November 19, 2005: Who'da thunk that one year after Dubya M. Dee talked of spending
his political capital said capital would have shrunk to the size
of a savings stamp?
After last year's presidential race, liberal faces were long.
Fascistracistreligiousfanatic red state fiends were riding high
on the hog. The world was going to little "h" hell in a hand
basket. I tried cheering my left leaning friends with a look back
at the reversal of fortune suffered by Nixon. Pointing out that
in politics, slips twixt cups & lips are natural law. And that
wimpy-poo Kerry, along with the entire war waffling Democratic
Party, would eventually thank their lucky stars they didn't get
stuck with Iraq. But my buck-up efforts weren't very successful.
Liberals just aren't optimists. Even if they do talk a good
one when touting the bennies of intrusive, expensive and fraud
ridden government programs.
As for Iraq, though the buck must certainly stop with the
Commander-in-Chief, it took more than one man to change our name
to Quagmire. After 9/11 the nation was understandably hot for
revenge. Bush & crew rode that sentiment into Iraq. Using WMD
as justification and implying strongly that Saddam and Osama bin
Laden were joined at the hip. Relying on the public's ignorance
re the political and religious differences of the Muslim world.
Sweetening the deal with hints of unlimited access to oil.
Almost every single Republican and Democrat of note joined the
Bush posse, as did the majority of the mainstream newsmedia. The
latter throwing their free press responsibility to the wind. From
the beginning there was a good deal of credible evidence, from
sources to which political leaders and newsmedia had access, that
the WMD story was based on questionable intelligence. Many of
those who now clamor that Bush lied us into the war only do so
because this Iraq excursion didn't go like the Gulf War and
public support is waning.
If invading Iraq was about something other than WMD for the Bush
administration, so was it for those who lip serviced the same
rationales. For some, the motive was fear of being called
unpatriotic. The mood of the nation was angry. Bush's poll
numbers were astronomical. He and his supporters, in high and
low places, were quick to characterize policy dissent as treason.
(They still do, but with less of a public echo effect.) None
the less, political leaders and media types who kept mum when
truth got scary give rise to chuckles re the courage of
One also shouldn't forget how the words "empire" and "hegemony"
buzzed in elite circles. Combined with "American". Not only in
neo conservative places, or on the traditional nationalistic
right, but among neo liberals enamored of economic globalism.
Many of whom hated Bush and believed he stole the 2000 election.
And also suspected the WMD were a crock and knew there was no
link between Iraq and 9/11. But they still wanted a president
they saw as illegitimate to demagogue an ill informed and
emotionally raw public into supporting a war that would expand
our presence in the Middle East. Hoping that apres Iraq, Bush
would keep going & going & going. No doubt some still cherish
that dream of empire. Look for them to remind ya/of the mess
Bush left behind him. And how we can't desert the "good" Iraqis
or let Iraq, which under Saddam was a secular totalitarian state,
slide toward becoming a theocratic totalitarian state.
Not that there isn't some validity to such concerns.
When we invaded Iraq, and particularly when the mission expanded
into democratic nation building, we shouldered responsibility for
the fate of the Iraqi people. Those who complain the Iraqis
aren't doing enough to defend themselves against insurgency, and
that the U.S. is carrying their water, forget our government
volunteered to haul dem buckets. Even though the only invitation
to do so came from manipulative shills like Ahmed Chalabi.
Post 9/11, the most valid reason for going to war was to get
those responsible. It was a limited and reasonable objective.
Unfortunately, Iraq was the wrong man.
Afghanistan on the other hand, was a true co-conspirator. And
speaking of being wrong, I was re Afghanistan when that invasion
was launched. If some mistakenly thought Iraq would be the Gulf
War all over again, I made the error of viewing Afghanistan
through the prism of Vietnam. And I was also unaware of the
degree to which the Taliban were intertwined with al-Qaeda and
Osama bin Laden. No amount of diplomatic dealing or economic
sanctions would have made the Taliban give up UBL.
Not that we have him now.
That the invasion of Afghanistan has produced only limited
success can be measured by the non-capture of the individual most
responsible for 9/11 and the way we dance around Pakistan. A
country where support for al-Qaeda was far stronger, and more
active, than it ever was in Iraq. Particularly among Pakistan's
military elite and in its state security services, the ISI. By
most accounts bin-Laden still lingers in the mountainous border
area between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Where the terrain is just
too tuff to take. If we hadn't spent so much political capital
in the Muslim world via our Iraq adventure, or had more troops
in Afghanistan, perhaps the Pakistani government might be more
easily convinced mountain climbing is good for the health. And
while it's nice that elections have been held in Afghanistan,
it bugs me that their opium crop is popping, bigger and better
than ever. Given how heroin, opium's end product, dirties
up American streets.
What's done is done. We can only play the hand we hold. But it
sure is a crappy one. Sitting in on the game has cost over 2000
young American men and women, plus myriad Iraqi non-combatants of
all ages, their lives. And I suspect there is no fast, easy, or
completely satisfactory way for us to step away from the table.
One last word. When dishing the doo on Iraq, save a little dis
for the old rad crowd who recommissioned their giant puppets
and dusted off dissertations re the inherent evil of all things
Amerika. Including its half devil half child citizens. According
to Screwtape (or was it Scooter Libby?) such divertisements
were always welcome in the White House.
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
"There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself."
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye, 1953
"Stay the course."
Dubya M. Dee, The Longer Goodbye, 2005
Send comments or confidential tips to: