March 21, 2006

it’s a long, long way to tucumcari

Time to beat the dead horse again. And frankly, if Iraq were a horse, that glue pot would have been used up long ago.

But here we are nearly three years after the Mission Accomplished photo-op, and still there is no end in sight. Not that this is at all surprising to informed observers. Way back then when I used the word “decades” to describe what it would take to change Iraq, I was treated as something akin to Benedict Arnold. Three years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, I have seen nothing to change my opinion on what is required to fundamentally alter the social calculus Over There.

Then again, when I suggest that it will take decades, I am assuming we are talking about competent governance of Iraq. That is looking like an unjustified assumption as well.

Yet Iraq-nam has worked out so well, it looks like serious consideration is being given to liberating Iran too. You should not buy the liberation thing this time either. Perhaps it could be adequately explained by jealousy on the part of Emperor W who wants to plant the American flag on more Arab soil than did Britannia at her apex. Covetousness can be such an ugly thing you know.

Unlike many Americans, Rule Uncle Sam simply doesn’t work for me.

The irony here is that I will probably end up opposing the impending intervention in Iran when in fact I have been and remain a strong advocate of containing the Iranian nuclear threat. Unlike the case in Iraq, the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is real and of ominous portent. The West must act, and ideally act in a unified fashion.

But what I can not support is continued ham-handed and unilateral actions under false pretenses. Let us name these coming military actions plainly for what they are-legitimate defensive moves against hostile threats and behave in accordance with honest agendas. The bad news is that we haven’t seen a shred of honesty out of the imperial court since…well, I’m sure there was something they were honest about.

The good news is that limited military action is likely to be effective against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The facilities that process uranium hexafluoride are relatively large and immobile. This is perhaps a tailor made opportunity for the military to unveil their “rods from god” system that does not exist. Wink.

An Iraq style invasion of Iran is simply unthinkable now as our reach has already well exceeded our grasp. The panic on world oil markets alone could bring down Western civilization. Something more narrow in time and scope is in order. To pull it off politically, action must be sudden and swift. Done well, such an action could in fact be stabilizing.

The larger problem here is that it is hard to find a soul in this world outside of the American Republican Party Faithful that trust our President to lead such an endeavor. The price of squandering our legacy of international good-will is going to be paid sooner rather than later I fear. We may in fact be in a position where unilateral action is the only viable action because of our recent forfeit of leadership ability.

And if we do not act, be even more afraid of unilateral action by Israel.

Whatever the facts may be or what is actually in the best interests of Americans and the World in general, we do know one thing for certain: this administration will pursue that which is in the best interests of the Republican party first and the rest only if it fits the party agenda. The administration is keeping up the misinformation campaign and doing so with increasing enthusiasm. War is Peace they tell us. Undoubtedly the focus groups are telling them that patriotic platitudes continue to sell well.

Thus the drums of war continue to beat loudly. The martial rhetoric and hubris are getting more deeply infused in our social consciousness with each passing day. Truly, we have become the heirs of Britannia in all the wrong ways. As this mindset deepens, I fear our culture will end up more like Sparta than the Shining City on the Hill and our legacy more like that of Alexander the Great than the America which liberated the world from the yoke of fascism.

We would do well to remember that we indeed follow in Alexander’s footsteps in undertaking to conquer Persia. Unlike Alexander, there is little doubt that militarily, we can do so. With a little luck, perhaps Emperor W’s name will not be cursed in Persia two-thousand years hence as is Alexander’s to this day.

But, I doubt it.

27 Comments:

Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Well,

there maybe should be a way to cut a deal with these people... everyone has a price. If I know anything at this point in my life, it's that. There is really only one question, "how much do we have to pay you to get want we want?"

Cultures may be old and backward, but their is a very steep learning curve when people start having cash in their pockets.

obviously our aggressive hand has been played in Iraq, we don't have the leverage of force really.

Israel does though, and could act unilaterally. Israel should tell the Europeans, "look guys, do something with Iran, or we'll do it for you."

10:34 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

this administration will pursue that which is in the best interests of the Republican party first and the rest only if it fits the party agenda.

Amen.

The blog I keep hoping you will write is the degree of autonomy US citizens grant to their president via representative democracy. It is fairly obvious that we now have a mental lightweight in the oval office making decisions that have direct consequences for the entire globe. It is also obvious that the named mental lightweight believes public opinion is of little consequence. He makes it clear that he believes it his duty/right to lead independently of public opinion {including the GOP}.

Question: Is he right based on our constitution? Does his obligation to US public opinion end on election night?

Question: Is the answer to that question the same for 2006 {in an internet connected nation... and world} that it was at our founding?

Question: Who is part of that 30% that still backs this president? Stand up and admit you are either a dumbass, blinded by religious zealotry or evil.

btw... I will still correspond with the blind and asses-full-of-dumb... but not evil.

Looks like our metal lightweight had enough of the last two days of unscripted audiences... today he back in front of the pulpit.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Will anyone that disagrees with this war in Iraq ever concede that virtually every war that has been waged by a democracy has been plagued with problems, mishaps, poor planning and mistakes that have led to the sad and tragic loss of human life?
Surely there is not a supposition that this is the worst war waged.

How can we expect people on either side to make honest admissions of these shortfalls and mishaps when their words swim in shark-infested waters that turn admissions into political nooses.

The main purpose of this comment is to express/uncover/suggest an air of hypocrisy that somehow THIS war is much more different than any other war. The casualties, though difficult and tragic and completely and truly unimaginable by these words and this blog have been largely small in comparison to other major campaigns. Do we walk away from that saying "everything is ok" then, no, I'm not suggesting that. But hyperboles like "the worst administration" and the "biggest failure (in war)" are quite diminished when compared to historical facts.

There is certainly plenty of material for criticism and plenty of valid, constructive arguments posed by those on all sides. I just don't usually find them here.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Tony Plank said...

CG,

Constitutionally, it is the House of Representatives that is supposed to most closely reflect the will of the people. The only feedback loop in a representative democracy is the vote. So no, there is no “obligation” to follow the will of the people after the election. There are only the duties of the office and legal constraints. If they go too far off the farm, that is what Congress and the Courts are for.


TC,

Harsh words my friend. But that is OK. I can take it.

Lets examine what I have actually said as opposed to what you say I have said.

You said, “Will anyone that disagrees with this war in Iraq ever concede that virtually every war that has been waged by a democracy has been plagued with problems, mishaps, poor planning and mistakes that have led to the sad and tragic loss of human life?”

I have never suggested otherwise. You don’t have to think very hard either. Look at the campaign of the Army of the Potomac from 1861-1864 for a wonderful example. (And the 1865 campaign can be viewed as pretty ham-handed too.) How about the notorious inexperience of American is Europe in WWI. Or the disasters of Kasserine Pass and Market-Garden? Yeah, poor handling is nothing new.

But then, none of that was optional either. Perhaps the better analogy is the Mexican-American war which we instigated to grab some land. There was a lot of political skewering over that too. We tend to be more forgiving when the war is thrust upon the government.

”Surely there is not a supposition that this is t he worst war waged.” Not hardly. So why would you suggest I, or anyone might be suggesting that?

”How can we expect people on either side to make honest admissions of these shortfalls and mishaps when their words swim in shark-infested waters that turn admissions into political nooses.”

That was interesting remark indeed. I haven’t heard this administration make any sort of admission of a mistake whatsoever, so I’m unsure what your exact point is. And I for one am pretty unconcerned about “political nooses”. You have a very fine point there. It is in fact about politics and not about any concern for reality. That is my fundamental problem with the American political scene in general. You seem to be defending the administration by saying that if they admitted any goof-ups, it would have a high political cost. My reaction is that you are describing partisan gamesmanship practiced at its highest art and that I find repugnant in the extreme. I for one seek leadership that is as honest as this administration claims to be. One which can stand up and say, “yeah, this was a cock-up” and take the political price like a man. But that isn’t politically smart, so in our perverse world, good well-meaning people such as yourself end up defending crass and immoral behavior.

The main purpose of this comment is to express/uncover/suggest an air of hypocrisy that somehow THIS war is much more different than any other war. Hopefully I have dispatched this misrepresentation adequately. But let me say clearly what is different this time: the descent into the moral abyss of propaganda and lies has become thorough and pervasive. All of these tactics have been used before. It really started picking up steam during 42’s tenure. 43 has just perfected and accelerated the existing trend. Nothing different really, just the magnitude is far greater. As should be the alarm which is sadly non-existent in any terms other than those purely partisan attacks we hear.

”The casualties, though difficult and tragic and completely and truly unimaginable by these words and this blog have been largely small in comparison to other major campaigns.” Not sure what you are saying here. If you are suggesting I do not appreciate the sacrifice of those in the trenches then you are being grossly unfair. I have never failed to give full credit to our troops. And the prosecution of the invasion by the US military is a wonder of the modern world.

But, the casualties are mounting. Before it is over the magnitude of the casualties will be of the same order of magnitude as Vietnam though likely still far lower. Last figure I heard was nipping at 20,000 casualties.

”But hyperboles like the worst administration and the biggest failure (in war) are quite diminished when compared to historical facts.”

Hard to call it the worst administration when we have folks like Grand and Hoover to compare too. But placing 43 in the bottom five is pretty fair. Only history can judge, but it is hard to see how this takes a sudden turn for the positive. I’ll happily take it if it does. And in the unlikely event every criticism I have leveled turns out to be incorrect, I’ll step up and admit it. As I’ve said before, I desperately want to be wrong about our Middle East policy because if I’m wrong, then there is hope for America’s future. But sadly, events continue to prove out my critique over the last decade and over Iraq in particular. Please prove me wrong and that this is a good thing.

”There is certainly plenty of material for criticism and plenty of valid, constructive arguments posed by thos e on all sides. I just dont usually find them here.

Please, feel free to set the record straight. It might be hard for you to see since you disagree with me on so much, but I am one person who is trying very hard to be objective. No partisan lens here. My greatest and desire is to goad others into removing their partisan lenses and seeing the corruption and dishonesty for what it is.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

... had to correct a typo.. I had missed an important "NOT"

Tony,

The only feedback loop in a representative democracy is the vote.

Then we basically elect a king... a king with term limits.

TC,

Will anyone that disagrees with this war in Iraq ever concede that virtually every war that has been waged by a democracy has been plagued with problems, mishaps, poor planning and mistakes that have led to the sad and tragic loss of human life?

This was a massively stupid war that we will pay for in devestation fashion. What's the point of ranking it in that context?

Iraq (and Afghanistan) wars viewed through reality rather than some middle east democracy domino wet dream: $1+ trillion US, maybe the 20,000 US dead, who knows how many Iraqi dead.... all spent towards societies that are NOT capable {at least in the early 21st century} of seperating church from state. Poll the US population {which isn't law, as Tony confirmed, we really elect short-term kings} and ask if it would be willing to spend $1 trillion to replace Saddam with a Shiite theocracy... with the added bonus prize of increasing Iran's influence in the region. Ask the population if they are willing to spend $ millions on post-war Afghanistan, when the tribal population surrounding Kabul have no concept of law being anything other than the Koran. Hamid Karzai is nothing more than the mayor of Kabul... and he couldn't even be that if it wasn't for military support. It's all a fools errand, and what's worse... we will leave behind a hell in Iraq which will turn into the terrorist threat that didn't exist before we we went in {think Afghanistan on steroids}. It's an evil world... sometimes the answer really is you CAN MAKE IT MORE EVIL. The half of the US population that "get this" have watched in horror while our checkers player president attempts to play chess. We also watched in horror as 51% of this population elected him for a second term. We didn't just elect a C-student for president in 2000... but 51% of the public actually wanted him again when the evidence was in. The polls are down now, but you have to believe with just a touch of "god" and throw in some "gay bashing" and that 51% would fall right back in line. I keep hearing the Bush admin brag about voter turnout in Iraq. I'm as proud of those folks as the next guy... but you have to remember Bush didn't give them a choice. Bush's decision put these people's lives and their kids lives on the line.

Bottom line for me is Iraq is a war the public would never have supported given the slightest education concerning the demographics of the societies we were about to throw fire on. If the war was sold as humanitarian mission, and the public supported it... then so be it. I'm generally a compassionate guy... but I can't work up an ounce for Bush anymore. He continues to be the poster child for arrogance... and he doesn't have the intellect to back it up. Very scary combination... and we are getting exactly what we deserved based on the 2004 election {well, what you guy's that voted for him deserved... my conscience is clean}.

Most folks can forgive a certain amount of incompetence... people are human after all. It just passes a threshold when the incompetence is wrapped in arrogance.

And imagine this:

For Yoshi... imagine the $1 trillion spent on Iraq was actually spent on Africa instead.

For Prof and Tony: ... imagine the $1 trillion was spent on an ala carte tax system which finally allowed Tony to keep his education tax dollars... and an added bonus of assistance towards private religious-based education. In Prof's case, maybe family value assistance money for home schoolers.

For me: imagine the $1 trillion was spent on finally becoming a moral rich nation rather than just a rich nation... Universal Healthcare.

Imagine....

8:20 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

TC, I bet your are an excellent programmer. You have some "stick-to-it" traits that must serve you well in this profession... at least until we are all replaced by India. I spent a lot of time talking to a recruiter yesterday... the replacement of US IT folks with foreign folks is very real, and very GROWING. Don't make the mistake of getting old also on top of that. :) Turns out 20+ years experience just means you are old... nothing more. Make your $ early, and be out of the profession by 40. I was talking to Tony yesterday about starting a new business that merely brokered India IT programmers to the US work force {small-mid business brokering... the large guys are already talking to large guys}. We could call it EndofUSIT.com. We could do our part in the free hand of Capitalism... you know... that free hand that has it's finger up US IT programmer's asses.

Also... you are not evil. :)

8:49 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: “...that free hand that has it's finger up US IT programmer's...

You may not be aware of this, but some of us are visual learners.

Prof. Ricardo

2:44 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Prof,

Please don't go brokeback on us.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

Just be sensitive of those impressionable lurkers.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

Allow me to employ a Franklinian method of discussion. Perhaps a fruitful debate may be to ponder the present state of matters in the world in relation to violence had we stopped at over-throwing the Taliban. Surely, the minutae of the DeLay case would consume the airwaves. A senator or two may be in the hot seat for a torrid affair involving an aide. The media's fascination of Barry Bonds may have been sandwiched by the other 2 lead-ins. Perhaps attacks would be abroad still. Bush would semi-idley sit by as Al Qaeda, now strengthened by 9/11, would be running amuck in parts of Europe. Perhaps we'd be safe at home. Thousands injured and killed in this war would be still wearing the uniform and stand ready to defend this or that when ordered. Perhaps the threat of Iran would not be so prevalent. Would they also be under the radar, alongside Saddam, Junior and Trey? On the foreign section of USA Today would be the headline "UN Weapons Inspectors Continue to Press Iraq". One may think that there would be moderate peace in the country and the world would still feel compelled to provide it's steady supply of goodwill to the US because of 9/11. "Those poor Americans. They need our help." We'd launch investigations around the world and foreign agencies would still - 4.5 years later - still provide unyielding assistance in the hunt for Al Qaeda. "Those poor Americans. They need our help." French would name dishes after US Senators. People in Leal would be ordering "Coq au Daschle" with their vin. The Germans would praise the president's steadfastness in his polite, quiet and conformist "stronger-than-a-conflict on terror." "In the brave words of President George Bush," remarked the chancellor-elect of Germany, "you are either with us or not, either way we will always be friends and trade together in mutual peace and admiration for each other. We love you. Hugs and kisses." Perhaps Democrats and Republicans would still be on the steps of the Capitol singing 'God Bless America', rebuffing requests to open the baseball season in the spring. Canada would be airing it live on the "We still love America" Channel. "Those poor Americans. They need our help."


Yes, I'm sure that would be the case.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Bush would semi-idley sit by as Al Qaeda, now strengthened by 9/11, would be running amuck in parts of Europe. Perhaps we'd be safe at home.

Did you know there have been no hurricanes in New Orleans since Katrina. We must have them on the run.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

If our input to our democracy basically ends after election day... why stay engaged? None of us here are ever going to have anything to say about who runs for office... so we don't need our game face on until around election time. I doubt the moneyed class that owns our democracy spends a lot of time on blogs. They are busy funding wars to fund the military complex.

You guys let me know when you change the world.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Texas Conservative said...

As much as it affects me, it makes sense for a lot of our IT to go to India. It's not a popular position, I know. It's not even a party-line mentality. Sometimes, you have to let companies fall on their faces to realize how much intrinsic value we add by keeping the critical design, development and implementation here. My hope is to continue to warm myself by that fire. I'm not the only one that has an example of an over-sold off-shore project that broke the bank and left a shotty product on the shelf am I? Wages are going up in China, they're going up in India. The market will determine where the best products should be manufactured.

Besides, if we all kept our IT jobs, who would think up the next pyramid scheme?

7:16 PM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

www.mexica-movement.org/granmarcha.htm

12:35 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Greetings from Northern Thailand everyone.

Soon I'll be relaxing on some of the world's best beaches, literally drinking out of a coconut.

Just thought I'd rub it in. :o)

8:02 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Yoshi,

Man... you get around. I wouldn't want to be paying that airfare tab. Drink one of those girlie man drinks for the Curmugeons. You are on a beach, and I'm slinging programming code again. That's just wrong. :)

7:18 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I still qualify for student airfares... it's cheap. Cheaper than losing my mind in Texas anyway.

I'm in Bangkok now. It's actually pretty annoying. It's a bunch of white American/ European surfer types with dreadlocks, lip earings, and tattoos, all drinking beer and trying to act like W. Bush has ruined their lives. (At least, I assume they are thinking this way....)

I'm thinking, yea, Bush ruined your life. So why don't you go back to partying all day with all that free time and money all day and throw your cigerette butts down in the Thai jungles and beaches while you trash it since you care so, so much about what's wrong in the world today. Posers.

Rebellion is indeed packaged.

2:44 AM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

I'm also not drinking "girly drinks" from coconuts.... I'm drinking actually coconut milk out of the coconut ice cold.... it's quite refreshing....

10:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

One Texas asshole gone... a few more to go

12:43 PM  
Blogger Common Good said...

So let me get this straight. The working poor {illegal} immigrants from the south of the border who make $10,000 a year, barely feed their family, have no health coverage for their kids... owe this country a $2000 fine to make up for... well make up for being shit poor and desperate. Human beings can really be the most vile creatures on this planet.

Yes Mr. President... please tell us why it was OK to play politics with the identity of a CIA agent.

9:14 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Looks like some big pro-latin american immigration demonstrations are going on....

HA! Looks like there are a few more than those Klansmen/ vigilante groups. (I already forget thier name, oh yea, Minutemen or something, right?)

I'd love to hear what's being said on those conservative talk shows right about now.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

If I could only get the GOP to hate foreign programmers as much as they hate Mexicans. Surely there is some foreign-personal-responsibility thing we could invoke for that to.

Our-leaker-in-chief. That last island of support is shrinking... even the holdouts are starting to get it.

10:05 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

C.G.

I am reading B. Woodward's "Plan of Attack" now....


it's interesting, but so far not so incriminating.

12:38 AM  
Blogger Prof. Ricardo said...

C.G.: If I could only get the GOP to hate foreign programmers as much as they hate Mexicans.

So....your position is not a matter of principle as much as who’s ox is getting gored?

Happy Tax Season everyone!
After you write your tax checks, Uncle Sams says: Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Prof. Ricardo.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Common Good said...

Leno:

If illegals do the work that Americans won't do, and we let them become Americans, who is going to do the work?

4:00 PM  
Blogger yoshitownsend said...

Leno has a pretty good point there.

Maybe the spoiled, bratty, classless, uneducated Jessica Simpson-types that you see packing every mall will start building the America that all the right-wing nationalists seem to long for.

5:43 AM  

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