Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Futile Gesture?

Here is the text of an email I've sent to Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. People from other countries have asked me why we Americans don't do something about our government's policies and bring about a real change. Well, we U.S. citizens are told we can control our government by voting, but that isn't true, as this letter complains. We're also told that writing to politicians will make a difference, but that's not true either. I predict that my email to Nancy Pelosi, if it isn't automatically deleted, will be classified by a 17 year old staff member as "Favorable" or "Unfavorable" in some category which may come in handy for planning lies for the next election as that time approaches. Most likely I'll receive an automated reply which tells what a wonderful job the Democrats are doing, a reply which will have little to do with the subject of my email or with reality. The reply may even thank me for my encouragement. I worked in Washington for 8 years, ghost-wrote an autobiography for a congressman, and I've seen from the inside how the machinery works. Additionally, I've had the experience of sending many letters of protest and warning to politicians before the invasion of Iraq . . . letters which all received the kinds of inattention I've just described.

Dear Speaker of the House Pelosi,

I and everyone I know personally who voted for Democrats in November because we wanted a swift end to the war in Iraq and a strong barrier against an attack on Iran are more disappointed than polite words can express.

We have seen the Democrats as incredibly weak, waffling, and preoccupied with fear that someone will accuse them of "not supporting the troops" or of not sufficiently supporting Israel come November 2008. We are so sick of hearing "support the troops" as a euphemism for "continue war funding" that we actually boo Democrats on the television screen.

A malleable provision to "begin withdrawal" or to "withdraw" from Iraq by sometime in 2008 is not why we voted you into office. You have failed us by passing a bill fully funding the war! You are not ending Bush's illegal and futile war by giving him everything he wants.

Some people I know think that even worse than your funding the war is your cowardly removal of the legislative provision which would have required the president to get congressional approval for any attack on Iran. Your quick capitulation to the Israel Lobby is the equivalent of giving Bush a congressional green light to attack Israel's target and removing any political obstacle to a new war. An attack on innocent Iran could make the Iraq war look like a warmup exercise. If there is a attack on Iran the Democrats haven't even left themselves whining room. You have clearly opened the gate and invited the next war just as most of you did for the Iraq war. . . with the difference that this time you don't have the transparently false excuse, "But we thought there were weapons of mass destruction."

On various blogs I've seen people from all over the world ask, "Why don't you Americans do something? What's happened to the American spirit? How can you let your government do these things to you?" I answer that U.S. citizens are told we can influence events at the ballot box, but that is untrue, as the Democrats have proved in three embarrassing months. One can only conclude that you Democrats, along with the Republicans, are much more interested in holding your jobs in future elections than in rescuing this country from Iraq or preventing a war on Iran.


Fleming Lee


Liz DeLong said...

Thank you for this oh so true and straight to the point letter. I am no longer falling for any of their crap either. We need a third party or we need to start threatening these democrats with recall elections. This is total bullshit.

Sophia said...

Hi.I received a mail from jewish Voice for peace and Just Foreign Policy to sign a petition in support of bill s.594 restricting the selling and the use of cluster bombs. Although I would have preferred a total ban, I signed the petition and I am asking you if you are interested in signing the petition and/or spreading the word.

Fleming said...

Liz, it's good to meet you and to publish your comment. I agree with you, of course, although the fate of past third party candidates isn't encouraging. Maybe now there's a strong enough public rebellion to make a third party work.


Fleming said...

Sophia, thank you. I’m happy to spread the word. Personally, however, I have some reservations about Bill s 594 , which I read after I received your comment. I believe that the bill does nothing which would prevent the U.S. from supplying Israel with cluster bombs just as it did before the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, and nothing which would prevent Israel from killing and endangering civilians with them.

The main provision of the bill is that no U.S. federal funds may be used to sell or transfer any cluster munitions “unless the agreement applicable to the sale or transfer, of such cluster munitions specifies that the cluster munitions will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.”

"Specifying" doesn't mean anything if the recipient simply ignores the restriction.

I believe that Israel was already bound by such a restriction before it dropped the latest bombardment of cluster bombs on Lebanon. Bill s 594 has no enforcement or penalty provisions. What happens if the bill is passed and Israel once more violates its provisions? Nothing.

The only other requirement in the Bill is that the government of the country to which the United States Government sold or transferred the cluster munitions is supposed to prepare a "plan" for cleaning up unexploded cluster munitions “which continue to pose a hazard to civilians” after the munitions are used – a plan which the President will submit “to the appropriate congressional committees” within 30 days after the munitions are used. Period. What happens then?

I may be wrong, but I’m dubious that Sen. Dianne Feinstein would propose legislation that would harm or restrict Israel. She was born Dianne Goldman, to Jewish parents. Her three marriages have been to Jewish men. I’ve never seen any indication that she is unsympathetic to Israel. Obviously she could be a Jewish anti-Zionist, but the content of Bill s 594 makes me suspicious that it is a deliberately ineffective proposal designed to give the false impression that nothing more will need to be done to restrict U.S. transfer of cluster munitions to Israel.

Sophia, I’m sorry I have to differ with you, whose integrity, opinions, and blog I greatly respect. I hope we’ll continue to be friends and close allies.

Fleming said...

Sophia, I just Googled ‘”Dianne Feinstein” Israel’, and now I have no doubt that she is a committed Zionist. Among many other things, here is a report of one of her public pleas on behalf of Israel during the very time that Israel was dropping U.S. cluster bombs on Lebanon:

San Francisco Chronicle, June 24, 2006
‘Shading themselves with Israeli flags and signs that stated "Pro-Israel, pro-peace," more than 1,000 people crowded San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza on Sunday to rally in support of Israel's military campaign in Lebanon and to hear U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein describe the American ally as "fighting for its very existence."

‘Feinstein invoked the al Qaeda attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to describe Israel's fight against Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group that on July 12 killed eight Israeli soldiers and captured two more in a cross-border raid.

'"When terrorists attacked our country on 9/11, Israel did not waver in support of the United States," she said. "And now, in time of need, we will not waver in our support."’

What did Israel do to “support” the U.S. regarding 9/11? Israel has never supported the U.S. in any tangible way, unless you include providing false “intelligence” to instigate an American attack on Iraq. And isn’t it somewhat insulting to the Twin Towers victims to equate their deaths with the deaths or eight Israeli soldiers caused by a Lebanese self-defense organization on a tense border -- especially when it was because of Israel that the Twin Towers were destroyed?

Ms. Feinstein does not, of course, mention the things which Israel had recently done which prompted the Hezbollah attack. And she does not explain how Israel was “fighting for its very existence” when it responded to the small Hezbollah attack by using its vastly superior military equipment to bomb and invade Lebanon.

joice said...

Bravo, Fleming!
I really always have the impression that Democrat and Republican Parties are actually just one party, like a monster with two heads.

Zoey & Me said...

"Monster with two heads" says it all. I remember growing up in Florida where the dominant party here was the Libertarian Party. I did vote for Nader in 2000. Not many people did. We need a stronger person than Nader and someone with the charisma of an Obama.

Naj said...


Sorry I'm too young to hail you, but I wish more and more Americans wrote such letters; because I feel this is the only way we can have our foreign voice heard.

(I also wish someone wrote to tony Blair and told him he is just discrediting his entire army, by showing the world that the soldiers who are fighting on "freedom's" behalf, are just liars; who read confessional statements depending on who is coercing them.

Such soldiers make GREAT KILLERS!

Fleming said...

Joice, do you think that "one party with two heads" applies only in the U.S.? I had a comment from Australia which implied that political parties really meant something there. It would be a relief to live somewhere where the parties actually offered a choice.

The other question is: Do politicians running for office in other countries lie as routinely as N. American candidates do? What U.S. candidates promise has absolutely nothing to do with their later behavior.

Fleming said...

Naj, it's nice to believe that writing letters may have some effect.

Maybe some of our English friends will write to Tony Blair, who is just as much a liar as Bush. As usual, in the recent Iran case "the West" has responded to a gracious, peaceful message from Iran with a nasty response. Typical of liar Blair.

I was wondering how long it would take the British soldiers to contradict themselves when they got home. Little weasels!

Naj, I'm puzzled. Would you please explain what you meant when you wrote "I'm too young to hail you"? You're definitely a lot younger than me, but what did you mean by "hail"?

Sophia said...

Although Pelosi's visit to the ME is in my opinion purely for internal power struggle purposes, it may hold some good like encouraging dialogue over wars to resolve diplomatic impasses. However, what shocked me in her Syria's visit is that she appearecd to be more of the personal emissary of Israel rather than of the US.

Sophia said...

On bill s594, we think similarly. However I signed because I think we in the ME have to engage. We have to approve bills even though they don't resolve any issues. It is like telling a child that he has done well while he hasn't really. US representatives should be encouraged in similar moves even if they are not satisfying because next time they will not bother lifting a finger...We have t show them that we appreciate their move and it is in this spirit that I signed the petition...

Fleming said...

Sophia, first, thanks for the explanation of your position on Bill s594. Your tactics are very logical.

Second, I like the words with which you described Pelosi's visit, "for internal power struggle purposes". I'm sure you're correct: The sight of people like Pelosi sitting down talking to President Assad is an important psychological breakaway from the Bush lunacy of "we won't talk to you until after you've agreed with us." The more such meetings, the better.

Unfortunately, as you pointed out, Pelosi's acting as emissary from Israel is hardly what I'd call a breakaway. I just read the following, which contains something new to me: I didn't know about Pelosi bringing a message which Olmert later disavowed.

"Pelosi also carried a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for Assad, saying that Israel is ready for peace talks with Syria if the Syrians stop sponsoring terrorism. Pelosi got into some hot water for conveying Olmert's message when he later publicly disavowed it."

The story about the disavowal must have been played down in the U.S.
I hope I can find it.
Thanks, Sophia.

Yves said...

As a Brit, I instinctively find the idea of writing to Tony Blair laughable. Anyhow, all he wants now is to be thought well of after he's left the stage. He wants people to like him, that is his trouble. So why did he join with US and go into Iraq? He wants rich people to like him, that is the only answer I can think of.

Fleming said...

Yves, I'm afraid it seems futile to write letters to any U.S. President or British Prime Minister.

I was intrigued by your explanation of Blair's locking step with Bush on Iraq. "Because he wanted rich people to like him." I like that, but I'm still mystified why the British leaders (how far back in the past?) have supported the U.S. in illegal and self-damaging foreign adventures. I wish you'd write an essay on that subject.

Yves said...

Why did previous prime ministers support US? Well it is called "the special relationship". I used to think it was the sense that without USA, Britain would not have won WWI and WW2.

I think Hollywood's Wild West has always been alien to the British, but New York and New England have been playgrounds for well-off Brits, as Britain has been for well-off Americans.

I can recall a time perhaps 20 - 30 years ago when I considered how it might be if the US colonised UK properly, or made it another State, like Alaska. It did not horrify me as it would now.

Apart from the above, I imagine that every country friendly towards US is that way for rather crude mercenary reasons.

US is an ex-colony of Britain and speaks English. These have always been considered points in its favour, despite Britain's losing the War of Independence.

Governments seek strong allies because they don't want strong enemies.

Fleming said...

Yves, thanks for expressing those points.

England an American state? That's more monstrous (for the English) than an "Israeli GI". When I lived in England in the early 1970s I got the impression that the English did not much like the United States, and so they tended to remind one another in front of "our American guest" (i.e., me) that "but for the Americans England would be a Nazi state". The tongue-in-cheek question is, would that have been worse than England being an American state in 2007?

As you say, there have long been ties between the English and American eastern elites which help explain the "special relationship".

It's interesting that the developing American university system was greatly influenced by the German university system, but that the "Ivy League" schools which have incubated so many pro-British American leaders pay homage primarily to England.