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LOCAL Commentary :: Elections & Legislation : Right Wing : U.S. Government : War in Iraq

2006 Elections Augur Change, Expel Donald Rumsfeld

The 2006 election Democratic victory was fueled by a rejection of the war in Iraq and Republican corruption. It offers citizens an opportunity to bolster this current of change.

The first result of the 2006 elections was the explusion of U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, a main architect of the 2003 Iraq war.

President Bush said at his Nov. 7 news conference that he already had begun searching for replacement candidates for Rumsfeld before the election. However it is unlikely Rumsfeld would have been let go this quickly without an electoral rebuke.

Rumsfeld left the White House on Nov. 7, and was replaced by acting Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, according to The Washington Post reporting of Rumsfeld's departing speech. Gates is a former head of the CIA. Since 2002, Gates has been president of Texas A&M University.

The departure of Donald Rumsfeld should be considered a big victory by those seeking peace, justice, and the rule of law in America.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks Rumsfeld along with Vice President Dick Cheney steered U.S. attention from pursuing Al Qaeda to pursuing Saddam Hussein, according to numerous press and White House insider accounts. Rumsfeld himself pioneered the 'new' interrogation techniques used by the U.S. military since Sept. 11, techniques that were responsible for U.S. prisoner abuse scandals in Iraq. These so-called new techniques have come to defined by most people as torture.

In fact Vice President Dick Cheney most recently endorsed one of these techniques--simulated drowning of a suspect by "water-boarding"--on a conservative talk-radio show just before the election.

If water-boarding is in fact torture as it seems to be, than Vice President Dick Cheney is violating U.S. law and the international Geneva Conventions by endorsing it. The departure of Rumsfeld means one less proponent of torture at the highest levels of U.S. government.

Now citizens and also newly-empowered Congressional critics of torture, secret prisons, and holding suspects without court review must work to reassert the rule of law.

In addtion those who have long criticized the launch and conduct of the 2003 Iraq war should take heart. They should also be sad that results have been as they foretold.

The story of the 2006 elections is that citizens in a representational democracy acted to bring about a significant institutional change in the composition of the U.S. government. Now, as citizens, we must keep the pressure on this government to enact change. In fact, we must turn to our communities to promote, support, spread ideas of justice, humanity, and peace that will support this change.

These values exist in the words of the U.S. Constitution and U.S. Declaration of Independence. They exist in the words of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, American writer and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson, and more recently were embodied by Nelson Mandela in South Africa and by numerous others.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." In this spirit, there is much to do. Furthermore, there are many activities that can be done in the community to act locally and build a better world.

Take strength from the fact that since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, people have campaigned and made America a better, more just society. To quote Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech":

"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!"

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