B After The Fact

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tony Blair's War -- and Joe Leiberman's




Watched MEET THE PRESS for the first time in a long time. Nothing says "Summertime Blues" more than watching Sunday morning television. I was watching two talking heads -- one -- Lanny Davis -- past, and I assume present, Clinton operative, defending Leiberman -- the other -- Howard Dean's brother --- defending Lamont.

If this is all Leiberman has to say ---

Both on Meet The Press, and in a Washington Post op-ed, Leiberman supporters said that Leiberman had in fact been critical of Bush's conduct of the War. The Washington Post cited no examples. On Meet The Press, Davis had less pride, and cited a single instance in 2003. He didn't say what the criticism was for.

The Leiberman supporter on Meet The Press said asked how can you throw a good Democrat under the bus just due to the single issue of the War.

Here's my answer, Lanny --- If you are in the middle of a war, the only issue should be your position on the War.

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have pissed all over this war. Despite their occasional public statements, and the steady drumbeat of their lackeys, they have shown no change and no growth. And that, going back to the begining of this rant, is because their war aims are personal, and those aims are being met. People die. They get rich. You pay at the pump. They get rich. The globe warms up. New Orleans gets destroyed, and needs to be rebuilt. They get rich.

Joe Lieberman has enabled this nonsense, and refuses to even pay lip service to the errors of George Bush.

At the end of the day, if you are like me, if you are a Democrat who supports the War, you support a certain world view about what is necessary to preserve freedom in these times -- times that become far less than free every day.

Bush's interest in the freedom of anyone other than those effected by the Estate Tax is casual at best.


Joe Lieberman spoke for himself last night. He laundry listed all of his complaints about the war.

I am sure he said all of those things at some time or another.

However, he said something that sounded so quaint, and so out of place for a politician in 2006.

"That's something that separates me from my opponent – I don’t hate Republicans. I know that some times the best way to get things done in the Senate for my constituents is through bipartisan cooperation."

I don't hate Republicans either, Joe. But I am not a Senator in BushWorld 2006, and you have to beware of the people who are trying to blast your freedom out of the water.

Then he closed by saying:

"If after hearing the truth about where I stand on Iraq, you still want to cast your vote solely on that one issue, then I respect your decision. But if you care about all the other issues facing us, and want to make real progress on them, then I ask once again for your trust and your vote on Tuesday."

Except the only issue worth talking about is the War, Joe.

And in the middle, where he could have either given a quick explanation for why he thought it was a good idea to go in, or a quick explanation for why he thinks it is still a good idea to stay (other than the chaos that our departure would enhance), he said this:

"Now I understand that many Democrats in Connecticut disagree with me and are very angry about the war. I don’t think there is anything I can say to change your mind about whether we should have gone to war or when we should bring the troops home, and at this point I’m not going to insult you by trying."

Those must be some poll numbers that Joe is seeing. He clearly realizes that he can never win the Democratic primary by trying to state his reasons for supporting the war. I wonder if he thinks he can even win a general election by supporting the war.

This week in Los Angeles, Tony Blair made a stunningly articulate defense of the War -- the War that is being fought today --- I cite it at length below.

If Joe Lieberman is not willing to steal a line or two from Tony, then I don't know which so-called American leader might be.

Very troubling indeed.


Is there any room in the Democratic party, at this junction, for someone who supports George Bush as vigorously as Joe Leiberman does?

What if I find, as Maureen Dowd states, and Krugman, too , that there is no room in the Democratic Party for anyone who supports the War at all?

Maybe I'll move to London.


How should a liberal defend this War?

Tony Blair , earlier this week, in Los Angeles

" ... (I)t is almost incredible to me that so much of Western opinion appears to buy the idea that the emergence of this global terrorism is somehow our fault. For a start, it is indeed global. No-one who ever half bothers to look at the spread and range of activity related to this terrorism can fail to see its presence in virtually every major nation in the world. It is directed at the United States and its allies, of course. But it is also directed at nations who could not conceivably be said to be allies of the West. It is also rubbish to suggest that it is the product of poverty. It is true it will use the cause of poverty. But its fanatics are hardly the champions of economic development. It is based on religious extremism. That is the fact. And not any religious extremism; but a specifically Muslim version. ...

"Its purpose is explicitly to prevent those countries becoming democracies and not "Western style" democracies, any sort of democracy. It is to prevent Palestine living side by side with Israel; not to fight for the coming into being of a Palestinian State, but for the going out of being, of an Israeli State. It is not wanting Muslim countries to modernise but to retreat into governance by a semi-feudal religious oligarchy. ...

"Yet despite all of this, which I consider virtually obvious, we look at the bloodshed in Iraq and say that's a reason for leaving; we listen to the propaganda that tells us its all because of our suppression of Muslims and have parts of our opinion seriously believing that if we only got out of Iraq and Afghanistan, it would all stop. ...

* * *
"It serves one other objective. There is a risk that the world, after the Cold War, goes back to a global policy based on spheres of influence. Think ahead. Think China, within 20 or 30 years, surely the world's other super-power. Think Russia and its precious energy reserves. Think India. I believe all of these great emerging powers want a benign relationship with the West. But I also believe that the stronger and more appealing our world-view is, the more it is seen as based not just on power but on justice, the easier it will be for us to shape the future in which Europe and the US will no longer, economically or politically, be transcendant. Long before then, we want Moderate, Mainstream Islam to triumph over Reactionary Islam.

"That is why I say this struggle is one about values. Our values are worth struggling for. They represent humanity's progress throughout the ages and at each point we have had to fight for them and defend them. As a new age beckons, it is time to fight for them again."


Is the Bush Administration now, or has the Bush Administration ever been, committed to fighting Tony Blair's war?

I don't think so.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Blood For Oil -- Heading For The Helicopters

I often wonder what would have happened if Bush and Cheney just copped to their stuff at the beginning of the war. I would have loved to have them say:

"We can't have a region with such an important source of our oil controlled by Saddam Hussein, someone who we consider unstable. Especially with China and India about to come on line."

Maybe we would have solved the energy crisis by now. My own view is that we can not leave Iraq until we solve our energy crisis, and the global warming that is resulting from it. We could solve our energy crisis any day we put the political will behind it.


Of course, that's one view of the rationale behind the War. But it is a long war, and rationales change.

I don't even think that the rationale I gave for the war above is the real one anymore. That's the one I thought they were using in March 2003. I assumed they went in to support America's oil supply. I also assumed they went in to enhance and enforce imperial perogatives under the Patriot Act.

I have come to believe that Bush and Cheney went into Iraq solely to loot the country for themselves, personally (i.e. the Carlyle Group and Halliburton) and their friends. They didn't need to have a particularly large army to accomplish their task. That's one of the reasons they have never bothered to ask for one.

It makes a difference, of course, especially to the families of the Americans who have died, essentially, to protect the personal net worth of certain people.

However, that does not mean that the United States can leave now that we are there.

My own view is that we can not leave Iraq until we have solved the energy crisis, and the global warming that is resulting from it. And we can solve the energy crisis in a single day on any day we have the political will to do it.

In the meantime, we cannot let our energy supply get cut off (even if the people who profit by it are Carlyle Group, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, etc.). We cannot let Iraq slip into civil war, or be split into three parts, or be fought over by Iran, Syria, Turkey and who knows who.

All that takes a much greater commitment in time and soldiers than anyone is willing to give it.


Tom Friedman calls for a "Plan B" , which is huge news. His last straw, it turns out, is the notion of the United States babysitting an Iraqi Civil War.

"If Iraq opts for all-out civil war, its two million barrels a day will be off the market and oil could go above $100 a barrel. (That would, however, spur more investment in alternative fuels that could one day make us independent of this volatile region.) ...

"Some fear that Iran will be the winner. But will it? Once we are out of Iraq, Iran will have to manage the boiling pot next door. That will be a huge problem for Iran. The historical enmity toward Iran by Iraqi Arabs — enmity temporarily focused on us —will re-emerge. And Iran will also have to compete with its ally Syria for influence in Iraq."

All that was true three years ago, so I am not sure what Friedman has learned in the meantime that has made him call for a Plan B. Tom Friedman's rationales for supporting this war have been, I think I am stating this correctly (i) that we had to answer 9/11 directly on Arab soil (Afghanistan is not Arab soil), (ii) that the way to end the cauldron of violence in the Middle East was to give the people in the Middle East some reason for hope, (iii) that the best best way to give the people some hope was to enable them, if possible, or to drag them, if necessary, into the new millenium, and (iv) a working democracy in the Middle East would destabilize the region in ways that were positive for the United States, and negative for the forces of autocracy and radical conservatism and the mid-eval in the Middle East.

Maybe Friedman is in despair that this Administration is not willing to go the extra step to accomplish that goal. Maybe he sees that the fellow who fancies himself a "war-time" President is too "out of his element" to make a serious choice about extending the war. Maybe Friedman is in unwilling to wait the Administration out until a new President makes proper choices. Any new President, other than Jeb Bush or Dick Cheney would make those proper choices. Any new President, other than Jeb or Dick, will either solve the energy crisis (and the global warming that results from it) properly or extend the war properly. Tragically, if I were a betting man, I'd bet that Dick Cheney is most likely to be the next President. A surer bet is that Dick Cheney will be the Republican nominee for Vice President, again, in 2008.

Whatever Friedman was thinking, a lot of us wanna-be "thinkers" are just feeding off his lead. So it is a tremendous brain drain on we few remaining Democrat supporters of the war.


It is also a brain drain to have to listen to Donald Rumsfeld talk about how if we leave Iraq it will mean that the United States will not be able to defend its own interests in Spain. Anytime one of these conservatives want to say that criticizing the President gives aid and comfort to the enemy, I want to reply that nothing gives more aid and comfort to the forces of terrorism and darkness than the fact that Donald Rumsfeld still has a position of authority.


Krauthammer , who used to be with us in the sensible Gore-loving center, and now writes and ghost-writes drivel for the Administration, says that Israel is blowing its opportunity to get George out of a jam.

" ... Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan immediately came out against Hezbollah and privately urged the United States to let Israel take down that organization. They know that Hezbollah is fighting Iran's proxy war not only against Israel but also against them and, more generally, against the United States and the West.

"Hence Israel's rare opportunity to demonstrate what it can do for its great American patron. The defeat of Hezbollah would be a huge loss for Iran, both psychologically and strategically. Iran would lose its foothold in Lebanon. ...

"The United States has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel's ability to do the job. It has been disappointed. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later."

It seems to me, reading everything, that America is looking for Israel to win another 6-Day War. I think if they can do it in 36 Days, that would work as well. However, I agree with Krauthammer, and John Podhoretz, and other people who I am not supposed to agree with, that the point is to damage Hezbollah, as quickly as possible, and not to be too nice about it.

I've said it a lot of times on this blog. Israel's actions do not radicalize the Arab Street. The presence of Jews in the Middle East radicalizes the Arab Street. Israel needs to answer to itself (just as America ought to be answering to itself at Gitmo and Abu Gharib), but it does not need to answer those who seek to completely destroy it, or any of their European fellow-travelers. As long as there is an Israel, there will be a Hezbollah, and when Hezbollah is set down, something else will rise up to replace it.