But it won’t change the one-sided policies that are driving American foreign policies in the Middle East significantly.
It may cripple the Bush agenda and goals in occupied Iraq, but in reality the Bush agenda was already crippled and even derailed by the tough resistance put up by the Iraqi insurgents themselves against the American occupation.
Where change is really needed is in the continually worsening situation between Palestinians and Israelis. But not even this week's political Tsunami in American politics driven by American public anger at Bush’s Iraqi policies can reverse that tragedy.
In truth, Americans are angry at President Bush’s Iraq policy but not because the policy is unfair to Iraqis. Rather, because Americans have come to recognize that the price of Bush’s policies has been too costly in terms of American lives.
Worse, the Democrats who now control the House and Senate are not sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and they do not favor forcing Israel to make the concessions necessary to achieve a genuine and lasting peace based on compromise.
Tom Lantos, one of the most zealot pro-Israel cheerleaders in the House of Representatives, is set to become the chairman of the House International Relations Committee.
The man who engineered the selection of congressional candidates who defeated enough Republicans to swing control to the Democratic Party is Congressman Rahm Emanuel, who is a pro-Israel congressman who served as a volunteer in the Israeli military.
Emanuel says he worked on an Israeli military base repairing military vehicles during the 1990 war against Iraq. He has insisted he did not wear an Israeli uniform and has refused to answer questions about whether or not he at one time held both a U.S. and an Israeli passport.
Escalating crisis began with Clinton
Emanuel would never have slated any candidate in any congressional race who opposed his hardline support of Israel’s hardline policies, including the building of the barrier on Palestinian lands, and the expansion of Israeli settlements.
No. This week’s elections are not good news for Palestinians or for those who hoped that a new political force might replace Bush, who has single-handedly made a mess out of American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Today’s escalating crisis in Palestine began with the Clinton administration. President Clinton, in his final months as president, tried to force a pro-Israel compromise down the throats of Palestinians at Camp David.
Although Clinton spent years building up Arab World trust, the failure to achieve a peace accord threatened his post-presidential legacy, which would forever define him in history books.
Clinton wanted a Middle East peace accord to be the corner stone of the “legacy.”
Instead, he caused an escalation in tensions. The plan Israel offered through Clinton – and that was never formally written down on paper – would have come very close to setting the stage for a final peace accord, if Clinton only had another year left to his term.
But he didn’t. The proposal quickly backed Palestinians into a corner on Jerusalem and negated the rights of Palestinian refugees without clearly defining what they would get for their dispossession.
That set the stage for hardliners in Israel to exploit the peace accord failings. By the time Clinton turned over the keys of the White House to President Bush, the region was in a rapidly deteriorating state of increasing violence.
What the peace process needed was a new American leader like the early Clinton who could carefully shepherd Palestinian and Israeli negotiators through at least two more years of careful negotiations.
Focus on Saddam
What it got, however, was Bush, a young and inexperienced president who had no foreign relations experience. His first act as President was to redirect his government away from the escalating Middle East conflict towards domestic American policies.
September 11 forced him to refocus on the Middle East. But instead of embracing a strategy to calm Palestinian-Israeli relations, Bush defined the Middle East in the only manner he could understand, by focusing on Iraq and its dictator Saddam Hussein, where he held personal feelings.
Saddam Hussein had insulted his father not only by threatening to have the senior Bush killed, but also by the fact that the senior Bush had been pushed out of office while Saddam Hussein remained in power.
The Democratic leadership that is taking some of the reigns of power away from Bush today is not made up of the same Democrats who stood by Clinton during the early days of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
Lantos, Emanuel and Nancy Pelosi are not Democrats who will easily trade away Israel’s advantages even for a permanent peace accord.
Instead, this new Congress will only toughen its support of Israel, give Israel’s government more leeway to respond with excessive military violence against Hamas and Palestinian civilians, and continue the Bush policies of undermining any Palestinian government lobbying in the United States.
In these final two years, as both the Democratic majority and Bush and his Republican allies prepare for the next presidential election, both sides will battle not to achieve a Middle East peace but to demonstrate who can be more pro-Israel.
That is good for Israel, but not for peace.