Jan 11, 2007

Bush Visits the White House Library for the First Time. He Plans to Start Reading as Soon as the War is Over.

Post Updated, Jan 15 (below)

By now I'm sure you don't want to hear more about president Bush's "new plan" for escalation of our involvement in Iraq, but did you notice the following? He gave his televised speech from the White House library! An important step to confronting your fears is to face them, so I reckon that setting foot in a library is an important step for Bush. Maybe this was the result of the "good advice of Senator Lieberman" but nevertheless Bush looked like a deer in the headlights. The president is going in the wrong direction, stubbornly and with the illusion that history will justify his policies. Most of his advisers and military brass are against this escalation, but Bush reshuffles his team and listens only to people who agree with him. This has been the same theme since day one--only those opinions & data that support a pre-determined position are allowed. This narrow frame of mind discards all evidence that falls outside this microscopic view.

Look, these are the facts: In the 4th year of this war, we are not winning. We've changed our objectives several times--from the AlQaeda threat and the WMDs to regime change--but what is the objective today? Not withdraw from Iraq by taking people off the rooftops by helicopters?

Iraq is in a civil war with no end in sight. It's personal, sectarian, and religious. Civil wars usually don't end by outside intervention, only when the combatants get tired of fighting or one side wins convincingly. The Kossovo-Bosnia civil war was snuffed out by NATO, but this was so much different than the Iraq situation. It would have taken half a million troops to do the same in Iraq (opportunity lost already). In the Balkans, there weren't other neighboring strong states to support the conflict there as there are in the Middle East--Syria, Iran, and the "international terrorists" of AlQaeda are all players in Iraq. The Sunnis (Saddam's base), 20% of Iraq, have the support of much of the Muslim countries in the Middle East, except Iran that supports the Shiites, 60% of Iraq. The Kurds, 20%, in the north have been quiet and out of the conflict, but Turkey threatens to invade if they break for independence.

This latest escalation just postpones the inevitable: US withdrawal. This war is over and there is a winner: Iran. The infusion of a few thousand troops will not make much of a difference, except more casualties. Shiites and Sunnis are shooting at each other and both at us. We'll be taking more risks, bleed more, and spend more. Iraq was/is an artificial country, drawn up by the British, and has been held together by the dictatorial terror. I doubt Bush read any book on the subject prior to the war. This is the same world leader who thought Africa was a country!

Even today, I don't think Bush understands the complexity of the region, nor its history--as recent as Vietnam. I doubt that he cares enough about the over 3,000 dead and the 24,000 injured soldiers. The US has no more troops available, while our forces are under attack in Afghanistan where the Taliban are coming back. [check PBS' Frontiline] Bush's "surge" is just a number that won't make much of a difference, though it signifies his intention to stick to his guns. Maybe he sees himself as the captain going down with his ship, fighting to the end. Except, he's not fighting himself, but brave Americans in a war of choice. How can a commander-in-chief ask anyone to be the last one to die in an unnecessary sacrifice?

Sadly, I don't expect the president to make use of his library other than for a show or an interesting backdrop. He behaves like the drunkard who uses the lightpost not for illumination but only to lean on.

Update, 15 Jan 06: I just read Paul Krugman's article in the NYT. He describes Bush's escalation as the Texas Strategy which is "another stalling tactic, designed to buy more time." Krugman makes a great point. Remember the huge scandal of the S&Ls in the 1980s? It involved failing banks making high-interest but worthless loans to "crooked or flaky real estate developers" and cooking the books in order to show big profits, on paper. Meanwhile, the owners and executives of those savings & loans banks would reward themselves with outlandish salaries and perks. The end in failure was guaranteed and the taxpayers footed a huge bill. The delay meant that the bill was so much higher.

What did we learn from this? Just few years ago this Texas strategy was implemented again. The failing energy giant ENRON created dozens of companies that became its own "customers" who, in turn, got high-interest loans, bought goods and services, etc, from the (secret) parent company. Money and obligations were moved around to create the illusion of success. Millions of Americans were affected--many were fleeced, investors were defrauded, employees lost pensions--while the executives were getting hundreds of millions of dollars in pay & bonuses. [Remember Ken Lay's $6,000 shower curtain and the Roman orgy?] We all know how this ended.

Krugman is correct; president Bush is trying to pull another Texas strategy on the Iraq war/occupation today. Stubbornly defending a failed policy, ignoring the facts, and being ignorant of the history and the dynamics of the Middle East is a GW Bush trademark. We have to do whatever we can to stop this man for his policies are reckless and injurious. Because he's got power, his applied ignorance should not be the guiding force in our nation's policy.

I believe we've passed the point of "let's try something new and see what happens." We shouldn't fall into the trap of, "if we had more troops, if we bombed more, if we spend more money, if we had more time, if..." There's no end in this circular logic. Veep Cheney offends every thinking person and every true patriot when he suggests that we are unpatriotic or we don't have a plan to ..win in Iraq! Doesn't tricky Dickey know that Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together? If I said that I had a plan to bring the dead back to life and blasted those who didn't let me try (at great cost if I may add) and cursed those who didn't have a ..plan to revive the dead, I'd be declared insane! Yet, that's exactly what we hear from the White House today.