justifications for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq—Saddam Hussein’s supposed possession of weapons of mass destruction and Iraqi ties to the terrorist al-Qaida network—are now widely discredited, and Washington’s claims that its efforts are creating a democratic Iraq are also highly dubious. Although economic factors did play an important role in prompting a U.S. invasion, the simplistic notion that Iraq’s makeover was undertaken simply for the sake of oil company profits ignores the fact that even optimistic projections of the financial costs of the invasion and occupation far exceeded anticipated financial benefits. Furthermore, Saddam Hussein was already selling his oil at a level satisfactory to Western buyers, and his standing among fellow OPEC members was low, so he could not have persuaded the cartel to adopt policies detrimental to U.S. interests. So what actually motivated the United States to take on the problematic task of conquering and rebuilding Iraq?
It has been just over two years since Congress took its fateful vote to authorize President George W. Bush to invade Iraq. This came despite the fact that such an invasion was a clear violation of the United Nations Charter, which, as a formal treaty signed and ratified by the United States, is — according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution — to be treated as supreme law.