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Ideological Drivel

Friday, Jan. 12, 2007 7:13 PM


Macworld Expo was somewhat more sedate than I expected, even with the buzz about Apple's new iPhone. As has been the case in years past when the giant Consumer Electronics Show runs at the same time, some major exhibitors simply didn't show up.

A boot to the head to Apple or IDG Expos or whomever is responsible for the travesty of a gaming pavilion. Billed as the amazing Interactive Gaming and iPod Experience – Sponsored by EA, it was a row of kiosks showing iPods Nanos with games, plus several islands of Macs showing games … only a few of which were new.

But only two developers were selling at the pavilion – Aspyr and Feral Interactive. Macsoft was nowhere to be seen. There was no dedicated stage, no presentations, and no networked computers for a little impromptu mayhem.


As for President Bush's speech, let's get started.

"Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home," Bush begins.

Let's be clear on this, Mr. President. We're there because you deliberately steered the bus off the road back in 2003. Saddam was an irritant, but he was not harboring terrorists, nor affiliated with al-Qaeda, nor did he have vast stockpiles of WMDs.

You're also perpetuating the post hoc ergo proper hoc logic that attributes the lack of further attacks since 9/11 to your brilliant foreign policy, specifically our going into Iraq. I call bullshit.

"The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's couse in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror," he continues.

Changing our course implies that we're doing something different. We're not, so it can't possibly help us succeed. Additionally, as I mentioned, there was no concrete link between Saddam and al-Qaeda (I'm not even sure it was proven that Saddam had, despite his offer, successfully recruited suicide bombers to strike in Israel) – thus, attacking Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism until we toppled its government and generated the chaos in which such things thrive best.

Bush then explains that nothing was wrong with the elections held two Decembers ago, and nothing wrong with our strategy. It's just that those pesky al Qaeda folks and the Sunni insurgents so vastly outnumbered and outmaneuvered us at every turn that we couldn't make headway. And on top of that, they so irritated the Shiites that the Shiites formed death squads to seek revenge.

Thus conveniently summing up over fourteen centuries of religious differences and making it al-Qaeda's fault.

"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people – and it is unacceptable to me," Bush avows.

Yes, it's a real shame that your policies just aren't working.

Bush adds solemnly, "Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."

And you're going to do what to correct those mistakes? Send more troops? This isn't the first time you've sung a paean to responsibility, Mr. Bush. Unfortunately, those words are best matched with action, and you've done nothing but trot out more slogans and tautology every single time.

"So my national security team, military commanders, and diplomats conducted a comprehensive review. We consulted members of Congress from both parties, our allies abroad, and distinguished outside experts."

That'd be Stephen Hadley, the guy who wrote the memo slamming Iraqi PM al-Maliki; Generals Casey and Abizaid, both of whom you dismissed; James Baker's Iraq Study Group, which you ignored; and the two senators who agree with you, John McCain and Joe "I'm an Independent, but I'm really a Democrat" Lieberman.

"We all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq," Bush admits.

Well, duh. So why are we thinking more troops will solve the problem? Isn't that the crux of the 'magical thinking' that has plagued the Administration's entire Iraq stategy?

"And one message came through loud and clear: Failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States," Bush also said.

Not because Iraq was an unmolested den of thieves and terrorists, but because, through the gross incompetence and the unmitigated arrogance of the Commander in Chief, who committed the United States to a mission he had not thought out (and which he still hasn't). This isn't about America, it's about scraping George W. Bush's poopy accident off the floor of the international stage.

"The consequences of failure are clear: radical Islamic extremists would grow in strength and gain new recruits. They would be in a better position to topple moderate governments, create chaos in the region, and use oil revenues to fund their ambitions," Bush explains.

Moqtada al-Sadr, who is now a considerable force on the Iraqi political scene, came to prominence after we kicked Saddam out. A moderate government did not exist until after we kicked Saddam out. Increased chaos in the region did not occur until after we kicked Saddam out (with a slight detour to supply weapons to Israel for their month-long bombing campaign against Lebanon). And I guess we're supposed to believe that since neither we nor the Iraqi people are benefitting from the projected oil revenues, that money must be going to the terrorists.

The problem continues to be that Mr. Bush is directly responsible for creating the circumstances under which every single one of his dire predictions could manifest.

"Iran would be emboldened in its pursuit of nuclear weapons," Bush points out.

The fear of being the next target of America's military adventurism would encourage me to think about acquiring nukes, too.

And, of course, what Bush speech would be complete without the requisite, "Our enemies would have a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks on the American people. On September the 11th, 2001, we saw what a refuge for extremists on the other side of the world could bring to the streets of our own cities."

September 11, 2001 had nothing to do with Iraq. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Booga booga, evil terrorists gonna getcha. Their refuge was Afghanistan, and then the surrounding hills bordering Pakistan. And, in the time Bush has been jacking off to fantasies of riding Saddam like a pony, Taliban remnants have slowly rebuilt their base. They are of sufficient political power that General Pervez Musharraf signs no-pursuit treaties with them. And Afghanistan hasn't become the light of democracy we'd planned, either – it's a state run by courts which follow Shari'a, Islamic Law.

I continue to maintain that the greater threat is the country where Taliban remnants have been elected to public office, where the leadership holds its place solely by dint of military might, and which has tested, deployable nuclear weapons.

Am I suggesting that we should have stormed into Pakistan to hold Musharraf's hand? Not at all. But in order to fight terrorism, we need to correctly recognize where they are and what they are doing. Like building a political base in a nuclear-capable country. Al-Qaeda needed Saddam like I need polonium in my breakfast cereal. (Russian spies should take note – I don't eat cereal for breakfast. I was speaking figuratively.)

But the delusions continue. "Only Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people."

Yet we're going to send 20,000 more troops to help? If only the Iraqis can solve the problem, what are our men and women on the line for? Target practice? Decoys?

"Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: there were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have," Bush explains. "Our military commanders reviewed the new Iraqi plan to ensure that it addressed these mistakes. They report that it does. They also report that this plan can work."

Wasn't it your Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, who diddled with troop strength from the very outset? And any kid who has ever played the boardgame Risk knows that you have to leave units in place to hold the territory you've just cleared as you move on to clear the next. Why was this such an elusive fact for the military commanders?

And if they were wrong on their estimations there, why would we accept their assurances that all is now dialed in properly and hunky-dory? As a point of fact, the generals said that the strategy was sound, but lacked sufficient troop strength at the time it was initially tried.They said nothing about it working now. 1st and 10 is not the same as 4th and 10 in anyone's playbook.

Bush moves on and again states that we will be 'changing our strategy'. From what, to what? Looks the same to me. Troops to bust up the pockets of insurgency, imaginary Iraqi units to hold the turf, and the neighborhood will soon be nice and clean.

Except the Iraqis have never managed (and probably won't this time, either, especially since an American contractor did such substandard work on their new police training facility that the building has to be demolished and rebuilt) to handle security in the wake of our initial clear-out. Ask yourself how, in fact, civilian police units are supposed to maintain control of a situation which required military force to resolve. We go in, the insurgents disperse, we leave, the insurgents return. Same guys. Same level of arms.

Supposedly, this was also due to political and sectarian interference (which implies it's on the Iraqi side, unless we're calling the usual Republican vs. Democrats shenanigans 'sectarian'). This time, it will be different, Bush asserts. This time, we'll have the green light to go into all neighborhoods, and Prime Minister al-Maliki has pledged that political and sectarian interference will not be tolerated.

No, we'll just make more enemies by entering those neighborhoods, green light or not. And what al-Maliki promises or refuses to tolerate will not stop a single bullet or IED from taking the lives of more American soldiers. (Boom. Another convoy vehicle destroyed, three soldiers killed. Al-Maliki wrings his hands. "This will not be tolerated!" Let's check. Yup, soldiers still dead.)

Also, compare al-Maliki's, "will not be tolerated" to Bush's "unacceptable." Either they're speaking in very similar terms, or al-Maliki's actual words have already been put through the spin cycle.

Bush now espouses timetables and stresses that our commitment is not open-ended, when he was originally against timetables as sending a message to the terrorists that we could be worn down. We would stay until the job was done, and not a minute longer. We would settle for nothing less than total victory.

With apologies to Andres Cantor, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL!.

Bush tries to head off the inevitable chorus of are-we-there-yets by cautioning that the new strategy will not yield an immediate end to suicide bombings, assassinations, or IED attacks. "Our enemies in Iraq will make every effort to ensure that our television screens are filled with images of death and suffering."

Which means it's actually happening, not that the media is studiously ignoring the 'good news' coming out of Iraq. When we've lost over 3,000 soldiers inside of three years, we don't want to hear, "Hey, we only lost 68 this month, that's down from last month's 70!"

Iraq, we are told, plans to take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November. Sure. Right. I don't believe that for a moment. (And if it's the same level of 'responsibility' that Mr. Bush accepts for the 'mistakes' we've made, November will come and go, and we'll still be holding the bag.)

"To give every Iraqi citizen a stake in the country's economy, Iraq will pass legislation to share oil revenues among all Iraqis," Bush preens. Would that include the insurgents and terrorists as well? Or are they all illegal immigrants? (And when can I expect legislation to grant me a share of Chevron's profits, so I have a stake in the economy?)

It's also been pointed out that this amazing profit sharing agreement gives the lion's share (and then some) to the major oil companies. A whopping 75%, for starters, which is eventually reduced to 20% – still double that of profit-sharing agreements in other countries. But then, in a twisted sense, I guess oil security is national security. Won't be long before we're the United States of America … a division of Chevron.

So while we're concerned about insurgents infiltrating moderate governments, we're going to hold provincial elections later this year. We're going to reform de-Baathification laws, encouraging not the average Sunni citizen, but likely the most corrupt and resentful remnants of Saddam's regime to seek office. We're also going to establish a fair process for considering amendments to Iraq's constitution.

Ahem. If we're reforming de-Baathification laws, were they unfair to begin with? And what constitutes a fair process for amendments to the constitution? Would it, perhaps, dispense with 'activist judges' and allow sliders like bans on gay marriage or flag burning – not because the people agree, but because someone thinks it's right?

"We will accelerate the training of Iraqi forces, which remains the essential U.S. security mission in Iraq," Bush tells us.

Yes, when you've discovered you're riding a dead horse, harnessing several dead horses together will certainly give you added speed. And note the umpteenth redefinition of our mission in Iraq. We're their to train their forces. We're there to help them clear, hold, and build. We're there to defeat the terrorists.

It doesn't matter why we're there. We're there, and Mr. Bush isn't going to have it any other way.

But we're also going to be in Iran and Syria, whom Mr. Bush identified as allowing terrorists and insurgents to cross the borders, and have even provided material support for attacks on American troops.

"We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We'll interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq," Bush warns.

As we've steadfastly refused to speak to either Iran or Syria, that would mean direct military action. Not satisfied with starting two wars and leaving both unfinished and botched economic and political reconstruction in their wake, for our next act, we'll start a war on three fronts. We won't have a secure base in Iraq, but we're going to launch into Syria and Iran. (It becomes four fronts if we launch from a carrier group in the Gulf.)

"Countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the Gulf States need to understand that an American defeat in Iraq would create a new sanctuary for extremists and a strategic threat to their survival," Bush tells us.

Ahem. Saudi Arabia, like many of the other states, is Sunni. We just stomped all over a Sunni nation (albeit one that was led by a brutal dictator) and predictably allowed the Shiite majority to take power. So we're asking the other Arab States to tolerate one enemy in favor of stopping another? Have we forgotten that Osama bin Laden is Saudi, that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was Jordanian?

"It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time," Bush opines.

In which case, perhaps we should have a more intelligent man standing watch.

"The year ahead will demand more patience, sacrifice, and resolve," he continues.

Patience? With your slapdash foreign policy and bumbled handling of this affair from day one? I don't think so.

Sacrifice? On whose part? Truly, how do you ask someone else's son or daughter to be the last person to die for a mistake?

Resolve? You're sounding like a drunk who is desperately trying to convince me that this is the absolute last time you'll miss work, drive drunk, or slap the wife around. I'm not buying it.

"Yet times of testing reveal the character of a nation."

To say nothing of the character (or lack thereof) of its leader and his advisors.

"We go forward with trust that the Author of Liberty will guide us through these trying hours."

The difficult part, as always, is discerning God's desires from our own desire for self-aggrandizement, wealth, and power. That what we believe is good and beneficial for our own selves is not at all what God plans.

Truly, Mr. Bush, you are pathological. A sick, sick man if you believe perpetuating an endless war has even a chance of fanning the spark of democracy into a roaring beacon of liberty (and oil profits).

Your plan did not, has not, and will not work. Even the brutality of Saddam's regime did not quell or extinguish sectarian differences – everyone just kept score and held on to their resentments. More troops will not change the fundamental religious differences that have fueled sectarian strife for generations.

It will, on the other hand, build more resentment against America.

We are becoming less, not more, safe as we try to shore up your 'legacy' and delusions of being portrayed as anything other than a third-rate, inept head of state in the pages of history. The Author of Liberty won't exercise editorial privilege over pages we've written in our own hand.



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