- Mar 13, 2007
8 April 2007
PRESIDENT George Bush has gotten pretty much used to ruling by decree for the past six years, thanks to hysteria over 9/11 and an obedient Congress controlled by southern Republicans.
But last week, he angrily accused the new Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi, of ‘undermining’ foreign policy, which is traditionally directed by the executive branch.
Pelosi’s crime was going with a high-powered Congressional delegation to ‘forbidden’ Syria, which, with Iran, has been long deemed untouchable by the Bush Administration.
If ever there was an administration whose foreign policy needed undermining, it’s the Bush/Cheney duumvirate. Speaker Pelosi, the third ranking government official, and a remarkably tough, capable grandmother, is doing all Americans and the Middle East a service.
The American republic’s founding fathers were deeply worried a future president might run amok or make himself an absolute ruler. The primary constitutional architecture of the US government is designed to thwart such dangers through a brilliant system of checks and balances.
Congress was created as the premiere branch of government to express the voice of the American people. Its leaders have the duty and every legal right to intervene when they see the executive branch leading the nation over a cliff and repeatedly violating the Constitution, as the Bush/Cheney Administration has done.
So Nancy Pelosi was right to ignore Bush’s childish refusal to talk to Syria. She went to Damascus to meet President Bashar al-Asad. Pelosi was joined by some of the leading members of the Israel lobby in Congress.
Pelosi arrived in Damascus at a crucially important moment. The Arab League had just unanimously reaffirmed its historic offer to Israel of full recognition and permanent peace in exchange for a withdrawal to Israel’s 1967 borders, sharing occupied Jerusalem, and some kind of compensation or resettlement of nearly five million Palestinian refugees. This is essentially the same plan proposed to Bush by the blue-ribbon Iraq Study Group in Washington.
Never has Israel and its neighbours been closer to peace. But instead of backing this dramatic opening, Bush and Cheney, and their allies on Israel’s hard right, were clearly preparing to launch an air war against Iran, and urging Israel to attack Syria and Lebanon.
The need for Congress to alter the direction of Bush’s ruinous foreign policies were shockingly displayed in a recent BBC/University of Maryland survey that should be required reading for every American.
Surveying 26,000 respondents in 25 different nations, the study (that included Americans) found the US is playing a ‘mainly negative’ role in the world. Two thirds believed the US military presence in the Middle East is stoking conflicts.
Most shocking, when respondents were asked which nations posed the greatest danger to world peace, or were most negatively viewed, the answer was a new ‘axis of evil:’ Israel, the United States and Iran.
Horrid North Korea came just ahead of the USA. This is appalling, considering the hundreds of millions the US government spends annually promoting its image abroad.
The world’s most respected nation was Canada, followed by France, Japan and the European Union.
This shattering report is about much more than a popularity contest. When the United States, not long ago regarded as a beacon of liberty, human rights, and democracy around the globe, finds itself in the company of the two other most negatively viewed nations on earth, Israel and Iran, it’s time the alarms go off.
It is precisely this surging worldwide anger against the US, notably over Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and Bush’s refusal to join the fight against global warming, that is fuelling the violent anti-American groups Westerners call ‘terrorists.’ America’s image abroad has become a vital matter of its national security.
The Bush/Cheney administration’s aggressive Darwinian policies, and Bush’s lamentable persona, not only power anti-Americanism everywhere, they have restored and reinvigorated leftwing parties around the globe.
It’s too soon to tell what, if anything, will come from Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Damascus. But her visit came at the demand of American voters who gave Democrats a majority in Congress to make the disaster-prone Bush/Cheney Administration change course.
The White House, unaccustomed to opposition, is having a lot of trouble dealing with Pelosi and her Democrats. Good. That’s how the great American Republic is supposed to work.
Eric S. Margolis is a veteran American journalist and contributing foreign editor of The Toronto Sun