Well, what happened to the great debate? No, I'm not talking about the debate over where to bury the rotting corpse of Anna Nicole Smith or the real reason Britney Spears shaved her head. I'm talking about the Great Congressional Iraq Debate of 2007.
We were told that the Grand Old War Party thwarted the Iraq debate in the Senate. Not just once, but twice. But, between the debates that the Senate did not have, those who watch C-SPAN all day were treated to what was billed as a debate in the House. About 400 elected representatives were given several minutes each to "debate" the Iraq War.
In the grand tradition of mob rule democracy, the People's House debated. Or did they? If debate consists of the recitation of talking points, then America did witness a debate. Assuming debate consists of deliberation and discussion where opponents answer the questions raised by each respective side, then there was no debate - there was only a great number of short speeches.
Let's pretend that what the House engaged in for three days was a debate. Was this the debate we were promised? To answer this question, we will have to revisit a period of history from long ago. We will have to go back to a place in time extending far beyond the memory of most Americans.
Long ago, there was an election where the big issue was the Iraq War. This election was held long before Imperial President Bush formulated his Surge Plan to win the Iraq War. At the time of this election, November 2006, a majority of voters turned Congress over to the Democrats. It was implied that these Democrats, like most Americans, wanted an end to the Iraq War.
The issue being debated before the election was whether American troops should pull out of Iraq and how this could best be accomplished. This was the bait. After the election, Bush promised a new Iraq plan. Many presumed this might be based on the unipartisan bipartisan plan put together by the Iraq Study Group. Instead, Bush unveiled his Surge Plan - an escalation of the war. Then the debate shifted away from whether to withdraw troops to whether to send more troops. This was the switch.
Suddenly, the Democrats (who presumably wanted to pull troops out of Iraq) adopted Bush's former strategy of staying the course and maintaining the status quo in Iraq. The hapless and naive Democrats who were so easily tricked into supporting a war they didn't want were fooled again into supporting the stay the course strategy. Or, did we witness a surprise ending to yet another melodrama in the political theater of the absurd?
I suppose in this go-along-to-get-along world of raging moderate extremists that crave conformity, it could be argued that there was indeed a great debate over the Iraq issue. It could be said that only a cynical anti-government radical would even suggest that some kind of bait and swith debate took place. To those who hold these notions, I would politely suggest that they keep their heads firmly in their asses while burning their voter registration cards. These fools are a danger to us all and themselves.
What cannot be argued is that there has been a debate over whether or not America should be an empire or a republic. The obvious debate that should have taken place after 9/11 has been silenced. That debate should address whether America should continue as an interventionist warfare state or whether America sould adopt a foreign policy of nonintervention (known as isolationism to neoliberals, neoconservatives, and war profiteers).
America will continue to provoke terrorist attacks and become involved in quagmires such as Afghanistan and Iraq until Americans rid themselves of interventionist leaders who are willing to resort to death and destruction in order to undertake their experiments in "democracy". It seems to me that if an honest debate was held between those who favor peace, prosperity, and freedom and those who favor war, massive debt, and authoritarianism, the former would win - slam dunk.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.