Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Everything Is Going As Predicted 

Doesn't the following read like a parody?

SHIELDS: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American security workers were killed in an ambush by machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A cheering crowd dragged their burned and mutilated bodies through the streets and hanged two bodies from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what will be the impact of this atrocity on Iraq, on American policy and American politics?

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Mark, it gives lie to the theory that we've turned the corner in Iraq or that this is -- the violence is the work of foreign Islamic militants. To watch that vitriolic, vituperative, teeming crowd cheering the mutilation of those Americans, women, you know, throwing things at the body, their shoes at the body, a 12-year-old poking the corpses, was -- was as unsettling about our future as it was repulsive to watch. And the Bush administration, thinking about its own reelection, has come up with this foolish June 30 turnover date. Turn over to whom? The Iraqi governing council, over one third exiles, has no credibility in the country. From talking to people who have been there -- and I certainly have not -- the Sunni triangle is as anti- American as ever. The majority Shi'ites have a virtual veto power, and are willing to use it, over almost anything we want to do. And we're still paying a price because Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ignored General Shinseki, who said we're going to need more troops there afterwards.

The final, ultimate irony is the one Bush hope, the only hope right now, is that the United Nations special envoy, Brahimi (ph), can somehow negotiate something over the next six to eight weeks.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, General Anthony Zinni, the CENTCOM command commander prior to -- prior to the war, Marine four-star general, said this will scare off international participation. We're going to find ourselves increasingly alone in Iraq.

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) alone right now. Anybody who thought that being an occupying power in Iraq hasn't read their history in the slaughter of the British troops in 1918 and 1919. But we are there, and this is not like Somalia under the Clinton administration, where there was a very small commitment, and you could cut and run and it wasn't even much of a political embarrassment. I would think that this would strengthen the resolve of the American people, the outrage over it.

I think, quite frankly, Democrats who take the line that -- who follow Al's line and decide they're going to make this a Bush-bashing -- Bush administration-bashing operation are making a mistake, and I think Senator Kerry, instead of limiting himself to outrage over this, saying, Oh, this is because we didn't bring the U.N. -- I think that's a political mistake.

SHIELDS: Political mistake, Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, you know, America's there, America must stay. But the people who didn't read about occupying forces and what they might meet is the Pentagon, not the State Department but the Pentagon, who insisted on believing Ahmad Chalabi, who said we'd be met with sweets and flowers. The United States has never recovered from not being prepared for the aftermath of the war and taking over in Iraq. And now the wages of that are haunting us still.

And June 30 is a -- is a mirage. It just -- I don't see how it can happen because the very people that the United States would be turning it over to are the very people who bamboozled us about what we'd find in Iraq, and that's the Ahmad Chalabi and the other exiles on the Iraqi governing council.

SHIELDS: Pete King, let me ask you this. The Marines are outside of Fallujah. There has to be a necessary military response, necessary military response will inevitably involve civilian casualties and Marine casualties. Does that -- doesn't that start again a cycle of violence, I mean, the portraits of this further inflaming anti-American feeling? I mean, there's a sense that you don't know how to get out or really what to do.

KING: Well, there's bound to be some anti-American feeling, but there's going to be more if we do nothing. The fact is, we have to make the tough decision. We do have to go into Fallujah. I think the Marines will do it. It'll probably be done within the next several days.

But I also have to disagree with Margaret and Al to this extent. First of all, we can go back and debate what happened after the war, but all of the things that people said were going to happen, as far as refugees, as far as utilities, as far as these mass uprising -- did not happen. It is confined to an area. I've been in Baghdad. I've been in Mosul. The fact is, there it is relatively under control. Fallujah has been a city which we stayed outside of, and this group made the mistake of going through the town. They were not supposed to. This was an unauthorized -- they were supposed to go around the city. They went through it. It's terrible what happened. But I think we make a mistake if we say this thing is, you know, just collapsing. It's not.

Also, John Kerry -- who is he saying we should bring in? I mean, the U.N. won't come in. The French won't come in. The Germans won't come it. So it's not like people are waiting to come in and we won't let them in. And as far as the June 30 turnover date, that was a date insisted upon by the Europeans. They said there won't be any hope of getting help unless we set a date.

Now, we're still going to have our troops there, but we are going to gradually be turning it over to a government. And you know, again, I don't know what the answer is, other than what we're doing now, which I think, in the context of history, will be looked upon as the right thing to have done.

SHIELDS: More of the same, Bob? Is that the answer?

NOVAK: Well, it's -- there's no -- there's no choice to it. You see, the problem is that we're -- we're seven months from a-- from an election. It seems like seven days from an election, not seven months. And-- and there is just a tendency that whatever happens, you-- the politicians are saying, Gee, how can I -- how can I protect myself or how can I bring this to my advantage, when I think ordinary Americans out there are just outraged by this -- by this -- by this barbaric treatment, and the last thing they want is some kind of a bug-out or turning it over to the French.

HUNT: Well, we certainly can't...


HUNT: Well, we certainly can't bug out, but we have the -- we have-- that what Brahimi is doing over there now, Bob. Bob has this wonderful formulation. He says, basically, anybody who didn't read history wouldn't understand what was going to happen. Terrible things have happened. Obviously, Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld didn't read the same history that Bob Novak did. The aforementioned General Zinni said it in February, not afterward, and this week said...

SHIELDS: He did.

HUNT: ...this week again said the fact that...

NOVAK: So what did...


HUNT: ...have a post-war plan is shocking. Bob, you have to stay. You can't cut and run.

NOVAK: All right.

HUNT: But what you want to do is basically say, Hey -- but there's no accountability. There ought to be accountability from...

CARLSON: And by the way...

HUNT: ...the people who made this mistake.


NOVAK: ...politics, Al! You know that!

HUNT: That's not politics. That's called accountability.


KING: First of all, the war was won. Secondly, the fact is, there was no mass migration of refugees out of the country. There was not mass rebellion throughout the country. The fact is, 75, 80 percent of the country wants us to stay. It's 8 to 1 that people say life will be better in Iraq next year than it is now. They're optimistic about the future.

Or is it just me?

Shields comes closest to getting a handle on what has always been the fundamental contradiction in Bush's grandiose "Initiative" to bring the blessings of democracy to the Middle East by means of a full-scale invasion and years-long occupation of a Saddam-less Iraq, but do any of these fine people sound as if for them the people of Iraq are anything but an abstraction?

Note that diversionary ploy employed by Rep. King; it continues to be trotted out so often it's achieved meme status, i.e., whatever unanticipated bad things are happening in Iraq, they're less bad than the most terrible of the pre-war predictions, none of which happened, so that pretty much absolves the Bush administration of responsibility for any of the predicted less bad possible negative results of invading Iraq that have happpened.

Aside from the fact that war-skpectics weren't the ones who made those predictions, which weren't really predictions so much as projections of potential humanitarian crises by the international organizations whose job it is to prepare for such crises before they happen, the predictions of the war-skeptics have proved entirely more prescient than those invocations of the liberation of Paris in 1945 offered up by that corporate tag-team, Rummy, Wolfie & Rice.

However, since we're dealing with matters of life and death, national security, and as the President would have it, the path to a more peaceful world, it would be rotten form for any of us to point out who was right and who was wrong. We might be accused of gloating, or worse, of being on the side of our enemies.

Eric Alterman doesn't care, bless his liberal bleeding heart.

What we said before the war, in no particular order

The invasion of Iraq will cause, not prevent, terrorism.

The Bush administration was not to be trusted when it warned of the WMD threat.

Going in without the U.N. is worse than not going in at all.

They were asleep at the switch pre-9/11 and have been trying to cover this up ever since.

And they manipulated 9/11 as a pretext for a long-planned invasion of Iraq.

Any occupation by a foreign power, particularly one as incompetently planned as this one, will likely create more enemies than friends and put the U.S. in a situation similar at times to Vietnam, and at other times, similar to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon; both were disasters.

An invasion of Iraq will draw resources and attention away from the genuine perpetrators of the attack on us, and allow them to regroup for further attacks.

Bonus: Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” will increase anti-Semitism worldwide.

You can find more of Eric telling them we told them so, with links to prove it, here

Here's an interesting prediction to look back at from November of last year. Anthony Cordesman of CSIS could hardly be considered either left-leaning or anti-war, except perhaps from the fun-house mirror perspective summed up by the words FreeRepublic.com, but he has been skeptical of both the Bush doctrine and its application in Iraq. Months into the occupation, about the time that Bush went off to London with his six chiefs to sup with the Queen, CSIS released Cordesman's analytical critique of how the occupation was going, which is summarized nicely in this news analysis from The Independent, as posted to Free Republic here, which has the added advantage of including some freeper responses.

The report...is all the more devastating because of the unusual level of access provided to its author, Dr Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on Iraq. He concludes that US soldiers are dying because of the ideological approach of the administration, and "two years into office, the Bush national security team is not a team".

Mr Cordesman accuses the administration of preparing the ground for "a defeat by underplaying the risks, issuing provocative and jingoistic speeches, and minimising real-world costs and risks." Senior US officials were also deeply scornful of claims by administration officials that Saddam and his former aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri are orchestrating guerrilla attacks.

The report, based on a visit to Iraq by Dr Cordesman earlier this month, entitled Iraq: Too Uncertain To Call, says the army is confident it can contain guerrilla attacks but says they are becoming more sophisticated and tactics are changing.

Dr Cordesman suggests the Coalition Provisional Authority should abandon its heavily fortified headquarters in Saddam's old Republican Palace in central Baghdad. He says: "The CPA's image is one of a foreign palace complex replacing Saddam's and far too many CPA Americans in Baghdad are talking to Americans who should be working with Iraqis." He says, after extensive talks with US officers in the main combat divisions, that the CPA is seen as an over-centralised bureaucracy, isolated from the military, relies too much on contractors "and is not realistically evaluating developments in the field."

Dr Cordesman points to an important flaw in US planning since mid-summer when the Interim Governing Council was established as the Iraqi face of the occupation. He says that it has delayed "nation-building" in Iraq because of divisions, personal ambitions and lack of local following. A critical question here, which may determine the success or failure of President Bush's plan to create a provisional Iraqi government with real legitimacy, is how far the failings of the council are carried over into a new body.

Iraqi politicians independent of the US-appointed governing council interviewed by The Independent all believe that the council wanted to delay elections because its members feared they would not be elected. "They just want time to loot the country and then get out," said one Iraqi leader bitterly.

There is little in the track record of the US administration to suggest that Dr Cordesman's recommendations will be carried out, particularly at a time when Washington wants to show results on the ground in Iraq in the months before the presidential election.


The report concludes that there is an overall problem with the US administration's advocacy of "democracy" in the Middle East. "It is largely advocating undefined slogans, not practical and balanced specifics.'' It was often seen as showing contempt for Arab societies, or as a prelude to new US efforts at regime change.

"Empty slogans" Like this, perhaps?

"When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace. Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat. "

That statement, the work of Bush speechwriters, is at least coherent and not content-free. But when those speechwriters have the President say, " And that is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into chaos," the rhetoric is emptied of meaning by the fact that Iraq had been in a state of perpetual chaos from the moment those GI's pulled down that statue of Saddam.

When Bush isn't reading a speech, when he's recalling talking points, the emptiness of the rhetoric is more obvious, but oddly, the President is the best spokesman for what his Iraqi policy is really about. Here he is yesterday, in Arkansas:

THE PRESIDENT: Bob was telling me Brian Mackham (phonetic) is here. Where's Brian? Somewhere. Brian, thanks. You just got back from Iraq?

MR. MACKHAM: My dad did.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, okay. Hi, Dad. Thank you. I appreciate your service. (Applause.) Mr. Mackham. Mr. Mackham. Colonel Mackham. What are you?

CORPORAL MACKHAM: -- Lance Corporal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel now as far as I'm concerned. (Laughter and applause). Thank you for your service. Thank you for helping make America more secure.

We've got tough work there because, you see, there are terrorists there who would rather kill innocent people than allow for the advance of freedom. That's what you're seeing going on. These people hate freedom. and we love freedom. And that's where the clash occurs. See, we don't think freedom is America's gift to the world. We know that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. That's what we know. (Applause.)

And Mackham will tell you there's a lot of brave people there that want to be free, but they've been tortured and terrorized and traumatized by a tyrant. And it's going to take a while for them to understand what freedom is all about. We will pass sovereignty on June 30th. We will stay the course in Iraq. We're not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins. We're not going to cut and run from the people who long from freedom. Because, you know what? We understand a free Iraq is an historic opportunity to help change the world to be more peaceful. That's what we understand in this country.

So, some Iraqi's are a little too damaged to really understand what freedom is all about. But in general, they long for freedom, too. Because God has given to all human beings a desire to be free. True enough, say I. But what do Iraqi's mean by "freedom." What does the President? Or, for that matter, God?

And here he is on Monday in North Carolina:

Saddam Hussein once again defied the demands of the world. And so I had a choice: Do I take the word of a madman, do I trust a person who had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, plus people in the neighborhood, or do I take the steps necessary to defend the country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.) Thank you.

We're still being challenged in Iraq, and the reason why is a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of terror. Terrorists can't stand freedom. They hate free societies. And yet, we know that free societies will be peaceful societies. We also believe that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every person in this world. It's one of the values that we hold dear. These killers don't have values. They want to shake our will. So we've got tough action in Iraq.

But we will stay the course. We will do what is right. We will make sure that a free Iraq emerges, not only for our own security, but for the sake of free peoples everywhere. A free Iraq will change the Middle East. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq will make America more secure. We will not be shaken by thugs and terrorists. (Applause.)

"Empty slogans."

Cordesman's prescience feels almost revelatory, doesn't it? Then again, you can't go wrong in assuming that this President will always eschew complexity, nuance, and reality in favor of the simple, the direct, the abstract, the comforting, however compelling and undeniable are the facts have to be ignored.

Here's an abstract of Cordesman's latest CSIS report (fair warning, it's a PDF file)on how we're doing on that nation-building mission in Iraq.

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?