Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Did Americans Want in the Wake of 911?

I still can remember very clearly seeing the 1972 movie, Deliverance.

Like the American people who were stunned by 911, none of us in the audience were at all prepared for Ned Beatty’s “big scene.” At the moment that that searing episode of unexpected homosexual rape occurred, I cringed in my seat, barely aware that the person sitting directly behind me had blown a whole mouthful of popcorn into the back of my head. Nevertheless, this film was so intense, I never looked away from the screen.

James Dickey wrote the novel by the same name as well as the screenplay. His son, Christopher Dickey Jr. has an article in last week's Newsweek. He writes that he recently had an occasion to start,

. . .thinking about the movie's particular relevance for the post-9/11 world. My old man and I disagreed about many things, but when I watched the re-released film again just recently, in light of current headlines, I realized just how well he'd tapped into those mind-sets that eventually helped plunge us into the Mesopotamian quagmire.

In the movie, four Atlanta suburbanites take a break from their weekends of golfing and go canoeing up in the mountains. In this river trip they find a life-changing and life-ending adventure. I’m not going to ruin the movie in the off-chance I have a reader who has not seen it. But I might let Chris Dickey ruin it instead:

The instigator of the expedition is Lewis Medlock (Burt Reynolds in the movie), and while he talks about getting back to nature and testing himself against the wild, he's really more of a country-club Friedrich Nietzsche: a would-be "übermensch," or "superman," riffing on the 19th-century German philosopher's conceits, constantly training his body and mind to excel, reinventing himself to lead. His destiny—to survive against all odds—will be a triumph of his will. Or so he thinks.

. . . our man Lewis He's a rich boy from Atlanta whose main income is from inherited real estate. But he loves to flirt with extinction. To come near death, then survive—
That intensity, well, that's something special. I believe in survival, all kinds. Every time I come up here I believe in it more.
Once Lewis is in his element (the country) the three other golfers (played by Jon Voight, Ned Beatty and Ronny Cox) begin to think Lewis is a little crazy. The Voight character

. . . thinks Lewis is a little nuts, but he's fascinated by the idea that Lewis might be right about—something—he's not sure what. Obsessions like those of Lewis Medlock can create their own charisma, inspiring fear while pretending to resist it. Untested ersatz fortitude often looks impressive.

Dickey’s reinterpretation of the movie:

Lewis is Vice President Dick Cheney's closet fantasy of himself, and as such, a sort of model for the Bush administration as a whole. And Ed, he's about the rest of us, just scared and trying to get by. And the river? That's the war in Iraq.
"What the hell you want to go fuck around with that river for?" one of the unfriendly locals asks Lewis early in the movie.

"Because it's there," says Lewis.

"It's there alright. You get in and you can't get out, you gonna wish it wasn't."
One of the most disconcerting aspects of the endless war the United States is fighting now is that it started because Iraq was there: it appeared to be a made-to-order target for an easy invasion that would have great symbolic . . . significance for the thinkers around Bush. After 9/11, the capture of the terrorists who plotted the attack and the destruction of the Taliban government in Afghanistan that gave them shelter just hadn't seemed a weighty enough challenge for these would-be supermen.

To reinforce this point, Dickey quotes Newt Gingrich who had back channels to Don Rumsfeld in November 2001:
There's a feeling we've got to do something that counts — and bombing caves is not something that counts.
In Afghanistan,

. . . they had tasted that great forbidden fruit of war, the sense of license that it gives, and they didn't want to give it up. In wartime they could make up their laws as they went along. On a grand scale they could reinterpret the Constitution until it became meaningless.

. . . the core coterie around Bush and Cheney, who never were soldiers, pushed for war with Iraq at all costs and as an end to almost all constraints.

Anxious to assert their vision of American strength, and themselves as its personifications, they were looking for a fight with Saddam Hussein long before September 11. Casting themselves as implacable opponents of tyranny, the ideologues of the administration had, since the days of the Soviet Union, envied the tyrants' ruthlessness. Quick to denounce bias when they faced opposition, they were the first to use mass deception to assure their own grip on power. And what made all this possible? They could not do any of it—they could not begin to do it—without war and its attendant mystique of survival.

At a key juncture in the movie, Lewis has shot one of the mountain men in the back with a broadhead arrow and he's trying to convince his three companions that they should hide the body. He faces down strong opposition that they should go to the police, trust in the law and just tell their side of the story. Lewis sneers:
The law? The law? What law. Where's the law, Drew?

You believe in democracy don't you? Well, then, we'll take a vote.
With that, Lewis bulldozes his terrified companions into burying the evidence. Dickey’s clinching paragraphs:

So the war-lovers in the Bush administration got what they wanted with a democratic vote. The United States invaded Iraq. And those of us who were covering the build-up to that war kept saying, OK, Saddam's a bad guy, but what are the American plans for the aftermath of the invasion—for the occupation? You don't eliminate a dictatorship that has been in place for more than 30 years and expect it will be an orderly transition. The response from the supermen: there won't be an occupation; it won't be a problem.

. . . . What I wonder is whether in the real-world crisis of Iraq there is enough sanity and bravery in Washington to deliver us from the evil that's been created in Iraq. Unfortunately it doesn't look that way. Whether we listen to the Republicans or the Democrats, the woman candidate for president or the men, all the major contenders remain reluctant to challenge the ersatz standards of strength set by the Bush administration. Sure, they snipe at each other, but none want to appear weak on national security. So we're left with "Law, what law? Plan, what plan?" And we continue to float down the river as if without a paddle, unable and unwilling to climb out, with much more violence and in all probability worse humiliations yet to come.

So here we Americans are, lingering in the twilight of Bush’s white water trip - with 446 days to go - still looking for Deliverance.


In my pages, I post my image only once a year.
Pretty damned scary, huh?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Whether It's Iraquagmire, Iraq-Nam, or Bush-Nam...

Tim Russert "Red Meat the Press" Russert thinks he deserves an answer.
Sunday morning I heard an exchange on Meet the Press which caused me to roll out of my chair and and replay my Tivo.

Tim Russert was interviewing Senator Chris Dodd, who is a good man campaigning for an office above his level of competence. Dodd was accurately describing the current failure and paralysis of American policy in Iraq and Russert was doing his level best to skewer the Senator's failing candidacy. The exchange went like this:

I came to the conclusion almost a year ago—in fact, I was here, having just come back from, from Baghdad. We talked at this table. And I met with young soldiers over there who said this is just not working. We need to change this policy. I think we want some decisive action here, we want some clarity on this. We’re not getting it. In my view, we should be changing the fundamental policy. . . . I think we’re, we’re deluding ourselves in believing that $10 billion a month, almost 4,000 lives lost, almost 29,000 injured, 80 to 100,000 Iraqis have lost their lives, four million have left the country. Listen to the ground—troops on the ground. They will tell you over and over again, despite the fact their willingness to serve, this is not going well at all, and it’s affecting us everywhere else in the world, Tim.
You said the other day, “All that loss for what?” Do you believe that the troops have died in vain?
No, I don’t. And I don’t think it’s a question of winning or losing. Baker-Hamilton, other reports have pointed out there was no military solution here. You can’t win or lose where your goal was never to have a victory here. Our, our operation was to create the space for the Iraqis to be able to come to some reconciliation, both politically and religiously. The American president, the vice president, leading military figures, members of Congress have begged the Iraqi leadership to reconcile their differences. This past summer they took a month-long vacation after, once again, we plead with them to try and work things out and come together. I don’t think we can arrange that for them any longer.
But answer that question. “All that loss for what?” What did they die for?
Well, listen. I don’t think soldiers who do their job every day die in vain. They were asked to do a job here.
So what did they die for?
In the end, Dodd was doddering. He couldn't answer the question. Which candidate could? Super-fortified Clinton? Quick-thinking Obama? I'm not sure even he could have done it. Mercifully, Russert finally broke off this line of interrogation when he saw the candidate's blood in the water.

It's deja vue and back to the future.

In fact, Russert's malicious question has been answered once before in American history.

Not sure if my Reader(s) is/are old enough to remember. But there was the same malaise just about 40 years ago. All of the arguments about America’s unstanched wound known as Vietnam had been settled by 1967. Lyndon Johnson saw the futility of continuing the war in stark enough terms, that he decided not to run for re-election. In 1968, an assassin’s bullet cut down Robert F. Kennedy on the day after he won the California Primary; had that not happened, the '68 election would have decided the issue of war and peace. In the years between 1968 and the war’s end in 1975, we Americans lost 37,794 KIA – more than half of our total casualties in the war. We had yet to endure additional years of Richard Nixon’s duplicitous ‘Secret plan to end the war’ which – it turned out – was nothing more than a criminal escalation to prolong the war.

After returning from the Vietnam War, Lieutenant John Kerry became a prominent critic of the war. He testified before the Senate in 1971 and told how U.S. troops had been assigned to fight an un-winnable and unjust war. He called for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops (my editing of names to spotlight our current perps has been added):

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel, because of what threatens this country, not the reds insurgents, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

I would like to talk to you a little bit about what the result is of the feelings these men carry with them after coming back from Vietnam Iraq. The country doesn't know it yet, but it has created a monster, a monster in the form of millions thousands of men who have been taught to deal and to trade in violence, and who are given the chance to die for the biggest nothing in history; men who have returned with a sense of anger and a sense of betrayal which no one has yet grasped.

As a veteran and one who felt this anger, I would like to talk about it. We are angry because we feel we have been used in the worst fashion by the administration of this country.

In 1970, at West Point, Vice President Agnew Cheney said,
Some glamorize the criminal misfits of society while our best men die in Asian rice paddies Middle Eastern deserts to preserve the freedom which most of those misfits abuse.
and this was used as a rallying point for our effort in Vietnam Iraq . . . . his statement is a terrible distortion from which we can only draw a very deep sense of revulsion.. . . . because so many who have died would have returned to this country to join the misfits in their efforts to ask for an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam Iraq, because so many of those best men have returned as quadriplegics and amputees, and they lie forgotten in Veterans' Administration hospitals in this country which fly the flag which so many have chosen as their own personal symbol. . . . .

In our opinion, and from our experience, there is nothing in Vietnam Iraq which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in Vietnam, Cambodia, or Laos Iraq, Iran or Syria by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom. . . is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart.

. . . . We found most people didn't even know the difference between communism autocracy and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace, and they practiced the art of survival by siding with whichever military force was present at a particular time, be it Viet Cong, North Vietnamese Sunni, Shiite or American.

. . . . . We saw first hand how monies from American taxes were used for a corrupt dictatorial regime. . . . We saw Vietnam Iraq ravaged equally by American bombs and search-and-destroy missions as well as by Viet Cong Islamic terrorism, - and yet we listened while this country tried to blame all of the havoc on the Viet Cong insurgency.

We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. We saw America lose her sense of morality as she accepted very coolly a My Lai Haditha, and refused to give up the image of American soldiers who hand out chocolate bars and chewing gum.

We learned the meaning of free-fire zones--shooting anything that moves--and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals Arabs.

We watched the United States falsification of body counts, in fact the glorification of body counts. We listened while, month after month, we were told the back of the enemy was about to break. . . . We watched pride allow the most unimportant battles to be blown into extravaganzas, because we couldn't lose, and we couldn't retreat, and because it didn't matter how many American bodies were lost to prove that point, and so there were Hamburger Hills Fallujah and Khe Sanhs Mosul and Hill 81s Sadr City and Fire Base 6s Anbar Province, and so many others.

Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of "Vietnamizing" "Iraqifying" the Vietnamese Iraqis.

Each day, to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam Iraq, someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn't have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can't say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon Bush won't be, and these are his words, "the first second President to lose a war."

We are asking Americans to think about that, because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam Iraq? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?

We are here in Washington to say that the problem of this war is not just a question of war and diplomacy. It is part and parcel of everything that we are trying, as human beings, to communicate to people in this country. . . the hypocrisy in our taking umbrage at the Geneva Conventions and using that as justification for a continuation of this war, when we are more guilty than any other body of violations of those Geneva Conventions; in the use of free-fire zones; harassment-interdiction fire, search-and-destroy missions; the bombings; the torture of prisoners; all accepted policy by many units in South Vietnam Iraq. . . . .

We are here to ask, and we are here to ask vehemently, where are the leaders of our country? Where is the leadership? We're here to ask where are McNamara Rumsfeld, Rostow Powell, Bundy Wolfowitz, Gilpatrick Tenet, and so many others? Where are they now that we, the men they sent off to war, have returned? These are the commanders who have deserted their troops. And there is no more serious crime in the laws of war. The Army says they never leave their wounded. The Marines say they never even leave their dead. These men have left all the casualties and retreated behind a pious shield of public rectitude. They've left the real stuff of their reputations bleaching behind them in the sun in this country....

We wish that a merciful God could wipe away our own memories of that service as easily as this administration has wiped away their memories of us. But all that they have done, and all that they can do by this denial, is to make more clear than ever our own determination to undertake one last mission: To search out and destroy the last vestige of this barbaric war occupation; to pacify our own hearts; to conquer the hate and fear that have driven this country these last ten years and more. And more. And so, when, thirty years from now, our brothers go down the street without a leg, without an arm, or a face, and small boys ask why, we will be able to say "Vietnam Iraq" and not mean a desert, not a filthy obscene memory, but mean instead where America finally turned, and where soldiers like us helped it in the turning.

It was patently feckless of Russert to ask such a question of a presidential candidate. This kind of question is only appropriate for returning servicemen as was Kerry 40 years ago. Increasingly, American and British soldiers will give you the direct answer
Russert thought he wanted. Like this anonymous, senior British officer this week:
We are tired of firing at people. . . We would go down there dressed as Robocop, shooting at people if they shot at us, and innocent people were getting hurt. We don't speak Arabic to explain and our translators were too scared to work for us any more. What benefit were we bringing to these people?
Your answer, Russert, is that Bush and Cheney have sentenced our 1st class armed forces to the ignoble mission of an occupation which is military malpractice.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Islamofascism, Homophobia, Imperial Presidencies, Village Idiots and Theocratic Pandering

Monday morning coffee break with Andrew Sullivan, Martina Navratilova, General Wesley Clark and Bill Maher.

Sullivan's in Obama's camp, which is my camp, of course. But Sully was wrong on Bush and Iraq. Wesley Clark is right on all things except maybe the good general arguably goes off the deep end of Article II, Section I of the Constitution. And Bill Maher nominates Arnold Schwarzenegger as a redeemable Republican.
It's all too much for me.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

National Mobilization to End the Occupation in Iraq

Bush and Cheney are in the process of handing off to Congress their current Iraq war occupation and their future war with Iran .

Always a GOP affair, it is now in the hands of DINO's. Vote by vote, the so-called Democratic Congress betrays the wishes of the people by refusing to shrug off this unneeded, illegal, and infamous burden. It is time - past time - to take it to the streets.

What good do demonstrations do? I don't know. But I am not in the mood to do good. These are not the times to make nice.

But it was a nice and mellow interlude in Santa Barbara. No tear gas, but a little burning hemp, drums, guitars, signs, smiles and short speeches served up in a light drizzle.

This was a National Mobilization

With a focused message.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Kyle, Lieberman and Cheney

Napoleon Bonaparte:
You can do anything with bayonets except to sit on them.
Occupation is the uneasy stage between wars and more warring.

Free-Thinking Republicans

Who does Bush fear the most?

On Redeemable Republican Friday it's appropriate to celebrate those of the GOP whom the war-mongers fear think for themselves.

Here are half a dozen or so...

I would also encourage my reader(s) to contact all of the Representatives below. These are some of the Republican Representatives who have spoken against the troop surge, and in favor of ending the occupation of Iraq.

Representative Walter Jones
Phone: 202-225-3415
Fax: 202-225-3286
Web Email

Representative Wayne Gilchrest
Phone: 202-225-5311
Fax: 202-225-0254
Web Email

Representative Michael Castle
Phone: 202-225-4165
Fax: 202-225-2291
Web Email

Representative Richard (Ric) Keller
Phone: 202-225-2176
Fax: 202-225-0999
Web Email

Representative James T. Walsh
Phone: 202-225-3701
Fax: 202-225-4042

Web Email

Representative Philip Sheridan English
Phone: 202-225-5406
Fax: 202-225-3103
Web Email

Representative Ronald Ernest Paul
Phone: 202-225-2831
Web Email

Representative Frederick Stephen Upton
Phone: 202-225-3761
Fax: 202-225-4986
Web Email

Call them; fax them; email them, and congratulate them in their discovery that patriotism means preference of country over party and national interest over the personal legacy of an undeserving president.

And finally, as a special tribute to a real Republican patriot,
Ron Paul wishes all of us to count down to November 5th:

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Why Won't Nancy Pelosi Just Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way?

Maybe she's not getting enough???
Because she's obviously sleeping with the enemy.

What kind of a leader would toss Pete Stark under the Bush bus?

Pete Stark, in a rare rant of speaking truth to power last week, gave Bush the lie. All of what was said was the unvarnished and long overdue truth.

And yet Democrat-In-Name-Only (DINO) Nancy publicly rebuked Stark and then allowed a motion of censure to come to the House floor. In part the motion said,
Mr. Stark, by his despicable conduct, has dishonored himself and brought discredit to the House and merits the censure of the House for the same. Resolved, that the member from California, Mr. Stark, is hereby so censured.
The censure motion failed 196-173 (with five Democrats supporting it). After the vote, Stark came to the podium to offer certainly the most contrite, sniveling and pathetic apology ever heard in Congress:
I want to apologize first of all to my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president. his family, to the troops that may have found (offense) in my remarks as were suggested in the motion that we just voted on, and I do apologize. ... With this apology I will become as insignificant as I should be and we can return to the issues that do divide us but that we can resolve.
Stark is assured the insignificance he thinks he desires. A gloating Fox News report said that,
After his mea culpa, Stark walked off the floor to the Democratic side of the chamber and for at least five minutes stood sobbing while fellow Democrats gathered around him.
Entirely believable, based on the clip I saw. I will neither post it or link it because it's too grotesque, profane and obscene for my reader(s). It can be found on all reich-wing sites. They love it!

But all of this is Nancy's fault. She disgusts me. I am shucking my membership in the Democraptic party tomorrow. Furthermore, all my political contributions this year and next will go to Cindy Sheehan who can certainly unseat this DINO bitch.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dick Cheney's Diktat

Crying Wolf

I resent my current status in life (forced labor) which restricts the time and energy to write my own stuff everyday. There is so much that comes my way, that that would be 'hard work', but rewarding. I am confronted at every turn with the temptation to take the written and spoken words of others and bend them in the direction of objective historical truth. My circumstances encourage me to yield to this temptation since it also saves a ton of time in proofing. It really is a cheap way out, but why re-invent the wheel?

And speaking of wheels. . .

Dick Cheney, our current de facto president who has never stood on his own feet and run in his own presidential primary campaign, yesterday blatantly reprised Bush's doctrine of preventive war. The same ingredients which filled Bush's rationale for the use of force against Iraq announced five years ago (plus a few weeks) were the headliners in Shooter's speech before the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. These three paragraphs contained the fighting words heard and read this morning around the world:
The Iranian regime's efforts to destabilize the Middle East and to gain hegemonic power is a matter of record. And now, of course, we have the inescapable reality of Iran's nuclear program; a program they claim is strictly for energy purposes, but which they have worked hard to conceal; a program carried out in complete defiance of the international community and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Iran is pursuing technology that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. The world knows this. The Security Council has twice imposed sanctions on Iran and called on the regime to cease enriching uranium. Yet the regime continues to do so, and continues to practice delay and deception in an obvious attempt to buy time.

Given the nature of Iran's rulers, the declarations of the Iranian President, and the trouble the regime is causing throughout the region -- including direct involvement in the killing of Americans -- our country and the entire international community cannot stand by as a terror-supporting state fulfills its most aggressive ambitions. (Applause.)

The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. (Applause.)
As luck would have it, minutes ago I encountered a real deal response to this unilateral and unconstitutional decree of Cheney's. Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, Middle East editor of Foreign Policy In Focus, and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism. Writing weeks ago, Zunes anticipates Cheney's diktat:
Indeed, the United States is obsessed with Iran’s nuclear program – still many years away from producing an atomic bomb – while we support the neighboring states of Pakistan, India, and Israel, which have already developed nuclear weapons and which are also in violation of UN Security Council resolutions regarding their nuclear programs. We blame Iran for the deaths of American soldiers in Iraq yet 95% of U.S. casualties are from anti-Iranian Sunni insurgents. We focus on Iranian human rights abuses while we continue to support the even more oppressive and theocratic Islamic regime in Saudi Arabia. We attack the Iranian president’s denial of the genocide of European Jews while remaining silent in the face of Turkish leaders’ denial of the genocide of Armenians. One of the most important principles of most faith traditions is moral consistency. Few receive greater wrath in most holy texts than hypocrites.
More's the pity that my countrymen have fallen behind the timeline posted in the upper righthand corner of these pages: a timely impeachment of our two home-grown arch-war criminals would have, by now, provided us with credible national leadership. As it is, we are left with a couple of chickenhawks, crying 'wolf'.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Pete Stark - A Member of the Democratic Wing

...of the Democraptic Party has stood up and said - FINALLY - what had to be said.

Faux News is angry that Rep. Pete Stark interrupted a Thursday debate on the floor of the House of Representatives and launched 'a shocking one-man assault on the Bush administration'. In fact, all Congressman Stark did was to tell the truth, and in so doing,
give Bush the lie.
At long last the Harry Truman wing is waking up.

At rallies in the '48 campaign, people would yell, "Give'em Hell, Harry!" Truman would yell back, "All I do is to tell the truth, and they think it's hell."

The truth has escaped out of the 'truth paste tube' onto the Floor of the House of Representatives:
It's the Stark Truth.

How Do We Measure Progress in Iraq?

'Bench marks'? 'Quantitative metrics'? 'Key indicators'? 'Body-counts'? 'Kill ratios'? Passage of 'hydrocarbons bill'? Elections?

Friedman Units?
Reconstruction of infrastructure?

Head of Reconstruction Teams in Iraq Reports Little Progress Throughout Country (NYT 19-Oct-07):
BAGHDAD, Oct. 18 — Attempts by American-led reconstruction teams to forge political reconciliation, foster economic growth and build an effective police force and court system in Iraq have failed to show significant progress in nearly every one of the nation’s provincial regions and in the capital, a federal oversight agency reported on Thursday.
Body Counts?

Feisal Units?

On 8-Mar-04, Feisal Istrabadi, was just back from Iraq where he was one of the principal drafters of the Iraq the interim constitution:
I think the significance is that the people of Iraq are taking charge of their future. This is the first step towards the assertion, reassertion of the sovereignty of the people of Iraq, which has been usurped for at least 35 years by a tyrannical and brutal regime.

It is the first step that Iraq takes in over a dozen years to attempt to reintegrate itself into the family of nations. And it is, I think, a day which the first steps towards ending at least the formal occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces begins. It's a significant day, I believe, in Iraq's history.
But this week, Istrabadi, deputy ambassador of the Shiite government of Iraq to the United Nations, resigned in disgust and began speaking out about the corruption, incompetence, and inefficiency of the Iraqi government:
You’ve got patently incompetent men appointed to important positions.

I think the question was: ‘Should elections have been held?’ And I think that there is only one answer to that question, and that’s absolutely not. . . . .You’ve got patently incompetent men appointed to important positions.

. . . . What did we accomplish, exactly, [with] this push towards an appearance of institutions . . . merely an appearance? Except that an American politician can stand up and say, ‘Look what we accomplished in Iraq.’ When, in fact, what we accomplished in Iraq over the last three years has been chaos and instability. . . . there is no Iraqi government.
The Calendar?

This illegitimate occupation is not progressing. It's just aging. We have 454 days - at the very least - to go.

GOP Friday Has Been Cancelled (Again)

My weekly search for a redeemable Republican has come up empty.

I was going to say something snarky, but all rancor has been sucked out of me by events in Karachi and Johannesburg.

In spite of all that has happened in the beginning of this miserable century, I am rocked back on my heels that I can still be shocked and appalled. Needless, pointless death and destruction occurs everyday. It's just that some days it all becomes barely bearable. 133 in Benazir Bhutto's reception in Karachi are killed? Scores, I am sure, terribly injured. Lucky Dube shot dead in Johannesburg? In a car-jacking? What is the point? The world is dead to me today.I'll just turn up my speakers. . .

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

On Blackwater, Specifically...

And on armed mercenaries in general....

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

My excerpts from The Pro-War Undertow of the Blackwater Scandal by Norman Solomon:

. . . . A real hazard of the preoccupation with Blackwater is that it will become a scapegoat for what is profoundly and fundamentally wrong with the U.S. effort and mission. Condemnation of Blackwater, however justified, can easily be siphoned into a political whirlpool that demands a cleanup of the U.S. war occupation effort – as though a relentless war of occupation based on lies could be redeemed by better management – as if the occupying troops in Army and Marine uniforms are incarnations of restraint and accountability.

. . . . One of the most unusual aspects of the current Blackwater scandal is that it places recent killings of Iraqi civilians front-and-center even though the killers were Americans. This angle is outside the customary media frame that focuses on what Iraqis are doing to each other and presents Americans – whether in military uniform or in contractor mode – as well-meaning heroes who sometimes become victims of dire circumstances.

. . . . The current Blackwater scandal should help us to understand the dynamics that routinely set in when occupiers – whether privatized mercenaries or uniformed soldiers – rely on massive violence against the population they claim to be helping.

Terrible as Blackwater has been and continues to be, that profiteering corporation should not be made a lightning rod for opposition to the war occupation. New legislation that demands accountability from private security forces can't make a war an occupation that's wrong any more right. Finding better poster boys who can be touted as humanitarians rather than mercenaries won't change the basic roles of gun-toting Americans in a country that they have no right to occupy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Iraq: The Real Deal

Five years after Congress authorized the use of force in Iraq, Rush Limbaugh's 'Phony Soldiers' are on the march.

The Real Iraq We Knew by 12 former Army captains (almost unedited):

Today marks five years since the authorization of military force in Iraq, setting Operation Iraqi Freedom in motion. Five years on, the Iraq war occupation is as undermanned and under-resourced as it was from the start. And, five years on, Iraq is in shambles.

As Army captains who served in Baghdad and beyond, we've seen the corruption and the sectarian division. We understand what it's like to be stretched too thin. And we know when it's time to get out.

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

The inability to govern is exacerbated at all levels by widespread corruption. Transparency International ranks Iraq as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And, indeed, many of us witnessed the exploitation of U.S. tax dollars by Iraqi officials and military officers. Sabotage and graft have had a particularly deleterious impact on Iraq's oil industry, which still fails to produce the revenue that Pentagon war planners hoped would pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Yet holding people accountable has proved difficult. The first commissioner of a panel charged with preventing and investigating corruption resigned last month, citing pressure from the government and threats on his life.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. military has been trying in vain to hold the country together. Even with "the surge," we simply do not have enough soldiers and marines to meet the professed goals of clearing areas from insurgent control, holding them securely and building sustainable institutions. Though temporary reinforcing operations in places like Fallujah, An Najaf, Tal Afar, and now Baghdad may brief well on PowerPoint presentations, in practice they just push insurgents to another spot on the map and often strengthen the insurgents' cause by harassing locals to a point of swayed allegiances. Millions of Iraqis correctly recognize these actions for what they are and vote with their feet -- moving within Iraq or leaving the country entirely. Still, our colonels and generals keep holding on to flawed concepts.

U.S. forces, responsible for too many objectives and too much "battle space," are vulnerable targets. The sad inevitability of a protracted draw-down is further escalation of attacks -- on U.S. troops, civilian leaders and advisory teams. They would also no doubt get caught in the crossfire of the imminent Iraqi civil war.

Iraqi security forces would not be able to salvage the situation. Even if all the Iraqi military and police were properly trained, equipped and truly committed, their 346,000 personnel would be too few. As it is, Iraqi soldiers quit at will. The police are effectively controlled by militias. And, again, corruption is debilitating. U.S. tax dollars enrich self-serving generals and support the very elements that will battle each other after we're gone.

This is Operation Iraqi Freedom and the reality we experienced. This is what we tried to communicate up the chain of command. This is either what did not get passed on to our civilian leadership or what our civilian leaders chose to ignore. While our generals pursue a strategy dependent on peace breaking out, the Iraqis prepare for their war -- and our servicemen and women, and their families, continue to suffer.

There is one way we might be able to succeed in Iraq. To continue an operation of this intensity and duration, we would have to abandon our volunteer military for compulsory service. Short of that, our best option is to leave Iraq immediately. A scaled withdrawal will not prevent a civil war, and it will spend more blood and treasure on a losing proposition.

America, it has been five years. It's time to make a choice.

Jason Blindauer served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Elizabeth Bostwick served in Salah Ad Din and An Najaf in 2004.
Jeffrey Bouldin served in Al Anbar, Baghdad and Ninevah in 2006.
Jason Bugajski served in Diyala in 2004.
Anton Kemps served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Kristy (Luken) McCormick served in Ninevah in 2003.
Luis Carlos Montalván served in Anbar, Baghdad and Nineveh in 2003 and 2005.
William Murphy served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Josh Rizzo served in Baghdad in 2006.
William "Jamie" Ruehl served in Nineveh in 2004.
Gregg Tharp served in Babil and Baghdad in 2003 and 2005.
Gary Williams served in Baghdad in 2003.

This FISA Bill Is Worth Fighting for...

Even if it's a last ditch effort!
FISA stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A Bush-favored House bill, "the RESTORE Act" (H.R. 3773), attempts to fix the disastrous Protect America Act that was rushed through Congress in August, rubberstamping the administration's warrantless wiretapping program.

But the bill caves in to Bush’s fear-mongering in a major way: it does NOT require the government to get an individual warrant before wiretapping Americans' phone calls and emails. Instead, it allows for program or basket “warrants,” which aren't really warrants at all. They're the modern-day equivalent of allowing government agents to sit in our living rooms, recording our personal conversations. Only they're more frightening, because the government now has the capacity to monitor us remotely and without our knowledge, and to save the information in a secret database forever.

One good thing is that the bill doesn't yet include immunity for telecom companies that broke the law by handing over Americans' private communications to the government, but we're hearing immunity could be added back to the bill at any time.

Thanks to Congressman Rush Holt, we have an alternative to Bush's insidious version which does not require individual warrants but only 'basket' warrants.

This is H.R.3782 is the FISA Modernization Bill. Although it was submitted to committee last monday (just like the restore act), it is still stuck in committee. This is the good bill because it has protections against basket warrants and doesn't grant retroactive immunity to Telecomms which were compliant to warrentless requests by the NSC, possibly going back to before 911.

Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office states:
Why is the president of the United States trying to get the telecommunications companies off the hook for their illegal activity? He is supposed to be upholding laws, not encouraging companies to break them. Businesses that break the law should be held accountable. We expect these companies to keep our personal information private, and if they break the law, there should be consequences – not a re-write of the rule book.

The House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees wisely rejected the president’s efforts to carry the water for the telecom companies and voted down an amendment that would add telecom amnesty to the bill. Members of Congress should not re-write laws just to get giant companies off the hook. They were elected to represent the American people, not big business.

It is interesting that the president says his litmus test for acceptance of any bill to come from Congress hinges on the nod from Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, whose numerous exaggerations and misstatements have buoyed the ACLU and the Progressive Caucus’ efforts to get real civil liberties protections in any new FISA fixes.
Please, write your representative and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi right now. Tell them to only pass the FISA Modernization Bill that has individualized warrants for people in the United States and NOT to provide telecom companies with immunity for breaking the law.

The most effective calls to Congress are polite, respectful and clearly state what you’re asking your Member of Congress to do:
  • Congress should not act on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until the Bush administration hands over documents about the NSA wiretapping program.
  • Any legislation to permanently amend FISA must restore judicial review and protect the privacy rights of innocent Americans.
  • The government should receive only the information it is authorized to intercept by law, it should not be given direct and unfettered access to telecommunications infrastructure.
  • The legislation must not grant amnesty to telecom companies that broke the law by illegally releasing Americans’ phone calls and records to the government.
Establish contact with your Congressional Representative by typing in your zipcode in the upper righthand corner of this site!

After the vote, check how your Senators and Congressmen voted and contact them with your raves or rage. It's the same old story: keep score, take names, and kick ass.

Jim Holt Thinks Bush Is Winning a Pot of Oil for the USA

Just as when they say it's not about sex, it's about sex; and when they say it's not about money, it's about money. And when they say Iraq is not about oil, it's about oil.

Quite possibly, the current quagmire in Iraq is not a problem for Bush and Cheney: it was their goal all along. It's a blooming success in their NeoCon eyes.

There are 115 billion barrels of known oil reserves in Iraq; which is what we Americans have, times five. It is also the least explored of the world's oil-rich nations. According to some estimates, US forces are now sitting on one quarter of the world's oil resources. The potential value could eventually be equal to 30 times the eventual cost of Bush's invasion and occupation.

Jim Holt states his case in the London Review of Books:

Who will get Iraq’s oil? One of the Bush administration’s ‘benchmarks’ for the Iraqi government is the passage of a law to distribute oil revenues. The draft law that the US has written for the Iraqi congress would cede nearly all the oil to Western companies. The Iraq National Oil Company would retain control of 17 of Iraq’s 80 existing oilfields, leaving the rest – including all yet to be discovered oil – under foreign corporate control for 30 years. Analyst Antonia Juhasz wrote in the New York Times in March, after the draft law was leaked.
The foreign companies would not have to invest their earnings in the Iraqi economy. They could even ride out Iraq’s current “instability” by signing contracts now, while the Iraqi government is at its weakest, and then wait at least two years before even setting foot in the country.
As negotiations over the oil law stalled in September, the provincial government in Kurdistan simply signed a separate deal with the Dallas-based Hunt Oil Company, headed by a close political ally of President Bush.

How will the US maintain hegemony over Iraqi oil? By establishing permanent military bases in Iraq. Five self-sufficient ‘super-bases’ are in various stages of completion. All are well away from the urban areas where most casualties have occurred. There has been precious little reporting on these bases in the American press, whose dwindling corps of correspondents in Iraq cannot move around freely because of the dangerous conditions. (It takes a brave reporter to leave the Green Zone without a military escort.) In February last year, the Washington Post reporter Thomas Ricks described one such facility, the Balad Air Base, forty miles north of Baghdad. A piece of (well-fortified) American suburbia in the middle of the Iraqi desert, Balad has fast-food joints, a miniature golf course, a football field, a cinema and distinct neighbourhoods – among them, ‘KBR-land’, named after the Halliburton subsidiary that has done most of the construction work at the base. Although few of the 20,000 American troops stationed there have ever had any contact with an Iraqi, the runway at the base is one of the world’s busiest. ‘We are behind only Heathrow right now,’ an air force commander told Ricks.

The Defense Department was initially coy about these bases. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld said: ‘I have never, that I can recall, heard the subject of a permanent base in Iraq discussed in any meeting.’ But this summer the Bush administration began to talk openly about stationing American troops in Iraq for years, even decades, to come. Several visitors to the White House have told the New York Times that the president himself has become fond of referring to the ‘Korea model’. When the House of Representatives voted to bar funding for ‘permanent bases’ in Iraq, the new term of choice became ‘enduring bases’, as if three or four decades wasn’t effectively an eternity.

But will the US be able to maintain an indefinite military presence in Iraq? It will plausibly claim a rationale to stay there for as long as civil conflict simmers, or until every groupuscule that conveniently brands itself as ‘al-Qaida’ is exterminated. The civil war may gradually lose intensity as Shias, Sunnis and Kurds withdraw into separate enclaves, reducing the surface area for sectarian friction, and as warlords consolidate local authority. De facto partition will be the result. But this partition can never become de jure. (An independent Kurdistan in the north might upset Turkey, an independent Shia region in the east might become a satellite of Iran, and an independent Sunni region in the west might harbour al-Qaida.) Presiding over this Balkanised Iraq will be a weak federal government in Baghdad, propped up and overseen by the Pentagon-scale US embassy that has just been constructed – a green zone within the Green Zone. As for the number of US troops permanently stationed in Iraq, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, told Congress at the end of September that ‘in his head’ he saw the long-term force as consisting of five combat brigades, a quarter of the current number, which, with support personnel, would mean 35,000 troops at the very minimum, probably accompanied by an equal number of mercenary contractors. (He may have been erring on the side of modesty, since the five super-bases can accommodate between ten and twenty thousand troops each.) These forces will occasionally leave their bases to tamp down civil skirmishes, at a declining cost in casualties. As a senior Bush administration official told the New York Times in June, the long-term bases ‘are all places we could fly in and out of without putting Americans on every street corner’. But their main day-to-day function will be to protect the oil infrastructure.

This is the ‘mess’ that Bush-Cheney is going to hand on to the next administration. What if that administration is a Democratic one? Will it dismantle the bases and withdraw US forces entirely? That seems unlikely, considering the many beneficiaries of the continued occupation of Iraq and the exploitation of its oil resources. The three principal Democratic candidates – Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards – have already hedged their bets, refusing to promise that, if elected, they would remove American forces from Iraq before 2013, the end of their first term.

Among the winners:
  • oil-services companies like Halliburton;
  • the oil companies themselves (the profits will be unimaginable, and even Democrats can be bought);
  • US voters, who will be guaranteed price stability at the gas pump (which sometimes seems to be all they care about);
  • Europe and Japan, which will both benefit from Western control of such a large part of the world’s oil reserves, and whose leaders will therefore wink at the permanent occupation;
  • oddly enough, Osama bin Laden, who will never again have to worry about US troops profaning the holy places of Mecca and Medina, since the stability of the House of Saud will no longer be paramount among American concerns.
Among the losers:
  • Russia, which will no longer be able to lord its own energy resources over Europe.
  • Opec, and especially Saudi Arabia, whose power to keep oil prices high by enforcing production quotas will be seriously compromised.
Then there is the case of Iran, which is more complicated. In the short term, Iran has done quite well out of the Iraq war.

Holt says the longer the U.S. stays the worse it turns out for Iran. At length, he also goes so far as to suggest that this bloody stalemate is actually a deep and well-developed gambit to restore American geo-strategic and economic balance vis-a-vis China. And then the conclusion:

Many people are still perplexed by exactly what moved Bush-Cheney to invade and occupy Iraq. In the 27 September issue of the New York Review of Books, Thomas Powers, one of the most astute watchers of the intelligence world, admitted to a degree of bafflement:
What’s particularly odd, is that there seems to be no sophisticated, professional, insiders’ version of the thinking that drove events.
Alan Greenspan, in his just published memoir, is clearer on the matter:
I am saddened, that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’
Was the strategy of invading Iraq to take control of its oil resources actually hammered out by Cheney’s 2001 energy task force? One can’t know for sure, since the deliberations of that task force, made up largely of oil and energy company executives, have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of ‘executive privilege’. One can’t say for certain that oil supplied the prime motive.

But the hypothesis is quite powerful when it comes to explaining what has actually happened in Iraq. The occupation may seem horribly botched on the face of it, but the Bush administration’s cavalier attitude towards ‘nation-building’ has all but ensured that Iraq will end up as an American protectorate for the next few decades – a necessary condition for the extraction of its oil wealth. If the US had managed to create a strong, democratic government in an Iraq effectively secured by its own army and police force, and had then departed, what would have stopped that government from taking control of its own oil, like every other regime in the Middle East?

On the assumption that the Bush-Cheney strategy is oil-centered, the tactics – dissolving the army, de-Baathification, a final ‘surge’ that has hastened internal migration – could scarcely have been more effective. The costs – a few billion dollars a month plus a few dozen American fatalities (a figure which will probably diminish, and which is in any case comparable to the number of US motorcyclists killed because of repealed helmet laws) – are negligible compared to $30 trillion in oil wealth, assured American geopolitical supremacy and cheap gas for voters. In terms of realpolitik, the invasion of Iraq is not a fiasco; it is a resounding success.

Still, there is reason to be skeptical of the picture I have drawn: it implies that a secret and highly ambitious plan turned out just the way its devisers foresaw, and that almost never happens.
If that happens, the imperial presidency and its doctrine of preventive war will have been validated. Bush's legacy will become a legend in his own lifetime.

Monday, October 15, 2007

This Is a Slow News Day

I just said that to see what I could provoke.

I'm actually just re-tooling
(working on my radar, GPS, VHS, and LORAN).

In the meantime, Dear Reader(s),
you are invited to bring stuff up!

Friday, October 12, 2007

TGIF! It's Friday and Be-Kind-to-a-Republican-Day

And Surprise!
Ron Paul Wins This Week's CNBC Debate!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"War" May Ruin Logic

but it sure revives and restores Bush and Cheney!

Ted Rall is a gifted, if edgy, editorial cartoonist. I am finding his writing equally challenging and stimulating. Below, I am reproducing his recent essay, War Is Bad For Logic And Other Living Things almost in its entirety and almost in its original form. Of course, I couldn’t avoid my inclination to juice up its readability with a little color and page design. But, what follows is all Rall's. I’m still reserving my right to revise and extend my remarks in the comments section below.

War Is Bad For Logic
And Other Living Things
Peter Gelderloos writes in a relatively tangential passage in his thought-provoking book, How Non-Violence Protects the State,
What non-violent antiwar activists are unable to realize is that the most important resistance, probably the only significant resistance, to the occupation of Iraq is the resistance being waged by the Iraqi people themselves.
Although its appearance in The Nation guaranteed it would receive scant notice, a July 30 essay by Alexander Cockburn was one of the first to seriously address the most troubling internal contradiction of the anti-Iraq War left. War, everyone knows, is a zero-sum game. For one side to win, the other has to lose. If you "support our troops" you hope, at minimum, for their safe return. But each day a U.S. soldier survives at the front means another day he will occupy Iraq and another day he can kill Iraqi resistance forces. Supporting the troops, as right-wingers say, requires supporting their mission. Which means opposing the guys who are trying to kill them.

Cockburn quoted antiwar activist Lawrence McGuire:
The grand taboo of the antiwar movement is to show the slightest empathy for the resistance fighters in Iraq. They are never mentioned as people for whom we should show concern, much less admiration. But of course, if you are going to sympathize with the U.S. soldiers, who are fighting a war of aggression, then surely you should also [my emphasis] sympathize with the soldiers who are fighting for their homeland.
It kills me to say this, but neocon madman William Kristol was correct when he wrote in The Weekly Standard:
What mattered to the left was that it was dangerous politically not to 'support the troops.' Of course the antiwar left hated what the troops were doing... So 'supporting the troops' meant feeling sorry for them, or pretending to.
The 2004 discussion over U.S. soldiers who bought their own body plates, and resorted to "hillbilly armor" to protect their Humvees from roadside bombs, was a case in point. Antiwar pundits, including me, tried to drive a wedge between the Bush Administration and the military by pointing out that the Pentagon was pinching pennies at the expense of soldiers' lives. But what if you're an Iraqi? You risk your own life every time you place an IED along the "Highway of Death" between Baghdad and the airport. The more Americans you blow up, the closer you come to achieving your goal of liberating Iraq. The last thing you need is "antiwar" Americans agitating for stronger armor plates!

A parallel to World War II, "the good war" depicted in countless movies, is useful. You're a German citizen living in Berlin, and you hate the Nazis. You're against the war. Do you pray for the SS? Or the French Resistance? You can't do both. (Well, you could--but you'd be an idiot.)

The moral quandary forced upon the left is epitomized by Phyllis Bennis, an in-the-box wonk for the Institute for Policy Studies. She allows,
Certainly the Iraqi people have the right to resist an illegal occupation, including military resistance. But as a whole, what is understood to be 'the Iraqi resistance' against the U.S. occupation is a disaggregated and diverse set of largely unconnected factions, in which the various often-antagonistic armed movements (including some who attack Iraqi civilians as much as they do occupation troops) hold pride of place. There is no unified leadership that can speak for 'the resistance,' there is no NLF or ANC or FMLN that can claim real leadership and is accountable to the Iraqi population as a whole.
For most of World War II, the same was true of the French Resistance (history grants them the upper-case "R") too. Communists, socialists and even monarchists fought the Germans--and each other--until Charles de Gaulle's center-right faction prodded, bullied and ultimately muscled out his (more popular and more progressive) rivals. There were, as in Iraq today, French criminal gangs who fought solely for money. If this was 1943 and Bennis and other mainstream liberals were anti-Nazi Germans, would they "support what is called 'the French resistance'"?

As their Iraqi counterparts do today, the Free French carried out what the press of the period called "terrorist attacks." Kidnappings, assassinations and bombings were usually directed at government officials, German troops, and French collaborators--but civilians were also killed. So why does the antiwar left find the Iraqis distasteful?

Gelderloos argues that the post-Vietnam American left is hard-wired with reflexive pacifism, denying that violent militancy can ever be a valid tactic, even when faced with horrific oppression. Liberals frequently express disapproval of protestors who smashed windows at the 1999 World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, and the Earth Liberation Front's (ELF) torching of SUVs at auto dealerships--even though no one got hurt.

Knee-jerk non-violence partly explains the left's reluctance to embrace the Iraqi resistance. Nationalism/patriotism is another factor. Who wants to see more funerals of American soldiers? And who wants to be smeared as the next "Hanoi Jane"?

Bennis writes that when she is
asked who I think will then take power [after U.S. forces leave Iraq], the only thing I can anticipate with any confidence is that first, I probably won't like them very much because they're likely to have a far more religious orientation than I like but that second, it's not up to me to choose who governs Iraq.
The Islamist and/or totalitarian ideology of many of Iraq's anti-U.S. factions is a turn-off to the secular American left. The Guardian's Jonathan Freedland worried aloud in late 2003, when the war against the occupation of Iraq heated up:
Not all of Iraq's resistance will fit [a] romantic, maquis image. Some will be Baathist holdouts, Saddamites who once served as henchmen to a murderous dictator. No progressive should want to see these villains land a blow on British or American forces.
This year, in the socialist New Politics, Stephen Shalom noted that
to give our automatic support to any opponent of U.S. imperialism means we should have supported the Taliban in 2001 or Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Since war is a zero-sum game, it's our guys or theirs. "Support the troops by bringing them home" is an empty slogan that belies reality. With both political parties supporting the war, U.S. troops are not going to come home any time soon. As Gelderloos writes:
The approach of the U.S. antiwar movement in relation to the Iraqi resistance does not merely qualify as bad strategy; it reveals a total lack of strategy, and it is something we need to fix.
It also exposes an ugly truth about antiwar lefties. They don't believe in national self-determination any more than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.