"This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I’ve spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you’ve made. We went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field and those on their way."The Democrats have recently grown a spine of non-binding steel, and they have a Reagan man in the ranks to deliver staccato rebukes to a drifting president, which is nice if you're into that sort of thing. But what the dauphin said, and what I've excerpted above, is true. The critical moment for Iraq has passed. The critical resolution did pass. Even were the Democrats to slap black gaffer's tape across the gaping pie-hole of Joe Biden and come to the floor with binding legislation to force the end to our bloody occupation and our involvement in the bloodier civil war it's now spawned, it would not be a victory of any particular principle or value worth holding, but rather a minor mitigation of the resounding defeat of such principles. At every opportunity to say no, they failed. At every opportunity to stand up, they sat down. They hadn't the courage to act on conviction, or more likely they simply had the wrong convictions, and let's not confuse exigency and desperation to preseve American's preeminent position as the indisoluble, no: indigestible, no: indispensible nation for recognition that there are some things this nation doesn't have the moral right or the practical means to do. "Largely united in our assumptions and convictions." Yes, indeed.
If you doubt it, consider that the moment of greatest, loudest whoopery in the chamber last night followed the dauphin's line-in-the-mud line that "the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons." Dennis Kucinich nearly lost his toupee in the updraft as every other member of his party leapt to their hooves all around him. There is a lesson here: The failure of the occupation of Iraq has not fundamentally altered the premises and assumptions of the governing class. There is little or no hard evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but even were this not the case, even were Iran to be shown conclusively to be attempting the construction of some destructive nuclear device, wouldn't that simply be evidence of a state acting rationally to acquire some minor deterrent against the imperial military policies of the United States and its Western allies? North Korea, after all, gets six-party talks. Pakistan, a nuclear power and hotbed of the very "radical Islam" against which we're puportedly waging a neverending war, is a hallowed ally in that very war. India, a major nuclear power, actually gets the extra-legal transfer of American nuclear technologies! Iraq, which had no weapons, gets invaded. What incentive is there not to pursue weaponization?
What the Congressional Democrats see as clearly as their Republican partners and Republican president is that the war in Iraq has demonstrated unacceptable limits to the American ability to dictate the internal affairs of other nations. If they differ from the President and the majority of his party, it's only that they see no strategic value in doubling-down a lost bet on Iraq in hopes of recouping that loss. But by no means are they leaving the table. They're just advocating taking the loss and going in for another hand. This purported debate over the final disposition of our Iraqi misadventure is legerdemain. It conceals in its details and its nonsense-talk of "surges" and "phased redeployments" a darker truth: that Democrats as much as Republicans do believe that we are at war, legitimately, with a large portion of the world, and that those weak nations which don't acquiesce to our hegemony invite reprisal, which is our right to take.