Something strange has occurred in the aftermath of the November 2nd midterm election. Even though the United States is fighting two major wars and is involved as well in a number of lesser military conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, foreign and security policy was not on the ballot anywhere. Apart from a couple of candidates in Illinois trying to outdo each other in terms of affirmation of loyalty to Israel, not a word was heard about America’s international engagements and their consequences. Yet, we find ourselves only three weeks later learning that the election and its Republican Party triumph is an affirmation of the foreign policy of the Bush Administration and a sign that the American people want a more assertive role for the United States internationally. More torture by all means but let’s call it something else, keep Guantanamo open, and don’t forget that pat down at the airport. As the great George Orwell put it, freedom is slavery and war is peace. Ain’t it hell?
Not being able to vote on major issues because one is not offered the choice by the two dominant parties is nothing new in the United States. Searching for the antiwar vote is somewhat akin to the curious case of the dog that didn’t bark. The inside the beltway consensus on foreign policy, that the US is a force for good and should be involved everywhere and at all times, is deeply ingrained in the system even if the voters often don’t quite get it. Even when Americans do think they are voting for change they are invariably disappointed. One need only recall the Barack Obama electoral victory, obtained through an antiwar vote that was subsequently discounted when the Democratic version of the Great Decider ascended to the throne in the Emerald City. Today, under Obama, we have more war, more citations of state secrets, and a justice system that has been so perverted that a recent federal jury trial of terrorist suspect Ahmed Ghailani is being roundly condemned on both sides of the political aisle because it failed to convict on all counts. Congress will no doubt soon move to dispense with trials altogether, opting instead to declare verdicts in advance, avoiding all the expense of defense attorneys and summoning juries. The money saved can be used to reconstruct Afghanistan or to build more prisons here at home to accommodate the surge in convictions.
But absence of evidence that Americans want more war is not necessarily evidence of absence, as the sagacious Donald Rumsfeld once put it. The subliminal desire to kill more ragheads could well have been there, quite possibly expressed through oblique references to mosques defiling the sacred soil of ground zero or rumors of Sharia law emerging full blown in Oklahoma. Sensing the possible mood swing, we now have a number of leading Republicans and at least one independent charging full speed ahead, sounding as if they had just emerged victorious from a national referendum calling on congress to declare war on those parts of the world that are not already under assault by US forces. Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain discern a new will to go toe to toe with Islamofascism while Sarah Palin, from her bully pulpit, is calling for victory in both Iraq and Afghanistan and using force to support America’s "friends" all around the world. Joe Lieberman is talking openly of a possible congressional resolution that would endorse war against Iran. Barack Obama has responded to the challenge characteristically by surrendering on all fronts, announcing that the US will be in Afghanistan until 2014, not leaving in 2011 as he had previously pledged. The date is providential as it promises eventual departure to the delusional who still believe that the president is a man of his word while offering an end strategy where nothing actually has to happen before the next presidential election in 2012. He will also be giving Israel a whole lot of new warplanes in exchange for absolutely nothing, making it more likely that Joe Lieberman’s dream of an Iran reduced to a bubbling puddle by Zionist nukes might come about.
Just as Bristol Palin’s lead footed performance on television’s Dancing with the Stars proves that you don’t actually have to know how to dance to enter the finals of a dance competition in the United States, so too has it proven unnecessary to know anything at all to wind up in congress or to aspire to even higher office. The dittoheads from both parties have taken control of Washington. Being voted into office by a largely ignorant electorate that has been led by the nose for years appears to have become something close to sanctification, turning a used car salesman into a latter day Palmerston. Both voters and those they elect confuse the ability to bomb the crap out of half of the world with sound judgment and statesmanship. What goes through the brain of someone who casts a vote for a Lindsey Graham or a John McCain or a Joe Lieberman? Or, God help us all, a Sarah Palin? Is it a form of mental illness or some kind of Armageddonite impulse that is seeking a war that will terminate the world as we know it? Well, with the new Republican majority and a cipher in the White House they just might get their chance to end everything.
But as it is Thanksgiving, it is perhaps appropriate to ditch the gloom for just one day and look on the bright side. There has been no war against Iran in spite of the best efforts of Graham, McCain, Lieberman, Palin, the Israel Lobby, and the mainstream media. That is largely due to the intelligence community’s having developed a backbone in its 2007 Iran NIE, but it is also the product of alternative media sites like Antiwar.com that make sure that the downside of yet another military adventure is made clear to an increasingly well informed and vocal public. Antiwar has a stable of staff and contributors who put in long hours to produce unique content for the site, reflecting a wide range of viewpoints even if neocons are not generally welcome, thank you very much. On Thanksgiving I personally want to thank the many contributors whom I read and listen to every week: Justin Raimondo, Kelley Vlahos, Scott Horton, Ivan Eland, Chuck Pena, Jeff Huber, Jim Lobe, Gareth Porter, Paul Craig Roberts, and so many others. And I particularly will drink a toast later today to my fellow former spooks who have done so much to rip the veil of secrecy that surrounds the National Security State and its bankrupt policies: Ray McGovern, Michael Scheuer, and the Christisons. Floreat in aeternum!