Most voters seemed to understand that the outcome of America’s midterm election was the result of a devastated economy and the President Barack Obama’s failure to create jobs or even to understand the difficulties that are confronting many American families. But it’s nevertheless strange how America’s elites never seem to get it, probably because they are completely immune to the consequences of their own actions through their possession of money and power. The latest failure to compute comes from the triumphant Republican Party, which appears to believe that the electoral results were an endorsement of the foreign and security policies of George W. Bush, which will mean blanket approval of a prolonged stay in Afghanistan coupled with new adventures in Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. There is also sure to be a continuation of the highly effective US embargo directed against Cuba, which has been so successful at removing Fidel Castro from power.
The euphoria of the Republican triumph is bringing to the surface the usual flotsam and jetsam driven by various agendas linked to foreign countries, none of which in any way benefit the American people. Too bad there was not a national referendum item on the midterm ballot with only one question: "Shall the federal government dismantle its overseas bases, bring its soldiers home, and leave the rest of the world in peace?" Fortunately there are plenty of Republicans and also Democrats around who will make sure that such a question is never asked and who are intent on expanding America’s worldwide footprint. For those folks there should be a second question: "Should any elected official with close and continuing ties to a foreign country be required to resign, turn in his US passport and go live there?"
There are a few choice anecdotes coming out of the recent election not to mention the rise of a new generation of leaders who will undoubtedly call for America rejection of the darkness known as isolationism, which we all know automatically precedes appeasement and directly thereafter to Munich in 1938. Leading the pack is Senator Lindsey Graham, who has already called for the obliteration of Iran and is apparently prepared to go toe to toe with a "cheating" China. And then there is Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is the odds on favorite to become the next Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ros-Lehtinen is Cuban born and lives in Florida. A school teacher in her former life, her razor sharp mind has latched on to a number of principles that are intended to guide us all through the shoals of foreign policy. She has supported every measure by the Bush and Obama administrations to make war on just about everyone and has also lined up behind the various Military Commissions, Patriot Acts, and claims of State Secrets Privilege. She wants to make the Patriot Act permanent. Regarding Iraq she has observed "Whether or not there is a direct link to the World Trade Center does not mean that Iraq is not meritorious of shedding blood. The common link is that they hate America."
Regarding Cuba, Ros-Lehtinen’s particular personal bête noir, she has again demonstrated acuity worthy of King Solomon. "I welcome the opportunity of having anyone assassinate Fidel Castro and any leader who is oppressing the people." It goes without saying that Ros-Lehtinen considers herself a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposes aid to the Palestinians, and supports Israeli settlement expansion, calling on Obama to stop criticizing "an indispensible ally and friend of the United States."
Another rising star in the foreign and security policy firmament is Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon of California, who will likely head the House Armed Services Committee. Buck’s knowledge of war and warriors comes from his onetime ownership of western wear store chain in Santa Clarita, California, which eventually went bankrupt. His six children (he is a Mormon) have not served in the military, a common attribute of government officials and talking heads who like war. Buck will undoubtedly serve as an excellent counterpoint to Ros-Lehtinen at Foreign Affairs. His heavyweight analysis of what needs to be done includes developing a "broad vision for national defense policy that emphasizes winning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq…" After the midterm election he observed "Our citizens have spoken and they want a defense budget that is sufficient to address the challenges of today and the threats of tomorrow." In other words, Buck noticed that the election was really about wasting more money on wars even though it was not on the ballot and was never mentioned. He concluded that America must hike its defense spending, which already exceeds that of the rest of the world combined. He also will be revisiting the Obama plan for a phased pullout from Afghanistan starting next year which he considers to be a sellout to the Taliban.
A Republican newfer from Minnesota named Chip Cravaack also deserves honorable mention. During a newspaper interview Cravaack, an ex-Navy pilot, was asked about earmarks. He asked what an earmark was and, when it was described to him, he said that he was against it. He ran his campaign out of a motor home that he called the "war wagon" and his staffers and volunteers were given military titles. But on the plus side, he calls himself a Tea Partier so maybe he will eventually figure things out.
And just to demonstrate that foreign policy idiocy is bipartisan, there was a congressional race in Illinois between incumbent Democrat Jan Schakowsky and Republican challenger Joel Pollak. The two candidates eschewed any debate over the economy and instead traded insults over who was a better candidate for Israel. According to the Israeli media Pollak, an Orthodox Jew born in South Africa, started the exchange by claiming that Schakowsky was "soft on Israel’s security," that she was "too sympathetic to the Palestinians" and supportive only of "weak" sanctions against Iran. Pollak, one of whose supporters is Alan Dershowitz, asked Schakowsky to join him in "condemning the Obama administration’s ongoing attack on Israel." In a debate with Schakowsky, Pollak unrolled a map of Israel and announced "My focus tonight will be Israel."
Schakowsky’s campaign countered that she had a 100% pro-Israel voting record, which was the truth, including even a vote in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself after it killed 300 Palestinian children in operation Cast Lead against Gaza. She also cited self defense when signing a congressional letter endorsing the killing of US citizen Furkan Dogan on the Gaza flotilla. In addition, she has enthusiastically endorsed every actual and proposed piece of legislation sanctioning Iran.
Schakowsky, who has considerable baggage due to her possible involvement with Turkish lobbyists as documented by Sibel Edmonds, was never challenged by Pollak on the issue, possibly because the Edmonds revelations also involved Israel. Jan Schakowsky defeated Pollak in the election by a large margin, demonstrating perhaps that the electorate was not as consumed by the Israel issue as was Pollak.
Ros-Lehtinen, McKeon, and Schakowsky-Pollak together demonstrate that there are altogether too many elected officials in Washington who are overly concerned with Washington managing the affairs of others. That someone who has called for the assassination of foreign heads of state who are "oppressive" can possibly be considered for the chairmanship of an important committee dealing with foreign affairs is a strong indication that there is something very wrong on Capitol Hill. That a former western wear shop owner who has never been in the military and evidently feels that his family ought to likewise avoid that burden should head the committee dealing with the armed forces must be some kind of joke. And congressional candidates arguing about who adores Israel the most brings back memories of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin’s lovefest on the issue. Wasn’t there anyone out there running for office who pledged to put the interests of the American people first?