"We put you in power and we can take you out" goes the mantra of
anti-war democrats referring to their newly empowered congressional
leaders. While criticizing the President's recent Surge strategy, Democrats in congress did nothing except pass a non-binding "sense of the congress" resolution further distancing them from culpability for the Iraq mess.
Meanwhile, even the harshest of left-wing war critics is becoming willing to
give the pro war dems a pass on Iraq. Consider recent statements by
radio personality Mike Malloy, the over the top host who often pressed the left to not let Democrats off the hook for supporting the resolution to use force in Iraq. On his program this week Malloy rationalized that although he was still somewhat torn, Bush did after all lie about the intelligence. Yes he conceded they should have had their staff work harder for the truth, but in the post 9-11, Rush to war environment, it is perhaps understandable that they were
manipulated into supporting Bush.
Malloy went on to cite the fact that virtually no one was presenting evidence contrary to the Whitehouse at that time.
It is true that many voices questioning the conventional wisdom regarding
Iraq back in 2003 were silenced, but not entirely. Case in point: September 10, 2002, 6 months before the war was launched against Iraq, the following speech was made by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Let it not be said that no one in congress had the opportunity to get more informed, and let it not be said that only hindsight is 20/20.
Congressman Ron Paul
U.S. House of Representatives
September 10, 2002
QUESTIONS THAT WON'T BE ASKED ABOUT IRAQ
Soon we hope to have hearings on the pending war with Iraq. I am
concerned there are some questions that won't be asked- and maybe
will not even be allowed to be asked. Here are some questions I
would like answered by those who are urging us to start this war.
1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?
2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate - which just confirms that there is no real threat?
3. Is it not true that those who argue that even with inspections we cannot be sure that Hussein might be hiding weapons, at the same time imply that we can be more sure that weapons exist in the absence of inspections?
4. Is it not true that the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency was able to complete its yearly verification mission to Iraq just this year with Iraqi cooperation?
5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers
came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from Iraq?
6. Was former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro wrong when he recently said there is no confirmed evidence of Iraq's links to terrorism?
7. Is it not true that the CIA has concluded there is no evidence that a Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Atta and Iraqi intelligence took place?8. Is it not true that northern Iraq, where the administration claimed al-Qaeda were hiding out, is in the control of our "allies," the Kurds?
9. Is it not true that the vast majority of al-Qaeda leaders who escaped appear to have safely made their way to Pakistan, another of our so-called allies?
10. Has anyone noticed that Afghanistan is rapidly sinking into total chaos, with bombings and assassinations becoming daily occurrences; and that according to a recent UN report the al-Qaeda "is, by all accounts, alive and
well and poised to strike again, how, when, and where it chooses"?
11. Why are we taking precious military and intelligence resources away from tracking down those who did attack the United States- and who may again attack the United States- and using them to invade countries that have not attacked the United States?
12. Would an attack on Iraq not
just confirm the Arab world's worst suspicions about the US, and
isn't this what bin Laden wanted?
13. How can Hussein be compared to Hitler when he has no navy or air force, and now has an army 1/5 the size of twelve years ago, which even then proved totally inept at defending the country?
14. Is it not true that the constitutional power to declare war is exclusively that of the Congress? Should presidents, contrary to the Constitution, allow
Congress to concur only when pressured by public opinion? Are
presidents permitted to rely on the UN for permission to go to war?
15. Are you aware of a Pentagon report studying charges that thousands of Kurds in one village were gassed by the Iraqis, which found no conclusive evidence that Iraq was responsible, that Iran occupied the very city involved, and that evidence indicated the type of gas used was more likely controlled by Iran not Iraq?
16. Is it not true that anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 US soldiers have suffered from Persian Gulf War syndrome from the first Gulf War, and that thousands may have died?
17. Are we prepared for possibly thousands of American casualties in a war against a country that does not have the capacity to attack the United States?
18. Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a 100 billion dollar war against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30 years occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to "build democracy" there?
19. Iraq's alleged violations of UN resolutions are given as reason to initiate an attack, yet is it not true that hundreds of UN Resolutions have been ignored by various countries without penalty?
20. Did former President Bush not cite the UN Resolution of 1990 as the reason he could not march into Baghdad, while supporters of a new attack assert that it is the very reason we can march into Baghdad?21. Is it not true that, contrary to current claims, the no-fly zones were set up by Britain and the United States without specific approval from the United
22. If we claim membership in the international community and conform to its rules only when it pleases us, does this not serve to undermine our position, directing animosity toward us by both friend and foe?
23. How can our declared goal of bringing democracy to Iraq be believable when we prop up dictators throughout the Middle East and support military tyrants like Musharaf in Pakistan, who overthrew a democratically-elected president?
24. Are you familiar with the 1994 Senate Hearings that revealed the U.S. knowingly supplied chemical and biological materials to Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war and as late as 1992- including after the alleged Iraqi gas
attack on a Kurdish village?
25. Did we not assist Saddam Hussein's rise to power by supporting and encouraging his invasion of Iran? Is it honest to criticize Saddam now for his invasion of Iran, which at the time we actively supported?
26. Is it not true that preventive war is synonymous with an act of aggression, and has never been considered a moral or legitimate US policy?27. Why do the oil company executives strongly support this war if oil is not the real reason we plan to take over Iraq?
28. Why is it that those who never wore a uniform and are confident that they won't have to personally fight this war are more anxious for this war than our generals? 29. What is the moral argument for attacking a nation that has not initiated aggression against us, and could not if it wanted?
30. Where does the Constitution grant us permission to wage war for any reason other than self-defense?
31. Is it not true that a war against Iraq rejects the sentiments of the time-honored Treaty of Westphalia, nearly 400 years ago, that countries should never go into another for the purpose of regime change?
32. Is it not true that the more civilized a society is, the less likely disagreements will be settled by war?
33. Is it not true that since World War II Congress has not declared war and- not coincidentally-we have not since then had a clear-cut victory?
34. Is it not true that Pakistan, especially through its intelligence services, was an active supporter and key organizer of the Taliban?
35. Why don't those who want war bring a formal declaration of war resolution to the floor of Congress?
There were a few asking the really tough questions about
Iraq ... even inside congress. The fact that many refused to listen
does not mean the right questions were not being asked. (Go here for to listen to Ron Paul's discussion with Collin Powel and an interview of Paul by Democracy Now's Amy Goodman.)
No actual Declaration of War against Iraq was issued by congress who
opted instead for an "authorization to use force" making George Bush
the "Decider in Chief" instead of the "Commander in Chief". Should Bush use the wording in the Iraq resolution as justification to widen the war to include Iran, Democrats may still have political cover should Iran go bad.
There is one very big question. Will Democrats allow this? Will moderate Democrats swallow the case against Iran same as they did with Iraq, that is hook line and sinker. As with Iraq, the move to war with Iran will only truly be
opposed by those who are truly pro-peace and anti-war. Since the President is now operating on the watch of a Democratically controlled congress which no longer has the excuse of "minority status", anti-war Democrats could increasingly find themselves experiencing an identy crisis.
Iraq is unpopular with the mainstream because it is not going well. Iran has
yet to begin in earnest. Although some in the mainstream may logically carry the Iraq lesson to the question of Iran, many will not.
This raises the question: will the critical mass of those on the left be
willing to compromise their Anti-War positions for the sake of the
"greater good", that is their other agenda items? Clearly there seems
to be little opposition by Democratic leadership to the President's contentions regarding Iran. Republican and Democratic Senators have
asked the White House whether they think they need to get authorization from the congress to proceed with Iran and the answer was no. Of course congress can stop or limit action against Iran, but thus far there are no signs they will.
As for congressman Paul's part, he has been perhaps the most consistent
Iraq policy critic in all of congress. He has voiced his criticism regardless of which party was in control. In retrospect, Paul's warnings against our chosen path in Iraq have proven almost prophetic. Most recently in another
congressional speech, Paul expressed concern that a Gulf of Tonkin type incident might be used to justify expanding the current war to Iran. Paul concluded that speech by saying "lets hope I'm wrong ... this time".
Whether the Anti-War left can keep their centrist brethren on the side of peace may well determine whether the 2006 Demecratic Takeover was a boost for the cause of peace or for that of war.