Exactly five years ago to the month, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution authorizing the Bush Administration to invade Iraq. Among the senators, only a handful, including Dennis Kucinich, didn’t vote for the 2002 resolution and several Democratic senators who voted for that resolution and who are currently presidential contenders for the 2008 election have expressed regrets; the only candidate who has not done so is Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, amazingly the current Democratic front-runner.
Similar to the Iraq war resolution, on September 26, the Senate voted 76-22 for the Jon Kyl and Joseph Lieberman-amended resolution to place the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, or Pasdaran, on the U.S. terrorist groups list. Clinton was the only Democratic presidential candidate who supported it and offered no apologies for the vote. Since then, on the contrary, she has adamantly tried to justify her decision all along the campaign trail. Is it coincidental that Senator Clinton and Joe Lieberman, an ardent supporter of Israel and amply funded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are in the same camp?
Clinton’s decision to vote for the Kyl-Lieberman resolution became such a hot issue and a symbol of embarrassment for the entire Democratic Party that at a candidates’ debate session in New Hampshire, Mike Gravel, one of the Democratic Presidential candidates, said the September resolution “is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran…I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it.” With that, the dam had broken and the pro-war Democrats had to run for cover by admonishing George Bush who had already gone over the cliff by associating Iran with WWIII.
By then nothing could stop the attacks on her character and class politics by thousands of anti-war citizens of America, and indeed around the world. Among countless comments, Jean Ross wrote “Just another sign that the Clintons and Bushes are IDENTICAL.” J.D. Alessandro wrote: “Hillary’s getting that great AIPAC money; it is an easy vote for her.” With no small degree of sarcasm, Willie, a commentator wrote on October 20, “Is that like her (Clinton) thinking she was voting for diplomacy when ‘Bush lied to her’ in 2002? And if she was so sure she was voting for diplomacy this time, why is she running to Webb for cover?”
Among many Congresspersons lashing out at the hawks, Dennis Kucinich targeted the most aggressive pillar of the U.S. pre-emptive foreign policy. He said, “When you say all options are on the table, you give license to President Bush. The war in Iraq is illegal. Even planning for the war against Iran is illegal.”
Meanwhile, a few members of the U.S. ruling circles had realized that the developments in Pakistan were taking precedence, and hence the Iran issue must be put on the back burners. The reality hit home that the U.S. cannot fight simultaneously in four countries with a total population of 300 million. This is an even bigger dimension than what Donald Rumsfeld had imagined. On October 30, at the Democratic Candidates NBC debate, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden said that while Iran was an important concern, the deterioration of “an out-of-control Pakistan” was a bigger threat. “The fact of the matter is, the Iranians may get 2.6 kilograms of highly enriched uranium,” he said. “But the Pakistanis have hundreds-thousands- of kilograms of highly enriched uranium.”
By then, the cat was entirely out of the bag and the Democratic leadership had to begin the process of damage control, by trying to distinguish themselves from the Bush Administration, at least in words if not in deeds. On November 1, Hillary Clinton along with 29 other senators wrote to President Bush that he does not have congressional authorit
y for war with Iran. Apparently, the roar of the millions of people of Pakistan for democratic rights and the rule of law had awakened the sleepy and obedient senators. However, Senators Barak Obama of Illinois and Joseph R. Biden, Jr. of Delaware had no intention of relieving Clinton from her agony and therefore did not sign the letter that had no force of law behind it.
Another Presidential candidate, former Senator John Edwards, one of Hillary Clinton’s top rivals, charged her with duplicity and facilitating a White House drive to war against Iran. Edwards also warned that the Bush Administration was trying to use attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, to justify a war with Iran.
Breaking Neo-Cons Taboos
A major new development in the 2008 electoral campaign has been that the presidential candidates, aware of the public’s peace sentiment, have been breaking taboos that the neo-cons had erected, such as imposing pre-conditions for talks with Iran and the policy of regime change. For example, Senator Barak Obama is promising to sit down for diplomatic meetings with countries like Iran, Syria and North Korea and not to seek regime change. These positions are qualitatively different from “all options remain on the table.”
At the same time it is obvious that the U.S. Democratic Party has neither a common platform to end the war in Iraq soon nor a unified policy to stay out of Iran. Among the Democrats three shades of foreign policy with regard to Iraq and Iran could be discerned. The far right represented by the front-runner Hillary Clinton who receives her main cues from AIPAC and the Israeli politicians is one. Her plan is not so different from the current administration. The middle ground is occupied by the former senator John Edwards, though ethically differing from George Bush on the reasons and necessities of war with Iraq and Iran, his five-point plan does not call for an immediate termination of the war budget. On the far left stands Congressman Dennis Kucinich who announced his willingness to visit Iran personally and talk to the highest echelon of the Iranian government to peacefully resolve the differences.
As the political and diplomatic positions of the United States deteriorate and its worldwide derision and isolation takes shape, the political tendency of the American public towards a peaceful solution of U.S.-Iran issues is growing stronger, and hence the chance of victory for a pro-peace candidate is becoming a reality. Observing these trends, nationally and internationally, a few farsighted Republicans, who try to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat, have initiated certain policy changes.
U.S. in Isolation
In mid-October, Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska through a letter appealed to President Bush that “unless there is a strategic shift” in the U.S. foreign policy with regard to a war on Iran, “I believe we will find ourselves in a dangerous and increasingly isolated position in the coming months.” “Now is the time for the United States to actively consider when and how to offer direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with Iran,” he said. This is a clear admission directly from the horse’s mouth that the outcome of the hostile U.S. policy toward Iran has led to a weaker position for the U.S. and relatively speaking, to a stronger stance for the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The source of Iran’s strength is not the hostility and gunboat diplomacy of the U.S. but rather Iran’s perseverance in defending its legitimate national interest and sovereignty. There is a false notion especially among the anti-Iranian government intellectuals who claim that the legitimacy of the Islamic Republic is a bi-product of the on-going U.S. hostility towards that country. This proposition is baseless and there is no way to prove it. As a matter of fact,