In November, the American electorate repudiated Bush’s Iraq debacle and established Democratic majorities in both the House and Senate promising to bring this "flawed policy wrapped in illusion" to a decisive end. Bush vetoed their withdrawal timetable, but voters urged their leaders to hold the line and not be bullied. In the end, though, 37 Democratic senators capitulated and gratuitously gave the President his $100 billion no-strings- attached blank check . . . enough money to pay tuition and fees for 1.3 million college students for four solid years!
Deep disappointment set in. Cindy Sheehan, the liberal icon, was so demoralized she resigned and returned to private life. In June, a CNN poll reported that "respect for Congress" plummeted to the lowest level "ever recorded."
Bloggers called them "traitor Democrats", and the descriptor is apropos. At the time of the vote, sixty-two percent of the American people favored a time-table for a withdrawal, but, more significantly, "seventy percent" of Democrats were so inclined. Voting against this burgeoning tide of anger betrayed the will of the people and party that put these Democrats in office.
Curiously, all of the traitor democrats were huge career recipients of funds from the Israeli lobby. If we took ten Democratic apostates and compared them to ten Democrats who stood by the voters, pro-Israeli PAC contributions were "ten times" greater for the turncoats than those who stayed with their constituencies ($322,000 versus $34,000 on average).
To be specific: Carl Levin, outspoken critic of the war and, we thought, a loyal supporter of the new regime to end it, defected and blithely turned his back on his Michigan support base. Despite his strident anti-war rhetoric, the Grand Rapids Independent reports Levin has supported Bush all the way "consistently funding the war and not introducing any meaningful legislation to bring it closer to an end." Practically unknown to his constituents, Levin is one of the largest beneficiaries of Pro-Israeli PAC funds collecting $600,000 in career contributions according to the Washington Report on Mideast Affairs.
Barbara Boxer, Denis Kucinich, and Earl Blaumenauer, all opponents of the war, collectively got $73,000, but turncoat-democrats, Dan Durbin, Max Baucus, and Frank Lautenberg scooped up in excess of a million plus untold benes like travel funds.
What comes out in the wash is the best PAC money can buy: Three months before we invaded Iraq, a New York Times poll showed only 30 percent of the American people favored an all-out invasion, but the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) did, and it prevailed. Hardly a sprinkling of Americans favored the "surge", a meager fourteen percent, but AIPAC did, and the surge is surging as we speak. Fewer than thirty percent of Democrats supported that no-strings-budget, but AIPAC did, and the conclusion plays out another hackneyed chorus of "Whatever AIPAC wants, AIPAC gets."
In 1992, the director of the Israeli lobby, David Steiner, was surreptitiously recorded bragging about playing a role in selecting the Secretary of State and what he got for Israel: "Besides the $10 billion in loan guarantees which was a fabulous thing, $3 billion in foreign, in military aid, and I got almost a billion dollars in other goodies that people don’t even know about!" When the tape was made public, Steiner resigned, but it underscored the incredible power, access, and influence this lobby has.
Two professors, Mearsheimer and Walt, recently insinuated that American democracy has been suborned by the Israeli lobby, echoing Senator Fulbright’s 1989 indictment that AIPAC had usurped the electoral process and could "elect or defeat nearly any congressman or senator that they wish." Such observations do not fall on deaf ears. Over half the senate and a third of the congress obediently attended the AIPAC annual convention (versus less than a dozen visiting the NAACP’s event). Non-attendance can suggest a lawmaker might be soft on terrorism, or, god forbid, anti-Semitic.
Anti-war idealists might think that soon this American war crime, the shock-and-awe carnage, the torture, and the renditions are coming to an end, but the agenda of AIPAC seems bent on keeping American armies in the Middle East as an Israeli first line of defense for the indefinite future. Their major attack dog, Joe Lieberman, recently gave a hint on Face the Nation as to might be next: " military strikes" against Iran. . . all apparently to guarantee that Israel will remain the only nuclear power in the Middle East.
So if you think you voted, or are planning to vote, to bring the troops home and end this national embarrassment, some fool’s gold waiting for you at the end of that rainbow.
JERRY KROTH, Ph.D. is a professor of psychology in California and author of Conspiracy in Camelot: the complete history of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org