Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Wars

There is a school of thought that when everyone is screaming that the thing to do is to keep your composure -- but judging from the rhetoric out of Washington this week, that school is no longer graduating any students.


Before I left for vacation in Maine (most relaxing place I've ever been to), I wrote two entries which focussed a bit on the Leiberman/ Lamont primary, which today seems to have all the immediacy of the Trojan War.

Nevertheless, I had to pitch in with the following screed:

Messrs. Cheney and Leiberman have each said variations of the following – that a primary in one of the smallest states in the country -- where a billionaire won a primary election over a multi-millionaire – sent a message to the terrorists that we have lost the will to fight terrorism. It encourages the terrorists.

No, Dick. Any election, where people get to vote quickly, and where the votes are fairly counted, where the person with the most votes wins, where the winner actually gets the job to which he/ she was elected, and no one gets his or her head shot off during the voting, is the single scariest thing in the mind of the terrorist.

What encourages terrorism is when people like Joe Leiberman recruit the powers that be -- like Dick Cheney -- to attempt to subvert the result of that election.

The actions of Joe Leiberman and his enablers reinforce the terrorist point that “free and fair elections” are a sham. It reinforces the terrorists’ point that the voice of the people never gets heard.

Who is really encouraging terrorism?

"The war we fight today is more than a military conflict," the president said. "It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century. On one side are those who believe in the values of freedom and moderation ... and on the other side are those driven by the values of tyranny and extremism," the president said.

President Bush – as reported in the Washington Post

The President gave a press conference last week in which he said repeatedly that it would be a mistake to leave Iraq too soon, that all Democrats are in favor of leaving Iraq too soon, and leaving Iraq too soon would be handing the terrorists a victory.

He then gave a speech this week where he said that if we don’t fight the terrorists there, we’ll have to fight them here.

Under the President’s scenario, one which I have repeatedly said that I am philosophically sympathetic too, when would be a proper time to leave Iraq?


I will leave it for those of you who like logic puzzles to run through the scenarios. I’m sure you have thought them through already. They are all dead ends.

For me, there is only one scenario -- we can leave the Middle East at such time where the United States has switched to those domestically generated energy sources that can run our lights and our cars without destroying the planet. At that time, the United States can disengage from the Middle East, and if those people can’t figure things out by then, they are welcome to kill each other off until the Apocalypse.

However, even then, we would not have achieved the goal of stopping the threat of terrorism.

Because, the War on Iraq is about the protection of our energy supply. The War in Iraq is also tangentially about the notion that – perhaps -- over time -- an increase of freedom can lead to a decrease of terrorism. Maybe.

The War Against Terrorism is the War Against Terrorism. And this Administration can take credit that there have been few repeats of 9/11 worldwide, and none here. However, they have not made their case that fighting the War on Iraq is responsible for the success of the War Against Terrorism. Maybe. Maybe Not. But the case has not been made.

There is also no proof that either the War Against Terrorism or the War in Iraq is halting the spread against what is sometimes called Radical Islam, and sometimes called Islamofascism. It has not even been shown that radical Islam is really radical. Perhaps the Islam practiced in the United States is the radical kind. I don't know enough about it.

So whether or not this War is also about the next Crusade is, of course, a family feud in which I play the role of the lawn.

We are fighting a War on Terror and a War in Iraq, and maybe a War against Radical Islam – and the Administration is looking to fight a another war in Iran -- and yet they continue to talk of it as if it is one War.

Oops. As everyone else, I forgot Afghanistan.

As Barney Frank put it this week:

“Whether or not one subscribes to the geopolitical aims that motivated the Bush administration's intervention in Iraq, it is clearly invalid to assert that support for that war is the indispensable badge of one's willingness to confront terrorism. Only by adopting the techniques of the big lie can the vice president make his case that those opposed to the Iraqi war fail to understand the importance of a firm response to terrorists. In fact, given the deleterious effect it has had on our effort in Afghanistan, and the enormous boost it has given to anti-American forces around the world, the big truth is that the Iraq war has damaged our ability to fight terrorism.”

I am not sure, exactly, which “big lie” Barney Frank is referring to.

However, one “big lie” I subscribe to is the notion that the Administration keeps spreading the lie that we can fight two or three or four of these “decisive ideological wars of the 21st century” for less than the price of one.


I don’t know if these speeches that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are making will convince the voters to allow the Republicans to keep the House and/or the Senate. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Maybe we'll have a fair and free election -- the type that the terrorists fear -- and maybe we won't. There are 8 weeks until the elections, and 8 weeks is a long time.

However, the Congress, as it is currently constituted, is all Republican. 8 weeks is a long time, and even if the Republicans lose the election, there will still be about 8 weeks of the Republican Congress after that. So if the Administration wants something, they should simply tell the Congress what it is.

If all the Administration wants is for everyone to leave them alone so they can talk as if the Apocalypse has arrived, but fight with a fraction of an Army ….

… Don’t the Republicans have a problem with that?

Don’t the Republicans have a problem fighting a war in a manner where it is impossible for the United States to win?

Or is the real war – the only war that the Republicans really care about -- the war against secularism, as they see being manifested by the Democratic Party?

If by some accident, we were to have a Presidential election without fraud, and that election produces a Democratic President – even, lets say, a Democrat who shares Joe Lieberman’s views – do you think that the Republicans would support the Wars for more than 30 minutes?

Or to put it another way --- are Republicans committed to the Wars simply because Democrats are opposed to them?

Or to put it another way – if there is only one bullet, would most Republicans kill Osama bin Laden – or Hillary Clinton?

I am sure unto the death that the Republicans would kill Hillary. And then if they found another bullet, the Republicans would kill Ted Kennedy. And on and on. A lot of dead bodies would be strewn – and by then Osama would have slipped back into Pakistan. As if the Republicans would care.

I don’t want to hear about appeasement from this gang.


“We need to consider the following questions, I would submit:

"• With the growing lethality and the increasing availability of weapons, can we truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?

"• Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?

"• Can we afford the luxury of pretending that the threats today are simply law enforcement problems, like robbing a bank or stealing a car; rather than threats of a fundamentally different nature requiring fundamentally different approaches?

"• And can we really afford to return to the destructive view that America, not the enemy, but America, is the source of the world's troubles?

"These are central questions of our time, and we must face them honestly.”

Donald Rumsfeld --- Speech in front of the American Legion, as reported by the Department of Defense website.

This is the same speech where Mr. Rumsfeld accused critics of the War (singular) of appeasement, and where he claimed that people who disagree with Donald Rumsfeld have not “learned the lessons of history.”

Only Donald never mentioned exactly what lessons of history he had in mind.

Maybe the lesson that Rumsfeld has in mind is the lesson that the Administration want us to share -- that we can fight two or three or four of these “decisive ideological wars of the 21st century” for less than the price of one.

Donald is great at asking questions, but not so great at answering them. He didn't even bother to answer the softball questions he raised in his own speech.

The only question Rumsfeld tried to answer is the one about how some people, and of course he can’t name names, subscribe to the view that somehow, America is the source of the world’s problems.

But still and yet, no one in this Administration dares to quote Tony Blair (see also my previous blog entry below) because then it would show that whatever else these guys are fighting, they are not fighting in earnest.


The unanswered question that disturbs me most is when Rumsfeld asks, but does not answer, the question:

“Can folks really continue to think that free countries can negotiate a separate peace with terrorists?”

I can not shake the conviction that the word “free” was added because Donald Rumsfeld believes that we can not fight this war and be free at the same time.

I can not shake the conviction that when Donald Rumsfeld complains that we don’t understand about the lessons of history and when Dick Cheney complains about the role of elections in our democracy, what they mean is this ---

Freedom and democracy are not effective weapons in the war against terrorism.

According to these people, the best way to defend the so called Homeland (is that like Fatherland? -- who ever used that phrase before September 11?) is to become more like the terrorists – more religiously fundamental, less free, and certainly less democratic.


In apology articles and blogs like this, people are always admitting their mistakes about their support of the War in Iraq. Sometimes, they say that they really thought that there were weapons of mass destruction. I can't apologize for that. I live in the United States, so I knew the Bushes from way back. I was shocked to come out of my stroke to discover that anyone took that WMD stuff seriously. I can see the shock in W-‘s eyes anytime someone calls him on it. (Fool me twice -- we won't get fooled again.)

Sometimes the mea culpas say that they thought that we would really be able to get in and out of there in a few months time. They would greet us with flowers? In the desert? As I always say – haven’t any of these people seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia? The first rule in the Middle East is to band together to get the Westerners out.

Sometimes the apologies say that they did not think that the President would execute the War so badly.

Myself, I thought, and I have spoken about this in the blog before the last one, that this was not a war of choice, that you have to go to War with the Administration you have, and you adjust as you go.

I thought, at the end of the day, that we would fight both the War in the Middle East and the War on Terror at the same time.

I thought that the War in the Middle East was important, and would be deemed important by the Administration, and by the people who supported the Administration.

However, I was wrong. I agree with President Bush, that these wars are decisive ideological struggles -- in the profound sense of freedom versus tyranny.

They are even important and worth fighting in its cynical sense as wars to secure American energy supplies.

However, these are wars that the Administration are not taking seriously.

Soldiers are dying in large measure so that the Administration has a campaign talking point.

Soldiers are dying in large measure so that the Administration does not have to answer regarding its radical domestic agenda, and its radical executive power grab.

Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld have plenty to answer for.

However, in my analysis, it is the Republican Senators who are the most guilty party. They are in the ones in the position to make sure that the Wars would be prosecuted properly. They present themselves to the voters as the adults in the room. Moreover, the Constitution, in giving these guys 6 year terms, expects the Senators to behave like the adults in the room. So far they have failed at their task.

There are two or three or four different wars, and whenever this Administration conflates them, and whenever the Republican Senate says "Amen", you have to come to the conclusion that they are not serious about any of them.

Not to worry, there is still time, since the United States is not going to be in a position to leave the Middle East in any foreseeable future.

The only thing that the Administration is serious about is the war against Americans “who do not understand the nature of terrorism.”

Do we need to bring the soldiers home so that the forces of freedom can win the war about to be fought here?