Were the midterm elections a referendum on the Right Zionist (aka “neocon”) war in Iraq?
Maybe. But as I’ve previously noted, the Democrats not particularly reliable opponents of Right Zionist policies in Iraq. The most strident critics of Right Zionist war aims in Iraq continue to be Republicans–specifically, the folks I call Right Arabists.
How will the midterm elections influence these battles?
With the control of the Senate still unclear at this writing, the broad contours of power have yet to be determined. Nevertheless, some of the details are clear.
Matthew E. Berger of the Jerusalem Post has written two articles that help map the terrain. The first report is an October 26, 2006 article entitled, “Is there an ally in the House?” and the second is from November 2, 2006 entitled, “Who’s good for the Jews?”
The October article makes some important points about areas to watch, given Democratic leadership in the House:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader who would become speaker of the House, is a strong pro-Israel supporter…
Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor in Congress, is in line to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee if the Democrats win. But some rumblings suggest other lawmakers – namely Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.) – may bypass him because of Lantos’ support for the Iraq war. Privately, congressional aides say Lantos has been reassured by Pelosi that he will get the chairmanship; both men are considered strong backers of the Jewish state.
The more intriguing scenario rests on the Appropriations Committee. Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) is in line to chair it. He has been an occasional critic of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and their influence over Middle East policy. But at the same time, pro-Israel advocates say he has been more than willing to cede issues to his subcommittee leaders, and the new foreign operations subcommittee chair would be Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), a strong, proactive Israel backer.
Among House Democrats, most of the policy differences are measured within a broad, pro-Israel consensus. I guess one might keep an eye on David Obey.
If there is real “news” from the Senate race, it requires a little digging.
The headline story is that in places like Rhode Island, Democratic challengers defeated Republican incumbents. It looks, on the surface at least, like a rejection of Bush, Cheney and the “neocon” war.
Incumbent Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee was a Right Arabist critic of the Neocons.
Just to get a flavor for his views, have a look at a Providence Journal Op-Ed he published on January 20, 2004 entitled, “Foes of ‘land for peace’ Put Mideast Peace at Risk” (registration required):
IN OCTOBER, I traveled with a delegation to Iraq. While in Mosul and Baghdad, I asked about Arabic graffiti we saw scrawled here and there. The answer from our escort was “Oh, a lot of it is crazy stuff about Israel — such as ‘Israel is taking over Iraq.’ The extremists use the Palestinian cause a lot in their propaganda.”…
[I]t is logical to conclude that the “global jihad” is intensified greatly by the dispute over this land... [T]he peace process has been at a dead stop. Why is that?
Two recent events have been especially perplexing. Vice President Dick Cheney just hired as his Mideast adviser a fervent foe of “land for peace,” David Wurmser. His selection is a staggering disappointment to those of us who support the road map.
Second, there was barely a whisper of repudiation from anyone in the Bush administration when Gen. William G. Boykin was found to have appeared publicly in uniform making inflammatory statements disparaging the Islamic religion.
Back in 2002 when the Republicans took control of the Senate, Chafee also grabbed the chairmanship of a key Senate Foreign Relations committee, the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs responsible for oversight of Iraq, Iran, etc, displacing the Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, an Iraq hawk and the ranking Republican who was then in line for the gavel.
Here is the Roll Call report from January 29, 2003 entitled “Chafee Gets Key Gavel” (no online link):
Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), the only Senate Republican to have voted against the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, is poised to take the gavel of the Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees Middle East policy.
The Rhode Island moderate’s selection to helm the subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian affairs came as a surprise to some panel observers, who had thought as recently as last Thursday that the gavel would go to Sen. Sam Brownback (R).
It would be a mistake to overstate the importance of such a subcomittee chairmanship. But every little bit counts and the defeat of Lincoln Chafee can hardly be interpreted as a defeat for Right Zionists like David Wurmser.
California Senator Barbara Boxer is the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee. We’ll see if she gets the gavel.
Where does Boxer stand on Israel?