Friday, December 8, 2006

Whistling Past the Graveyard

The Baker-Hamilton report on the Iraq war is in. It crucifies the administration’s five-year policy and still, the president isn’t having any. Bush might not even be aware of the depth of his Middle East disaster as yet. He was a bit pale and shaken before the cameras while facing the press with Tony Blair, but he’ll get over it when he realizes the alternative is Dick Cheney’s wrath.

Bushblair_2 The Baker-Hamilton report on the Iraq war is in. It crucifies the administration’s five-year policy and still, the president isn’t having any. Bush might not even be aware of the depth of his Middle East disaster as yet. He was a bit pale and shaken before the cameras while facing the press with Tony Blair, but he’ll get over it when he realizes the alternative is Dick Cheney’s wrath.
There were the usual sops tossed in the direction of election results, bi-partisan cooperation and ways forward, but even Tony Blair standing resolutely by his side didn’t turn the trick.
Bakerhamilton This president is holding his impossible line for a reason he has never expressed to the nation. He is determined to hold on to a military footprint in Iraq. All but thrown out of Saudi Arabia and unable to pressure landing or fly-over rights in the area, he’s absolutely un-budgeable about leaving behind the four long-term military bases we built in Iraq.
So, there we have it. The man who will not listen, holding on to a mission he has not (and will not) explain. With virtually no support internationally or in his own country, Bush is agreeable to watching an inferno of his own making, rather than change direction.
Bushapproval_1 If he were a company CEO, he’d be fired. In the corporate world, if there were deaths involved, widespread property-damage or fraud in the manipulation of the stock, he’d be trotted off to jail.
All of this is true of the Bush presidency, but somehow, because this man is president, the world, the electorate, the courts and the Congress feel it’s necessary to convince him of his own mis-judgment. Like a recalcitrant child, we must cajole him out of his arbitrary assumptions. We have to handle him delicately, lest he truly rampage and widen his horrendous decision-making process into attacking Iran.
I am absolutely stunned at how impotent America has become in confronting a demagogue. The nation followed the Clinton impeachment as if it were a Hollywood plot-twist, almost gleefully following every klascivious detail. And yet, this man gets a free pass.
He repeated his refusal to talk with Iran and Syria unless Tehran suspends its uranium-enrichment program, Damascus stops interfering in Lebanon and both drop their support for terrorist groups. "The truth of the matter is that these countries have now got the choice to make," Bush said. "If they want to sit down at the table with the United States, it's easy: Just make some decisions that will lead to peace, not to conflict."-Washington Post
No George, the truth is that these countries have no reason or interest in making such a choice. A president who suggests otherwise is not only whistling past the graveyard, he is sufficiently out of touch with reality to be removed from office.
Syria and Iran are benefiting enormously from America’s powerlessness in Iraq. They will probably have to be begged to the bargaining table and given lasting concessions even to consider the washing of our dirty laundry. The Middle East will surely and irrevocably never be the same political ground that it was prior to our invasion.
It’s possible that never being the same again is the only remaining sliver of light from under the Iraqi door. The old Middle East, the Middle East fashioned by fifty years of American-Russian conflict and confrontation, was a dysfunctional family at best. Mom and Dad did okay, using the east and then the west against each other, for whatever goodies they could extort. But the kids were a mess. Seldom fed and running the streets without supervision, the children of jihad came of age.
Who to blame? Who to pin this disaster on?
Vladimirputin There was Soviet abuse and American intervention enough to go around. But suddenly, the Soviets were gone. Retired from the field of battle, leaving the Americans the last one standing. Perplexed, but standing. Unsure of ourselves as a sole power, but standing.
A little (by modern standards) brush-fire in Chechnya is quite enough to keep Putin’s head down at his desk, but the fact is that he has little to offer his sometimes-clients in the Middle East. We chuckled at (and quietly supported) the Russian debacle in Afghanistan. Who can blame Vladimir if he’s absolutely giddy at our discomfort in Iraq as well as Afghanistan?
Also, not to be forgotten, Russia is a net oil exporter.
It would be comfortable and even agreeable to some, to argue that our desire for military basing in Iraq is for the purpose of de-fusing and making less volatile the Israeli-Palestinian standoff. But that’s a joke. Internationally all hat and no cattle, Bush has totally ignored (and been ignorant of) the need for an Israeli-Palestinian solution. All factions, absolutely all interested parties in the area agree that long-term solutions begin and (possibly) end with Israel-Palestine.
Within this environment, our president
  • Cheer-leads Israel to a Lebanese disaster, very nearly proportional to Iraq
  • Denigrates and isolates the democratically elected government of Palestine
  • Insists Syria stop interfering in Lebanon (as we interfere in Iraq) before condescending to accept their help
  • Requires Iran to back away from its nuclear program (a fait-accompli in Pakistan) prior to allowing Iranian help saving our bacon in Iraq
Which are all the reasons he will dissemble with language, fiddle with military strategies and do not a damned thing to unnerve his warmongering, profiteering vice-president.
Bernard_ebbers_1 If America were Enron, its stock at the moment would flounder at junk-bond rating. Companies fail, come down in pieces when fraud and deceit is found, their executives brought to trial and occasionally sent to prison. Bernie Ebbers got 25 years for transgressions at WorldCom that don’t begin to approach Bush’s violations of law and trust against the American people.
Aided and abetted by a congress frozen in this war’s headlights (and busying itself with nonsense legislation), augmented by a citizenry, complacent because it bears no individual costs in battle and encouraged by dissent that backed down at every important moment—
--George Bush continues to whistle.
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