Daily Archives: August 31, 2004

Perpetual War: What Happened in in August?

I must have missed a meeting. Junior In April:

One of the interesting things people ask me, now that we are asking questions, is, ‘Can you ever win the war on terror?’ Of course you can.

Junior on July 14:

I have a clear vision and a strategy to win the war on terror.

But between July 14 and last Saturday, something must have changed:

I don’t think you can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world.

Scott McClellan rushed in to explain that what Junior was really doing ‘was speaking about winning the war “in the conventional sense” and that his comments underscored the reality that ridding the world of terrorists would take decades.’

“I don’t think you can expect that there will ever be a formal surrender or a treaty signed like we have in wars past,” Mr. McClellan said. “That’s what he was talking about. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism.”

Not with a pitchfork and a backhoe could you pry that out of Junior’s statement without doing violence to the language, but never mind. Has something happened since July 14 that has shaken Bush’s fabled unshakable, unchangeable mind? Did the truth slip out accidentally (the only way you ever get it from this Administration)? Or has there been a sea-change in their policy that, as usual, they didn’t bother to let us in on?

Question #1: What happened since July 14?

Well, the second cock-up over al Sadr. Eric Martin at Total Information Awareness uses Eric Alterman to connect the dots.

And how does the current administration fare by this standard? Not well, alas. Although the press has been loathe to admit as much, the American military has in essence given up on several strategic objectives in Iraq, pulling troops out of what may have been a winnable fight. Take the siege of Fallujah by 1,200 Marines in April. After fighting street by street with insurgents for about two weeks (at the cost of 36 American lives) the United States halted the siege on the condition that the militants hand over their heavy weapons – which they failed to do. The Marines waited outside the city for another two weeks before pulling out, handing a victory to the insurgents and leaving the city in the hands of religious extremists.

The failure in Fallujah was monumental, and one that continues to imperil the Iraq mission as a whole. Fallujah has become the central planning location for the Sunni led faction of the insurgency. Without Fallujah, there will be no stability, just a continuation of the suicide bomb attacks and assassinations that have so plagued the progress of stability.I suppose it’s at least possible that something of the reality of the situation in Fallujah finally penetrated Junior’s stubborn, C-average brain and that’s he’s beginning to realize–a little late–that it’s easier to start wars than it is to control their aftermath. With any luck, maybe it’s dawning on him that this is one of those complicated problems for which there are no simple, soundbite solutions. Possible, but I ain’t holding my breath.

Question #2: Did the truth slip out accidentally?

More likely. He did the interview on his own, and that’s always dangerous. He forgets what he is or isn’t supposed to say, and if Little Dick isn’t there to remind him, he forgets what he was trying to say and he gets confused.

Question #3: Has there been a sea-change in their policy?

Yes–and No. ‘Yes’ politically; ‘No’ every other way.

I think what we’re seeing here are the first tentative steps toward what they will be saying after the election if Junior wins. The Republicans win when they run on ‘security’ and ‘stength’. They love to run on a ‘war platform’, even though this is only the second time in the past hundred years that they’ve actually had to run the war itself, so it was inevitable that they would come to the conclusion that a perpetual war means perpetual power for them.

The second Bush Admin will begin to talk about how long the WOT is going to last and get us used to the idea that we may never win it, adding, of course, that we don’t even have a chance of winning it unless the Pubs stay in. If they don’t cancel elections altogether because they’re ‘too dangerous in wartime’, they’ll run forever on the Forever War. We will always be in danger (they’ll see to that by keeping the global pot boiling over persuing policies, as they are now, that are guaranteed to produce even more terrorists) and we will therefore always need them to protect us.

It’s a good strategy, worthy of Machiavelli and George Orwell. It may work.

Of course, it may also blow up in their faces.

poll result: New Yorkers on government foreknowledge of 9-11

The results of this poll are very interesting. Half of New Yorkers think that the government had foreknowledge of the 9-11 attacks and consciously failed to act. Note that this is a poll of residents of New York state total, not just New York City. A separate poll mentioned in this article notes that 63% of Canadians agree. For the record, I also agree, at least if “foreknowledge” is interpreted to mean general rather than specific foreknowledge.

I guess this means that I’m a “conspiracy theorist” because, as far as I can tell, the operational definition of “conspiracy theorist” these days is “one who does not accept pronouncements coming from the administration (and transmitted through the mainstream media) as articles of faith”.

Housekeeping #19: Summertime Blues

At least that’s what I think it is. Not much activity here the last few weeks. Partly I think it’s the heat and humidity–no AC and sitting at the computer is a trial even with a fan going full blast and aimed straight at me. Usually I like heat (I waaaay prefer it to being cold) but for some reason this summer it’s been getting to me. No energy. No oomph. I did my first post for LitBlogs yesterday in a week and I haven’t written a new story for Snake Tales in over a month even though there are notes for three of them, including the next chapter in the ‘bush wars’ saga, in my word processor.

But another part of the problem is systemic: I find I don’t have much to say that’s new and I can’t see repeating myself endlessly just because the Bushies do. How many times can you debunk the Swift Boat Vets’ lies? In how many different ways can you say that Abu Ghraib happened from the top down? I go through the papers every day and it’s the same old shit, day after day after day. I read it and I think, ‘I said that already–three times’, and find I don’t have the energy to say it a fourth. And you probably wouldn’t have the energy to read it.

So where do we go from here? Personally I’ve spent more of what little energy I have these days on Trenches. I’ve changed the name slightly–to Dispatch from the Trenches–and re-designed the site so it’s more focused on what I really want to get at–the impulse to selfishness and greed behind the conservative agenda. That agenda deliberately plays to all our worst instincts and praises them as our best; it wants us to Look Out For #1, to believe we are not Our Brother’s Keeper, and to build a society based on ‘ownership’–as in if you don’t ‘own’ something, you don’t count. I want to start aiming directly at that profoundly abusive and destructive concept. I know it’s tilting at windmills but where I come from that’s what windmills are for–tilting at.

I’ll likely get back to normal when a) the Republican Liars’ Festival is over (I mean, come on–they’re trotting out the last of the moderates that they otherwise keep locked in closets, and trying to pretend the GOP isn’t run by radicals; the whole damn convention is a lie, that’s gotta be a first), b) when I’ve got something to say that I haven’t said 40 times already, and c) when the weather gets cooler.

In the meantime, check out some of the blogs on the sidebar and see what they have to say. For example, John has a terrific post up at archy about Rove and the SBV attack:

We should not feel good about beating back the Swifties. Rove has a score of these attacks in the wings. Many writers have described the Rove method as “if you throw enough mud, some is bound to stick.” That is a naive oversimplification. The Rove method assumes that as a foundation and adds, “if mud doesn’t stick, try dung, then pudding, then paint, then gravy, then bile, then library glue, then baby poop, mud again, warm tar, herbed bread crumbs, cheese sauce, Silly Puddy ™, that stuff that collects in the trap of your kitchen sink, toe jam, more pudding…” You get the idea.The attack has just begun. We need to brace ourselves for the next assault.

(Note: John? It’s ‘Silly Putty’.)

There are people out there who have things to say that are worth reading. eRobin is doing stellar work at Fact-esque deconstructing the NYT; Bert’s ThatColoredFellasweblog has been re-invigorated recently with a lot of new posts, some excellent political commentary, and a fleet of new commenters; Tim Dunlop at The Road to Surfdom is in the thick of not one but two elections, ours and the Australian; Karlo has a great post up at Swerve Left about Bush’s time in the National Guard; and and Digby at Hullabaloo is, as usual, all over the political ramifications of yet another Bush ‘mis-statement’.

[Bush has] now simultaneously admitted that he screwed up big time on the single most important issue a president ever faces, while also saying that he has no intention of trying to figure out what went wrong. That is the worst of all possible worlds. It’s best not to have to admit screwing up something as important as war planning but if you do you simply have to make the case that [you] learned from the experience and you won’t do it again. He didn’t do that. Iraq is a massive failure and the president has just opened the door to his own culpability on that.

I may be dry as toast at the moment, but others’ juices are flowing strong.