Saturday, April 21, 2007

Iraq Debate – where are we?

Following are the developments in this ongoing political debate:

- Joe Klein in Time hammers out on Left Wing Democrats (Daily Kos in particular, ) for insisting that a strong timeline limit must be there in the bill which Congress wants to send to the President. He mocks Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos in undermining the threshold of 67 votes in Senate to have a ‘veto proof’ bill. Finally, Klein is predicting that President will win in this political debate and will get what he wants – war funding bill with no time limits.
- With so much killing still happening in Iraq, it is not clear how the so called ‘surge’ would succeed. In fact all indications on the ground are that Pres. Bush would increase the commitment further regardless of all the well publicized strains on American Army.
- In Congress, the original House version of the bill is diluted in the conference with Senate as far as time limit goes. This has already made strong anti-war faction upset, likes of Daily Kos.
- Sen. Reid becomes the first elected politician to be bold enough to characterize the Iraq war as ‘lost’. He and Dems are going to face torrent of criticism from Bush backing Right wingers. Sen. McCain will take one more opportunity to brandish his waning political image by berating these words of Sen. Reid. VP Cheney will come back with vengeance on national TV to claim it is Dems who lost the Iraq war rather than Iraqi Civil War and Pres. Bush’s mistakes. Karl Rove will once again attempt to inflate the dimming passion in castigating Dems as ‘unpatriotic’. This all will be coming. Just watch the Sunday round up on TV talk.
- President Bush is already back to ‘Rove line’ in his public speeches about Iraq war that American Army is fighting Al Qeda in Iraq. The next step in that line of thinking is if we do not fight Al Qeda in Iraq, they will come to America and we will have to fight them at home and those who oppose Iraq war (i.e. Dems) are ‘unpatriotic’ who are rooting for America’s defeat. Of course, this movie has played so many times in American Political Theater. It helped Pres. Bush to get re-elected in 2004, then the movie’s popularity waned. By 2006 this movie was no longer pulling any audience and after 2006 Congressional election Pres. Bush pulled it out from the circulation. He wants to play it back again - oh God, spare us from this punishment!

Is it really the case that Bush is unstoppable as far as getting the war funding goes? Is it a certainty that he will get the funding bill without any timeline constraints? If so, then is it not responsibility of Dems to make it clear to the public that in the end they have to give what the President is asking for as far as the war prosecution goes? So, if the purpose of the current bill in the Congress is to have it on record that majority in Congress wanted timeline constraints whereas President opposed that; then why the dilution in terms of this bill? Or is the bill diluted in order to make more GOP members to get on the board to play out a chance where the bill may get ‘veto proof’ majority?

Putting thinking of majority in Congress in terms a bill and to have the President voted it, all on record; is a legitimate and healthy practice of a live Democracy. But what is next? Is this Congress just meekly going to submit to this ‘mad’ President? Are there no options available? Is there no possibility for Sen. Reid to follow through his comment of ‘lost war’ by cutting the funding at some point in future; the way President’s spokeswoman dared him to do so?

All these questions are unanswered. True, one does not have to take Joe Klien’s word as the final one. But American public does not hear any other words od credibility or wisdom in this regard and then it gives the suspicion that may be Dems are also simply using their backers for a popular political ride and eventually they would also simply abandon American public.

Time has come for Dems to come clean. There is every reason to believe to that Sen. Reid’s characterization of the war as ‘the lost one’ is a step in that direction rather than simply playing the public. But we need more details here. Dems need to make it clear what would they like the public to do at this point – come in by millions on the road to protest Bush’s policy? Or raise millions? (For what?) Or accept mass resignations of Democratic Congress members? Okay, the last one is unthinkable. American system is not a Parliamentary system and in a responsible, mature polity you do not run away from the problem by resignation. However, it is not clear how American system will extricate itself from this war quagmire apart from the end of Bush’s term; which will nothing but demonstrate the inability of American system to resolve the intractable problem of Iraq war.

Meanwhile, it is quite understandable that the whole case of Daily Kos is to argue against any ‘beltway style’ political posturing and Daily Kos regards Klein type of commentator as one the useless establishment kind. As a result Daily Kos may be insisting not to compromise as far as a strict time limit on war funding goes. But how can one then ignore the political reality of getting more Senators on the board for the ‘veto proof’ majority? So this all means, what we are seeing is the intestine struggle between two factions – moderates and ‘netroots’. While this struggle is going on, those in the general public - who do support a limit on America’s commitment in Iraq war - get a feeling whether it is all Political Circus which is going on with no meaningful parliamentary maneuver to stop the war; resulting in the resounding victory of Dark Forces?

It is sad to see all this. Indeed there does not seem any capable leadership which can halt ‘misery’ of Americans. It seems American Democracy is not working here, not helping her people. The word ‘unity’ is not there in the dictionary of America’s progressive political forces. One wishes at least the senior columnists like Klein had had the maturity in not opening these wounds in public instead of making efforts to ‘bridge these gaps’ in public. Also Daily Kos is no more an underdog fighting against Main Stream Media (MSM). Not to understand the impact of their political positions (along with MoveOn.Org and other netroots); is not just being ignorant about their political ‘weight’ but it borders on being irresponsible. In 2007, in a sense, Daily Kos is MSM.

Umesh Patil
Cupertino, CA 95014
April 21, 2007.

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