As widely predicted, American voters, angry and frightened by their nation’s serious economic problems and persistent unemployment, took it out on the Democrats.
Republicans scored a big win in last week’s US mid-term elections, taking control of the House of Representatives and leaving Democrats seriously weakened in the Senate. Right in time for Halloween, George Bush seemed to have has risen from the grave.
Independent voters, who played the key role in Obama’s smashing 2008 electoral victory, swung sharply to the Republicans by stunning 34 points. Many liberal Democrats, deeply dismayed that Obama had intensified the Afghanistan War and remained engaged in Iraq, did not vote.
Liberals and independents had backed Obama in 2008 hoping he would end President George Bush’s aggressive foreign polices, the so-called war on terror, close Guantanamo, and end curtailment of civil liberties. Liberals are dismayed Obama has continued many of Bush’s most draconian policies, calling him “Obusha.”
The much-ballyhooed “Tea Party” movement of far right-wing Republicans got some members elected, but did not do quite as well as expected. However, the Tea Party has moved the Republican Party, and some moderate Democrats, further to the right.
Though the president commands foreign policy, the new Republican House will control spending and thus have significant influence on US foreign and military policy.
There is no doubt Obama has been weakened; many moderate Democrats were swept away by the Republican deluge. The losses of Sen. Ross Feingold of Wisconsin, one of the most intelligent and principled senators, was a major blow.
Europe has always been uneasy with right-wing Republicans and the US “national security establishment” – which in Britain was traditionally known as `imperialists.’
Republicans will try to block deals with the EU on climate change, financial regulation, and trade. “Red” Washington will work harder to block the EU’s Mideast sensible peace initiatives. Republicans will press demands the EU fall in line with harder-edged US policies toward Russia, the Muslim world, and China.
Washington is already annoyed by growing EU-Russian cooperation. Republicans, deeply hostile to Russia, will try to block this entente and press US influence deeper into the Caucasus, Caspian, Central Asian and Black Sea regions. Such action is sure to put Moscow and Washington on a collision course.
Why the US continues to provoke nuclear-armed Russia in its sensitive backyard is a mystery. Imagine how the US would react if Russia did the same in Mexico, Central America or the West Indies.
Many Republicans oppose the US-Russian nuclear arms reduction pact being discussed, demanding major changes that Moscow may reject. This, even though the nuclear arms treaty changes very little and has been watered down.
Expect US-Russian relations to grow more discordant and jagged. America’s military-industrial-financial complex needs those nasty Russians back as serious enemies.
The Republican victory is a big win for Israel’s right wing and leader Benjamin Netanyahu.
It’s hard to imagine the US Congress being any more pro-Israeli than it already is. The brilliant Israeli writer Uri Avnery once quipped that if so ordered by Israel, Congress would rush to repeal the Ten Commandments.
But some of Israel’s most ardent partisans are now in key positions in the House: among them, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen the likely new House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman; and Eric Cantor, the designated majority leader. Both are ardent members of what critics call the “American Likud Party” and speak for Israel’s hard-line right. Bush’s former press secretary, Ari Fleischer, hailed the election as “great news for Israel.”
Obama’s feeble efforts to halt Israel’s colonization of Arab lands is likely over. He no longer has to face being humiliated by Israel. More US arms and money will flow to Israel. US hostility to Israel’s special enemies – Syria, Hamas, Hezbullah, and Iran – will intensify.
Equally important, Israel’s enhanced power-block in Congress will now push even harder for a US attack on Iran and Lebanon. Chances of Mideast war have risen sharply.
Republicans will become Obama’s primary war supporters, urging widening US military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. They already strongly oppose Obama’s plans to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Remember: born-again Christian evangelicals, passionately pro-Israel and deeply anti-Muslim, make up 44% of Republican voters.
Pakistan and its nuclear weapons will become a prime target of the pro-Israel bloc in Congress.
Already tense US relations with China are likely to further deteriorate. Right-wing Republicans have traditionally backed Taiwan and believe China is an inevitable enemy of the US. They are set on punishing China over trade and currency issues.
The so-called ‘national security establishment’ is already pressing Obama for a more assertive naval policy in Asian waters and confrontation with China over its claims to the region’s disputed islands.
There is deep Republican hostility to North Korea, which the neocons call a threat to Israel. Expect a harder US line towards Cuba and Venezuela. Foreign policy will be increasingly remilitarized.
Obama may join America’s unemployed in 2012 unless the economy perks up.