Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bush's War

If you haven't had a chance to see the excellent two part Frontline report on "Bush's War", I highly recommend it. While the delivery is a bit over the top, the basic gist of the report lays out not only that invading Iraq was a bad idea in many ways, but that the administration was determined to do it regardless of the events leading up to the actual invasion. The section on Bush pressuring Tony Blair to go to war even if the UN didn't approve was quite a shock to see. Equally astonishing, although perhaps not such a surprise, was the unprecedented control and power invested in the office of the Vice President. Given Cheney's recent comments regarding how unpopular a war Iraq has become (Q: Do you have concerns given that nearly 70% of the people of the United States think it was a bad idea to invade Iraq? A: So?), we now have the perspective to see that we've allowed a bunch of crazies to run things simply because we were afraid that another terrorist attack would be perpetrated on American soil. Somewhere else, we're apparently not so concerned about.

It would be quite funny were it not for the sad fact that we see it happen again and again over the course of history. While comparing Bush to Hitler is, at best, hyperbola, at the same time it is easy to see the various similarities - corporatism in the name of nationalism, drumbeat to war (and when that goes well, again), singling out a small and powerless segment of the population to blame things on, shutting down dissent - these are tactics that those who want power use over and over and over and over again to exert it over us. Even with the internet allowing us to go back and find the hundreds of contradictions we are told over time, many clearly outright lies (watch Bush taking questions - when he starts blinking a lot he is almost certainly lying - he'd be the worst poker player ever) are never called out.

Were I elected President, and there is just about no way in hell I'd ever want that job inflicted on my worst enemy, I would start by undoing all of the horrific things Bush/Cheney have done to the Constitution. I would outlaw "signing statements" on my first day. I would outlaw torture under any circumstances - the justice system already takes mitigating circumstances into account, so in the unlikely event that torture was the *only* way we could stop a 24-like nuclear attack, the perpetrators would have the chance to be absolved. Global warming would be the first priority of the administration, along with major effort towards energy independence. I don't pretend to know how hard it would be to actually get us out of the Middle East, but I'd be working toward it. I would also immediately work to pay down our foreign debt and move toward making the dollar once again a currency that the world can depend on.

I don't think most Americans have the foggiest notion of just what a complete fiasco the Bush presidency has been to our position in the world. While he's tried to be the anti-Chamberlain, the British PM who famously declared Peace In Our Time less than a year before Hitler invaded Poland and precipitated a war that would claim well over ten million lives (and that's just the Russians and the Jews), screaming for war at every chance, he's had the same effect - reducing a country that stood for every positive advance that Western civilization has gained since Athens to a second rate power.

I sometimes wonder if the entire Neo-Con strategy was simply to destroy the federal government for every function it provides other than national security and policing of interstate crime. Because that's where we are heading, regardless of who sits in the Oval Office next January. At some point the hole becomes so deep that you will never get out of it, much as Britain will never again rule the waves. If that is true, we all let it happen because we were terrified that a loosely organized bunch of fanatics would once again kill as many people in an attack on US soil as die from cigarette smoking worldwide in week.

I had hoped, back in 1992, that Bill Clinton would be a different kind of President, and he was for a time. I am crazy enough to hope that Obama will be that much different as well. He sure seems to be a better thinker and a better orator, and almost certainly a better leader (when have we ever had a president in modern times who picked his audience as much as Bush has?) even before he's had a chance to show us what he's got. And mark my words, he's going to win - the superdelegates and the loss of the Michigan and Florida primary delegates will kill Hillary. McCain looks good now, but as in 2006, the electorate will find him tarred with the Republican brush and elect Democrats in a landslide nationwide. There's too many people wanting a break from the past 16 years and our rapid descent into third-world parliamentary shenanigans for us to elect a Clinton *or* a Republican that thinks invading Iran is an excellent idea (because that would mean a draft - we can't police Iraq effectively with a volunteer army).

The real point, however, is to suggest that you take a look at the Frontline report on Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, and it's getting crowded on my side, you will have to be amazed that anyone would try to get away with what the Bush administration did, and even more amazed that we've allowed him to stay in office.

This country breaks my heart.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is hard to judge these things while in the moment. Think about FDR's actions before WW2. We NOW know he was right, back then though, the truth was not so clear. Even to this day, he is accused of Pearl Harbor, giving Eastern Europe away and being a UK stooge. I don't dispute your forecasts, just your confidence in them. When it comes to change and taking "sides", talk is cheap, people don't like change as much as they say they want change. When alone in the voting booth, the devil you know doesn't look so bad. Guys like Obama can do just as much damage to the United States as any politician can. Social Security anyone? Have Bush/Cheney made some HUGE mistakes? certainly, but to say someone else would not have mistakes just as bad (different mistakes almost certainly) is a stretch. The countries that break my heart are Cuba and North Korea (not a complete list). This country for all of its faults, is pretty cool. Tell me about a broken heart when the US does not lead the world in charity, humanitarian aid and disaster relief.