By Joe Murray , The Bulletin
I do believe that Congress should assert itself, though, and make it very clear that there is no previous authority for the president, any president, to go into Iran," declared a confident Speaker of the House just a month or so ago.
Driven by a clear mandate to end the Iraqi conflict, remove American troops from Mesopotamia, and close the curtain on America's "Romeo and Juliet" affair with imperialism, it appeared that this grandmother from San Francisco was poised to tell the White House that the buck stopped at Baghdad. It was to be the culmination of the Democratic coup d'état.
But, as stated by Oscar Wilde, "There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." First, a little background.
The election of 2006 was the Waterloo of the Bush Doctrine; it was the manifestation of American discontent. Five years after telling Americans that an invasion of Iraq would be met with rose petals and the makeover in Mesopotamia would produce a democratic oasis in Arabia, history has proven the cakewalk crowd to be fatally wrong.
Just into its fifth year, the war in Iraq has spilt the blood of 3,000-plus Americans, severely damaged America's international reputation, increased the number of tripwires that would plunge America into wars that are not her own, and tossed onto the ash heap of history Teddy Roosevelt's advice to "walk softly and carry a big stick."
Tired of sacrificing their blood and treasure for a people who did not seek, nor do not want, America's interference in their domestic affairs, Americans decided to pull the plug on the neo-conservative foreign policy comedy hour in November 2006.
Three months into the Democratic reign, the American people are now ready to pull the line of credit extended to Democrats in November. While they are important issues, Main Street is not primarily concerned with stem cell research, a higher minimum wage, and pharmaceutical/governmental relations; they want answers on Iraq.
Make no mistake; Americans rolled out the red carpet for Pelosi and friends because this war weary people believed that a new Congress would roll back the president's ability to increase the war, bring the troops home and restore a traditional foreign policy. This is what Americans were promised.
"And nowhere did the American people make it more clear that we need a new direction than in the war in Iraq," said Pelosi. "'Stay the course' has not made our country safer, has not honored our commitment to our troops and has not made the region more stable."
Americans took the Democrats at their word, but three months into a Pelosi Congress, Americans are still left with unanswered questions.
Where are the congressional hearings scrutinizing the legitimacy, and source, of the evidence used to propel America into the war? Where is the use of subpoena power that was dangled, like the carrot, before Americans?
Where is the tough-talking Congress that wooed Americans in their time of distress? And more importantly, where is the answer to the tough question of who brought this war upon us?
A few weeks ago, it had appeared that the cowardly Congress had found its courage when it decided to attach a provision to a major military spending bill that required the president to obtain congressional approval if he was to attack Iran. In other words, Congress was putting a stop payment on the blank check used to thrust America into the Iraqi war and telling the White House it had to follow the Constitution before launching another pre-emptive war.
The Legislature was back in business.
With well over 60 percent of Americans backing such provisions, it appeared that the Democrats were well on their way to fulfilling their electoral promise. This, however, did not happen.
Democrats were soon burnt by the flames of fury fanned by a militant minority pushing for a widened conflict in the Middle East. Enter the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
The Washington Times explains: "Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi received a smattering of boos when she bad-mouthed the war effort during a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and the Democratic leadership, responding to concerns from pro-Israel lawmakers, was forced to strip from a military appropriations measure a provision meant to weaken President Bush's ability to respond to threats from Iran."
What did Pelosi say that so enraged the AIPAC audience? Here is Pelosi in here own words: "Any U.S. military engagement must be judged on three counts - whether it makes our country safer, our military stronger, or the region more stable. The war in Iraq fails on all three scores."
All Pelosi did was tell the AIPAC audience that if America is to spill the blood of its children and expend its resources in fighting a war, it will be for the protection of vital U.S. interests. Pelosi was merely acknowledging the wisdom of the four men whose faces are carved into Mt. Rushmore.
AIPAC, needless to say, went apoplectic and the Iranian provision, the Arc de Triomphe of the Democratic Congress, was leveled. The Democratic Congress elected to write the final chapter on a failed imperialistic foreign policy had turned its back on those who put them in power. It is betrayal that would make Benedict Arnold blush.
Why did this happen? Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, has her suspicions.
The move to strip the military appropriations bill of this provision, explains Ong, "coincides with AIPAC's annual conference, which Pelosi addressed on Tuesday. It also follows Vice President Dick Cheney's address to the AIPAC annual conference on Monday, during which he pleaded with AIPAC to 'rein in anti-war Democrats' ... ."
Along the same line, David Espo and Matthew Lee, writing for the AP, noted that the removal is reflective of "widespread fear in Israel about Iran, which is believed to be seeking nuclear weapons and has expressed unremitting hostility about the Jewish state."
Translation - Pelosi placed foreign interests before that of the Americans she was elected to represent.
Even more disturbing, AIPAC, despite its clamoring, is not the voice of Jewish America. Ari Berman of The Nation explains: "AIPAC's continued support for the war in Iraq proves how disconnected the organization is from mainstream Jewish Americans. According to a recent Gallup poll, Jewish Americans oppose the war in Iraq more vigorously than any other religious group in the US. Seventy-seven percent of US Jews (and 89 percent of Jewish Democrats!) believe the war in Iraq was a mistake."
In the end, the crux of this matter centers on the power of the Israeli war lobby to affect the legislative process in America. AIPAC is an organization that is unapologetically pro-Israel and makes the fatal mistake of assuming that Tel Aviv's interests are identical to Washington's interests.
It was this type of foreign influence George Washington had in mind when he warned Americans, "a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils." Washington explained, "Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification."
Washington, more than two centuries ago, just explained how America got roped into the mess in Mesopotamia.
Five years after Iraq, the war drums are beating again and Congress must resist the siren song. Just as Washington warned, we cannot let foreign influence dictate U.S. policy and lead us into another war that is not our own.
When Pelosi, in describing Iraqi policy, pledged, "We cannot continue down this catastrophic path," Americans believed her. She was then elected to represent American interests and not the interests of a radical group blinded by its own passions.
Just whom do you represent, Pelosi?
Joe Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.