The presidential debate at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, in September yielded some interesting responses from the democratic hopefuls, especially concerning the ongoing war in Iraq. Despite the Democrats’ constant verbal pummeling of President Bush for dragging out the “cakewalk” war longer than our participation in World War II, none of the Democrat frontrunners was willing to pledge that, if elected, they would have all U.S. troops home from Iraq even five years from now.
“Will you pledge that by January 2013, the end of your first term, more than five years from now, there will be no U.S. troops in Iraq?” MSNBC’s Tim Russert, who moderated the debate, asked Senator Barack Obama.
“I think it’s hard to project four years from now, and I think it would be irresponsible,” Sen. Obama responded. “We don’t know what contingency will be out there,” he continued. The best he could do was declare: “I will drastically reduce our presence there to the mission of protecting our embassy, protecting our civilians, and making sure that we’re carrying out counterterrorism activities there.”
Sen. Hillary Clinton, likewise, refused to take the pledge. “I agree with Barack,” she said, adding, “It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting.”
Even former Senator John Edwards, who is generally placed as the No. 3 Democrat in major-media polling and who has made opposition to the war a cornerstone of his campaign, responded in the negative to Russert’s question, saying: “I cannot make that commitment.”
Helen Thomas, a columnist for Hearst Newspapers and a veteran White House correspondent covering every administration from John F. Kennedy through George W. Bush, blasted the democratic presidential candidates and “the spineless Democratic congressional leadership” in a column entitled, “The Democrats who enable Bush.”
The scrappy Thomas angrily noted:
The leading Democratic presidential candidates sang from the same songbook: Sens. Hillary Clinton of New York, and Barack Obama of Illinois, and former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards refused to promise to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by 2013, at the end of the first term of their hypothetical presidencies. Can you believe it?
Members of Congress seem to have forgotten their constitutional prerogative to declare war; World War II was the last time Congress formally declared war....
So what are the leading Democratic White House hopefuls offering? It seems nothing but more war. So where do the voters go who are sick of the Iraqi debacle?
Certainly not to the party-line Republican candidates. All of the GOP field, with the exception of Representative Ron Paul, have supported President Bush’s Iraq fiasco and are prepared to “stay the course” indefinitely, no matter that it is further indenturing the taxpayers of our already bankrupt nation, destroying the dollar, drastically weakening our military, costing the lives of thousands of our young men and women, eviscerating constitutional checks and balances at home, completely alienating our allies, and destabilizing the Middle East. Rather than conquering “Islamofascism,” the Bush “war on terror” has stirred anti-American sentiment among even moderate Islamic populations and stampeded new recruits into the arms of the terrorist groups that are the ostensible targets of our war effort.
Thomas is no conservative Republican, of course, but she is voicing concerns that should be at the top of the list for traditional Republicans who genuinely treasure constitutionally limited government, the rule of law, fiscal responsibility, and who believe in restricting the use of our military to national defense, rather than for “nation building” and global crusades to promote “democracy” at the point of a gun. Unfortunately, as Thomas has observed on the matter of war, the bulk of the candidates, whether Democratic or Republican, represent the maintenance of the status quo.
The “Long War”
The pack of Republican hopefuls, led by former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senator John McCain, and former Governor Mitt Romney, would take America further into the interminable Iraqi morass, with no end in sight. Giuliani is even ready to vastly expand the war by attacking Iran.
Some Republican constitutionalists, however, recognize the insanity of this course of action. Economist Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under President Reagan, noted in a recent syndicated column:
American generals used to say that the wars Bush started in the Middle East would take 10 years to win. On Oct. 31, Gen. John Abizaid, former commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, [laid to rest] that optimistic forecast. Speaking at Carnegie Mellon University, Abizaid said it would be 50 years before U.S. troops can leave the Middle East.
There is no possibility of the United States remaining in the Middle East for a half century. The dollar and U.S. power are already on their last legs....
There isn’t any money with which to fund Bush’s lost war. It will have to be borrowed from China.
The Romans brought on their own demise, but it took them centuries. Bush has finished America in a mere seven years.
None of the Republicans (except Ron Paul) or Democrats are talking about closing even a significant portion of the 737 overseas bases that are draining our economy and dramatically weakening our ability to defend ourselves. What would happen if those bases were closed and our troops and assets brought home?
“All of the dollars currently spent abroad to support 737 overseas bases would be spent at home,” Paul Craig Roberts answers. “Income for foreigners would become income for Americans, and the trade deficit would shrink.” Moreover, he notes, “The impact of the 737 military base payrolls on the U.S. economy would end the housing crisis and bring back the 140,000 highly paid financial services jobs, the loss of which this year has cost the United States $42 billion in consumer income. Foreclosures and bankruptcies would plummet.”
More important than their economic benefits, however, these long overdue measures would be vital steps toward bringing America back from the wayward course of empire, which has ever been the bane of freedom, and back toward the limited constitutional republic the Founders gave us. But you will not find any of the media-anointed Democratic or Republican candidates suggesting even a tepid move in this direction; they can’t even seem to envision a distant horizon date for pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bring In the Clones
The Iraq War is not the only issue for which the leading Republican candidates offer voters no substantive alternative to their Democratic counterparts. On executive power, government surveillance, border security, amnesty for illegal aliens, government spending, healthcare, energy, education, regulation, taxes, and a host of other issues, there is little fundamental difference between the GOP’s Giuliani-McCain-Romney front line and the Democrats’ Clinton-Obama-Edwards threesome. They all favor bigger, more invasive, more costly government programs, and more foreign interventionism.
Even on social issues close to the hearts of conservatives, such as abortion, homosexual marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, and gun control, Giuliani is virtually indistinguishable from Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Governor Romney claims to have changed from his former pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marriage, pro-gun control positions, but we have heard many liberal Republicans make similar claims while wooing conservative voters in the primaries, only to reverse themselves once in office. Romney, moreover, still clings to his support for embryonic stem-cell research, even though it involves the killing of unborn babies and has been shown to offer far less promise for medical research than does research using adult stem cells that are easily available, without taking life.
Why is there such a glaring lack of real choice among the anointed candidates put forward by the two major parties? This is not a new dilemma, of course; the same lament has applied to nearly all presidential elections of recent memory. The answer is that, at the national level, both the Democratic and Republican parties are completely beholden to the same power elite that has claimed the White House and the executive branch as its private domain since at least the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Although pointing this out invariably invites charges of “conspiracy nut” from the power elite’s political and media lackeys, it is nonetheless demonstrable. It accounts for the fact that although we have seen a regular rotation of Democrat and Republican administrations over the past century, we have not seen much deviation from the destructive courses of socialism and internationalism, manifested in ever bigger and more centralized government and the increasing surrender of American sovereignty and independence to regional and global entities such as NAFTA, the WTO, and the United Nations.
It is an indisputable fact that the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), often referred to by the major media as merely “an influential think tank,” has held a virtual lock on America’s executive branch for at least seven decades. No other organization can claim such overwhelming representation in both Democrat and Republican administrations, occupying the top slots of government from the Oval Office to Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury, to the National Security Council, the Federal Reserve System, and the World Bank.
An illustration of the CFR’s influence came on January 5, 2006, when President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney held a meeting and photo-op session in the Oval Office with 15 current and former secretaries of state and defense. Of the 17 persons in the room, 14 are current members of the CFR. Two are past members of the council. Many of them, like Dick Cheney, currently serve or have served as officers of the organization. Of those pictured, George Bush is the only one who has not belonged to the organization.
Any private organization exercising that kind of influence would seem to be deserving of note, but no major media account of the meeting of “senior statesmen” even mentioned the CFR connection. Imagine a similar meeting in which even three or four high-level cabinet members were found to be members of the same conservative organization. Almost certainly, it would be offered up immediately as “Exhibit A” validating Hillary Clinton’s claims of a vast right-wing conspiracy.
The Council on Foreign Relations postures as a non-partisan discussion group and think tank that takes no positions on political matters. It is merely providing timely information and a discussion venue to policymakers, the council’s leaders insist. In truth, the CFR has been promoting global socialism, international law, and global government since its founding in the early years of the 20th century. Its members, both inside and outside of government, have designed most of the treaties, trade agreements, and legislation that have transferred much of America’s manufacturing base and most of our wealth to foreign countries (including to our avowed enemies) as part of the geopolitical-economic scheme they commonly refer to as the “new world order.”
History professor Carroll Quigley of Georgetown University (one of Bill Clinton’s acknowledged mentors) provided one of the first admissions against self-interest from inside the organization in 1966, with the publication of his influential book Tragedy and Hope. Professor Quigley, who had been close to the CFR and was one of the few academics who had been allowed to study its secret records, referred to it and its sister organizations in England and elsewhere as a secret “international Anglophile network.”
In Tragedy and Hope and a follow-up volume, The Anglo-American Establishment, Quigley provided a detailed look into many of the operations of the CFR network, which he described as “one of the most powerful influences in twentieth-century American and world history.” “The two ends of this English-speaking axis have sometimes been called, perhaps facetiously, the English and American Establishments,” he said.
Professor Quigley was supportive of the goals of this network, writing: “I have no aversion to it or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments.... My chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”
Recognizing that plans for a newly designed “world order” could be threatened by real choices among the major party candidates, Quigley supported the establishment’s efforts to turn the two major parties into virtual clones of each other. “The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two … parties more national and international,” he lamented in Tragedy and Hope. “The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.”
Quigley outlined the basic policies any serious aspirant to the White House — whether Republican or Democrat — must support to gain the all-important acceptance of the CFR power elite. “The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in details of procedure, priority, or method,” he averred.
Although Quigley described the supposedly “vital and necessary” policies in very generalized terms, there is little doubt he meant both socialism (“provide the basic social necessities for all our citizens”) and internationalism (“function as a great world Power in cooperation with other Powers”), including foreign aid (“help other countries”).
“These things any national American party hoping to win a presidential election must accept,” Quigley asserted. “But,” he continued, “either party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.” (Emphasis added.)
Throw the Rascals Out
Among the current pack of eight Democrats and eight Republicans seeking the presidency, only two on each side (Christopher Dodd and Bill Richardson for the Dems, John McCain and Fred Thompson for the GOP) are actual current members of the CFR. However, this does not provide a reliable indicator of the organization’s influence in the candidate field. Having learned that CFR membership can be a red flag with informed voters, candidates frequently cozy up to the council without formally joining. George W. Bush provides a good example of this kind of relationship. Although his father is a member, he is not. Yet, the CFR hand was clear from the beginning of his 2000 presidential run, when he named 15 council stalwarts as his advisers (including Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Robert Zoellick, and Robert Blackwell) and later filled his cabinet posts with several hundred CFR internationalists. Likewise, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan were not CFR members, but they too staffed the top echelons of their administrations from the council’s membership rolls.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is not a CFR member, but her husband, Bill Clinton is. She has recently authored an article for the November/December 2007 issue of the CFR journal, Foreign Affairs, and has several times been a guest speaker before the council. Her policy advisers include CFR heavyweights Madeleine Albright, Samuel Berger, Leslie Gelb, and Strobe Talbott, to name a few. Sen. Barack Obama authored an article for the July/August Foreign Affairs and has appeared at least once on the CFR speaker program. His CFR advisers include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Ivo Daalder, Anthony Lake, and Lawrence Korb. Former Sen. John Edwards has also authored a Foreign Affairs article (September/October 2007) and has several times addressed the council’s membership. Edwards’ foreign-policy advisers include CFR members Barry Blechman, Derek Chollet, Michelle Flournoy, and Paul Kern. Senator Joseph Biden, while not a CFR member, is a frequent guest speaker before the council and regularly coauthors op-ed pieces with CFR President Emeritus Leslie Gelb.
Rudolph Giuliani’s CFR advisers include Kim Holmes and Robert C. Bonner. Giuliani penned an article for the September/October 2007 Foreign Affairs. Sen. John McCain’s CFR advisers include Bernard Aronson, Max Boot, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Henry Kissinger. Mitt Romney, who wrote an article for the July 2007 Foreign Affairs, has a circle of CFR advisers that includes Mitchell Reiss, V. Manuel Rocha, Steven Schrage, and Vin Weber.
The establishment power structure certainly has the deck stacked in its favor when it comes to the executive branch and presidential politics. This does not mean, however, that the presidential election is for naught. The will of the electorate can make itself heard and felt to good effect. It is always possible, and perhaps increasingly likely, that a disaffected majority of Americans will throw out the establishment rascals in favor of a candidate who represents real change. It has happened before and could happen again.
The presidential election can also have other beneficial effects on the electorate. The current campaign has energized, it seems, far more people than other elections of recent memory. That can’t but be a good thing, especially if a healthy percentage of those who have become interested in the future course of the U.S. government because of the campaign continue to investigate the proper role of government. Their increased knowledge could be converted as time goes by into increased activism at the local and regional levels.
If that happens, no matter who is elected president in 2008, we may see an electorate that is more intent on exercising its will through not only presidential candidates but through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. If that happens, America may yet be placed back on a constitutional course — and there won’t be anything the “Establishment elite” will be able to do about it.
Source: William F. Jasper
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In: Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, News
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