Monday, August 22, 2005
A few notable headlines culled from this weekend's wire services sum up the surreal situation Bush has created in Iraq: "Bush Begins 5-Day Push to Defend Iraq War," "Bush Invokes Sept. 11 to Defend Iraq War," "Army Planning for 4 More Years In Iraq" and "Hagel Says Iraq War Looking Like Vietnam."
Let's be blunt. Bush's petulant "staying the course" policy is irrational and borderline delusional. (And what else is new?) As a result, our pre-emptive invasion has turned out to be such a colossal clusterfuck that even Donald Rumsfeld tried to backpedal from it, downplaying the word "war" in our one-size-fits-all "War on Terror" blather and redubbing it the "global struggle against violent extremism."
This leaden trial balloon was quickly shot down by Dubya who reverted to his beloved "war" lingo within twenty-four hours of Rumsfeld's utterance, presumably because the "global struggle" rhetoric was too complicated.
For the second time in a week, Bush has used his Saturday radio speech to try to sell his limping war footing. Aside from the fact that Bush sounded like he was fighting off sleep during the speech (he must have been tired from all that biking), the droning "Night of the Living Dud" address was routine Bushit - bogus from the first sentence, conjuring up 9/11 and, for the trillionth time, trying to ham-handedly fold it into our current fiasco in Iraq.
Slumbered Bush: "In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people. And since that day, we have taken the fight to the enemy."
On the plus side, with our current deficit spending spree, I'm glad to see that Bush is saving money in the speech-writing sector by simply giving the same one over and over again. We're fighting them over th'ar so we don't have to fight them at the local Wal-Mart. The safety and security of every American is at stake...every American stuck in Iraq, that is. Remember World War II? Remember how we rebuilt Japan? Remember the Alamo? (I made that last one up. Could you tell?)
Bush even had the audacity to snore: "Like previous wars we have waged to protect our freedom, the war on terror requires great sacrifice from Americans."
Um, exactly what great sacrifices are Americans not involved in the armed forces making? Was I absent that day? Are they trading in their gas-guzzling SUVs for hybrids en masse? Riding their bikes to tractor pulls? Turning off the lights when they leave their trailers? What???
He tossed off his heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families of "fallen heroes." I don't know about you, but I'm tired of his referring to the dead as the "fallen." They did't slip on a banana peel and take a pratfall. They weren't clumsy, George. They didn't just tip over. They were blown up or gunned down.
So, how do we honor the dead? By creating more dead. Here's his big finish. "Now we must finish the task that our troops have given their lives for and honor their sacrifice by completing their mission. We can be confident in the ultimate triumph of our cause, because we know that freedom is the future of every nation and that the side of freedom is the side of victory."
Anyone who missed the stand-up skills of George W. Bush last Saturday on his Death-O-Palooza comedy tour may catch repeat performances of his act at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Utah and a National Guard group in Idaho this week. Don't forget to tip your waitress over on the way out so she, too, can become one of the fallen.
It's both absurd and tragic that none of the architects of this debacle will fess up that it was a mistake from day one. The ability of Bush to ignore reality is topped only by the efforts of Dick Cheney, whose CEO-spawned sneer now rivals that of the late, great Edward G. Robinson.
Pushing the war, or whatever we're calling it at this moment, at the 73rd National Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (Oh, I'm sure that was a tough crowd!) in Missouri, Cheney mixed the Cliff Notes of 'American History 101' with PNAC-patriotism, dragging in everything from George Washington's speeches to his troops to World War II.
Once again climbing onto the backs of the innocent victims of 9/11, Cheney snarled: "Four years ago, on a Tuesday morning in September, a threat that had been gathering for years, in secret and far away, arrived in America and brought grief to the entire nation. And after 9/11, the United States made a decision: Having been attacked by stealth inside our own country, we will not sit back and wait to be hit again. We will do everything we can to prevent attacks by taking the fight to the enemy"
Talk about playing to your audience!
And the laughs kept on coming: "We gave ultimatums to the brutal regimes led by the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. And when those regimes defied the demands of the civilized world (Note: I think that means us.), we removed them from power and liberated 50 million people."
And the ones we didn't liberate, we dubbed "collateral damage." Congrats!
After riffing on the classic mantra based on the "if you don't support the war you're an anti-patriotic tool of the enemy" playbook, Cheney declared: "These enemies hate us, they hate our country, and they hate the liberties for which we stand. They have contempt for our values. They doubt our strength. And they believe that America will lose our nerve and let down our guard. They are sorely mistaken."
I'm wondering who "these enemies" are. I mean, we have so many to choose from, these days. I guess he was talking about the insurgents at Camp Casey. Those grieving mothers are shifty looking.
In essence, the Bush team is still trying to sandbag the public with its time-worn tape loop of patriotism, paranoia and outright lies. Fewer and fewer people are listening, though. About sixty per-cent of the country think Bush is on the wrong track and the Iraqi invasion was a mistake. And with good reason.
While Bush and Cheney performed the political equivalent of Abbott and Costello's "Who's On First?" routine, ("Kurds on third." "Aww, Shiite.") General Peter Schoomaker told Associated Press that the army is prepared for the "worst case" in terms of the required level of American troops in Iraq and could wind up keeping over 100,000 in country for four more years.
In comedy, timing is everything.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. It's a couple of years old. So, this weird guy in a "Top Gun" outfit lands on an aircraft carrier and sez "Mission accomplished" and...hmmm. There doesn't seem to be a punch line. My bad.
Also not laughing after Bush's somnambulistic speechifying on Saturday was former Democratic Senator Max Cleland who, in the Democratic radio address, noted: "There is no strategy to win... Iraq is still not secure and we don't have the forces there to make it secure.
"Furthermore, Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist cadre who did attack our country on September 11, 2001 are still on the loose.
"We are running out of time. We need a strategy to win in Iraq or an exit strategy to leave. The present course will lead us to disaster. More of the same just means more precious blood spilled in the desert."
It should be noted that Max Cleland lost three limbs in the Vietnam war. George W. Bush lost his lunch and, quite possibly, his marbles.
With a growing amount of Americans slowly waking up to the fact that America was flim-flammed into the Iraqi invasion, it's interesting to see that many politicians who are publically turning sour on Operation Fubar are moderate Republicans.
Republican Senator and Vietnam vet Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has been all over the airwaves this past week, dropping critiques like clusterbombs.
On ABC, Sunday, he said: "What I think the White House does not yet understand -- and some of my colleagues -- the dam has broke on this policy. The longer we stay there, the more similarities (to Vietnam) are going to come together."
Last week, on CNN, Hagel was even more demonstrative. "...The fact is the Iraqis will determine their future. And that means that they are either going to have to be in a position sometime next year to really step up in governing themselves, defending themselves, supporting themselves, or we can't continue to stay there indefinitely.
"I mean, the casualties we're taking, the billion dollars a week we're putting in there, the kind of commitment we've got, we're not going to be able to sustain it. Public opinion won't allow it. I don't think it's a wise thing to do.
"We are seen, unfortunately, as occupiers by most of the people in Iraq now, in the Middle East. We have put our troops in a very difficult spot. Every day that goes by, they're going to be in a more and more difficult spot."
Commenting on an article written by Henry Kissinger in "The Washington Post" assessing the so-called "progress" being made in Iraq, Hagel expounded: "All I can do, based on the matrix and the measurements that are plain to the American people -is (ask) are casualties rising? Yes. We lost four more people yesterday, four more the day before. Yes. They're increasing at a very significant rate: more dead, more wounded, less electricity in Iraq, less oil being pumped in Iraq, more insurgency attacks, more insurgents coming across the border, more corruption in the government.
"So how do we measure this? Are we winning or are we not winning"
When shown a video clip of Dick "Rickles" Cheney quipping about "armchair quarterbacks" who are "wrong," Hagel came back with: "Well, it was the vice president who said a couple of months ago that the insurgency was in its last throes. I didn't say that; the vice president said that.
"The fact is -- the facts speak for themselves.
"Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking and all the other issues that I just addressed. If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning than I do."
Hagel also lobbed a few in Bush's direction. "Well, there is no question there is a parallel emerging here between Iraq and Vietnam.
"I have said from the beginning, and still say, there are a lot of mostly dissimilarities, but there are some similarities. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more similarities will start to develop -- meaning essentially that we are getting more and more bogged down, taking more and more casualties, more and more heated dissension and debate in the United States, as evidenced by the situation in Crawford...
"'You now have peace demonstrations all over the country. We just had them in Nebraska. You're going to have more and more of them. And it's coming from -- not all cases, but many cases like the mother of the fallen soldier in Crawford, from the parents of these young men and women who have been killed.
"As to, should the president see her? I do know that he met with her and other families prior, but I think the wise course of action, the compassionate course of action, the better course of action would have been to immediately invite her into the ranch. It should have been done when this whole thing started. Listen to her."
With more politicians finally weighing in on all things Iraq, from withdrawal strategies and timetables to the treatment of prisoners, with more Americans cringing at the news from Iraq daily, with more protesters holding vigils, could this be the time when the tide will finally turn against Bush's illegal invasion?
Probably not totally, but it's a start. Better late than never.
Perhaps as an indication that growing numbers of Americans are focusing on the war from its inception to its disastrous current state, CNN aired an original documentary over the weekend on the intelligence that led to Bush's run-up to the war.
What was it called?
Which also describes the Bush Administration on every level.