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An American Political Earthquake

The November, 2010 mid-term election produced a seismic political effect: The most rapid and wide-in-scope Congressional and Gubernatorial victory since 1948.

The outcome of this election repudiates Obama’s policies and dramatically erodes his political clout. It feeds the confrontational nature of a systematically pro-Israel Congress and increases the number of pro-Israel legislators. It highlights the centrality of the historically pro-Israel American people in shaping of American political scene. The outcome of the mid-term election has reconfirmed that the USA is indeed the center-to-right nation, which has always been pro-Israel.

The outcome of the November, 2010 election requires a reassessment of Jerusalem’s policy toward Washington, which has erroneously assumed that US presidents are omnipotent in foreign and national security matters, while Congress is supposedly a “supporting actor.” In fact, Jerusalem’s policy towards Washington should reflect the policy co-determining power of Congress – the most authentic representative of the American people, and therefore a bastion of support for the Jewish State. Contrary to the “Jerusalem Misperception,” Congress can force presidents to follow the will of the people in domestic as well as in foreign and national security areas.

In two years, President Obama has been transformed from an electoral asset to a lethal electoral liability, threatening the Democrats on Capitol Hill. From a consensus, moderate Democratic president in 2008, he is perceived in 2010 as a president of political polarization, representing the radical Left of the Democratic Party. Never have Americans been so insecure – personally and nationally – and so indecisive about the future of the USA. As high as were the expectations from Obama, so devastating is the perception of his performance domestically (unemployment, foreclosures, taxes, regulations, big government, deficit, controversial health reform, etc.) and internationally (eroded US stature, threat of Islamic terrorism, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, etc.). The Obama Cloud has cost Democrats the support of many independents, women, youth and the elderly, who were responsible for the sweeping Democratic victory in 2008.

The new 112th Congress will be more confrontational within a political system which constrains the power of the President through an elaborate system of Checks & Balances. In addition, the effective Separation of Powers, the Congressional Power of the Purse, a Congressional role in policy-making, an exclusive Congressional legislative role and the preconditioning of policy-implementation upon Congressional approval, effectively restrain presidential power. For example, it was Congress – and not the President – which terminated US military involvement in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Angola, Nicaragua and severed US ties with the white regime in South Africa. Congress has the power – which is not always exercised – to initiate, rescind and curtail arms sales, to award, cut and suspend foreign aid, to expand, limit and suspend US funding of the UN and other international organizations and to direct the President to implement a policy toward other countries and the UN.

Obama cannot count on solid Democratic support in the 112th Congress. A substantial number of Democratic legislators distanced themselves from the President, during the 2010 campaign, in order to survive the wrath of constituents. Additional legislators may refrain from cooperating with the President, in order to avoid becoming part of the list of “Obama Casualties” in 2012. For instance, first-term West Virginia Senator, Democrat Joe Manchin, won largely due to a TV commercial featuring him spraying Obama’s initiatives with bullets and calling for the repeal of Obama’s healthcare reform. At a time when “800 pounder gorillas,” such as 17 and 14 terms Representatives Ike Skelton and John Spratt – Chairmen of the House Armed Services and Budget Committees – are defeated, hardly any Democrat feels safe toward the 2012 election.

A few Democratic legislators, known for their critical/negative attitude towards Israel – such as twenty one term David Obey, the powerful Chairman of the Appropriations Committee – announced retirement in view of Obama-driven electoral rage. At the same time, scores of newly-elected legislators joining Congress in January, 2011, share a world-view, which is usually consistent with pro-Israel sentiments: patriotism, tradition, Judeo-Christian values, national security, pro-2nd Amendment, anti-UN, European-skeptics, anti-terror and associating Arabs and Muslims with terrorism. The freshmen legislators were elected by the real winner in the 2010 election: The American Constituent, who is cognizant of his/her crucial role in shaping US democracy (e.g., bi-annual district election). The Constituent is aware of his/her capability to challenge the Washington establishment and elect legislators in defiance of party headquarters. The Constituent believes in the potency of the electoral battle cry: “We Shall Remember in November,” which haunts legislators who renege on their commitment to voters. Moreover, the number of Americans who identify themselves as Independent has reached an all time high, twice as many Americans identify themselves as Conservative than Liberal and the number of Democrats exceed the number of Liberals. Most Americans are indeed Center-to-Right. They respect the Jewish State as a moral and a strategic ally, which is not a classic foreign policy issue, but largely a domestic issue, whose values are part of the moral foundation of the USA.

Will Jerusalem leverage the post-election bolstered platforms of support in the USA in general and on Capitol Hill in particular? Will Jerusalem learn from its current errors and refrain from subordinating its policy toward Washington to Presidential state-of-mind? Will Jerusalem accord the US democracy and its representatives in Congress their due high-respect and decisive-role, thus advancing critical joint American and Israeli values and interests?


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb

Congress – the co-equal and systematic ally of Israel

Presidents propose and Congress disposes

On September 23, 2021, the US House of Representatives voted 420:9 to replenish the Israeli-developed defensive “Iron Dome” missiles, which are increasingly manufactured – and eventually exported – by the US defense company Raytheon, that benefits from the battle-tested “Israeli laboratory.”

The overwhelming vote reflects Congressional realization that the “Iron Dome”:

*Enhances Israel’s posture of deterrence, which is critical to the survival of all pro-US Arab regimes and minimization of regional instability;
*Reduces the need for full-scale Israeli wars on Palestinian and Islamic terrorism;
*Provides an alternative to Israeli military ground-operations against Palestinian terrorists, which would entail substantial Israeli and Palestinian fatalities;
*Represents joint US-Israel interests, militarily and technologically, in the face of mutual threats (e.g., Islamic terrorism) and mutual challenges (e.g., developing world-class, game-changing technologies).

*Constitutes another example of the systematic support by Congress of enhanced US-Israel cooperation.

The decisive role played by Congress in the replenishment of the “Iron Dome” underscores the cardinal rule of the US political system: The President proposes, but Congress disposes.

The involvement of Senators and House Representatives in foreign policy and national security-related issues has surged since the Vietnam War, Watergate and Iran Gate scandals, the dismantling of the USSR (which transformed the world from a bi-polar to a multi-polar) and rapidly-expanding globalization.

In fact, former Secretary of State, Jim Baker, complained about the growing congressional assertiveness in the area of foreign policy: “You can’t conduct foreign policy with 535 Secretaries of State….”  Former Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, criticized Congress for micromanaging the defense budget: dictating how much to spend on particular weapons, imposing detailed requirements and programmatic restrictions, venturing into policy-setting and requesting that the Department of Defense submits mountains of reports.

Congressional muscles 

The US Congress is the most powerful legislature in the world, and it has demonstrated its co-equal, co-determining muscle in the areas of foreign and defense policies on many occasions, such as:

*Imposing sanctions against foreign countries in defiance of Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump (e.g., Egypt – 2012, Iran – 1996-97 and 2013, Russia – 2017);
*Non-ratification of the 2015 JCPOA, which enabled withdrawal by the US;
*The 2009 non-closure of the Guantanamo Detention Camp was led by Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (NV-D), in defiance of President Obama.
*The 2009 non-confirmation of Charles Freeman to the Director of National Intelligence was led by Senator Chuck Schumer (NY-D);
*The 1999 non-ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in defiance of President Clinton and the international community;
*The unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation took place despite stiff opposition by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker;
*The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act overrode President Reagan’s veto;
*The 1984 Boland Amendment aborted President Reagan’s financial and military aid to anti-Communist elements in Nicaragua;
*The 1983 blocking of President Reagan’s attempted coup against the Surinam pro-Soviet regime;
*The 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act mandated congressional authorization of surveillance of persons and organizations, which may threaten national security;
*The 1975/76 Tunney (CA-D) and Clark Amendments stopped financial and military covert support of the opposition to the pro-Soviet regime in Angola;
*The 1973 Church-Case Amendment ended funding of military involvement in Southeast Asia;
*The 1973 War Powers Act overrode President Nixon’s veto;
*The Jackson-Vanik Amendment preconditioned aid to Moscow upon free immigration.

Congress empowered by the Constitution

As documented in the aforementioned paragraphs, one is advised to note that while Congress is preoccupied with District and State issues, it has the power to both propose and dispose in the areas of foreign and defense policies.

The US Constitution aspires for a limited government and a non-monarchical president, and therefore does not limit Congress to overseeing the budget. It provides the Senate and the House of Representatives with the power to act on strategic issues and policy-setting.

The Constitution accords Congress ”the power of the purse,” oversight of government operations, ratification of treaties, confirmation of key appointments, declaration of war, funding of military operations and cooperation with foreign entities, creation and elimination of government agencies, imposing sanctions on foreign governments, etc.

In other words, the President is the “commander in-chief” within constraints, which are set by Congress.


The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb