It only took six years for Americans to comprehend George Bush and the Republican Party and to realize that the Republicans were not leading America in any promising directions.
Exit polls and interviews with voters across the country by CNN political analyst Bill Schneider show that the November 2006 election was a vote against both Bush and the war in Iraq. Schneider reports that voters did not even know the name of the Democrats for whom they voted. Voters said: “I am going to vote Democrat, because I don’t like Bush, I don’t like the war. I want to make a statement.”
I believe that voters recognized that the peril of one-party rule is that political accountability exists no where except at the ballot box. With the Republican built and programmed electronic voting machines, even accountability at the ballot box was disappearing.
Americans realized that they had made a serious mistake giving power to one party, and they rectified it.
With Republican control of the legislative branch ended, Pentagon Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was immediately swept from power. With the troops, generals, and the service newspapers calling for Rumsfeld’s head, only the delusional warmonger, Vice President Richard Cheney, wanted to keep Rumsfeld in power.
It was a battle that Cheney lost. Cheney’s defeat is an indication that reality has elbowed its way back into Republican consciousness, pushing hubris and delusion away from the control they have exercised over political power.
The lust for unbridled power proved to be too strong a temptation for normally cautious Republicans. The Republicans waved the flag and shouted “terrorist sympathizer” at every civil libertarian who attempted to defend the US Constitution, the separation of powers, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions’ proscriptions against torture, and America’s reputation from a nazified US Dept of Justice (sic) and a president who behaved–with the approval of Republicans–as if he were above the law. In violation of his oath of office, Bush used signing statements to negate laws passed by Congress, not with a veto, but with his personal opinion. Bush, thus, elevated himself above the rule of law that has protected America from becoming a tyranny and made a mockery of the separation of powers that are a foundation of American liberty.
Americans may not have understood this as clearly as the Founding Fathers did, but the people recognized, however dimly, a problem and exercised corrective action. The question now is: what will the Democrats do?
The Democrats clearly have no mandate for their pet issues of gun control, homosexual marriage, and higher taxes–especially at a time when the average American is deeper in personal debt than at any other time in history and jobs are being offshored at a rapid rate destroying the economic prospects of the American people.
After the years of illegal war and the overnight destruction of civil liberties that were 800 years in their creation, the United States stands at a watershed. If the legislation that has been put on the books permitting spying on Americans without a court warrant, legalizing torture and self-incrimination, and repealing habeas corpus and the right to an attorney remains on the books, the United States will be a police state regardless of which party is in power.
If the Democrats are to make a real difference, their first task is to repeal the Orwellian-named “Patriot Acts,” the torture legislation, the detention without court evidence legislation, and the right-to-spy and invade privacy without court warrant legislation. The White House tyrant needs to be quickly told that one more “signing statement” and he will be impeached, convicted, and turned over to the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague.
The notion that Americans can be protected from “terror” by giving up the Bill of Rights is absurd. Democrats are complicit in this absurd notion. Many were intimidated into voting for police state legislation, because they lacked the intestinal fortitude to call police state legislation by its own name. The legislation that has been passed during the Bush regime is far more dangerous to Americans than Muslim terrorists.
Indeed, the prime cause of Muslim terrorism is the US interference in the internal affairs of Muslim countries and America’s one-sided stance in favor of Israel in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When Jimmy Carter was president, his even-handed approach made the US respected throughout the Muslim world. 9/11, if it was actually an act of Muslim terrorism, was the direct consequence of US one-sided meddling in Middle Eastern affairs.
When, and only when, the Democrats have erased the Bush administration’s police state legislation from the books, thus restoring the Constitution, they should clear the air on two other issues of major importance. The Democrats must convene a commission of independent experts to investigate 9/11. The 9/11 Commission Report has too many problems and shortcomings to be believable.
Recent polls show that 36 percent of the American people do not believe the report. Such a deficient report is unacceptable. 9/11 became the excuse for the neoconservative Bush regime to launch illegal wars of aggression in the Middle East. The 9/11 Commission Report is nothing but a public relations justification for the “war on terror,” which in truth is a war on American liberty. As long as politicians with a police state mentality can cling to the cover of the 9/11 Commission Report, the Bill of Rights will remain endangered.
The other issue is the blatant corruption in the Bush regime’s contract practices. So many contracts are tainted with their connections to Republican power brokers, including Vice President Richard Cheney, that the taxpayers are being fleeced on the level of the Grant administration. Indictments and long prison sentences are in order.
This leaves the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both are lost. Both invasions were illegal. Those responsible must be held accountable.
The American prosecutors of the Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg emphasized, as Robert Jackson put it, that Germany’s crime was not in losing the war but in starting it. Under the Nuremberg standard, to launch a war of aggression is a war crime. It is punishable with a death sentence.
As the wars are crimes, they must be stopped. Having overthrown a stable secular regime in Iraq, the US and its craven allies have no recourse but to accept that Iraq will break into three states: In the north the Kurds will unite with the Turkish Kurds, and Turkey will have to deal with the situation without US interference. In the south, the Shiites will have an Islamic regime similar to the government in Iran, with whom the Iraqi Shiites will be allied. The Sunnis will be isolated in the middle without any oil.
The US and Britain no longer have any role to play in the Middle East. As the King of Jordan predicted, there is now a Shiite crescent that runs from Iran through Iraq into Lebanon. This Shiite crescent is the most powerful force in the Middle East.
The Iraqi Sunnis can come to terms with Shiite power or be destroyed. The American puppet states of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates are faced with the instability that comes from being allied with the “hegemonic” West against their own people. It is up to their own wits whether they can make the transformation.
The US has neither the resources, the finances, nor the credibility to intervene.
The Israelis have isolated themselves with their genocidal policies against the Palestinians. Intelligent Israelis are already sending their children out of the country. Israeli peace groups have thrown up their hands in the face of the persistent intransigence of the Israeli government and the disregard of common sense. It remains to be seen if the Israelis can learn to care about anyone but their own kind. Israel can save itself if its political leaders will stop pushing Palestinians off of their own land by destroying their homes and orchards and murdering their children, thus turning more Palestinians into refugees. It would be easy for the economically talented Israelis to pull the Palestinians into prosperity, thereby ending the conflict. Are Israelis capable of the humane leadership required to create a place for themselves in the Middle East or are they forever wed to Mao’s dictum that “power comes out of the barrel of a gun”?
Republican rule in the 21st century has devastated American civil liberties and American prestige and leadership capability. Can Democrats restore American liberties and leadership, or will a lust for power corrupt them, too, and cause Democrats to retain the police state powers Bush has created?
If the Bush regime’s police state legislation is still law in 2008, the Democrats will have failed.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org