Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh Yes They Can...

A couple of weeks ago, my son and I were talking about the current administration and how just when it seems like things can't go any more wrong, they do.

Case in point: what we were referring to specifically was that it looked like Turkey, a longtime U.S. ally, already pissed off by Europe's dragging its feet in allowing it into the European Union and by Congress nearly voting on the Armenian genocide, would invade Iraq's Kurdish region after Kurdish separatists based in Iraq attacked and killed some Turkish soldiers.

That would have put the administration's you-know-what in a wringer-- a putative ally, whom we've asked for help in the war, attacking Iraq. Somehow, they dodged that bullet. Congress decided to save the Armenian issue for another time, and the Kurdish guerillas returned the prisoners they took in the raid. For the moment, Turkey is holding off on the invasion.

My son and I decided that we should never ask "How can it get worse?" Because it can. And it did.

Our terrific ally, Pakistani President-For-Life Musharraf has declared a state of emergency, suspending the Pakistani legislature and courts, rounding up and jailing those dangerous human rights activists, and publicly and unabashedly having Pakistani police and troops beat the crap out of the lawyers who are demonstrating, objecting to his illegal power grab.

This comes on the heels of a couple of things-- Musharraf's protracted public fight with Pakistan's chief justice, Muahmmed Chaudhry, whom Musharraf illegally tried to fire after court opinions he objected to, and the return of Benazir Bhutto.

So let's sum up things since oh, say, November 7, 2000.

  • Al Gore wins the popular vote in the United States by over 500,000 votes. The electoral votes for Florida, where George W. Bush's brother Jeb is Governor, hang in contention. Katharine Harris, the Republican Secretary of State, the person whose job it is to assure fair elections, was Bush' campaign co-chair in Florida. She had hired a firm, ChoicePoint, to purge the voter rolls of convicted felons. As it turned out, 97% of the people purged were not convicted felons. The majority of those purged, and denied the right to vote on November 7, 2000, were African-American. After a great deal of wrangling over "hanging chads" and other things, Harris "certifies" that Bush won Florida by 537 votes.
  • The Florida Supreme Court overturns Harris' ruling, ruling for a recount. The United States Supreme Court, stacked with Republican nominees, overturns the Florida Supreme Court's ruling, 5-4. So much for the supposed conservative support of States' rights.
  • In early 2001, CIA director George Tenet warns George Bush that Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, based in Afghanistan and supported by Afghanistan's brutal fundamentalist Islamic regime, the Taliban, was the main, and a major threat to U.S. security, and that there was no doubt that bin Laden was going to strike U.S. interests at some point. Bush' predecessor, Bill Clinton had authorized the CIA in five separate incidences to try to disrupt and destroy al Queda, including a cruise missle strike on an al Queda base in an attempt to kill bin Laden. The strike missed bin Laden by minutes. Republicans had claimed that this was an attempt by Clinton to take attention away from his sex scandal-- to "wag the dog."
  • Bush does nothing against bin Laden, al Queda or the Taliban. Pakistan, with Musharraf as leader, supports the Taliban. Iran supports the opposition to the Taliban, the Northern Alliance.
  • FBI agents frantically try to get the administration's attention concerning men, Middle Eastern citizens, here on student visas, who have been training to fly jets, but have made it clear that they have no desire to learn how to take off or land. One agent, in a now-famous report, says that he fears that theses guys are going to do something drastic like fly a jet into the World Trade Center. The administratoin ignores these reports, focusing on putting together a package of tax cuts for the rich.
  • On September 9, 2001, anti-Taliban leader Ahmad Shah Massoud is murdered by Taliban suicide bombers masquerading as journalists.
  • Two days later, on September 11, 2001, a group of terrorists, trained and funded by bin Laden successfully attack US targets by hijacking commercial jetliners and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing over 3,000 Americans.
  • United States troops invade Afghanistan in support of the Northern Alliance and quickly rout the Taliban.
  • Many of the Taliban, along with Osama bin Laden, are able to escape to Pakistan.
  • The Bush Administration begins planning to invade Iraq, though there is no evidence that Iraq was involved in the attack. They cite Iraq's alleged development of "Weapons of Mass Destruction," chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, though UN inspectors have repeatedly stated that Iraq has not been doing so.
  • United States troops invade and quickly take Iraq.
  • There is an insufficient number of U.S. and "coalition" troops to prevent individuals from carting away huge amounts of weapons.
  • Iraq rapidly degenerates into factions, with different ethnic and religious groups using weapons they took, and status as soldiers, policemen, etc. to advance their causes, or simply form militias with various and sundry violent agendas. Attacks on U.S. troops escalate.
  • Iraq quickly becomes awash in killing. Civilians, police officers, Iraqi military members, politicians and of course, U.S. troops and U.S. and other civilians working in Iraq are targets.
  • Saddam Hussein, captured on December 13, 2003 by U.S. troops, is tried and convicted of charges concerning the execution of 148 Iraqi Shiites accused of plotting to assassinate him. He is executed on December 30, 2006. This has zero effect on the preventing the increasing political and religious chaos in Iraq and consequent murder and mayhem.

Which brings us to where we are. Iraq is nowhere near a cohesive national government. It's beginning to look more and more like the series of sham South Vietnamese governments that the U.S. kept successively and unsuccessfully propping up from 1962 to 1975.

And of course, in the meantime, Pakistan has officially became a dictatorship.

Could it get any worse? Don't you remember? We told you not to ask. Of course, it got worse. As of today, this is the deadliest year of the war, with 852 American troops killed. And there's still 7 weeks left to the year. So much for the "surge."

According to the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count's website, 3,857 American troops have been killed in Iraq. That does not include American mercenaries "civilian contractors," truck drivers, etc. killed there. And of course, it doesn't count the thousands of U.S. troops grievously wounded and maimed.

The intent of Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-Conservative geniuses that got us into the mess was to make Iraq a shining example of democracy in the Mideast. And where is that fabled democracy? Certainly not in Iraq. Or Pakistan. Or Egypt, where political opponents are regularly imprisoned and tortured. Saudi Arabia? Kuwait? Syria?

Or even the United States. Among the responses of this administration to the attack was to gather up suspected terrorists and hold them illegally in prisons at Guanatanamo Bay, Cuba and others, denying them legal counsel, or for that matter even acknowleding they even exist, in some cases. And of course, there was the "Patriot Act," which infringed on basic Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens like Due Process, guarantees of privacy and the First Amendment.

And on top of all that, the Taliban is making a comeback in Afghanistan because of Taliban troops based in the territory of our good friends in Pakistan, and the fact that American resources are tied up in a futile war in Iraq.

To the people who fear we may be headed for an invasion of Iran, I disagree, not because of any faith in the good judgement of this administration, obviously, but because we simply don't have the troops to do it. We can't even control Iraq, an ethnically-fragmented country with a broken military. How would we attack Iran, a country with nearly three times the population, a relatively ethnically homogenous population, and with an excellent and well-equipped military?

I don't dare say "How can it get worse?" Because it still can.

It's clear that Iraq is headed for a break-up, and that the overall intent of the neo-Cons is headed for abject failure. Even after a break-up, the new states will fight internally. Decades of thwarting political development are coming home to roost. Iraq was an artificial country to begin with. The neo-Con fantasy that they would magically develop a stable western-style democracy was just that-- a fantasy-- especially in light of the fact that these idiots did so much damage to our own democracy in the process.

Day after day, American soldiers are asked to die for ideas that are clearly monsterous failures. And to quote 2004 Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry, speaking before the U.S. Senate a generation ago, on April 23, 1971, about the Vietnam War, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a failure?"

To quote a sign I'm seeing more and more, "Support Our Troops; Bring Them Home."


Splotchy said...

A nice (depressing) post, though i would take issue with this statement:

The intent of Paul Wolfowitz and the other neo-Conservative geniuses that got us into the mess was to make Iraq a shining example of democracy in the Mideast.

I don't think that's true at all -- it's merely the last pretext they used after all the previous ones (i.e. "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud") fell apart. Perhaps you were just being facetious, but enough of this rhetoric gets parroted by the mainstream media that I felt I had to say something to contradict it.

I honestly don't think the decisionmakers in the Bush Administration have any interest in democracy, here or abroad. And I'm not just bashing Bush & Co., I sadly believe this.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

This is why I read you, because of brilliant posts like this. Thanks.

Skylers Dad said...

A brilliant synopsis JY. One thing I have heard is that when they traced the origins of the 9/11 highjackers, most were found to originate in Saudi Arabia.

Hmmm, I wonder why we didn't go in there guns-a-blazin, huh?

SamuraiFrog said...

I agree with Splotchy in that it has nothing to do with democracy. It's a business thing; sadly, I think it's working out the way it's supposed to.

Excellent post, and I appreciated the historical rundown, too. How many more times can we drop the ball? Or rather, how bad is it going to be next time?

Johnny Yen said...

I agree that for most of them, they saw big profits (Cheney, for instance, whose conflict of interest with Haliburton was grotesque, and possibly criminal), yes. But Wolfowitz was pathetic-- he was a painfully earnest cheerleader for this whole thing. I'm reading both Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack and Thomas Ricks' Fiasco, written in 2003 and 2006 respectively, and both books document that.

What's interesting is the across-the-board skepticism , outright criticism and sometimes warnings from high-level miilitary people about the invasion. All ignored, of course.

Dr. Monkerstein-
The feeling is mutual.

Skyler's Dad-
Almost all of them, actually. Saudi Arabia's regime stands against pretty much everything Western democracy stands for. And we've whored ourselves out for the ocean of oil they sit on.

I was talking to my son about it all tonight. What was oil before the war? $28 a barrel? And it's about to top $100? How in the hell do you fight a war that's ulterior motive is securing access to cheap oil and end up quadrupling oil prices?

The conversation actually took place as we looked onto Lake Shore Drive from our friends' apartment, and past it to Lake Michigan, and talked about the idea of putting windmills out there. The beautiful irony is that yes, it's probably worked out as the power elite wanted it to, but as seems to happen frequently in history-- the railroads and the internet are notable examples-- what seems to be a monopoly ends up having unforeseen consequences. With oil at $100+ a barrel with a combination of a reduced flow and industrialization of India, China and other places, it'll make other technological and structural changes economically viable.

Leonesse said...

Thanks, Yen. This was great. I am amazed at how many people don't want to know these things.

Shame we seem to have allowed a two party system. We all lose.