Jan 12, 2007

Washington's Epic Battle, War or Peace

Let's review the playing field, which is often mischaracterized on the television news.
First, there is an unfolding Democratic strategy to halt the escalation of the war in Iraq as proposed by President Bush's speech in open defiance of the voters' will as expressed in the 2006 election.Second, there is a raging battle behid the scenes pitting advocates of a preemptive attack against Iran, led by the same civilian neoconservatives who advocated the Iraq War, against critics who view such an attack as catastrophically dangerous. These opponents of a new preemptive war include many in the military and intelligence worlds in the United States and Israel.Third, there is a grand constitutional battle that will soon be front-page news, pitting those who claim that the President possesses unilateral power to initiate preemptive war against those who argue that it is illegal and unconstitutional for the President to wage new wars without prior congressional approval.While these battles superficially resemble the Washington kabuki play that preceded the Iraq War in 2002-03, there are two big differences that work to George Bush's great disadvantage and may result in a different outcome.The Democrats won the 2006 election, creating Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, and public approval of Bush has fallen to historically low levels. This time, Democrats have real institutional power, and opponents of Bush's policy have the overwhelming support of voters.Also, the U.S. news media has underestimated the implication of one key fact. In 2008, there are 21 Republican senators up for reelection while only 12 Democratic seats are up for grabs. Having so many Republican seats up for reelection is a historical rarity that creates the possibility of gigantic Democratic gains in the Senate in 2008.Senate Republicans face this numerical danger while President Bush is facing a collapse of both his credibility and popularity, while his policies fare no better. Senate Republicans know that if they follow Bush as he escalates the war in Iraq and as he initiates a new war against Iran, the odds rise for a Republican disaster in 2008.That is the game changer.

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