Play It Again Sam! (A Look Back on the idea of Impeaching Bush for his decision to invade Iraq: July 5, 2005)
On June 16th at the so-called ‘Downing Street memo hearings’, 122 House Democrats and members of the newly formed “Out of Iraq” caucus signed a petition to compel the President to declare an exit strategy from the no-win war in Iraq and begin withdrawing our troops by next fall. Concurrently, they joined in a call for a congressional inquiry into Bush’s Iraq war deceptions stemming from the public release of the Downing Street memo which some have called a smoking gun that proves that Bush was committed to an invasion of Iraq by July 2002, not a few days before he invaded as he claimed and that he “fixed” the intelligence to support his administration’s bogus claims. In watching the hearings conducted in a small basement room of their congressional offices, what I found most intriguing is that about 75 percent or more of what was coming out of the mouths of these predominantly Marxist congressman and their generally more reputable expert witnesses was true.
For the first time since the Iran-Contra Hearings in 1987, I found myself taking the side of the Democrats who were being at least in this instance being more truthful than the majority of their Republican cohorts who support the administration’s senseless policy of ‘staying the course’ in Iraq no matter what the cost in American blood and treasure. They refuse to admit that the U.S. national security interest has suffered a major setback due to the administration’s ill-conceived decision to invade and occupy Iraq and thus destroy the regional balance of power, destabilize the Middle East and create a new training ground and haven for Islamic terrorists in once-secular Iraq as CIA Director Porter Goss has testified.
The “I” word of course came up quite a bit in regards to Bush’s conduct on the war. Most Republicans laughed off Democrat threats of impeachment over Bush’s Iraq war related deceptions of the American people as a joke as well they might with the current GOP House majority of 229 Republicans and only 205 Democrats and 1 Democrat leaning independent. But a lot can change before the congressional mid-term elections in 18 months and at this rate, increasing public disaffection with the Iraq war is reaching a tipping point and at the very least is likely to take a significant bite out of the GOP congressional majority in both houses of Congress.
Due in large part to their growing opposition to the bloody, no-win war the U.S. continues to fight in Iraq, according to the latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll only about one-third of Americans or 35 percent said they think the country is headed in the right direction, numbers which may well prove problematic for GOP efforts to retain their majority in the House of Representatives following next fall’s election. I estimate that based on these increasingly negative polling numbers and trends stemming from continuing U.S. involvement in the no-win war in Iraq, the Democrats will probably have a 50-50 chance of taking control of the House of Representatives next year. Respected political talk show host, John McLaughlin a Reaganite conservative realist who has turned into an opponent of the war has actually predicted the Democrats will capture the House of Representatives in 2006.
Whether the Democrats in fact succeed in retaking control of the House of Representatives in next fall’s elections depends on whether the Texas GOP is forced to draw a new redistricting map of the state which is more favorable to the Democrats which would likely cause a few of the Texas GOP congressman who were elected last fall to lose their seats. But even more important to the disposition of the 110th Congress will be whether Bush has replaced his defeatist, no-win ‘stay the course’ non-strategy with either a success strategy or an exit strategy or preferably a combination of both. Since at this point, we are losing the war as Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) was recently courageous enough to admit, ‘staying the course’ in Iraq means that a U.S. defeat in Iraq is nearly certain. It is nearly certain that the longer we fight this no-win war in Iraq, the lower the President’s and more importantly Republican members of Congress’ poll numbers will go.
That being the case, as Michael O’Hanlon, a national-security expert with the Brookings Institution has predicted, Bush appears willing to sacrifice GOP control of Congress and perhaps even the Presidency over the next two elections to ensure that he is not the one who withdraws our troops from Iraq. Bush believes that if he pulls U.S. military forces out of Iraq, it will be tantamount to an admission of defeat, which would serve to confirm his status in the history books as a failed President. A failure to implement a near-term withdrawal from Iraq would probably condemn more than a couple more thousand U.S. troops to their deaths. But whether Bush withdraws our troops from Iraq in defeat or a Nixonian future President Hillary Rodham Clinton does so, history’s verdict on the Bush presidency will be the same.
The problem with the current Bush strategy of risking the sacrifice of GOP control of Congress in a vain attempt to salvage his increasingly tattered historical legacy is that if the Democrats do take control of the House of Representatives in the 2006 elections, there is a good chance that they will vote to conduct impeachment hearings of President Bush regardless of the fact that even if the House did vote to impeach, a GOP-controlled US Senate would never vote to convict, let alone even vote to consider the House’s impeachment motion in the first place. Even so, this is a risky game for the President to play.
The Democrats only need to pick up eleven seats to regain the House majority. If the Bush administration does not implement a major withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Iraqi quagmire before the mid-term election, the Democrats may regain control of the House in November 2006. If they were to take control of the House of Reps, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA), a proud member of the Progressive Caucus which is itself an arm of the Democrat Socialists of America from whence most of the Democrats at the hearing hailed, would become Speaker of the House.
With the Democrats in control of the House, partisan Democrats still angry at the Republican-led impeachment of their favorite ex-President Bill Clinton would most assuredly hold hearings on the President’s misconduct during the war and a vote on whether to conduct impeachment hearings would come up and could possibly pass. Due to likely narrow Democrat control of the House, the likelihood of Bush actually being impeached would be relatively low, but the information that would come out during impeachment I think would do much to educate the American people on the need to get rid of the neocons and get out of Iraq. This in turn might well cause Republican leaders to abandon neo-conservatism as a politically untenable ideology.
House impeachment hearings would create tremendous pressure to force the President to become more reasonable and adopt a more Reaganite strategy with regards to extricating our troops from the Iraqi morass. They might even serve to persuade President Bush to cut his losses and pull our troops out of Iraq entirely. Bush might feel compelled to do this before elections are held anyway since I am predicting the cronyistic Islamist government in Baghdad which has began conducting political assassinations of some of its political enemies will be strengthened in December and will beginning next year demand that we leave Iraq.
I believe that while extensive inquiries into the President’s misbehavior on the war and related issues may be warranted, they need to be bipartisan and outside the extremely partisan realm of impeachment proceedings. Congressional requests to get the President to proclaim an exit strategy and a strategy for success seem surprisingly feeble considering how long we have been fighting this no-win counterinsurgency war in Iraq which most Americans do not understand why we are still fighting, not to mention the unacceptably high cost in American blood and treasure which we have thus far incurred. Congress should continue to re-assume its constitutional foreign policy role and set a withdrawal deadline, a success strategy, and an exit strategy itself since the President refuses to do so. The President has abrogated his constitutional responsibilities so it is time for Congress to step in and compel him to fulfill them.
Ultimately since the President will not allow the implementation of a strategy which has the potential for a U.S. victory in the war in Iraq, I believe that perhaps “the least bad” outcome is for the new Islamist Shiite government of Iraq to demand that we leave and thus end the war and save thousands of additional American lives. This would have the added bonus of taking the wind out of the sales of the pro-impeachment Democrats by getting our troops home. In addition, it would probably reduce the number of congressional seats that the GOP is likely to lose next year with the hopeful result that the GOP would retain its majorities in both houses of Congress. Neo-conservatism would still be discredited by our Iraq war defeat which would presumably serve to promote traditional conservative realist GOP presidential candidates like Vietnam veteran, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE), who have been critical of the President’s conduct of the war. Regardless of whether we opt for an orderly and voluntary withdrawal or are forced to leave Iraq in disgrace by an empowered Islamist government in Iraq, next year will likely decide the future of our involvement in the Iraq war.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”
David T Pyne currently serves as DUV-PAC Chairman, President of the Utah Republican Assembly, and as Vice President for the Association of the United States Army’s Utah Chapter. A former national security expert, he has served as President of the Center for the National Security Interest, worked as a defense contractor and International Programs Manager, as an International Analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy, and as a Research Assistant for the Center for Security Policy.