The antiwar Democrats are crying betrayal — and justifiably so.
For a Democratic Congress is now voting to fully fund the war in Iraq, as demanded by President Bush, and without any timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal. Bush got his $100 billion, then magnanimously agreed to let Democrats keep the $20 billion in pork they stuffed into the bill — to soothe the pain of their sellout of the party base.
Remarkable. If the Republican rout of 2006 said anything, it was that America had lost faith in the Bush-Rumsfeld conduct of the war and wanted Democrats to lead the country out.
Yet, today, there are more U.S. troops in Iraq than when the Democrats won. More are on the way. And with the surge and retention of troops in Iraq beyond normal tours, there should be a record number of U.S. troops in country by year’s end.
Why did the Democrats capitulate?
Because they lack the courage of their convictions. Because they fear the consequences if they put their antiwar beliefs into practice. Because they are afraid if they defund the war and force President Bush to withdraw U.S. troops, the calamity he predicts will come to pass and they will be held accountable for losing Iraq and the strategic disaster that might well ensue.
Democrats are an intimidated party. The reasons are historical. They were shredded by Nixon and Joe McCarthy for FDR’s surrenders to Stalin at Tehran and Yalta, for losing China to Mao’s hordes, for the "no-win war" in Korea, for being "soft on communism."
The best and the brightest — JFK’s New Frontiersmen — were held responsible for plunging us into Vietnam and proving incapable of winning the war. A Democratic Congress cut off aid to Saigon in 1975, ceding Southeast Asia to Hanoi and bringing on the genocide of Pol Pot.
Democrats know they are distrusted on national security. They fear that if they defund this war and bring on a Saigon ending in the Green Zone, it will be a generation before they are trusted with national power. And power is what the party is all about.
Yet, not only does the situation in Iraq appear increasingly grim, with rising U.S. and Iraqi casualties, other shoes are about to drop that will reverberate throughout the region.
Support for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with his war in Lebanon a debacle and his leadership denounced by a commission he appointed, is in single digits. Waiting in the wings is Likud super-hawk "Bibi" Netanyahu, the most popular politician in Israel, who compares today to Munich 1938 and equates Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Hitler.
If and when Bibi comes to power, he will use every stratagem to provoke us into attacking "Hitler."
Also drumming for war on Iran are the floundering neocons and the Israeli lobby. Under orders from the lobby, Nancy Pelosi stripped from a House bill a stipulation that Bush must come to Congress for authorization before launching an attack on Iran.
With Democratic contenders reciting the mantra, "All options are on the table," and Iran defying U.N. sanctions, pursuing nuclear enrichment and detaining U.S. citizens, Bush has a blank check to launch a third war.
Lebanon is ablaze. Gaza is ablaze. The Afghan war is not going well. The Taliban have a privileged sanctuary. The NATO allies grow weary.
In Pakistan, the most dangerous country on earth — one bullet away from an Islamic republic with atom bombs — our erstwhile ally, President Musharraf, is caught in a political crisis over his ouster of the chief justice.
Presidents Musharraf in Islamabad, Kharzi in Kabul and Siniora in Beirut, and Prime Minister Maliki in Baghdad, sit on shaky thrones. No one knows what follows their fall. But it is hard to see how it would not be crippling for America’s position.
With such volatility in this crucial region of the world, with such uncertainty, it is easy to see why Democrats prefer to be the "dummy" at the bridge table and let Bush play the hand.
The congressional Democrats are cynical, but they are not stupid. If the surge works and U.S. troops are being withdrawn by fall 2008, they do not want it said of them that they "cut and ran" when the going got tough, that they played Chamberlain to Bush’s Churchill.
And if the war is going badly in 2008, they know that the American people, in repudiating the party of Bush and Cheney, have no other choice than the party of Hillary and Pelosi and Harry Reid.
That is why congressional Democrats are surely saying privately of the angry antiwar left what has often been said by the Beltway Republican elite of the right: "Don’t worry about them. They have nowhere else to go.
And that is why the antiwar left was thrown under the bus.
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