US foreign policy: New Congress and Republicans

Dr Yasin Ziauddin

The 2014 mid-term election results show that Republicans have a sweeping majority across the board in the Congress as well as the state leadership of the Union — 52 of 100 Senate seats; 244 of 435 House seats; and 29 of 50 governorships are in the hands of the Republicans. The world has no reason to rejoice because this change is not going to do anything with respect to the US foreign policy, if not make things more difficult for the third world countries, especially for the Islamic states.
As a sign of the perpetual escalation of the war in the Middle East and to continue the same policy with much vigour and gusto, the New York Times reported on November 7, that ‘President Obama has authorised the deployment of an additional 1,500 American troops to Iraq in the coming months, doubling the number of Americans meant to train and advise Iraqi and Kurdish forces.’ And no one in the White House was willing to give a number where the escalation would stop because there was none.
Let us not forget that not too long ago, the Republican leadership criticised Obama for not being more forthcoming and strong in dealing with ISIS or ISIL, or IS. Senator John McCain said on Thursday that Obama’s entire national security team should resign over the resurgence of Islamic militants in Iraq.
About a month ago, Politico reported McCain as saying, ‘Everybody in his national security team, including the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, ought to be replaced,’ the Arizona Republican told reporters ahead of a classified Senate Armed Services Committee briefing on the deteriorating situation in Iraq. ‘It’s a colossal failure of American security policy.’
When it comes to foreign policy, there is no other Republican more potent and influential than Senator McCain (R-Az). And they are up in arms with Obama for being weak and failing to exterminate the ‘IS’ like an efficient pest-control service. When Republicans were in power, they would just do that and they cannot wait to begin again. But alas! Having a majority in the Congress does not guarantee Republicans any power over the real forces like the Department of Defence. At best they would be able to pass some bills and strongly urge the president to sign them, and maybe twist his arm, but if the president did not sign, all their labour would just go in vain. While the president can unilaterally sign an executive order; the Congress cannot pass a temporary bill. As a result, the process might come to a deadlock until the next presidential election in 2016. It looks like by escalating the war in the Middle East and increasing troops, Obama has made his first gesture of reconciliation with the newly elected 114th Congress, which would start its business on January 3, 2015.
John Hudson’s blog on Foreign Policy web site, on October 30, 2014, clearly indicted what would happen if the republicans won the election, even before the voting started: ‘If the November 4 elections deliver a GOP-controlled Senate, the chairmanship of the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee is likely to go to a North Carolinian whose unwavering support for the CIA and NSA could radically transform the committee’s oversight agenda. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), an outspoken defender of enhanced interrogation techniques and broad government surveillance powers, is next in line for the chairmanship. Unlike the current Democratic head of the committee, Dianne Feinstein of California, Burr has been harshly critical of a yet-to-be-released report on the Bush administration’s post-9/11 torture practices — a view shared by many in the agency.’
In other words, a win for the Republicans is a win for the CIA, and a return to the good old policies of the Republican era, especially during the administrations of Bush (father and son) and Reagan.
The troop surge came just 24 hours after the Wall Street Journal article by Jay Solomon and Carol E Lee disclosed that Obama had sent a personal letter to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and stressed shared US-Iranian interests in combating insurgents, and urged progress on nuclear talks. At first the White House officially denied the report and then agreed to the report by saying that they cannot comment the on president’s personal communications with world leaders.  Does this mean that Obama is trying to make a nuclear deal with Iran?  The affirmation comes from the other party in the Middle East-Israel. It looks like Israel is hell bent on starting a flame in Jerusalem and drag the US, at least with respect to Jerusalem. If indeed the US makes a deal with Iran, the first thing that would go up in flame would be Jerusalem.
Dr Yasin Ziauddin is a Bangladeshi expatriate living in the United States.

Source: New Age

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