Many voters told exit polls that they didn’t even know the names of the Democrats they voted for. They just voted against whatever Republican was running as the nearest available Bush symbol to bash. We are entering the golden era of Bush bashing. I seriously question whether that prick can withstand the abuse he’s going to have to endure for the next two years.
The election was about Iraq and Bush leading us into it. Everything else was very secondary. Its meaning was that George W. Bush and his “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive, unilateral imperialist war to achieve American dominion has lost favor with the majority of those who pay for it with their savings and the lives of their children. Rumsfield’s immediate fall and the promotion of a James Baker appointee to Defense Secretary means they are going to do whatever Bush 41’s “realists” of the “Iraq Study Group” say to do about Iraq. The outlines of that are already clear. One, retreat. We will call it redeployment. They will only go back minimally; to Kuwait, Kurdistan and way out there somewhere in the Iraq desert. No more Baghdad or Fallujah unless the Iraqi “government” pleads for them to return with its dying gasp. Maybe not even then. Two, talk directly to the neighbors, specifically Iran and Syria. The US will perhaps call a big “peace” conference of the 6 bordering countries plus a few others (Britain, Egypt, etc). This will be to get their cooperation as cover so that the US can slink off in some face saving way.
There are several problems with this scenario, principally Israel and the extent of control the Israel lobby has on American foreign policy. What happens when Israel decides that the day the “peace conference” opens is a good day to lay waste to the Iranian nuclear facilities with its own nuclear bunker buster? Or at least blow up another Palestinian apartment house full of women and children? Although Arab governments have a reputation of only giving lip service to Palestinian interests, considering the horrendous situation existing now in Palestine, they could hardly attend such a conference without Israel/Palestine being high on the agenda. Also, such a conference couldn’t occur without dealing with the Iranian nuclear program and the US treat of sanctions. So, the US is still very stuck. There may be a way out, but its risks are great and heavy losses, especially in prestige, are certain. The Baker group will tell Bush to offer Iran a security agreement (non-aggression pact) as bait for the deal, which is pretty much all Iran has ever asked for from the US anyway.
Iran’s client militias in southern (Shiite) Iraq could cut US supply lines from Kuwait any time. That is to say, they have the US military in Iraq by the balls now. So you kind of have to ask them nicely to let go before you take off, lest we have a new meaning for “cut and run.” The Bush regime’s main problem is that they are not at all in control of “events on the ground” in Iraq, which are driving the equation both there and here. Twenty-five and counting more Americans have died there so far in November after 104 in October as insurgent tactics continually improve. Stacks of bodies any Aztec priest would admire turn up daily in Baghdad streets. This will not change regardless of the number of US soldiers and it will continue at least as long as those soldiers are there. Like now, they said Vietnam would end in a bloodbath if we left. It didn’t.
This is hard for W to wrap his limited brain around. He has always been an internal locus of control guy, having the power to change the world around him, in his case, another rich punk who grew up thinking only chumps let externals dictate their reality. Both R’s and D’s will soon talk a lot of smack about what they are going to do without the real ability to pull it off. The genie is out of the bottle and the furies have escaped. A lot of plans are really wishful thinking.
It is hard at this point not to see the results of this election as profound. It is true that sixth year elections are historically bad for two term presidents. Some say this one is not outside the standard deviation for such elections. I’m not buying that. I don’t know of another incidence in American history when the electorate pointedly rejected a war we were in the midst of fighting and doing so was their most serious concern in voting. Despite a concerted propaganda effort, the citizenry have rejected this war and those who led them into it. The neocons are in flight. Cheney is isolated. Imperialism itself is in retreat. Rejoice.
If the antiwar forces ever won an argument with a slam-dunk, it was this one. If you go back and review the prewar archives of commondreams, counterpunch, The Guardian or other left sources, the arguments we made against the war have virtually all been validated by events on the ground. We said sanctions killed more than Saddam. Correct. We said the inspections were working and there were likely no WMD’s. Correct. We said there was no connection between secular Baathist Saddam and fundamentalist Al Qaeda. Correct. We said it was about oil, which Bush overtly acknowledged in speeches made during his recent campaigning. (Not to mention Exxon/Mobil’s recent record profits.) We said Iraq posed no threat to the US unless we invaded it, in which case we would descend into a quagmire of blood resulting in the disintegration of Iraq as a country, with the loss of many American and many more Iraqi lives. Correct, correct, correct.
Now they have to make up a Plan B they never thought they would need while in a state of disarray and the ground slipping away under their feet. Most likely, they won’t be able to greatly limit the severe negative consequences for US power from what has rightly been called the greatest foreign policy debacle in American history. Or maybe I’m just being too much of an optimist again.