The keynote speaker was former Rhode Island Senator, Republican Lincoln Chafee, whom I was pleased to support in his (unfortunately) unsuccessful reelection effort last year.
Chafee is an extremely soft-spoken man, but the content of his speech had the otherwise distracted and boisterous audience spellbound. He surprised me by not focusing on an I-told-you-so critique of the Bush Administration's Iraq policy, which Chafee had every right to give as one of only 23 Senators to vote NO on the authorization for the Iraq War (a pathetic measure enacted because Congress doesn't waste its time reading those pesky footnotes of the Constitution like Article I, Section 8 which give CONGRESS the power to declare war). Instead, he chose to remind the audience of just how little progress has been made on the Israel/Palestine issue, especially since all our favorite think-tank heroes and their media stooges were giddy at the time telling all of us that "the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad".
Chafee recalled his questioning of Paul Wolfowitz during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, telling last night's crowd that he was amazed that, even just a few months after the invasion of Iraq, the Israel-Palestine issue was the first thing that Wolfowitz mentioned.
CHAFEE: It seems to me that we've thrown a rock into the pool that is the Middle East, and just for the sake of my question, if all goes well with restoring order in Iraq, what is their strategic vision of the ripples that now are going out from this rock?Then Chafee quoted from a speech that President Bush made to the American Enterprise Institute (where neocon Kool-Aid is manufactured), in which the President stated:
What is their strategic vision in the Middle East now?
WOLFOWITZ: I'd say several things. I think some of them hopefully will happen even perhaps before some of the other results are achieved inside Iraq.
I think one of the ripples is a positive impact on the Arab- Israeli peace process, and clearly we need it, we need to move that process forward.
I think we have credibility, enormous credibility, not that we didn't have it before, we have it even more than we did before. I think the removal of Saddam Hussein as somebody who was providing $25,000 to every terrorist family, there's already signs that that is having a positive impact.
...It's hard to say exactly how. It's not a domino affect. It's not Iraq affects the country next door which affects -- it's not a physical thing. It's a physiological and political and sort of morale impact, which can be large.
Success in Iraq could also begin a new stage for Middle Eastern peace, and set in motion progress towards a truly democratic Palestinian state. (Applause.) The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training, and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated. (Applause.)Chafee also recalled the story about the forgotten shoulder-shrugging Middle East envoy Ambassador John Wolf, that I covered in an earlier post.
...For its part, the new government of Israel -- as the terror threat is removed and security improves -- will be expected to support the creation of a viable Palestinian state -- (applause) -- and to work as quickly as possible toward a final status agreement. As progress is made toward peace, settlement activity in the occupied territories must end. (Applause.)
All in all, I have to give Chafee credit for speaking the truth and brilliantly debunking the ridiculous policies that have led the US into this mess. The American people are worse off not having him in the Senate to expose Wolfowitz and his ilk for what they really are. I find it amazing that he was able to point out all these facts without displaying even the slightest bit of sarcasm. The man does not have a sarcastic bone in his body! I respect him for that, although admittedly I prefer the cocky I-told-you-so attitude of my paleoconservative pals (as seen in the latest Chronicles issue and just about every hilarious column from Taki Theodoracopulos.)