Nov 13, 2006
The election was a truly stunning defeat for Bush and the Republicans, ending their 12- year reign over the Congress. The Democrats won 24 of the 33 Senate seats at stake this year, rolling up seven million more votes than the Republicans. In the House, the Democrats took 28 seats away from the Republicans, while losing none of their own. In fact, in both House and Senate every seat lost came from the Republican side.
This surge continued over into state elections, with the Democrats holding on to all their governorships, while taking six from the Republicans. The Democrats picked up more than 275 seats in state legislatures, while losing only 21 seats. As a result, the Democrats gained complete control over 23 state legislatures, leaving only 10 state governments in Republican hands, with the upper and lower houses in each of the remaining state legislatures split between the two parties.
Certainly, there were issues other than Iraq which led people to vote against the Republicans: the lousy economy and job market, worsening health care and pensions. But overshadowing all this was the war in Iraq. This election gave the Democrats the mandate to change direction 180 degrees in Iraq.
So, what have they said since the election? A very few Democrats continue to say that U.S. policy toward the war should come down to four words, “Get out of Iraq.”
But most quickly rushed to position themselves like Michigan Congressman John Dingell did. When Dingell, the most senior member in the U.S. House of Representatives, was asked about the war, he said: “We want to bring this miserable war to a successful conclusion but I don’t know anyone who wants out now. I think what the President has to do is come up with a plan around which the country can rally.”
In other words, say the Democrats, wait on Bush to do something about the war.
This is the same Bush who made it crystal clear he has no intention of ending the war. The same Bush who said that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for his entire presidency. The same Bush who has lied at every single step of the war.
When Bush announced Rumsfeld’s replacement, he inadvertently let slip that the U.S. now had over 151,000 troops in Iraq. That is about 10,000 more troops than the generals have admitted up until now.
They aren’t talking about getting out of Iraq – they are ramping up the war. Since July, the U.S. has literally been laying siege to Baghdad, especially the teeming slums of Sadr City, where 2.5 million people live. U.S. forces cordoned off the neighborhoods with barbed wire and concrete barriers and set up check points not unlike what the Israelis have done in the Palestinian occupied territories. U.S. troops then went door-to-door rounding up anyone they thought was suspicious – meaning any man between 15 and 65. And the U.S. has recently bombed some crowded urban neighborhoods, including in Baghdad.
The cities of Anbar province, the biggest province of the country, have become battlegrounds in which almost nothing is left standing. Much of the population of that province has already fled as part of a human flood out of Iraq that is estimated to number about 100,000 people per month.
With the ramping up of the U.S. war in Iraq has come a big increase in U.S. casualties. October was the bloodiest month for U.S. troops in over a year, and November promises to be the same or worse.
There is no let-up in sight – that is Bush’s “new plan.” And administration proposals for another supplemental increase in war spending in Iraq for this year prove it. The generals are asking for a whopping 160 billion dollars on top of the 94 billion Congress already appropriated for this year.
The U.S. is not preparing to leave, it is preparing to kill even more Iraqis, destroying even more of the country – with the blessings of the Democrats.
The elections gave the Democrats the power and authority to end all this. They could order Bush to immediately change course on Iraq, requiring him to withdraw all U.S. troops now. If he were to refuse, the Democrats have more than enough basis for impeaching him and Cheney both.
Is this what the Democrats propose? Not at all! The Democrats are doing just the opposite – going out of their way to say that impeachment is “not on the table.”
If we wait on the Democrats to end this abominable war, we will watch for two more years while the bodies pile up, and while they try to focus us on the 2008 presidential election.
Iraq can’t wait for that, U.S. troops can’t wait for that. None of us can!
U.S. out of Iraq NOW! That should be our watchword!