Wednesday :: May 5, 2004

George Will On George's Will


by pessimist

Any time a Republican administration loses the support of George Will, it is in incomprehensible quantities of offal big time.

Will, whose demeanor rarely rises above lukewarm, is about as conservative as they come, so when he starts getting concerned about the activities of other 'conservatives' like George Warmonger Bush, things are far from good - for Bush.


Time for Bush to See The Realities of Iraq

Appearing Friday in the Rose Garden with Canada's prime minister, President Bush was answering a reporter's question about Canada's role in Iraq when suddenly he swerved into this extraneous thought: "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

What does such careless talk say about the mind of this administration?

Careful - we might misunderestimate Shrub if we look too closely!

Note that the clearly implied antecedent of the pronoun "ours" is "Americans." So the president seemed to be saying that white is, and brown is not, the color of Americans' skin. He does not mean that. But that is the sort of swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters.

What he suggested was: Some persons -- perhaps many persons; no names being named, the smear remained tantalizingly vague -- doubt his nation-building project because they are racists. That is one way to respond to questions about the wisdom of thinking America can transform the entire Middle East by constructing a liberal democracy in Iraq.

But if any Americans want to be governed by politicians who short-circuit complex discussions by recklessly imputing racism to those who differ with them, such Americans do not usually turn to the Republican choice in our two-party system.

This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts.

Thinking is not the reiteration of bromides about how "all people yearn to live in freedom" (McClellan). And about how it is "cultural condescension" to doubt that some cultures have the requisite aptitudes for democracy (Bush). And about how it is a "myth" that "our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture" because "ours are not Western values; they are the universal values of the human spirit" (Tony Blair).

Speaking of culture, as neoconservative nation-builders would be well-advised to avoid doing, Pat Moynihan said: "The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself."

I'm not sure I buy Moynihan's assessment of the central conservative truth, but if any of our conservative friends would like to discuss this, I'm open for it. I do generally accept his interpretation of the central liberal truth.

Here we reach the real issue about Iraq, as distinct from unpleasant musings about who believes what about skin color. The issue is the second half of Moynihan's formulation -- our ability to wield political power to produce the requisite cultural change in a place such as Iraq.

Will uses the phrase "requisite cultural change" - I happen to have a few questions about WHO decided that change was REQUIRED and WHY. WHAT justifies such an arrogant assertion that someone needs to decide that someone else needs to change?

Allow me to illustrate my points. I ["WHO"] decide that our conservative friends need to be forced to become liberals ["REQUIRED"] before they can comment here on this blog, because I feel they would be better human beings ["WHY"]. They will, of course, vehemently disagree, feeling that they are in their correct personas and that it is WE who should be forced to become conservatives for the good of - well, whatever it would be good for.

Which of us is right to want to force change on the other? Which of us has the right to force change upon the other?

If my humble opinion counts, neither of us has the right to force anything of the sort on anyone.

You will note that I never answer the question of WHAT justifies my need for such a change. In general, there is no justification for me to demand change of another. If such a case can be made on a specific situation, then it is self-evident.

Back to the 'Try OOOMPH' of Der Will.

Time was, this question ['our ability to wield political power to produce the requisite cultural change in a place such as Iraq'] would have separated conservatives from liberals. Nowadays it separates conservatives from neoconservatives.

Condoleezza Rice, a political scientist, believes there is scholarly evidence that democratic institutions do not merely spring from a hospitable culture, but that they also can help create such a culture. She is correct; they can. They did so in the young American republic.

There are times when George Will says something that can be trusted. This is one of those statements. He's correct that the American culture at the time of the Revolution was the right one for the formation of the government we have. Without that culture, which the government is to this day supposed to be protecting, our government could not have come about at all.

Suppose, at the end of the American Revolution, France decided that Americans needed to adopt as their government one based upon French monarchy. They had helped us to rid ourselves of the hated British king, so did they not have the right to decide that we needed to become vassals of the French king? That our new government had to be based upon that of France, with French forms and practices?

Our 'Might Makes Right' friends, had they been French in 1781, would certainly have so insisted.

There is no way that the American people could have withstood assault by the French to impose such a government, for we could not have ousted the British and their imposition of their government without their assistance [Remember this the next time you order some Freedom Fries].

Certainly, no American would, even now, accept the imposition of any form of government upon America by someone whose idea of government is radically different from that which we have experienced for decades. So why is it that when we raise objections to America deciding that Islamia NEEDS to become more like Leave It To Bremer America WE'RE THE BAD GUYS???

If George Will feels that this isn't a good thing, as I quote him above, then things are really bad. You can easily tell it's bad when he quotes a known liberal like Moynihan!


Back to the Ballad of Will 'm Tell

But it would be reassuring to see more evidence that the administration is being empirical, believing that this ['democratic institutions rising from hospitable cultures'] can happen in some places, as opposed to ideological, believing that it must happen everywhere it is tried.

Being steadfast in defense of carefully considered convictions is a virtue. Being blankly incapable of distinguishing cherished hopes from disappointing facts, or of reassessing comforting doctrines in face of contrary evidence, is a crippling political vice.

Personal to our conservative friends: Conservative George Will, your ideological ally, puts the jist of my objections to your so-called arguments into a nutshell here. Please take heed and adapt your arguments accordingly, as we must ours. Carefully considered convictions never start out with 'You're wrong' or "You're stupid". If you have a point, make it and support it with verifiable evidence. Maybe you are right and maybe you are not, but we will never accept any point you try to make if it can't be tested. Just saying it's so, as Will is basically saying in this article, isn't going to make it so.

Speak for yourself, George.

In "On Liberty" (1859), John Stuart Mill said, "It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say" that the doctrine of limited, democratic government "is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties." One hundred forty-five years later it obviously is necessary to say that.

If it's necessary once, it certainly is necessary twice! The doctrine of limited, democratic government is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. May someday the United States of America once again be filled with human beings in the maturity of their faculties instead of with these violent juvenile tyros with delusions of superiority, privilege, and greatness.

You get the last word, George.

Ron Chernow's magnificent new biography of Alexander Hamilton begins with these of his subject's words: "I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."

That is the core of conservatism. Traditional conservatism. Nothing "neo" about it. This administration needs a dose of conservatism without the prefix.

We could quibble about some of the specifics, but I can accept this on its face.

Another columnist, David Sarasohn, also has something to say about Bush's recent statements:


Opposition to Bush: terrorist or racist?

When things go badly for the Bush administration, the Bushies emphasize what dreadful people their critics are. You can understand why, the way things are going now, the White House is deeply indignant about Americans who disagree.

Hardly ever has an administration had more need to change the subject.

Early last week, the president's close adviser Karen Hughes, on CNN to promote her new book, was asked about the March for Women's Lives, the huge pro-abortion rights demonstration in Washington last Sunday. The demonstrators, she explained, were all on the wrong side. (Actually, folks like al-Qaida are generally opposed to abortion, so Hughes can draw the appropriate conclusion about their reverence for life.)

While the charge is clearly, as Gloria Feldt of Planned Parenthood says, "an insensitive and divisive overreach" -- and if 800,000 Americans marching in Washington are all the equivalent of terrorists, things are worse than we thought -- it's not too far from typical administration strategy.

President Bush himself has recently suggested that part of the opposition to his Iraq policy is that some people just don't think non-white people deserve freedom. It's the kind of statement that it's considered impolite to actually take seriously -- no one has ever asked the president to name some of the people who feel that way -- but the president likes the argument considerably.

In fact, he offered it again Friday, in a news conference with the prime minister of Canada -- someone who might at any point, and later did, annoyingly answer a question in French.

Bush ended an answer about Canada's role in Iraq by charging, "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

Although, from the limited definition of "sovereignty" the United States plans to turn over June 30, they can't do it any time soon.

Aside from the president's not mentioning anyone who argues that invading Iraq was a bad idea because non-whites can't govern themselves -- and finding that kind of critic might be as hard as finding weapons of mass destruction -- there's another problem with the argument:

The globe is now full of Muslim and non-white people furious at the United States about its Iraq policy. Presumably they don't feel that way because they don't think Muslims and non-whites can't handle independence. Maybe the 46 percent of Iraqis who just told Gallup that the invasion brought more harm than good -- against 33 percent who thought it brought more good than harm -- feel that way because they don't think they can govern themselves. Or maybe they object to a massive American occupation of Iraq, with an estimated 1,400 Iraqi deaths in April alone, because they just don't have our reverence for life.

So a year after the president triumphantly announced the completion of "major combat operations" in Iraq, the administration has devised its response to criticism:

If you disagree with it on abortion, you're a terrorist.

If you disagree with it on Iraq, you're a racist.

Either way, the White House sends a clear message: If any Americans take issue with a Bush policy foreign or domestic, there's a problem.

With them.


'We're right and you're not - PERIOD!' is no way to run a democratic republic. We'll have to remember this once we get it back.

There certainly seem to be a lot of people who would like to see this happen!


Rob Zaleski: Bush raises left's circulation and magazine's

George W. Bush's presidency has been good for The Progressive magazine.

Back in 1999 - on the eve of The Progressive's 90th birthday - the magazine's circulation had dropped 5,000 in just four years and was treading water at 27,000 subscribers. Since George W. took office, circulation has more than doubled - to 66,000 - and continues to multiply almost daily.

"A lot of it's the disgust that people across the board - from right-wing Democrats like Joe Lieberman to left-wingers like Noam Chomsky - have felt toward Bush from day one of the stolen election," says Progressive Editor Matt Rothschild of his magazine's soaring popularity.

"There's a great feeling that Bush has been dragging this country over a cliff. And the things he's been doing ... have created an atmosphere where people are just starving for more information, starving for analysis of what's going on."

Still, if Rothschild's assumptions are correct, how does one explain the president's continued strong showing in the polls? "It is a riddle, isn't it?" he says of Bush's approval rating (which had risen to 48 percent in the latest Pew Research Center poll).

Keep in mind, however, "He starts with a very hardcore base of right-wing evangelicals, which may be as big as 20 percent. Then he has a traditional Republican base beyond that, which may be another 20 percent. And he seems to have another 5 to 10 percent from somewhere - although I don't know where. Maybe white males."

The 'maybe' is the part the campaign staff of John F. Kerry needs to examine if they really want their candidate to win.

There has been some evidence of late that some of these 'traditional' Republicans aren't too pleased with Dumbya's 'misunderestimating' the effect his policies have on the American economy. Some of these arguments might be of interest to them.


Iraq war is a dagger at heart of U.S. economy

However badly the war is going in Iraq, on the home front it is still a good thing for President George W. Bush - so far. A year ago, the push to Baghdad doubled the economic growth rate and got a recovery started. Now, the literally untold billions in military payrolls and equipment purchases that keep the war going also help to propel our economy along.

This is normal. All wars bring cheerful economic news at first. They stimulate production. They raise capacity utilization, which helps business cover costs and improve earnings. This is good for the stock market. Wars create jobs and also usually draw young men and women away from the labor force, cutting unemployment. (So far, this war has been fought by a handful of overstretched professional soldiers, so the job effects have been small. That could change, especially if the draft is resurrected, as some would like.)

But the good news doesn't last.

Soon enough, profiteers see their chances. Bottlenecks happen. Prices go up. Long before unemployment disappears, wars generate inflation. Indeed, inflation - and the depreciation of private wealth and public debt that it brings - is the ages-old way in which governments pay for war.

This is already happening. Unemployment, while going down somewhat, is still not changing as rapidly as the inflation numbers are - and this 'recovery' is just starting.

Wars upset the trade balance. They gobble imports. And they tend to pull critical resources - scientific talent and key materials - away from exports. Our trade deficit is already staggering. As the economy grows, it will get worse. Under wartime conditions, it will get worse still.

Wars aggravate the national external debt. Already we borrow half a trillion dollars yearly from abroad. How long will Japan and China keep sending us goods and piling up uncashed IOUs in return?

No one knows.

And what do we get for our blood and treasure? Security is priceless, of course - if, in fact, you get it. But in material terms, do we get, for instance, cheaper oil from our Saudi ally? Certainly not at the moment.

In his new book, Bob Woodward does tell us that Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, has arranged a few months of relief for his friend, George W. Bush, this coming fall. But don't expect that largess to outlast the election.

The United States had one good economic experience with war. World War II conquered the Depression, reindustrialized the country and built the middle class. But that was special. The United States fought World War II with full mobilization, super-high taxes, super-low interest rates, big deficits, price controls and rationing.

Iraq isn't going to be like World War II.

Economically, the Iraq war is more like Vietnam: insidiously [mis]underestimated, sold to the public and Congress on false premises, improperly budgeted and inadequately taxed. During the Vietnam years, there was also economic growth at first. But then came creeping inflation, followed by worldwide commodity shocks, the oil crisis of 1973, international monetary disorder and a decade of economic troubles.

Could it happen again? Yes, it could.

Did Team Bush think through the economics of a long and costly war? There is no evidence it did.

It counted on the war being quick, cheap and self-financing. If it thought about the long-range economics, there seems to have been only one goal: control of oil.

Spain's Philip II believed that control of the gold of Peru and silver of Mexico would guarantee his nation's predominance in Europe. Elizabeth I and Sir Francis Drake disagreed.

Louis XIV and Napoleon I trusted in conquest to enrich France. Their ministers - Colbert and Talleyrand - knew better.

Winston Churchill vowed not to preside over the end of the British Empire. But his successors gave it up when they couldn't afford it anymore.

Luckily, the United States was there to take over, and we had the support of the free world. But that was then.

By going into Iraq with few allies, we've assumed the entire economic cost. The home-front damage is small now, but it will build over time. And it will take time and effort to repair.

The future American economy will especially need a new energy direction, emphasizing conservation and renewable energy, and concerted investment in the world's next generation of technologies - both to reduce our oil dependence and to help balance our trade deficits.

Let's hope Sen. John F. Kerry makes this point on his manufacturing tour this week. And let's hope that Americans understand.

Real security begins at home.


Horrid Thoughts About Horrid Leaders

Maybe you've forgotten John DiIulio. An early ranking member of the Bush Administration -- in charge of faith-based programs -- he was the first to leave and tell us what really went on inside the White House.

Basically, he said, virtually every initiative of the Bush Administration was taken for partisan political reasons. There was precious little, if any, loftier discussion of whether something might be good for the American people. Everything flowed from the top down, from the cynical, manipulative minds of Rove and Cheney and their ilk. The major question dealt with was: How could this policy benefit Bush&Co. and their friends?

Wrote Dilulio: "This gave rise to what you might call Mayberry Machiavellis - staff, senior and junior, who consistently talked and acted as if the height of political sophistication consisted in reducing every issue to its simplest, black-and-white terms for public consumption, then steering legislative initiatives or policy proposals as far right as possible."

Later, we heard variations on a similar theme by other, more highly-placed insiders -- such as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and Anti-Terrorism Czar Richard Clarke and Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV -- that confirmed that Bush and his inner-circle are not especially curious about the real world and are not interested in hearing unwelcome truths.

Politics and power are what really matter.

Once Bush&Co. make up their minds, it's full speed ahead; if they run into a brick wall, all attempts are made to deny the existence of the wall-like obstacle in front of them. If there is no way to escape that impediment, they'll back and fill and try to go around another way, but the ultimate goal remains to get to where they wanted to get to originally and, by golly, they will get there -- even if it requires them, stealth-like, to pretend for awhile that they're changing their destination.

THE IRAQ DEBACLE

What's happening in Iraq is a good example. The neocons in charge of American foreign/military policy -- hard-rightists from The Project for The New American Century like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Feith -- wanted to get a U.S. military foothold in Iraq, and to bend the existing Arab culture in the Middle East to its "democratic"/"free market" will.

Who said they could? Why do they think they need to? Isn't there a better way to do this than to kill people?

To effect this U.S. presence, the Bush Administration had to invent a rationale to justify an invasion and hyped an "imminent" danger posed by Saddam Hussein with his supposed terrifying biochemical and nuclear weapons. None of it was true, of course, and thousands of Americans and Iraqis are paying the ultimate price for those gross lies and deceptions -- and U.S. taxpayers, and their descendants, are paying the humongous financial price.

The ongoing conflict in Iraq has turned into an embarrassing disaster for the U.S., as it gets sucked into the kind of war Saddam and his military planners wanted to fight: an urban insurgency against the American occupiers. Comparisons with Vietnam and the Battle of Algiers are being made even by conservative pundits. Support at home for Bush's bumbling war policies is melting away. Unless Rove can find some way to get Iraq off the front pages of voters' minds, Bush conceivably could lose the election in November.

And so, Bush&Co. are desperate enough to do anything to get the U.S. out of the death zones in Iraq. The aim is to take American voters' attention off the war long enough to get Bush elected. Once that happens, all bets and restrictions are off; it's back to moving toward those original neo-con goals.

In Iraq, the goal is to have a military presence in the country -- the U.S. already has set up 14 bases inside Iraq -- so as to have leverage as the U.S. attempts to reshape the Middle Eastern geopolitical map, and to have effective control of the natural resources of the area at a time when oil reserves worldwide are running down. If Bush were to win in November, the original agenda would come into play: moving hard on Iran and Syria and others to toe the U.S. line, or face the consequences -- with the example of "shock-and-awe" and "regime change" in Iraq to help focus the minds of leaders who might object to American hegemony.

THE LOGIC OF TORTURE

How history delights in irony. Bush claims that because of U.S. "liberation" of Iraq, America has taken the country beyond the Saddam horrors and brutalities and tortures of the past and into a bright new present and glowing future. At virtually that same moment, what many Iraqis and human rights groups already knew was revealed to the public: the U.S. and U.K. have been involved in systematic humiliation and torture of Iraqi prisoners -- sometimes to the point of death -- and often at the same jails that Saddam's thugs used for the same purposes. Why Bush and Blair would be "shocked, shocked" to discover that the troops serving under their command would behave in an uncivilized manner is a mystery.

For nearly four years now, Bush, for example, has behaved like a king who answers to no-one.

His administration's behavior across the globe -- strutting and swaggering unimpeded like an arrogant bully, taking what it wants, demeaning its enemies as "uncivilized," claiming a dichotomy of God on our side & the Other as thoroughly "evil" -- almost invites ordinary U.S. soldiers to see their Iraqi enemy as lesser mortals, somehow unworthy of normal human consideration.

It's what the world witnessed in Stalinist Russia, Hitlerian Germany, Khmer Rouge Cambodia, Israel in Palestine, France in Algeria, the U.S. in Vietnam.

We are the good guys with God on our side ("Gott mit Uns"), our enemies are some barbaric sub-humans whose God is inferior to ours; even with international rules of war and treatment of POWs in place, there naturally will be officers and troops who go over the line with great regularity. Once the war genie is let out of the bottle, we shouldn't be surprised by the inhumanity that follows.

The rationales justifying this Iraq adventure were, and remain, rotten. The post-"Mission Accomplished" war is a disaster. The commander-in-chief, looking through rosy-colored glasses, maintains that all is well, just a few malcontent natives and "foreign terrorists" to deal with.

When an entire war enterprise is based on faulty foundations, as in Vietnam, as in Iraq, one should expect the troops -- many, if not most, of whom come from moral, religious backgrounds -- to recognize, on some level, that what they're being asked to do varies from what they've been taught is right.

Some soldiers can't handle that kind of emotional/ethical warping and psychologically snap, performing ghastly acts of torture and violence. That is an expected part of warfare; if the war seems to be lasting forever, if your own country doesn't armor and protect you enough, if you as a soldier learn you can't trust anyone in the native population, and if the required changes aren't made from the top down, the entire war policy and behavior can slide off the moral tracks. It happened in Vietnam, it's happening increasingly in Iraq.

But, since the Bush neocons want Iraq and what it represents -- political greed, don't forget, is their middle name -- they will do anything necessary to stick to their goal of using Iraq to "transform" the energy-rich Middle East. They will do so even if it means temporarily contradicting their own best interests on the ground in order to reduce the number of Americans dying -- for one reason and one reason only: to win the election in November.

This attitude helps explain the U.S. rush to hand over the reins of "sovereignty" -- to someone, anyone, please -- even though the Americans will continue to maintain their bases and pull the strings from behind the scenery; and why the U.S. is even willing to pay out huge amounts of "protection money" to Iraqi militias (often made up of the same insurgents who were firing on them previously) in order to buy their way out of deadly firefights.

THE ISRAEL/PALESTINE DISCONNECT

There clearly is a disconnect in the White House between what's happening in Israel/Palestine and what's happening in the Arabic Middle East and, in general, throughout the Islamic world. Since Bush&Co. have placed all their chips on Israel in that Middle East struggle, Sharon's Likud-led government considers that it has carte blanche to pacify and control that area however it wants. Bush&Co. simply refuse to comprehend (or care) that the U.S. and Israel are pouring gasoline on the smoldering fire of Arabic and Islamic resentment across the globe.

If they really wanted to win hearts and minds in the Islamic world, the U.S. would engineer and work tirelessly for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East: Arab-wide recognition of Israel within secure pre-1967 borders, a geographically and economically viable Palestinian state, withdrawal of Israel from most of the occupied territories and settlements.

But Bush has now moved the U.S. away from its traditional "honest broker" role between the two warring parties, and placed America squarely in the Likud camp, thus ensuring that Muslims worldwide see little or no difference between the two most powerful countries in the area.

Both Israel and the United States increasingly are seen by Muslims these days as a common enemy -- occupying powers who employ similarly brutal, inhumane acts in trying to control the local populations.

In short, Bush -- the same guy who infuriated the Islamic world when he used the term "crusade" to define his initial anti-terrorist policy -- has become the best recruiter for Hamas and Islamic Jihad. And, most importantly in terms of domestic American security, Bush has become the best recruiter for Al Qaida.

HORRID THOUGHTS

Which leads to an unsettling line of thought:

Since Bush Administration policies are so outrageous and extreme, and since the manner of carrying out those policies is so incompetently handled, and since Bush&Co. alienate everyone who comes near them, one is tempted to believe that these Bush guys are alien pod people, or forces from the dark side, or agents of a foreign power -- sent to destroy America from within and ensure defeat abroad.

Of course, I'm not serious about that. But at times the Bush Administration's policies, behavior and bumbling ways certainly make one wonder. In addition to the blowback that can be expected from Bush's Israel/Palestine mistakes, here are a few more examples of policies that, if one didn't know better, could be viewed as designed to aid our enemies:

* The highest echelons of the Bush Administration in the Spring and Summer of 2001 are warned, in very specific terms, that fanatic Al Qaida extremists are coming to attack the U.S. mainland by hijacked airplanes, aimed at icon American targets in New York and Washington, and yet Bush does nothing to try to prevent or warn about such a terrorist attack or even to call all his top advisers together to deal with the issue. The terrorists, in effect, march through an open door.

* The 9/11 attacks occur, and within days, the Patriot Act is sent to Congress -- a collection of police state-like laws that were rejected by previous Congresses because they violated so many due-process provisions of the Constitution -- and, in the atmosphere of terrorism/anthrax fright and heightened patriotism, passes by an overwhelming majority, even though virtually none of the members get a chance to read the final version sent over by the White House at the last minute. Thus begins the further degradation of federal government respect for individual rights and civil liberties.

* Few on the Left or the Right wish to oppose the U.S. response in Afghanistan, where Al Qaida is headquartered, but it turns out that Afghanistan and Al Qaida are not the main targets after all. The planning for war on Iraq begins in the first few days of the Bush Administration, secretly. The chief architects of the Iraq war are rightwing neo-conservatives who as part of The Project for The New American Century (PNAC) have been agitating for war on Iraq since at least 1991, when Saddam was left in place by the first President Bush.

More than $700 million dollars that Congress authorized for going after Al Qaida in Afghanistan surreptitiously is diverted to preparations for the Iraq war, and troops searching for Bin Laden are pulled out of Afghanistan and made ready for action in Iraq. Instead of concentrating on Al Qaida and taking the group out once and for all, the U.S. focuses its energies on attacking a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

* Saddam takes flight, the main body of the Iraqi army suddenly disappears, and the U.S. waltzes into Baghdad to accept the flowers, kisses and huzzahs of a grateful Iraqi population. The honeymoon lasts for a few days, but increasingly the U.S./U.K. occupation is resented. Especially when it becomes clear that the U.S. is not restoring public services, is providing little or no employment, and has no effective post-war plan.

The wrong troops are assigned policing and nation-building roles for which they are not trained. Looting is widespread and uncontrolled; only the Oil Ministry building and oilfields/pipelines are protected by U.S. troops. Not even the nuclear sites, and ammo dumps, are guarded; weapons from these dumps are used against U.S. troops each day.

No wonder ordinary Iraqis are at first puzzled by, and then infuriated at, the U.S.

* When the native insurgency begins, the U.S. naively dismisses its importance and tries to keep it contained with ambivalent tactics, sometimes harsh, sometimes conciliatory. The civilian death toll rises in a 10-to-1 Iraqi-to-American ratio; it's now anywhere from 10,000 to 17,000. American deaths are pegged at near-800, troops removed for medical reasons at more than 10,000. (None of these figures include U.S. "contract" forces -- formerly known as "mercenaries" -- who operate outside of military rules and regulations.)

* Iraqi prisoners are humiliated and tortured by U.S. and British military intelligence and spy agencies, and these sick bastards take lots of photos and perhaps even videos of the jolly fun. Higher-ups are alerted and reports are written, but nobody publicly apologizes or takes responsibility to shut down the torture chambers. When the photos are released, they are broadcast on Islamic news networks immediately.

The U.S./U.K. couldn't have done more to damage their reputations in the region, and around the world, if they had tried.

* When confronted by effective urban resistance in Fallujah, the U.S. is faced with only bad options. It chooses to buy its way out, by re-inserting Ba'athist control -- the very army forces it wanted no part of after Baghdad fell. More and more, in civilian ministries and security positions, the Ba'athists are being brought back in. Anything to aid in diminishing the U.S. death toll and helping ensure an election victory in November. Nothing personal, it's all politics.

* Purely for U.S. electoral reasons, in less than two months a new Iraqi leadership -- of some sort -- will assume "sovereignty." The sham probably won't fly, as it's not genuine sovereignty; the U.S. military still will call the major shots. What then? Ad hoc policy-making eventually gets one into a cul-de-sac.

How to exit? Well, you get the idea.

Bush&Co. can't think straight, can't see straight, can't shoot straight. The result is endlessly and constantly to supply propaganda ammunition to our enemies.

Bush&Co., blinded by their extreme ideology and arrogance -- we're the only superpower on the planet and we can get what we want when we want -- are now trying anything to play catch-up with reality, even paying off insurgents not to attack them, even seeking help from the United Nations and former allies that they reviled and humiliated before the war. Who woulda thunk it?

It's a back-asswards way of running a war -- trying to do now what might have helped if done then -- but that's what happens when think-tank ideologues (who made sure never to be in a war themselves) send young men and women to fight for greed-based wacky theories, and for the idea that you can create instant democracy at the point of a gun.

In sum, friends, we are witnessing in Iraq and elsewhere the deadly result of nearly four years of Bush&Co.'s ideological stubbornness and insistence on politics-at-all-costs. The whole crew should be impeached -- and there are plenty of charges that would stick -- but it may not happen prior to the election. Still, that's no reason not to attempt it; doing so will keep Bush&Co. busy defending on another front, thus reducing the amount of havoc they can cause.

If the Republican-dominated Congress won't impeach these guys, then we the voters will. If we do it right in November, not only will Bush&Co. be sent packing from the White House, but a good share of Republicans in the House and Senate will take involuntary early-retirement along with their Bush&Co. mentors.

True, It will take years to undo the damage caused by Bush&Co. domestically and abroad, but at least we will know we are engaged in doing solid, moral work -- and, most importantly, that we are helping move our country out from the shadow world and back into the light.

Let's do it!

And we have until November.


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