“Watching the president snap back to his usual state of denial, what I’ve been thinking about recently is how much of a difference it would have made if the White House had publicly recognized, say back in 2004, that Iraq was on a slow slide toward anarchy and started rethinking things enough to stem the descent to disaster. Let’s say early 2005. Earlier the better. But let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say it would have been hard to make the course correction in the midst of a presidential election. How much could have been accomplished? How much of this could have been avoided if the White House hadn’t continued to pretend, for political reasons, that things were going well? And since the president now seems inclined to continue with his disastrous policy for the next two years, should we ask in advance what could have been avoided over the next two years if he’d only had the courage to confront reality today.”
–By Joshua Marshall
We’ve got a very important showdown approaching in the courts over Jose Padilla who might just be the man who will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and lead to the complete downfall of George W. Bush. This former gang leader was arrested with great public fanfare (John Ashcroft proudly parading on TV from Moscow!), and declared by Bush himself to be an “enemy combatant” to be held without any Constitutional rights, even though he was an American citizen. Thus anything that occurred to him while held incommunicado for nearly three years in a military brig, came at the blessing and order of the president himself. If Mr. Padilla is allowed to publicly state what occurred to him, it might provide enough legal power to charge President Bush with ordering torture and the violation of the Constitution, the War Crimes Act, not to mention the Geneva Conventions…all on an American citizen, captured on American soil. Is the president above the law? Can he really arbitrarily say who is an “enemy combatant?” Can he arbitrarily name any American he desires as an “enemy combatant?” If the accused is not offered a chance to challenge the detention and accusation, how can we trust that the president did not make a mistake? Note in the case of Mr. Padilla that upon nearing an embarrassment at the Supreme Court, the Bush Administration abruptly shifted Padilla’s case back to the criminal system rather than the military. Is that a mistake? Furthermore, he is no longer accused of planning a radiological dirty bomb now that he is in the criminal system. Is that a mistake? How can we tell if no one is allowed to challenge the accusation?
The Founding Fathers were very prescient when designing our system of government. They did not wish to see a strong executive. They saw the corruption of power by their King George in England. Cheney has a history of wishing the executive were more powerful than allowed by the Constitution and the designers, our Founding Fathers. This is not the right direction for America, and will only lead to more violence, death, destruction and woe for our country. Pull back, conservatives. Come back from the brink. Join us in demanding from lawmakers the removal of Bush and Cheney from power. This must end.
Bill O’Reilly loves to talk trash about San Francisco and its supposed evil values. Well, Markos on DailyKos shares some of the values that Bill O’Reilly must let go of lest he be called a hypocrite….
Well, firstly, let me say, perhaps it’s easier to deny that this is a civil war, when essentially you live in the most heavily fortified place in the country within the Green Zone, which is true of both the prime minister, the national security adviser for Iraq and, of course, the top U.S. military commanders. However, for the people living on the streets, for Iraqis in their homes, if this is not civil war, or a form of it, then they do not want to see what one really looks like.
This is what we’re talking about. We’re talking about Sunni neighborhoods shelling Shia neighborhoods, and Shia neighborhoods shelling back.
We’re having Sunni communities dig fighting positions to protect their streets. We’re seeing Sunni extremists plunging car bombs into heavily-populated Shia marketplaces. We’re seeing institutionalized Shia death squads in legitimate police and national police commando uniforms going in, systematically, to Sunni homes in the middle of the night and dragging them out, never to be seen again.
I mean, if this is not civil war, where there is, on average, 40 to 50 tortured, mutilated, executed bodies showing up on the capital streets each morning, where we have thousands of unaccounted for dead bodies mounting up every month, and where the list of those who have simply disappeared for the sake of the fact that they have the wrong name, a name that is either Sunni or Shia, so much so that we have people getting dual identity cards, where parents cannot send their children to school, because they have to cross a sectarian line, then, goodness, me, I don’t want to see what a civil war looks like either if this isn’t one.
—By Michael Ware reporting from Baghdad.
This is a great step in the right direction in the Middle East. Olmert is offering many things to stop the violence and bring the two sides a little closer together. My gut feeling tells me that Hamas won’t accept it, because they say it is too little. I hope they wisen up. The only way forward is through living in peace with Israel.
“What the people want is basically to feel like the candidates of a political party are working for the people, not just following some niche issues. The old traditional Republican Party was conservative on small government, efficient government; believed in supporting people to give them a chance at life but not having people on the dole; wanted a balanced budget; and on social issues they were moderate, tolerant, live and let live. They didn’t dislike somebody from other religious viewpoints. That was the old-fashioned conservative, but the word conservative today has been bastardized.”
by Walter Peterson on Republicans losing New England
Gregory Djerejian writes on his blog about the misadventures of the neo-cons and their terribly wrong view of the world around them. He quotes extensively from a book review done by Mr. Stephen Holmes, who reviewed Fukuyama’s book, America at the Crossroads. Fukuyama at first agreed with his fellow neo-conservatives that taking down Iraq was the right thing to do. But then he saw the light. His book, America at the Crossroads, is about the future of neo-conservative thought and America. Mr. Holmes, in his review, takes apart the neo-conservative thought with ease, and is well worth the read for anyone who has any interest in what is happening in Iraq: i.e. that should be all of America.
Boston Globe has an excellent article that highlights Cheney’s career to show just what disdain this man has for the rule of law, the checks and balances of the Constitution and of the Congress. The sad part is that we have yet two more years to deal with this seeker of power. What do you all think? Are the fruits of his labors these past six years good for America?
Recently I heard President Bush take a line I believe he said he got from Henry Kissinger to the effect that the only way the United States can be ‘defeated’ in Iraq is if we ourselves pull up stakes and leave. Thus the whole drama is one of national stamina and nerve.
I’ve seen little better illustration among the Iraq War advocates of the interrelationship of ‘defeat’, ‘victory’ and denial.
A very wealthy man can keep pouring money into a failed business venture forever. So, if he chooses to use his vast wealth to paper over his business failure, he can say pretty much the same thing: The keys to victory are in my hands. The only way this venture can fail is if I lose my nerve and stop investing.
But of course this is only the very questionable advantage of the very rich and the very powerful: the ability to fund or prop up denial indefinitely.
And so it is with the president and whoever is still buying into his arguments. If all reality can be denied, then there really is only one way you can be defeated: when you yourself say you’ve been defeated.
David Ignatius has a great op-ed in the Washington Post today on what he calls the Politics of Assassination, in reference to the murder of Pierre Gemayel, the Lebanese Christian politician. He says:
A disease is eating away at the Middle East. It afflicts the Syrians, the Iraqis, the Lebanese, even the Israelis. It is the idea that the only political determinant in the Arab world is raw force — the power of physical intimidation. It is politics as assassination.
This week saw another sickening instance of this law of brute force, with the murder of Pierre Gemayel, a Lebanese cabinet minister who had been a strong critic of Syria. Given the brutal history of Syria’s involvement in Lebanon, there’s an instant temptation to blame Damascus. But in this land of death, there are so many killers and so few means of holding them to account that we can only guess at who pulled the trigger.
I am reminded, sadly, of another group of people with a similar knack for the use of violence and political assassination: The Jaredites. Who are the Jaredites? They are a people in the Book of Mormon (the Olmecs from what we know archaeologically), who left during the time of the Tower of Babel, crossed the Pacific and found their promised land. In Ether 9:4-12 we read the following:
4 And it came to pass that Jared was anointed king over the people, by the hand of wickedness; and he gave unto Akish his daughter to wife.
5 And it came to pass that Akish sought the life of his father-in-law; and he applied unto those whom he had sworn by the oath of the ancients, and they obtained the head of his father-in-law, as he sat upon his throne, giving audience to his people.
6 For so great had been the spreading of this wicked and secret society that it had corrupted the hearts of all the people; therefore Jared was murdered upon his throne, and Akish reigned in his stead.
7 And it came to pass that Akish began to be jealous of his son, therefore he shut him up in prison, and kept him upon little or no food until he had suffered death.
8 And now the brother of him that suffered death, (and his name was Nimrah) was angry with his father because of that which his father had done unto his brother.
9 And it came to pass that Nimrah gathered together a small number of men, and fled out of the land, and came over and dwelt with Omer.
10 And it came to pass that Akish begat other sons, and they won the hearts of the people, notwithstanding they had sworn unto him to do all manner of iniquity according to that which he desired.
11 Now the people of Akish were desirous for gain, even as Akish was desirous for power; wherefore, the sons of Akish did offer them money, by which means they drew away the more part of the people after them.
12 And there began to be a war between the sons of Akish and Akish, which lasted for the space of many years, yea, unto the destruction of nearly all the people of the kingdom, yea, even all, save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer.
The Jaredites focused on revenge and reprisals instead of the religion they espoused. Sounds very similar to the Middle East. Mr. Ignatius continues:
The sickness must end. The people of the Middle East are destroying themselves, literally and figuratively, with the politics of assassination. So many things are going right in the modern world — until we reach the boundaries of the Middle East, where the gunmen hide in wait. Those who imagined they could stop the assassins’ little guns with their big guns — the United States and Israel come to mind — have been undone by the howling gale of violence. In trying to fight the killers, they began to make their own arguments for assassination and torture. That should have been a sign that something had gone wrong.
This is a time of convulsive change in the region, and many doors are being pushed open. Syria has an opportunity to leave behind its drab Cold War trench coat and become a modern, prosperous Mediterranean nation; Hezbollah, the militia that represents Lebanon’s dispossessed Shiite population, has a chance to lead its followers into political power and prosperity. But they won’t realize these opportunities so long as the politics of assassination rules the region. If Syria and Hezbollah keep brandishing their power like a grenade, it will ultimately blow apart in their hands.
In Ether 11:5-7 we see the worsening of the violence:
5 And it came to pass that the brother of Shiblom caused that all the prophets who prophesied of the destruction of the people should be put to death;
6 And there was great calamity in all the land, for they had testified that a great curse should come upon the land, and also upon the people, and that there should be a great destruction among them, such an one as never had been upon the face of the earth, and their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness.
7 And they hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord, because of their wicked combinations; wherefore, there began to be wars and contentions in all the land, and also many famines and pestilences, insomuch that there was a great destruction, such an one as never had been known upon the face of the earth; and all this came to pass in the days of Shiblom.
When we see the terrible destruction violence has upon the Iraqis, with the attack just yesterday killing now over 200 people, is this destruction bad enough yet to make the Iraqis see the futility of the use of violence? Sadly, I do not believe that will end their hate. The Iraqis (and Lebanon is following in this path), are starting to look a lot like the Jaredites:
25 Now there began to be a war upon all the face of the land, every man with his band fighting for that which he desired.
26 And there were robbers, and in fine, all manner of wickedness upon all the face of the land.
27 And it came to pass that Coriantumr was exceedingly angry with Shared, and he went against him with his armies to battle; and they did meet in great anger, and they did meet in the valley of Gilgal; and the battle became exceedingly sore.
31 And Shared wounded Coriantumr in his thigh, that he did not go to battle again for the space of two years, in which time all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.
8 Now the brother of Shared, whose name was Gilead, also received great strength to his army, because of secret combinations.
9 And it came to pass that his high priest murdered him as he sat upon his throne.
10 And it came to pass that one of the secret combinations murdered him in a secret pass, and obtained unto himself the kingdom; and his name was Lib; and Lib was a man of great stature, more than any other man among all the people.
21 And so great and lasting had been the war, and so long had been the scene of bloodshed and carnage, that the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.
22 And so swift and speedy was the war that there was none left to bury the dead, but they did march forth from the shedding of blood to the shedding of blood, leaving the bodies of both men, women, and children strewed upon the face of the land, to become a prey to the worms of the flesh.
23 And the ascent thereof went forth upon the face of the land, even upon all the face of the land; wherefore the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.
24 Nevertheless, Shiz did not cease to pursue Coriantumr; for he had sworn to avenge himself upon Coriantumr of the blood of his brother, who had been slain, and the word of the Lord which came to Ether that Coriantumr should not fall by the sword.
It got so bad that even when Coriantumr realized just how horrible things have gotten, he tried to make amends with his enemy, who still wanted this head. This was impossible with his people, and thus the violence continued:
1 And it came to pass when Coriantumr had recovered of his wounds, he began to remember the words which Ether had spoken unto him.
2 He saw that there had been slain by the sword already nearly two millions of his people, and he began to sorrow in his heart; yea, there had been slain two millions of mighty men, and also their wives and their children.
3 He began to repent of the evil which he had done; he began to remember the words which had been spoken by the mouth of all the prophets, and he saw them that they were fulfilled thus far, every whit; and his soul mourned and refused to be comforted.
4 And it came to pass that he wrote an epistle unto Shiz, desiring him that he would spare the people, and he would give up the kingdom for the sake of the lives of the people.
5 And it came to pass that when Shiz had received his epistle he wrote an epistle unto Coriantumr, that if he would give himself up, that he might slay him with his own sword, that he would spare the lives of the people.
6 And it came to pass that the people repented not of their iniquity; and the people of Coriantumr were stirred up to anger against the people of Shiz; and the people of Shiz were stirred up to anger against the people of Coriantumr; wherefore, the people of Shiz did give battle unto the people of Coriantumr.
19 But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.
20 And it came to pass that they fought all that day, and when the night came they slept upon their swords.
21 And on the morrow they fought even until the night came.
22 And when the night came they were drunken with anger, even as a man who is drunken with wine; and they slept again upon their swords.
29 Wherefore, he did pursue them, and on the morrow he did overtake them; and they fought again with the sword. And it came to pass that when they had aall fallen by the sword, save it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with the loss of blood.
30 And it came to pass that when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword, that he rested a little, he smote off the head of Shiz.
Thus ends a civilization.
“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them…
There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.'”
—as quoted in Daily Dish.
Today’s deadliest attack on civilians since the war began shows just how horrible and horrendous things are in Iraq. Over 160 people died according to reports. While a curfew has been put in place, that will in no way stop the reprisal violence, otherwise known as a civil war to all but the delusional Republican partisans. This is absolutely horrendous. This kind of level of violence did not occur before we went into Iraq, and is well beyond a price Iraqis should pay for the removal of Hussein, as bad as he was. How can anyone back our presence in Iraq anymore? How can anyone say this was a worthwhile mission? We have plenty of evidence from Pentagon war games going back as far as 1999 that removing Hussein from power would lead to sectarian violence. No one has any excuse for not listening to those reports and doing something to ensure that did not happen.
Do Americans realize just how terrible of a black eye this is on our stature in the world, and just what the consequences of this black eye are? I don’t think enough Americans do.
We know Bush Jr. is out of touch with reality. This is clearly evident from the way he has handled the war in Iraq, the way he fired Donald Rumsfeld, etc. (plenty of examples to show). Many have longed for the days of his father and the supposed realism that his administration portrayed towards the world. This was an administration that had a Secretary of Defense (Dick Cheney) who said the following about Iraq:
We stopped when we did, and it was a unanimous recommendation on the part of the President’s advisors, civilian and military, we stopped when we did because we had achieved our objectives. We had said from the outset that our purpose was to liberate Kuwait and destroy Saddam Hussein’s capacity to threaten his neighbors, his offensive military capability, we did that. We destroyed about two-thirds of his army in that portion that he sent in to Kuwait and Iraq, and stripped him of most of his weapons of mass destruction.
We could have gone on. There is no doubt in my mind, from a military standpoint we could have sent forces on down the road to Baghdad, captured Baghdad, but I would expect in terms of trying to get rid of Saddam Hussein that it would not have been an easy task. I don’t think it was the kind of situation where we could have pulled up with a paddywagon in front of the Presidential Palace and said, “Come on Saddam, you’re going to the slammer.” I think we would have had to run him to ground, and doing that in Baghdad or in a nation as large as Iraq would have involved a lot of US forces.
Once we rounded up Saddam, then the question is what do you do? You’re going to put a government in his place. Presumably, you’re not just going to turn your back and walk away. You have to put some kind of a government in its place. And then the question comes is it going to be a Shi’a government or a Kurdish government, or maybe a Sunni government, or maybe it ought to be based on the old Baathist Party regime, or some combination thereof.
How long is that government to be able to stay in power without US military support to keep it there? How long can we maintain the coalition?
Remember we entered into this activity with the support of 30 other nations. A very important part of that support was the support of other Arab nations who took up arms against a brother Arab state, who allowed us to operate military forces from their territory, who sent combat forces to fight alongside our people in Kuwait.
How long could we have maintained that coalition of Arab states if we had been involved in the long-range occupation by the US in Iraq? I would guess if we had gone on to Baghdad I would still have forces in Iraq today. I don’t know how we would have let go of that tar baby once we had grabbed hold of it.
A final point that I think is very important. Everybody is fond of looking back at Desert Storm and saying that it was, in fact, a low cost conflict because we didn’t suffer very many casualties. But for the 146 Americans who were killed in action and for their families, it was not a cheap or a low cost conflict. The question, to my mind, in terms of this notion that we should have gone on and occupied Iraq is how many additional American casualties would we have had to suffer? How many additional American lives is Saddam Hussein worth? And the answer I would give is not very damn many.
I think we got it right when we made the decision to use forces to liberate Kuwait; I think we got it right when the President made the decision, with my support and the support of everybody else, to stop when we did. And I, looking back on it now, think that the decisions both times were sound.
In other words, Dick Cheney sounded very realistic back in 1991. What happened Dick? In any case, the elder Bush was in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, speaking to a leadership conference for college students. In the question and answer, they told him like it is:
“We do honor Americans, and I believe that they are highly respected in our country. However, we do not respect your son, and we do not respect what you are doing all over the world,” college student Nevine Al Rumeisi told the former President at a leadership conference in the United Arab Emirates.
Her comment was roundly cheered by the business and political leaders gathered in once pro-American Abu Dhabi.
to which Bush replied:
The elder Bush just looked stunned.
His speech had stressed how proud he is of both his sons, the President and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, and how much it hurt him when they are criticized.
“It takes a lot of guts to tell a father what you said about his son when I just told you that the thing that matters to my heart is my family,” he said.
“My son is an honest man, he is working hard for peace, and how come everybody wants to go to the United States if the United States is so bad?”
That prompted another audience member, an American ex-pat, to tell Bush, “I think the remarks that you made about why people need to go to America to be very hostile and make the country look even worse.”
When another audience member said he thought American wars are designed to open markets for U.S. companies – drawing more cheers and whoops – Bush grew testy.
his reply was:
“I think that’s weird and it’s nuts,” he said.
“To suggest that everything we do is because we’re hungry for money – I think that’s crazy. I think you need to go back to school.”
His voice quivering, the 82-year-old Bush said, “This son is not going to back away. He’s not going to change his view because some poll says this, or some poll says that, or some heartfelt comments from the lady who feels deeply in her heart about something.”
He said he understood there is worldwide anxiety about Iraq “but people one day might look back and feel grateful that they got rid of Saddam [Hussein].”
It seems even the elder Bush is letting his personal feelings get in the way of reality. People around the world do not see his son as a good man, and it all stems from his son’s actions. Can the father not see this?
Boy if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d have one hell of a tragedy to write about. The Tragedy of Bush, Father and Son and Iraq.
He’s trying really hard. That is clearly evident. He’s shifting his political views hard right (even though he supposedly is a moderate—but to get through the Republican primary, you have to sell out on your principles and please extremists), supporting Bush’s war in Iraq, supporting the use of torture, etc. He’s starting to get pretty good copy, but I get the impression that he won’t be able to jump over the massive wall that stands in his way: Protestants still don’t think Mormons are Christian and clearly do not wish to vote a non-Christian as leader of their nation. I really wonder why Romney attempts to get the votes of people who do this:
Southern Baptists have been particularly vocal about labeling the LDS Church a “cult.” In 1997, the denomination published a handbook and video, both with the title The Mormon Puzzle: Understanding and Witnessing to Latter-day Saints. More than 45,000 of these kits were distributed in the first year; the following year—in a throwing down of the proselytizing gauntlet—the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Around the same time, a speaker at the denomination’s summit on Mormonism declared that Utah was “a stronghold of Satan.” When Richard Mouw, president of the evangelical Fuller Theological Seminary, tried to repair relations with the LDS community by apologizing on behalf of evangelicals during a speech in the Mormon Tabernacle last year, his conservative brethren lashed out. Mouw had no right, they declared in an open letter, to speak for them or apologize for denouncing Mormon “false prophecies and false teachings.”
As Amy Sullivan says just a paragraph earlier in her piece:
Evangelical Christians consider Mormonism a threat in a way that Catholicism and even Judaism are not. The LDS Church, they charge, has perverted Christian teachings to create a false religion. As John L. Smith, a Southern Baptist who runs Utah Mission—an organization that tries to convert Mormons—told Christianity Today: “Mormonism is either totally true or totally false. If it’s true, every other religion in America is false.” To be tolerant of Mormonism is to put evangelical Christianity at risk. And to put a Mormon in the White House would be to place a stamp of approval on that faith.
When you’ve religionized your political party, how can you compromise your principles? If you accept a “non-Christian,” are you not turning your back on your own religion? Ms. Sullivan finishes her article with:
The tragedy—or, depending on your point of view, the irony—is that Mitt Romney may just be the most appealing candidate Republicans can field in 2008, the one most likely to win the White House by shoring up social conservatives and rallying business interests without frightening swing voters. Yet the modern GOP’s reliance on evangelical voters and its elevation of personal religiosity—strategies which have served the party so well in recent years—may doom the chances of this most promising candidate. Or, to put it in evangelical terms, it might be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination.
On the one hand, it seems rather futile for Mr. Romney to try and reach out to these voters, especially when a Rassmussen poll shows that 53% of Evangelicals will not vote for a Mormon candidate. On the other hand, by shifting so hard to the right, as he has of late, he stabs in the back the moderate voters who he needed for his governorship run. This is the same problem Mr. McCain is facing. He has to become a prostitute to the hard-right voters, even though he is really a moderate. But this shoots down his credibility.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a Mormon will have an easier time becoming president of the United States as a Democrat than a Republican. Look at the fact that Romney became governor of one of the most liberal states in the nation, Massachusetts. Was his religion an issue with voters there? Not really. Could he have ever been elected governor of, say, Texas? Or Alabama? I feel sorry for Romney. He’s a good guy. He has to compromise his principles as a moderate in order to become president. It’s such a shame that this is what the Republican party has become, a party where real principled men have to shame themselves in order to get their vote.
Two pieces of news from today that highlight just how wrong things are going right now. A Lebanese Christian political leader, and an anti-Syrian advocate was assassinated today in Lebanon. Meanwhile, Iraq is resuming diplomatic ties with Syria. If I were a Bush supporter I would be asking myself, “wait a second, why is this happening?” What good did it do to support Israel’s bombing of Lebanon back in July? What good was it to take out Saddam if the new government renews the ties with Assad? Or is this what Bush supporters call progress in the right direction?
David Kurtz, on Talking Points Memo highlights the indecision by the Bush Administration over the past three years on troop counts.
November 2006: “President Bush said Monday that he has made no decisions about altering the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, and he refused to discuss the pros and cons that would accompany such a decision.”
August 2005: President Bush said Thursday no decision has been made on increasing or decreasing U.S. troop levels in Iraq, saying that as “Iraqis stand up, we will stand down” and that only conditions on the ground will dictate when it is time for a reduction in U.S. forces.
April 2004: “Gen. John P. Abizaid, the senior commander in the Middle East, has asked for contingency plans for increasing the number of troops in Iraq. No decision has been made to supplement the 134,000 troops now there, and White House officials said it was unclear whether such a move would help the situation.”
November 2003: “The President is going to do what is most effective in Iraq, and he gets recommendations from his commanders on troop levels and what is needed. No decisions have been made about future troops levels,” said National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.
Hmmm, do you think the enemy has reconfigured their strategy, including how many people they need? In fact, has not the enemy used our presence in Iraq to INCREASE their numbers?
How many more examples do you want, America, before you really see just how awful these leaders of ours are!
Not satisfied with their philosophy utterly discredited with the war in Iraq, the American Enterprise Institute continues to spew out drivel, now directed towards Iran. In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Joshua Muravchik argues that it is time to bomb Iran, as if that will somehow solve all our problems, i.e. as if that will end Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons. He does say that there will be a price:
Finally, wouldn’t such a U.S. air attack on Iran inflame global anti-Americanism? Wouldn’t Iran retaliate in Iraq or by terrorism? Yes, probably. That is the price we would pay. But the alternative is worse.
So the price of a risky attack which might not even get all the sites destroyed is that Iran will meddle further in Iraq, further destabilizing the country, create more terrorism around the world, and inflame global anti-Americanism even further. Is Mr. Muravchik really that stupid? He glosses over the costs as if it’s not bad, when he doesn’t even mention the very real possibility that bombing Iran won’t stop the WMD program from continuing further. In fact, it will probably only further embolden Iran. After all, once they get nuclear weapons, the likelihood of America attacking Iran will decrease exponentially. They know what power lies behind the possession of nuclear technology. They see it in Pakistan. America’s greatest failure in stopping other countries from getting nuclear weapons lies in her relationship with Pakistan. We support a military dictatorship that sits on nuclear weapons, that oppresses its people, that can’t control much of its country…oh and Osama Bin Laden is hiding there, comfortably among friends. Yeah, America. Great message that you send to the rest of the world!
Mr. Muravchik gets even worse in his op-ed. He starts using reductio ad Leninism, along with revising history:
Communism itself was to claim perhaps 100 million lives, and it also gave rise to fascism and Nazism, leading to World War II. Ahmadinejad wants to be the new Lenin. Force is the only thing that can stop him.
Yeah, tie Ahmadinejad to Lenin. Make him as bad of a man as the most influential person in the 20th Century, Vladimir Lenin. Of course, Ahmadinejad is no Lenin, nor a Stalin, nor a Hitler. But Mr. Muravchik does not wish to be honest with his readers. See, Lenin and Hitler were forceful personalities that could fundamentally alter what people thought about them. They won over the masses. They ruled with full force and power. They were the strongest cults of personalities you could ever find in history. Few even come close to their personas. Ahmadinejad does not hold the reins of power in Iran. He’s but a puppet, dancing the strings for the clerics in the background. Furthermore, they led countries that could mobilize themselves to be the most powerful nations on the planet. When Germany began attacking her neighbors in 1938, she was the most powerful nation on the planet. True, when Lenin took control of Russia, she was very weak, but that was only due to the fact that she just went through a revolution. However, by the time of Hitler’s attack on Russia, Russia fended off the most powerful nation. It is my belief that Hitler’s greatest mistake was to attack Russia when he did. That is what led to his downfall.
Now, if we look at Iran today, we find that militarily speaking, it doesn’t even have the largest military budget in the Middle East. That honor goes not even to Israel. Saudi Arabia has the largest military budget of the Middle East, nearly three times more than both Israel and Iran, which have similar sized budgets. Iran could not defeat Saddam’s Iraq even though they had three times more people.
Sorry but the comparison to two of the world’s greatest and most powerful leaders is false and rather unscholarly for one representing a think tank. But the American Enterprise Institute has not proven itself over the last decade to spew out much but trash about the Middle East.
Furthermore, he continues the tradition among right-wingers to say that fascism and Nazism were somehow created or formed by Communism. This is because right-wingers, like Mr. Muravchik, hate the fact that there actually arose evil people and philosophies on the right side of the political spectrum. Indeed some of the worst people in the world came from conservative societies. It is kinda detrimental to your attempt to smear the left as pure evil when your own political side has had some truly evil people. Thus, they revise history and move the goal posts so as to say evil only comes from the left.
Finally Mr. Muravchik says:
After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia in 1917, a single member of Britain’s Cabinet, Winston Churchill, appealed for robust military intervention to crush the new regime. His colleagues weighed the costs — the loss of soldiers, international derision, revenge by Lenin — and rejected the idea.
Hmmm, there’s probably a reason why only one person was stupid enough to think that such a plan would work. Or is Mr. Muravchik also deriding Mr. Churchill for not having the balls to go after Russia at its weakest? I’m sure Mr. Churchill was not for that idea. Mr. Churchill was much smarter than Mr. Muravchik is proving. How horrible the future of our country will be if we continue listening to such idiots as Mr. Muravchik and others from the American Enterprise Institute. Remember, America. They gave you the Iraq you see today. Those are the fruits of their labors. Those horrors are their visions and futures. Do not listen to them.
Who here remembers the pomp and circumstance with which Attorney General John Ashcroft announced via a press conference from Russia no less, the capture and detainment of one Jose Padilla, an American citizen. According to Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Padilla was suspected of planning to plant a radiological dirty bomb somewhere in the United States. He was not accused, but he was labeled by the Bush administration as an “enemy combatant,” thus supposedly no longer protected by the Constitution. He was therefore held incommunicado for the past three years. Well, apparently the case against Mr. Padilla was unconstitutional through the military system, so before the Bush administration could be humiliated yet again in front of the Supreme Court, they moved him to the criminal system. Doing this however let the events that took place in secret start coming out, such as the facts that he was apparently tortured and drugged against his will. Now all the accusations against him are basically being thrown out, and he might soon be a free man. As Andrew Sullivan says:
So an American citizen, detained without due process for three years, accused of terribly serious crimes, and allegedly tortured, may not be found guilty, after all. And people wonder why many of us have concerns about the way the Bush administration has handled military detainees.
Is this really America?
“If you mean by ‘military victory,’ an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don’t believe that is possible.”