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Archive for August of 2006
August 31, 2006
August 30, 2006
ey to an irrational ideological movement determined to overthrow the hated status quo is the constant need to propel forward action. Fast paced action is essential to keep social institutions and despised 'reaction' off balance and at bay.
We see this pattern time and again in history. And should a Movement cause a potentially undeniable calamity — often the consequence of frenetic action poorly thought through — the Movement, like Faust, will turn and call due its chips. 'There is no going back. The boats have been burnt'.
e are near that moment with Bushism. 'Iraq could be worse' is close but not quite there. Invocations of 'fascism' and 'war of civilizations' are still unreal. But the Administration is tantalizing close to creating that reality. And if so, our boats indeed will be burned behind us.
Choreographed speeches from Rumsfeld, Bush today and their surrogates such as Gingrich make clear the Movement's exhaustion and determination to drag us all down with them into that cataclysm. Bush's speech today reveals his unalloyed commitment to Neocon radicalism. And puts at rest fantasies of Saint Condi gently rescuing us from further ideological lurches.
Democrats have never understood the Administration's radical ideology. Being bereft of any meaningful one of their own aside from mechanical interest group servicing, how could they? Even now, leading pundits and bloggers urge Democrats show spine by laughing at Rumsfeld. Such tactical considerations miss the larger political truth at play. And the consequences.
Fortunately, even for his Kool Aid audience, Dubya today was not at his best. Previously, such as Annapolis last year, Bush effectively barked out rote declarations to bracing effect. But then, he could twist reality into some plausibly recognizable form. Now Bush must ignore unpalatable facts on the ground in Iraq — or turn such facts inside out. He may get a superficial bounce for a day or two. The tide of reality is remorseless and will overwhelm his momentary utterances.
But one wonders if the Democrats are ill-prepared for the upcoming ferocity. A Movement, with its back against the wall, can be particulary feral. Carville said the other day that if Democrats can't win in this environment it calls into question their raison d'etre
. We agree, but also note that he again appears to assume what is called the Republican Party is a political entity in the tradition of American pluralism.
August 29, 2006
an any nemesis be more deserving than Joe Wilson et famille
haunting Scooter, Rove and Cheney? Wilson fittingly was the policy equivalent of burning rampant atheletes foot, resistant to treatment. His itch hobbled the Administration and gave rise to the Fitzgerald fungus, which further sapped Cheney and Rove's malign focus for a crucial year.
o he had his uses. All the same, enough is enough. Firtzgerald came up dry and could not indict beyond Scooter's fibbing. Armitage's role, while known around town, is now official. His leaking clearly does not fit the criminal statutes nor the political mens rea impugned to the White House. It is time to bring the curtain down on this act and make way for another more creative drama.
Simply put, the Wilson show does not age well. With Armitage's confession, the critical engine falls apart needed to drive the drama — the purposeful leaking of Wilson's wife's covert identity to retaliate against him. Armitage clearly did not do so.
The show's purpose is thus exhausted. Any efforts now to prolong the Wilsons' 15 minutes of fame are blatantly self serving. Wilson always preposterously was self important, delusionally convinced of his geo-political import. His role in investigating the Niger connection was relatively minor and unimportant.
As an Oppositionist to the Administration, we tried to overlook Wilson's venality and stomach his obvious hunger for attention. Such sins are not unusual for D.C. and were ameliorated by his political usefulness. Lacking that, however, they simply are unbearable.
he Stiftung takes a back seat to no one when it comes to protecting the identities of clandestine officers. And there is no question that Cheney's war against the CIA merged perfectly with Rove's destructive politicization of national security. Yet Fitzgerald's investigation and Armitage's confession, to quote Stein, show 'there is no there, there' regarding Rove, Valerie Plame, etc.
It is equally true that Wilson is a narcissistic blow hard. Preening and strutting through the minor firmament of Democrat star fuckers and media whores, Wilson revelled in his tawdry celebrity.
As just one example, the Stiftung remembers walking into an evening dinner of The Outs in D.C. (a gathering of those far removed from the Corridors of Power, noteworthy for the number of “formers” affixed before someone's name — “former deputy assistant second associate secretary of state for napkin placement, so and so”, etc.). This Administration is so shut down, however, The Outs now include a large number of currently active Republicans. Such gatherings are an occupational hazzard in the Imperial City.
We mention this because even in 2006, Wilson camped with his admittedly pretty (for Washington policy work) wife in the dinner seats facing the door, essentially mandating anyone entering the room pass before him. Enthroned there, Wilson made small bloviation talk, seemingly seeking to preside over the gathering, in essence trying to upstage the featured guest at dinner with his presence. The guest was a recently retired senior intelligence official making waves revealing how dysfunctional the Adminstration's decision-making was.
All very tiresome.
Worse, of course, are the parasites in the blogosphere and elsewhere who have made careers for themselves following the ins and outs of the Plame drama. Like the OJ trial circus figures who moved on to their own shows and television careers, these parasites bootstrapped their obsession with Plame trivia and speculation into a healthy career path, too. And like the Jon Benet jabbers and OJ commentators, most of the Plame blogging and 'reporting' was often sheer speculation or wrong, usually dramatically so.
We can't wait to see the curtain fall on the Joe Wilson show. It overstayed its welcome. And who knows? If cards are played right, there well may be a dinner theater revival down the road.
August 28, 2006
rnaud de Borchgrave's item in the Washington Times today generated a great deal of buzz.
His piece all but predicted military action against Iran before Bush slinks off to Crawford for the final time.
As many readers likely know, Arnaud does not share the Neocon/War of Civilizations enthusiasms of Tony Blankley and the gang over there these days. Arnaud's sources also often are fairly senior and placed, not only here in the States but across the region. He writes:
Iran is now confident neither Russia nor China will go along with meaningful economic sanctions. Moscow says sanctions have never worked, ignoring those that collapsed South Africa's apartheid regime. The handwriting on the geopolitical landscape has convinced Israel and its core support in the U.S., from the neoconservatives to the Christian Right, that a military solution is inescapable. A
Leading conservatives have said World War III — the ultimate clash of civilizations — has been under way since September 11, 2001. Some neocons say it started when the mullahs forced the shah into exile and seized power in Iran in early 1979 — and that President Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair are treading water among the appeasers. They remind Mr. Bush he vowed not to leave office without first ensuring that “the worst weapons will not fall into the worst hands” and thus Iran cannot become a nuclear power. Their ideological guide Richard Perle goes so far as to accuse Mr. Bush, who knows Iran has pursued a secret nuclear weapons program for the last 19 years, of opting for “ignominious retreat.”
rnaud concludes by noting that oddsmakers in the Imperial City say that Bush will launch wide ranging airstrikes on Iran before leaving office. The Stiftung hears the same worries from some of the same people and from the Hill and even from within the Administration.
We are still not persuaded that the military option will happen. The problem of Iraq and American strategic weakness are real, Rumsfeld's hollow boasting today notwithstanding
. Our intelligence gaps are real. The Israeli failure to hit Hezbollah targets only 20 miles away is a sobering reminder to the Warden-esque fantasies of precision “effects based operations” against Iran.
Against those empirical-based assessments is the political truth that Bush remains enthralled by the Neocon Talking Points. Cheney's office and OSD are also unwaivering loyalists to The Cause. The delusional sense of Man of Destiny remains. And Israel as a useful manipulative totem in the public discourse remains highly charged. Yet the options for dealing with Iran are very constrained without use of nuclear weapons.
A McCain Administration, embued with 'National Greatness', would have an easier time re-instating a draft, repositioning in Iraq or otherwise launching a misadventure against 70 million Persians and 1 billion extended Muslims.
ompounding problems, Iran continues to crush the Administration in the realm of public diplomacy. This makes the next 2 years potentially excruciating for the West and Bush in particular. Today's defensive rejection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's offer to debate Bush on live TV underscores the paucity of strategic thinking in the Administration.
The Administration continues to be rocked backwards, caught flat footed. The Stiftung can not wait for the Kool Aid Brigades to call for Karen Hughes to be “unleashed”. Let Hughes be Hughes!
Ahmadinejad, unlike Bush, shows that he understands fully the times and the Age today. Such a debate, doubtless moderated by Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul, with Cat Deely as Hostess, would be the crowning achievement of the hyper real. And there is little doubt who would be perceived as the clear winner.
today, we say airstrikes before January 2009 are at 40%. It will take 4 months or so for non-Russian/Chinese approved ad hoc sanctions to be put in place. At least a year or two before the sanctions can de described a failure. And then 3 months of AgitProp buildup. A Democrat controlled House and/or Senate further complicates matters. This is not to deny that the Neocons and others won't push for the strikes starting after Labor Day. And things can change even overnight. But we don't see a successful repeat of the 2002 Run Up and military action. Yet.
A timely item from Walter Russell Mead in Foreign Affairs, “God's Country”.
August 25, 2006
This issue is surprisingly robust with topical and insightful items, although Ferguson's piece is strained as usual. One hopes this overall tenor of the issue marks the start of a welcome trend.
Mead puts some of this through the prism of his “four schools” of American foreign policy.
While one could quibble or even debate some of his analysis or obsevations, we think he is worth careful consideration.
August 24, 2006
he drum beats for war with Iran have not really started, yet. But a conversation in Israel is interesting. The biggest fear in Israel among some decision-makers is not that an Iranian nuke will fall on an Israeli city — Persia has an address and Israel the retaliatory capacity for deterrence. And the Israelis know that the Iranian President, for all his colorful rhetoric, is a figurehead with no real political power. Persia with its millenia of Nationhood is not anxious for destruction. Whether by its own hand or via Hezbollah.
But the Iranian President is a useful cartoon character whose antics are a mask for Israel's real strategic predicament to some — as the Jersualem Post noted, these people believe Israel does not want deterrence. Deterrence might mean that its options (not capacity) to wage unchecked repression of the Palestianians or unleash disproportionate force could be limited. That is the real fear in the IDF and “old Likud”. Deterrence prevented the Soviets and Americans from even skirmishing on the Inter-German Border. Such an outcome is anathema to those elements in Israel wedded to the policies of Force and Brutalization.
There are other reasons for Americans to be concerned about Iranian regional ambiitions. But going to war or launching ineffective air strikes, regardless of rhetoric, merely to preserve old Likud's penchant for brutalization is not one of them.
August 22, 2006
n old adage is that a hero is only as good as the villian. Gandalf needed Sauron. Superman, Lex Luthor. And now, Osama and Dubya. One is obssessed with fart jokes.
The other, according to alleged reminisces from Bin Laden's alleged mistress in 1996, Kola Boof
He would humiliate me by making me dance naked. It was such a strange thing, because for the most part he believed music was evil. If a guest at the estate played music, he would cover his ears until the “poison” was silenced. But other times he would become this devout party boy who wanted to hear Van Halen or some B-52's. To this day I hear the song “Rock Lobster” in my sleep. I would be jerking around like a white girl—“Dance like a Caucasoid girl!” he would say—and his eyes would track me from one side of the terrace to the other. “Your ass is too big, show me the front,” he said . . .Maybe I should get on my knees and beg for mercy, but that was too wimpy. At last, I thought my only escape from death was to seduce him. He wanted to fuck me: that was the only good card in the deck. So I stretched up and kissed Osama very softly on the mouth. I undid my robe and let it slip down to the floor.W
e say alleged, because the manuscript excerpts have the stale scent of a clumsy American psyops effort. The U.S. tried similar efforts against Khaddafi in the late 1980s, manufacturing photographs (this was pre-Photoshop era) and other tricks to undermine his legitimacy attacking his lifestyle, sex life, etc. (The recently beatified Richard Clarke was involved in some of the hair brained schemes).
Is Kola Boof too legit to quit? We don't know the provenance of the manuscript or the bona fides
of the publisher, Door of Kush. If it is an American effort, we've improved our game a notch — linking Osama to an African American woman, drug addict and convert to the Jewish faith is the trifecta. We have our doubts, especially since Harpers inadvertantly undermines her credibility by noting that Boof first appeaed on Fox News claiming to be Bin Laden's mistress in 2003. Given Ken Silverstein's solicitude for publishing unvarnished Agency spin (including yet another rehash interview with the dismissable Michael Scheuer in this same issue), color us somewhat skeptical. But points for effort.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether Boof is legitimate or not. By 2006 we are firmly in the clutches of hyper-reality.
The assertion is itself a Platonic Form of legitimacy and substance. So we have fart man, 'yo Blair', the mentally ossified dry drunk, and a terrorist reading Qutb with Rock Lobster pounding on the boom box. Both of them a hero. Both of them a villian.
Thomas Stern Elliot, you were wrong. The world doesn't end with a whimper. It goes out on the cat screech warble of “I Will Always Love You”. And a fart. Stanley Kubrick had it about right.
August 21, 2006
hat level of Inferno is reserved for intellectual flatulators like Lewis? Who knowningly drop memes of apocalypse and threat, intending them to get picked up in the media? Who knowingly fan the flames of civilizational war? Whose hands are stained as Cheney and Wolfowitz's academic hooker? Stained as is theirs with the blood of tens of thousands of Iraqis and over 2,500 American troops?
To quote Doc Holliday via
Val Kilmer, there is a reckoning coming.
August 20, 2006
nd what passes for a Spengler for our times
“As Rome passed away, so, the West is passing away, from the same causes and in much the same way. What the Danube and Rhine were to Rome, the Rio Grande and Mediterranean are to America and Europe, the frontiers of a civilization no longer defended. . . The children born in 2006 will witness in their lifetimes the death of the West."F
unny how the Rome in the imagination of the antipodes of both Krauthammer and Buchanan, is, as reader Armchair noted, still wholly of the Imperial era. I guess, as Britainnicus might say to us today, we are old and out of touch . . .
August 19, 2006
orman Podhoretz's Commentary item “Is The Bush Doctrine Dead?”
is a fascinating buck up for the Neocons. He concludes unsuprisingly that:
It is my contention that the Bush Doctrine is no more dead today than the Truman Doctrine was cowardly in its own early career. Bolstered by that analogy, I feel safe in predicting that, like the Truman Doctrine in 1952, the Bush Doctrine will prove irreversible by the time its author leaves the White House in 2008. And encouraged by the precedent of Ronald Reagan, I feel almost as confident in predicting that, three or four decades into the future, and after the inevitable missteps and reversals, there will come a President who, like Reagan in relation to Truman in World War III, will bring World War IV to a victorious end by building on the noble doctrine that George W. Bush promulgated when that war first began.W
e have already discussed at length here why the Neocon effort to hijack Truman is both critical for them and completely untendable as an historical analogy
. Podhoretz offers nothing new to the Weekly Standard ahistorical hack job on Truman. But the piece should be evaluated we think by the standard of its purpose: is it a sufficient reassurance to the restless Neocon natives? We think so.
Podhoretz writes the piece because of the Neocon pessimissm about Bush's capacity or even willingness to implement their agenda. These recent Neocon defections are not like Fukuyama's turn to more sober realism, but rather anger that Bush is vacilating. In a fascinating example of Neocon Amway meme distribution, Podhoretz seeks to arrest such doubts by a twin approach of re-defining the definition of “Bush Doctrine” and assembling reconfigured but familiar Agitprop memes to support the new definition.
Peering In From Outside
n this sense, Dear Reader, the article is not meant for you or me at all. Podhoretz set out to wrangle the cats back on the reservation. He is seeking to shut down Right Deviationists. At the outset he explains that Bush cannot be a “pure” Neocon (like them) because he is a politician who must surmount political reality. So they should judge Bush by his fealty to them with those constraints.
Then he turns his analysis to renegades like Andrew McCarthy of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Podhoretz notes that McCarthy goes so far as to say that Tehran gave the green light to Hezbollah to attack Israel because they saw America abandon the Bush Doctrine for diplomacy and negotiation. For instruction, Podhoretz points to “Robert Kagan—a neoconservative who has not given up on Bush—puts this well in describing the negotiations as “giving futility its chance.”” Not unexpected. But here is where it gets even more interesting. Acknowledging that the disillusioned neoconservatives’ judgment is based on of “the facts on the ground” (note his quotes around those hated words), Podhoretz asks his readers to ignore them anyway. Why?
The really tremendous fact—the overriding fact—would remain that it is entirely thanks to the Bush Doctrine that the Middle East has been “unfrozen.” And even if its author should for one reason or another prove unable to advance the process of political change that his policies have set into motion, there will be no return to the old arrangements and the old ways—no return, to repeat the words of Fouad Ajami, “to the old pact with tyranny.”
This shows the essential radicalism underlying it all. “Unfreezing” — smashing the 'old order' — is an explicit good in itself, regardless of its actual impact on America, American interests or American policy.
Amusingly, like a good Trotskyite, Podhoretz skips over traditional, non-Neoconservative criticism of Bush
. Nor is he speaking to VDH's romantic militarists (VDH ministers opitmism to his own flock in any event)
. But Podhoretz does highlight Fred Kaplan (of all people) as a dangerous “Leftist” in Slate. Kaplan, like the Stiftung, Global Paradigms and many others, has long maintained that Bush personally remains essentially wedded to his poorly understood and incoherently digested Talking Points as scripted for him in his second inaugural address. And here is where the Stiftung and Podhoretz actually agree. It would be premature to write off Bush's willingness to provoke a disasterous military conflict with Tehran before his departure.
August 17, 2006
ut apparently they don't even bother typing. Oh to have a swap. . . Yuppiestan in Israel and the war.
And then there is this
A class war is a war between winners and losers. A new chapter was written in the age-long book on class war: the IDF class war. In such a war, the fighting class can only lose everything that sustains it: comradery, ethics and responsibility for the defense of the state. H
ow sad to see such love for terrorism. Don't they know there is a war on?
August 16, 2006
immy Carter has it about right
The [U.S.] fundamentalists believe they have a unique relationship with God, and that they and their ideas are God's ideas and God's premises on the particular issue. Therefore, by definition since they are speaking for God anyone who disagrees with them is inherently wrong. And the next step is: Those who disagree with them are inherently inferior, and in extreme cases — as is the case with some fundamentalists around the world — it makes your opponents sub-humans, so that their lives are not significant. T
Another thing is that a fundamentalist can't bring himself or herself to negotiate with people who disagree with them because the negotiating process itself is an indication of implied equality. And so this administration, for instance, has a policy of just refusing to talk to someone who is in strong disagreement with them — which is also a radical departure from past history. So these are the kinds of things that cause me concern. And, of course, fundamentalists don't believe they can make mistakes, so when we permit the torture of prisoners in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, it's just impossible for a fundamentalist to admit that a mistake was made.
SPIEGEL: So how does this proximity to Christian fundamentalism manifest itself politically?
Carter: Unfortunately, after Sept., there was an outburst in America of intense suffering and patriotism, and the Bush administration was very shrewd and effective in painting anyone who disagreed with the policies as unpatriotic or even traitorous. For three years, I'd say, the major news media in our country were complicit in this subservience to the Bush administration out of fear that they would be accused of being disloyal. I think in the last six months or so some of the media have now begun to be critical. But it's a long time coming.
SPIEGEL: Take your fellow Democrat Senator Hillary Clinton. These days she is demanding the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But she, like many others, allowed President Bush to invade Iraq under a false pretext.
Carter: That's correct.
SPIEGEL: Was the whole country in danger of losing its core values?
Carter: For a while, yes. As you possibly know, historically, our country has had the capability of self-correcting our own mistakes. This applied to slavery in 1865, it applied to legal racial segregation a hundred years later or so. It applied to the Joe McCarthy era when anti-communism was in a fearsome phase in the country like terrorism now. So we have an ability to correct ourselves and I believe that nowadays there is a self-correction taking place. In my opinion the election results in Connecticut (Eds: The primary loss of war supporter Senator Joseph Lieberman) were an indication that Americans realized very clearly that we made a mistake in going into Iraq and staying there too long.
SPIEGEL: Now even President Bush appears to have learned something from the catastrophe in Iraq. During his second term he has taken a more multilateral approach and has seemed to return to international cooperation.
Carter: I think the administration learned a lesson, but I don't see any indication that the administration would ever admit that it did make a mistake and needed to learn a lesson. I haven't seen much indication, by the way, of your premise that this administration is now reconciling itself to other countries. I think that at this moment the United States and Israel probably stand more alone than our country has in generations.
his is exactly what we see in Lebanon — unlawful force and violence used in war crimes against “the subhumans”. William Arkin, a devout friend of Israel noticed this too — see “Israel's Failed Strategy of Spite”.
Arkin notes that on the last hour of war, Israeli jets destroyed 8 gas stations needed by civilians. The bogus rationale? They might sell gas to Hezbollah. Pure evil spite. And as Arkin notes, a war crime. Yet that spite and erradication is exactly what Kristol et al. want to use to hijack U.S. power and impose across the rest of the Arab and Muslim world. It is not by accident that now the Weekly Standard is again pimping Evangelical/Fundamentalist issues, too.
Anyone will be thrown under the bus to secure their agenda for Endless Wars.
August 15, 2006
phenomenon of the Bush regime is that some of the best criticism is from the Right. Not to take anything away from the spectacular achievements of DailyKos, Duncan Black and many others. Their efforts preserved our sanity during the Dark Years. But aside from them, overall, Democrat pundits and elected leaders have been well, simply inept and ineffective.
Their failure is in sharp contrast to the effectiveness of John McLaughlin, etc. Week in and week out, he offers far more cogent, informed, concise, and devastating criticism of Bush than any national liberal or Democrat pundit I can recall. Some obviously is the paleocon/Neocon split. But his also reflects the intellectual precision of Jesuit specificity and logical discipline. Before the 2004 elections, it was McLaughlin who ran under the chyron of “The Big Lie?” newsreel footage of Goebbels while McLaughlin highlighted the “wicked” untruths of the Bush Agit Prop machine.
Yesterday George Will offered yet another devastating critique
This farrago of caricature and non sequitur makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike “the law enforcement approach,” does “work.” And Joe Scarborough continues to say more and more in public what he and many conservatives have said in private huddles for the last few years
The official is correct that it is wrong “to think that somehow we are responsible — that the actions of the jihadists are justified by U.S. policies.” But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that. It is more dismaying that someone at the center of government considers it clever to talk like that. It is the language of foreign policy — and domestic politics — unrealism.
Foreign policy “realists” considered Middle East stability the goal. The realists' critics, who regard realism as reprehensibly unambitious, considered stability the problem. That problem has been solved.
. When we are on the Hill we run into a real conflict among some Republicans. They privately despise Bush but crave their majority status. In public they are resolute and on message. Yet individually, more than a few concede that a Democrat take back of the Hill would be good for the country and in the long run, even good for the Republican Party. They have realized what George Will and McLaughlin say is true: this is not a conservative regime at all, but a new, dangerous and radical phenomenon in our politics. It is fascinating to watch their fear of a Fall tsunami mixed with in a sense, relief.
How ironic that they, of all people, in private plaintively ask, “What is to be done?”
August 14, 2006
hat song can we play in the juke box to console the disconsolate? The broken hearted? Those whose dreams of a righteous pogrom in reverse in Lebanon and jump starting a regional war were thwarted?
Their sorrows overfloweth. A reader from an international news organization sends in this hat tip from the New Republic online edition. Israel's Broken Heart. Final Reckoning by Yossi Klein Halevi
. We would link to it online but our GoreVidal “subscription” no longer works there.
So we reprint it here at the risk of their ire. Our reader adds his comments that one should note the exaggerations below. “So far, 150 Israelis have died this war. Whereas in 1973, it was 3,000. And in 1948, when Israel was founded, 6,000 died. And out of a then general population of only 600,000 to start with.” And Halevi continues our reader adds, “to wallow in the triumphalist cant that the Israeli army is tactically invincible and can still do anything.” But Halevi believes that they were all betrayed and stabbed in the back by the spineless politicians and their toadies.
Remind you of anyone you know?
by Yossi Klein Halevi
Only at TNR Online
Post date: 08.15.06
owever hard Ehud Olmert tries to spin it, the U.N. ceasefire that began yesterday is a disaster for Israel and for the war on terrorism generally. With an unprecedented green light from Washington to do whatever necessary to uproot the Ir anian front line against Israel, and with a level of national unity and willingness to sacrifice unseen here since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, our leaders squandered weeks restraining the army and fighting a pretend war. Only in the two days before the ceasefire was the army finally given the go-ahead to fight a real war.
But, by then, the U.N. resolution had codified the terms of Israel's defeat. The resolution doesn't require the immediate return of our kidnapped soldiers, but does urgently place the Shebaa Farms on the international agenda--as if the Lebanese jihadists fired some 4,000 rockets at the Israeli homefront over the fate of a bare mountain that the United Nations concluded in 1967 belonged not to Lebanon but Syria. Worst of all, it once again entrusts the security of Israel's northern border to the inept unifil. As one outraged TV anchor put it, Is raeli towns were exposed to the worst attacks since the nation's founding, a million residents of the Galilee fled or sat in shelters for a month, more than 150 Israeli civilians and soldiers were killed along with nearly a thousand Lebanese--all in order to ensure the return of U.N. peacekeepers to southern Lebanon.
his is a nation whose heart has been broken: by our failure to uproot the jihadist threat, which will return for another and far more deadly round; by the economic devastation of the Galilee and of a neighboring land we didn't want to attack; by the heroism of our soldiers a nd the hesitations of our politicians; by the young men buried and crippled in a war we prevented ourselves from winning; by foreign journalists who can't tell the difference between good and evil; by European leaders who equate an army that tries to avoid civilian causalities with a terrorist group that revels in them; by a United Nations that questions Israel's right to defend itself; and by growing voices on the left who question Israel's right to exist at all.
At least some of the disasters of the past weeks were self-inflicted. We forfeited the public relations battle that was, in part, Israel's to lose. How is it possible that we failed to explain the justness of a war fought against a genocidal enemy who attacked us across our U.N.-sanctioned international border? It's hard to remember now, but we began this war with the sympathy of a large part of the international community. Some Arab leaders, for the first time in the history of the Middle East conflict, actually blamed other Arabs for initiating hostilities with Israel. That response came when Israel seemed determined to defeat Hezbollah; but, as the weeks dragged on and Hezbollah appeared to be winning, moderate Arabs adjusted accordingly. They didn't switch sides because we were fighting too assertively but because we weren't fighting assertively enough.
Even before the shooting stopped, the reckoning here had already begun. There are widespread expectations of dismissals for senior military commanders who--when finally given the chance to end the Hezbollah threat they had been warning about for almost 25 years--couldn't implement a creative battle plan. But demands for accountability won't be confined to the army alone. Journalist Ari Shavit, who has taken on something of the role of Motti Ashkenazi--the reservist soldier who led the movement to bring down the government of Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan after the Yom Kippur War--wrote a front-page article in Haaretz calling for Olmert's resignation. And that is only the opening shot. Even Maariv's Ben Caspit, one of Israel's most pro-Olmert journalists, published an imaginary Olmert speech of apology to the nation. A cartoon in Maariv showed Olmert as a boy playing with a yo-yo inscribed with israel defense forces. None of Israel's wars was ever fought with greater micromanagement by a government, and no government was ever less qualified to manage a war as this one. Just as the post-Yom Kippur War period destroyed military and political careers and eventually led to the collapse of the Labor Party's hegemony, so will the post-Lebanon period end careers and perhaps even the short-lived Kadima Party experiment.
A long list of reckonings awaits the Israeli public. There's the scandal of the government's abandonment of tens of thousands of poor Israelis who lacked the means to escape the north and were confined for weeks in public shelters, their needs largely tended to by volunteers. There's the growing bitterness between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis, many of whom supported Hezbollah in a war most Jews saw as an existential attack on the state. And there's the emergency need to resurrect the military reserves, which have been so neglected that a majority of men over 21 don't even serve anymore and those that do tend to feel like suckers.
Still, in the Jewish calendar, the summer weeks after the fast of the Ninth of Av, commemorating the destruction of the Temple, are a time of consolation. “Be consoled, be consoled, my people,” we read from the Torah on the Sabbath after the fast. And so we console ourselves with the substantial achievements of the people of Israel during this month of war. First, our undiminished capacity for unity. My favorite symbol of that unity is the antiwar rapper, Muki, whose hit song during the era of Palestinian suicide bombings lamented the absence of justice for the Palestinians but who, this time, insisted that the army needs to “finish the job” against Hezbollah. Second, our middle-class children, with their cell phones, iPods , and pizza deliveries to their army bases. In intimate combat, they repeatedly bested Hezbollah fighters, even though the terrorists had the advantage of familiar terrain. This generation has given us some of Israel's most powerful images of heroism, like the soldier from a West Bank settlement and father of two young children who leaped onto a grenade to save his friends, shouting the Shema--the prayer of God's oneness--just before the grenade exploded. Along with the recriminations, there will be many medals of valor awarded in the coming weeks.
But the last month's fighting is only one battle in the jihadist war against Israel's homefront that began with the second intifada in September 2000. Israel won the first phase of that war, the four years of suicide bombings that lasted until 2004. Now, in the second phase, we've lost the battle against the rockets. But the qualities this heartbreak has revealed --unity and sacrifice and faith in the justness of our cause--will ensure our eventual victory in the next, inevitable, bitter round. Such is the nature of consolation in Israel in the summer of 2006.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a foreign correspondent for The New Republic and senior fellow of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.
o we are clear. The Stiftung supports Israel's right to defend itself. And holds no illusions about Hezbollah, Syria or Iran. But this misguided policy and bungled war that has destroyed the civilian infrastructure of Lebanon and imposed collective guilt on the entire country is not only immoral and possibly a war crime. Practically, all Israel has done is to strengthen Hezbollah, destabilize the Lebanonese government and radicalize its people. As well as embolden Iran. And further reduce U.S. options in the region.
The real question is why we in America still listen to adherents of such militarized fantasies offering a better future only through incompentent violence and force. After Iraq and now this, one would think enough is enough.
August 13, 2006
s Raw Story reported today
, the NYTimes initally had a story on the Mideast war that quoted a senior Bush Administration official conceding that it ramped up diplomacy when it no longer believed in Israel's ability to deliver a rapid and decisive victory. Interestingly, the final subsequent and redacted published version deleted all such mentions. The final piece creates a much more positive story of Administration success at the UN.
Here is the original as reported above:
“The Bush administration resisted all calls for a cease-fire, even as worldwide clamor for one increased, arguing that a simple truce with no conditions for its aftermath would leave Hezbollah entrenched and Israel exposed to renewed rocket attacks from southern Lebanon.” S
“As the weeks wore on and civilian casualties mounted and the Hezbollah fighters proved to be an unexpected match for the experienced soldiers of Israel, however, the Bush administration began to doubt whether Israel could indeed win an outright military victory, according to a senior administration official.”
uch honesty is unhelpful when Dubya needs to lie with a straight face and proclaim Israel won a great victory with this debacle
. Even Olmert and the Israelis are more honest. And the Wing Nuts here themselves are enraged at Bush that their cherished pogrom in reverse did not happen.
Why did the Times go along with such a transparent exercise in Orwellian TruthinessSpeak? There are a couple explanations. One is that the Times has become a direct outlet for the Condi PR shop. The glowing articles about Condi recently have reached a nauseating crescendo. And the Condi PR machine needs every outlet parrotting the nonsense that Bush spouted at Foggy Bottom today. The Times is uniquely responsive to Condi's PR image among the major prestige press. The Not-Totally-Neocon Washington Post Outlook section is more candid, running this piece noting Condi is in over her head
, noting “Right now, the Middle East is Condi's war — and so far, she isn't winning.”
The Times on the other hand continues to roll over for her PR mechanism. To be most charitable to the Times, perhaps they redacted thr truth to play their part in the struggle against Cheney-ism and the Neocons. A stronger Condi in that view is a weaker Cheney, etc. If that is the Times' game they are fools still for believing she is anything more than a shallower implementor and staffer.
In any event, a reader sends this in about our protege in Iraq following in his patrons' footsteps
Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Askari told reporters that the latest violence was a desperate attempt by terrorists who are being pushed into a corner by the new security crackdown.S
“Terrorists are in a critical state because they realize the security plan is succeeding. So they have begun targeting innocent people anywhere and randomly,” he said.
eems like he is a quick study in truthiness. Condi's New Middle East Birth Pangs (tm) really are just the same old lies.
August 12, 2006
rom the New Yorker and Sy Hersh
The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel’s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah’s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel’s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground. T
his report appears to corroborate much of what was reported to the Stiftung last week and mentioned here
. Not much surprise that Cheney and Abrams are said to be loci for much of what transpired.
The key will be whether this Israeli misadventure and the staggering human cost will introduce some caution for those listening to the Neocon war drums over Iran.
August 11, 2006
eocon fetishism for all things Churchill is now a common place observation.
The causes are many: little boy dream fulfullment, convenient hero-meme highjacking, but also largely because Churchill is the only really acceptable model for liberal democratic dictator unleashing unconstrained destructive fury. The Corporal is out for obvious reasons, both moral and practical. He lost. FDR is tainted by an uncomfortable populist, levelling legacy and perceived naivete viz-a-viz the Soviets. Hence Churchill. (Lincoln, although a distant second choice, gains points for suspending the Constitution).
eocon Churchill cultism is in full roar today. Witness Bibi ranting in an August 2006 interview in the British Spectator (with himself in the unvoiced Churchillian role)
[T]he conversation again turned to Iran and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map. ‘While denying the Holocaust, he’s openly preparing the next one,’ Netanyahu said. ‘Ahmadinejad is behaving exactly like an Islamist Hitler. He is using the same tactics of signalling in advance the act of destruction. That the same thing is happening is one thing, but that the West is reacting in the same way is unacceptable. What is history for?’
By now, Netanyahu was shouting angrily, shaking his fist as he explained the similarities he sees between the 1930s and today. ‘Yes, there are differences, it is not a perfect analogy. Yes, Germany didn’t have a billion Germans to infect. Yes, Germany had race and not creed as its prime goal. Nazism started its attacks on the Jews and spread to the rest of the world in their mad militancy, and that is exactly what is happening now.’
For Netanyahu, Israel is a latter-day Czechoslovakia, which deluded and desperately anti-war European powers, led by Neville Chamberlain, sacrificed to the Nazis in 1938 because of the German-speaking minority in Sudetenland, whom he compares with today’s Palestinians. ‘And, yes, there was apologetics and, yes, there was appeasement and, yes, there was pressure on a small resistant democracy in the face of this German onslaught. It was called Czechoslovakia at the time. And, yes, there were articles in the British press condemning Czechoslovakia for inciting a German response because of the denial of the rights of the Sudeten Germans. Do you want to go on with this?’
Netanyahu rejects the comparison between radical Islamic terrorists and communists. The main difference, he argues, is that the communists were rational when it came to foreign policy, putting their survival first and always backing down at the last moment, as shown in the Cuban missile crisis. This was not true of the Iranian regime, he said, arguing that they were trying to prompt the return of the Hidden Imam, an event which Shiites believe would be accompanied by an apocalypse. ‘Is it possible in the 21st century to have a resurrection of the religious wars that we thought had ended in the 17th century? Yes, it’s possible. This is what is going on.’
And Krauthammer of course slams Olmert the other day with the harshest of Neocon judgments
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later. He has allowed his war cabinet meetings to become fully public through the kind of leaks no serious wartime leadership would ever countenance. Divisive cabinet debates are broadcast to the world, as was Olmert's own complaint that “I'm tired. I didn't sleep at all last night” (Haaretz, July 2. Hardly the stuff to instill Churchillian confidence. W
hat is so intriguing is to compare this cultish fanaticism with the more sober judgment of British JFC Fuller in his Memoirs of an Unconventional Soldier
. Fuller excoriates Churchill for poor statesmanship. Churchill's unsolicted offer of immediate and unconditional assistance to Stalin (rather than insisting on securing Poland and other interests upfront) after June 1941 made the Cold War inevitable, replacing the brown Nazi shirts with the Soviet red ones. Fuller notes this made no sense. And more damningly, Fuller rightly notes that Churchill's war aims of conflating destroying Nazism with the German people ensured the war became an undifferentiated slaughter, rather than against just the Hitler regime itself. War ceased in his judgement therefore to have any real political aims. (In fairness, however, Fuller blames the later U.S. entry into the war and Roosevelt's conduct of it (unconditional surrender, etc.) even more harshly).
Many of those same criticisms sound remarkably contemporary in light of Dubya's parrotting of the “Islamofacist” meme, etc. and the “Gloomy Hawks'” embrace of resigned War of Civilizations. Yet here is perhaps precisely why the Neocons want this outcome: it is the only way possible to get a liberal democracy to commit essentially genocide on the Muslim and Arab world.
Also instructive as written here elsewhere are Correlli Barnett's The Collapse of British Power
, The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain as a Great Nation
, The Lost Victory: British Dreams, British Realities, 1945-50
, and The Verdict of Peace: Britain Between Her Yesterday and the Future
. His works examine the same question from another angle, the marco societal foundation of British power. In an interesting parallel to America today, Barnett concludes that British power collapsed largely because of an elite ruling class from the late eighteenth century down to Blair today was devoted to evangelical and non-conformist Christianity.
Such evangelical and non-conformist Christianity, with its moralism, universalism, purifying social crusader ethos makes Churchillian total war concepts all the more alluring and even tempting. Then and now. And the Neocons know this.
The Churchill cult has had 60 years to gather steam. It will not be neutralized or even deflected over night. But we can and must be aware of and on guard for its misappropriated uses.
August 10, 2006
nemosyne can be so cruel.
Recall this ringing declaration from March 2001, a full 7 months before
“America is no mere international citizen. It is the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any since Rome. Accordingly, America is in a position to reshape norms, alter expectations, and create new realities. How? By unapologetic and implacable demonstrations of will.” L
Charles Krauthammer, Time Magazine
et us survey the splendor of Krauthammer's Roman panorama. The Legions on the Euphrates? Their once grandiose mission now shrunk to dodging Zarqawi's success in igniting sectarian strife. They today fight pitched battles in the streets of Baghdad itself
Shia Mahdi Army. Retreat and pullback is inevitable.
Meanwhile, the Protectorate was unleashed in the Levant for a pre-emptive strike against the Persians, only to see the effort collapse in a welter of confusion, inept violence and internal disarray
. Efforts to jump start a regional preventative war against the Persians and Syrians failed. In fact, the Persians and their local Hezbollah tribe have emerged stronger politically than before.
At home, the Princeps
faces the loss of his valued Tribune
from Connecticut. His rule is at an all time low of 33%
. His disdain for even trying to maintain the facade of republicanism is clear. He didn't really try to mask it as Augustus did, by adroit manipulation of symbols of the Republic. His personal rule post 2001 was revealed oversoon and now, brittle. Compounding matters? Depletion of the Public Treasury, the consequences of which are only dimly perceived.
or all of Krauthammer et al.'s (the list of fellow Imperial enthusiasts is too long to mention) sloppy exhortations, the Republic, to quote the line from Monty Python, is “not quite dead, yet.” To be sure the Republic has been undermined and diluted by militarism as well as unrecognized imperial consequences for some time. Particularly after 1944. Predictably, imperial military commitments abroad — as elsewhen in history — undercut the Constitution and political institutions such as separation of powers.
But the extravangant failures abroad of the Bush regime offers a way out of what is the real applicable Roman analogy that escaped Krauthammer — an autocracy backed by military power, gratefully welcomed by former citizens because the promise of security and stability. That outcome is still possible. And even perhaps likely. But it has taken a step backwards in 2006. We should seize the chance.
Key will be whether separation of powers in 2006 becomes a real politcal fact once more via November elections. One and preferably both houses of Congress should go to the Democrats. They are feckless, rudderless and demonstrably inept, true. Nonetheless, restoring
the Senate and House to their leading status as Article I under the Constitution will be crucial in halting if not reversing the slide to Empire. Happily, the American electorate, sensing the failure of the Bush lurch towards overt Princeps
status, seems willing to oblige.
But more is involved. A republic can not long survive if the body politic is launched upon a course of endless and Manichean wars of civilizations. This, of course, is exactly what Newt Gingrich
, et al. urge. Central to all such Iago-esque counsel is the presentation of crisis, false choice of forward or back/victory or annihilation and the subsequent “burning of the boats behind”. Naturally, diplomacy and its inherent valuation of options is anathema. Implicit overall is an authoritarian subtext, often denied vehemently, made clear by Michael Ledeen's candid assessment some time ago
“Compulsion — or necessity, as he terms it — makes men noble, and enables them to remain free, while abundant choice is dangerous, leads to chaos, and leaves men at the mercy of their enemies.” Ledeen fears that some elements of society have forgotten the virtue of such compulsion. “The generals, the businessmen, and the athletic coaches know this, but the political leaders and journalists often forget it.”N
ot only must foreign policy be weaned from lurid and easy threat mongering, but the astoundingly misaligned and exhorbitant military giganticism post 2001 should be reversed. Much of the Pentagon's bloat is a socialist national subsidy of the defense industrial base and its parasites, quite apart from still substantial, legitimate and undeniable national security imperatives. Such a swollen political-economic monstrosity so warps the fabric of our body politic that it is a perpetual drag if not outright opponent of any drive to restore the Republic.
The first step begins in November.
August 09, 2006
here is geopolitical Prozac (tm) when you need it?
Stanley Kurtz and other Brothers In Arms are having an existential, depressive episode
. If one were truly churlish, basking in the cool breeze of schadenfreude
would be easy. But our empathy prevents such self indulgence. The triggering event for the latest episode is the Israeli failure to crush the Hezbollah dark hordes. As he writes, his hopes for an imposed military victory evaporated in the sands of Iraq and Lebanon hills.
Cradling his head in despair he sees no way out of his self-imposed trap, an endless do loop created by his own false binary of ineffective force or disasterous appeasement. So he calls himself “A Gloomy Hawk”. He will soldier on, perhaps like Model, no longer believing in victory per se, but determined to go down fighting. Presumably, he will acquit himself like an officer with his pistol before the hordes crash the last Gate.
Call me a gloomy hawk. It’s not just that I’m a hawk who’s disappointed with the course of fighting in the Middle East. My concern is that our underlying foreign-policy dilemma calls for both hawkishness and gloom — and will for some time. The two worst-case scenarios are world-war abroad and nuclear terror at home . . . I fear we’re on a slow-motion track to both. Yet, despite that gloom, I was, and remain, a hawk. I am hawk because I believe that the danger of nuclear terror and nuclear blackmail remain real, and because I am convinced that negotiations from weakness, grand bargains, and unilateral retreats are powerless to defuse these threats. In short, I am a gloomy hawk because I believe that neither hawks nor doves have any viable near-term solutions to the problem we now face.K
urtz, wittingly or unwittingly, speaks for a number of “conservative” intellectuals the Stiftung runs into in the Imperial City. Kurtz in many ways reminds the Stiftung of James Forrestal's (fatal, for him) pessimissm about the ability of the West to withstand the Soviet challenge. Both then and now, underpinning both pessimissms was a fundamental lack of self confidence in Western civilization. Being Old Skool, most such “Gloomy Hawks” do not understand how networked societies work, how networked information and technologies are disseminated, and how to combat and deal with the insurgency within Islam. For all its faults, the Clinton Administration understood terrorism and networked societies — as distinct from Rumsfeld OSD's mantra of “netcentric warfare”.
It is notable that Kurtz' section on technology focuses only on how technology allowed “them” to come to America and learn our language to attack us here. Slightly less luddite Gloomy Hawks seize on any hint of terrorist use of the Internet to link both into some nefarious, dimly understood threat. It is all silly of course.
But note how Stanley equates the Hezbollah use of 1940s-era Katusha rocket techology as proof that Iran will next give them a nuclear weapon. Kurtz doesn't explain why Pakistan, for example, with a military and ISI far more jihadi oriented than even Iran's MOIS or Revolutionary Guard, has refrained from giving such WMD to jihadis in Kashmir. Not an accidental omission we suspect. Because if he acknowledged that Indian deterrence worked against Pakistan, then he could not explain away easily why Israeli (or American) deterrence would not work with Persians, who are far more State-oriented than the other “nations” in the Middle East.
But in the end, Kurtz wallows in the funk of near certain nuclear devastation by terrorists and Iran. Given the bi-polar (in the Cold War sense, Dear Reader) nature of his conundrum — ineffective force versus disasterous appeasement — his retreat into familiar Cold War nostrums of nuclear war and disaster would present a certain logical inevitability.
So what? Just a depressive episode, right? We think such perceptions present serious implications. Particularly if widespread — and we believe similar formulations are increasingly being adopted among “conservative” intellectual circles. Fatalism and inevitability foreclose options. And make palatable - or acceptable — otherwise unacceptable choices. Stanely's funk may be ultimately more dangerous than VDH's silly and shrill romanticism — even if the latter is more visible courtesy of EOVP, OSD and Dubya. Particularly if the Guns of August require supple flexibility to avert tragedy
August 08, 2006
he Stiftung had a long conversation today with someone who has worked very closely with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as PM in Israel. This knowledgeable source confirmed his belief that reports are true that state Israel received the green light for the Lebanon aggression during an AEI conference June 17 and 18th in Beaver Creek Colorado.
This was a full month before the 2 Israeli soldiers were kidnapped in July. Meeting with Cheney and aides in Colorado were Netanyahu and Likud Knisset member Natan Scharansky, representing the Olmert government as “Neocon-friendly” backdoor conduits.
mmediately after the meetings, reports around the Net state Netanyahu flew back to Israel and joined a special “Prime Ministers” meeting with Prime Minister Olmert and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres. Netanyahu is said to have told them that the U.S. would give a green light. My conversation partner says that such a meeting would be indeed a likely next step. Such coordination would explain further the role and use of NSA signals intelligence so quickly when the offensive began.
As you know doubtlessly Dear Reader, Netanyahu is famous for among other things working with Richard Perle and Cheney Middle East Affairs Assistant David Wurmser in the “Clean Break” 1996 strategic paper urging Israel remake the region via regime change in Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad.
Next, my conversation partner indicated that Netanyahu was the ideal informal conduit given his excellent connections with Cheney and Rumsfeld personally and their staffs. Olmert would use him as a sounding channel because he has knowledge regarding the intimate and near real time planning relationships that exist between EOVP/OSD and Israel. (Scharansky's presence would help ensure Presidential approval in any event given Bush's embrace of Scharansky and his book).
The use of this communication channel would also cut out the State Department from conversations. Cher Condi's subsequent humiliations must have amused Cheney's office immensely. The results we think are obvious.
The Stiftung was also told that the idea for this operation ironically did not originate in Israel but from Chevy Chase and Bethesda. Given the panic billowing from Neocons here in the face of botched Israeli operations, that would not surprise the Stiftung. From the U.S., the ideas were pushed on an amenable (but mediocre) Israeli General Staff in March and April. The ideas also coincided with long time Israeli contingency planning.
Once the military were on board, the concept was presented to the inexperienced Olmert in May as the opinion of the military and in keeping with operations Sharon would have done. All that was missing after June was the pretext, which Hezbollah subsequently provided.
According to my conversation partner, the U.S. side in March and April would have pushed the process along by deliberately playing on Israeli fears of Iran and hyped still further the considerable Israeli concerns over Iranian nuclear threats. If he is correct, in true black comedy the operational strategic plan apparently then returned to the U.S. at Colorado in June for pre-ordained approval.
My conversation partner knows personally many of the individuals involved beyond Netanyahu and seemed more alarmed and saddened than anything else. His prediction? Those fearing the logic of escalation may well lead to Syria and elsewhere (as envisioned in the original 'Clean Break' study) have reason to be concerned and watchful.
10.08.06 The Christian Science Monitor today echoes earlier reports that leading elements in the Administration encouraged Israel to attack Syria
. The Stiftung has heard similar via independent channels as well. If so, the Israelis so far wisely rebuffed such promptings. Whether an escalation in the conflict may overwhelm wise choices remains unclear.
August 06, 2006
atching Dubya's stumbling press conference yesterday offered the dull comfort of the familiar. But it was jarringly erratic. Long periods of incoherence marked by bursts of cogency. His bumbling ceased precisely when he recalled rote talking points spoon fed him — the cant of “Islamofascism”, war of civilizations and the need to avoid 'appeasement'. All hymns out of the VDH historical pornography songbook backed via Cheney and EOVP chorus. Neocon-in-retreat Jim Hoagland's suggestion that Cher Condi can 'tutor' Bush seems particularly disingenuous
Nothing new in those observations, of course. But what really does it mean that Bush deploys American power within the mental prison created by Victor Davis Hanson, which interpets all events as if they are all '1938'.
September 11th to him was 1938. Iraq 2003-2006? Same. North Korea? Lebanon? Syria? Iran? China? And so on.
Of course, like all porn, eventually the invocation of 1938 loses its frission. Requiring ever more strident and preposterous imagery to create the same endorphin/Agitprop rush. (We will not dwell overlong on the essential observation that pornography as a medium, like neocon militarism, is in the end utopian nihilism).
f you are reading this, Dear Reader, you likely already know VDH's history is bogus. But besides the easy dismissal, what does it mean when it dominates the thinking of the faltering Bush rogue American superpower? Perhaps it's worth pondering the dark path that cant is dragging us down, blind and oblivious to consequence. With the UK as lone sidekick. Jack Straw's alleged forced resignation over Iran becomes all the more poignant.
First, let's dispel the Munich nonsense. As you Dear Reader likely know, in truth, Hitler was enraged by Munich. VDH does not realize nor care that Hitler felt used and cheated by the British. Historian Ian Kershaw makes plain using German archives in his biography Nemesis
that Hitler was angered and then despondent that British and French concessions at Munich denied him the war he wanted. The peaceful annexation of Czechoslovakia robbed him of triumph. Kershaw details how reluctant Hitler was to sign that “piece of paper”. Why? “For him, the document was meaningless. And for him Munich was no great cause for celebration. He felt cheated of the greater triumph which he was certain would have come from the limited war with the Czechs which had been his aim all summer”.
In fact, if VDH truly understood history, 1936 would be his year of choice. Then, truly, Hitler tested the Western resolve by marching into the Rhineland. And then, too, he promised the nervous German General Staff that if the French sent in even one policeman on a bicycle, he would recall German troops. By 1938, after Austria, he felt no such qualms.
Kershaw's latest work on Lord Londonderry, Making Friends With Hitler
, expands on the real complexities of the moment for British strategic alternatives. Kershaw demonstrates using extensive source material well footnoted that circa 1935/1936, first the Baldwin and then Chamberlain governments were not unaware of Hitler's intentions. But British statesmen faced few if any sound strategic options to preserve British power. Earlier British disarmament and the mood of the British populace made a strategic confrontation with Hitler largely an easily called bluff.
In fact, Hitler knew that his margin of strategic room would largely evaporate by 1941 at the latest given Western re-armament. This was particularly true regarding relative air power. Indeed, he often discussed how war by 1940 might be too late. His obsession with time and the relative military modernization gap was one major reason he hoped to provoke war in 1938.
ontra Bush and VDH, the “Lesson of 1938” peddled by VDH offers the diametrically opposite conclusion — beware of unintended consequences. VDH's assumption that the world would have been better off if Britain and France declared war on Germany in 1938 is groundless. We know of course that Newt Gingrich, Harry Turtledove and a host of others love to write counterfactual military porn as alternative history. As beach reading romps, they are a harmless exercise. As a template for statecraft, the results can be disasterous.
An equally compelling counter factual scenario has been advanced by the J.F.C. Fullers of the world as as summarized well by Gene Callahan
. JFC Fuller as a British military man and military historian is rightly revered, although his geopolitics distinctly suspect for lack of moral clarity. Callahan explains a scenario whereby Britain and France not only acceded to Czechoslovakia, but failed to declare war in September 1939. (Which Hitler sensibly expected them to do, as he was mainly interested in living space in the East).
Instead, Germany and the Soviet Union carve up Poland. Hitler's strategic ambitions were always Eastwards rather than fighting the “wrong war” to the West. The two powers then begin their long and bloody conflict, leading both to exhaustion and near collapse. In Germany, the nationalists, military and still existant aristocracy joined to force Hitler from power. Germany and what remained of the Soviet Union reached a peace agreement. This is what Fuller envisioned in one sense when he declared Stalingrad a defeat for “Europe as a whole”. And why under this prism, Churchill emerges as one of the most reckless British statesmen ever.
Callahan notes that millions of people — especially civilians — are saved from brutal death under this scenario. Hitler's capacity to launch the Holocaust is severely curtailed. Eastern Europe is not under the thumb of a militarized and nuclear Soviet Union. The Soviet Union itself has been reduced in size and weakened. As Callahan concludes, in fact, the entire Cold War never even happens. And the British 1938 plan for settling the Palestinian/Jewish quesiton might well have been a viable option (see diagram at the jump).
No one will ever know if this alternative view of '1939' is valid. It is, however, far more grounded on actual historical data and facts than VDH's pornography. What VDH's fiction offers Bush is a simple narrative that does not have to account for unintended consequences. Such as the massive strengthening of Hezzbollah in the face of clumsy Israeli militarism. Indeed, the effort to “teach the 'Islamofacists' a lesson” or keep the Palestinians “down” all reverberate with unintended consequences. Or removing Saddam only to see the rise of a radical Shia Crescent.
But given the strategic profligacy of the Bush regime, its squandering of American financial, economic, diplomatic and military power, eventually VDH et al. may be right. A strategically weakened America, weary of bungled wars and AgitProp, may well face, like the British in 1935-38, an international scene with few if any good strategic options. What a legacy.
Read more »
August 04, 2006
hen Tom Friedman speaks, intelligent people giggle. Matt Taibbi's takedown of The World Is Flat remains a Thing of Beauty
. As FAIR reminds us, others react differently: “You have a global brain, my friend,” MSNBC host Chris Matthews once told Friedman (4/21/05). “You're amazing. You amaze me every time you write a book.”
But besides adulation from the middlebrow, Pulitzers and total inability to sense self irony, Friedman alone has a unit of time in his name. Since 2003 Friedman's invocation that we need to give the Bush administration six more months has become classic straight comedy. As I am sure you know Dear Reader, he offers now his summa
from his column “Time For Plan B”:
[T]hree years of efforts to democratize Iraq are not working. That means “staying the course” is pointless, and it’s time to start thinking about Plan B — how we might disengage with the least damage possible. B
…But the administration now has to admit what anyone — including myself — who believed in the importance of getting Iraq right has to admit: Whether for Bush reasons or Arab reasons, it is not happening, and we can’t throw more good lives after good lives.
Finally, the war in Iraq has so divided us at home and abroad that leaving, while bringing other problems, might also make it easier to build coalitions to deal with post-U.S. Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah and Syria. All these problems are connected. We need to deal with Iran and Syria, but from a position of strength — and that requires a broad coalition.
The longer we maintain a unilateral failing strategy in Iraq, the harder it will be to build such a coalition, and the stronger the enemies of freedom will become.
y contrast, Peter Galbraith's continued recanting, first in his book and now his lackluster review essay “Mindless in Iraq” is less grating.
If Galbraith now comes late to what many were saying in 2004 — that U.S. ineptitude and ground truth required a migration to a tripartite Iraq and a rejection of the failed federal unitary policy, it is still welcome. Yet we still feel Galbraith today remains overly invested in his long time and genuinely held affection for the Kurdish perspective, which gives his gloss on events an undeserved optimism.
So the Dead Enders close ranks and gather tighter around Bush.
Once more our Keyboard Sturmbataillon Charlemagners into the breach! Condi this morning insists the “Unity Government” is making great progress. One at least hopes the Pentagon will prove itself less incompetent on a possible bug out
August 03, 2006
aniel Levy, an Israeli, writes in Haaretz
that Israel must cease being a mere pawn in the American Neocon romantic militaristic imagination. Levy urges that Israelis make a “clean break” with their warped bretheren over here.
All this finger point within the family is getting dizzying.
And in perfect timing, Krauthammer writes that this war is a last chance for Israel to prove that it is worth having around
The U.S. has gone far out on a limb to allow Israel to win and for all this to happen. It has counted on Israel's ability to do the job. It has been disappointed. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has provided unsteady and uncertain leadership. Foolishly relying on air power alone, he denied his generals the ground offensive they wanted, only to reverse himself later. He has allowed his war Cabinet meetings to become fully public through the kind of leaks no serious wartime leadership would ever countenance. Divisive Cabinet debates are broadcast to the world as was Olmert's own complaint that “I'm tired. I didn't sleep at all last night.” (Haaretz, July 28.) Hardly the stuff to instill Churchillian confidence. H
His search for victory on the cheap has jeopardized not just the Lebanon operation, but America's confidence in Israel as well. That confidence — and the relationship it reinforces — is as important to Israel's survival as its own army. The tremulous Olmert seems not to have a clue.
ow a superpower became hostage to such nihilistic fringe thinking will be a sad chapter in history. But if there is to be any change, it must come from Levy's side. Krauthammer et al. (including the Religious Right) have so cowed American media and political discourse that only an Israeli can take the stand against them and survive/circumvent the inevitable invective. As some readers know, the White House circulates Krauthammer's columns to leading party figures, media pundits and think tanks around the Imperial City. There is no question that his columns speak for a significant element within the White House. And the pernicious unfiltered linkage between IDF disinformation and FOX News is particularly instructive. We see the same seamless AgitProp transmission mechanism like in late 2002/2003.
America too awaits liberation, Mr. Levy.
August 01, 2006
Pity the confusion in Israel at the moment
. As Haaretz discusses, war pinpups do matter.
n one side, there is the loqacious but vapid Condi. Contemptously dismissed on her recent forays in region by the Israeli government as a mere staffer and prop. Condi is out of her depth confronting the malign experience and heft of the Cheney/OSD/Neocon phallanx. And the Israelis know it.
Tom Segeev notes, “A few hours later [after meeting Olmert], during the early morning, the U.S. secretary of state emerged from her Jerusalem hotel room with an announcement that was no less fantastic: By week's end - by tomorrow, in other words - everything will be fine, she declared. She took her sheet of paper and flew away.”
And then there is zaftig
Miri Regev, telegenic spokesperson for the IDF. She is aided by a script of simple moral clarity. Segeev notes: “Among other things, she produced a press conference with one of the air force commanders, who sounded like a character in an Agatha Christie novel: He does not know what happened during the hours that passed between the bombing of the home in Qana and the deaths of dozens of children who had crowded together in its cellar, he claimed with a tone of mystery in his voice. Who knows? Perhaps someone else killed those children. Perhaps they killed themselves?”
hat is more interesting, problematic and utterly preposterous is that Segeev then blames America for the Manichean zero sum attitudes of Israel. To Sageev, the dehumanized militarization of Israel began only after 9/11. And America sent the contagion to Israel. According to Sageev, it is somehow America that brutalizes the Palestinians, that kidnaps the duly elected government of the Palestinian Authority. And it is Europe that may be a better beacon and alternative.
Should Israel suffer a psychological defeat (as still seems likely) against Hezbollah in concert with an actual military defeat or draw, the blame game blowing back from that angle will be most interesting.
og days of August indeed. 100+ degrees, Al Gore newly respectable . . . and your vicious rottweiller guard dog turns out to be a sclerotic and incompetent poodle
. The stars were in perfect alignment: (a) a solid pretext; (b) a patron besotted with religious, geo-political and ethnic solidarity; (c) regional players predisposed to look the other way; and (d) universally disliked or feared ultimate proxies in Syria and Iran.
eocons naturally decry Israeli failure to crush Hezbollah beneath a mailed fist. It was perhaps their last, best chance to seal American foriegn policy within their ruinous script of Macht Unleashed
. Harvey Mansfield doubtless is feverishly preparing a ponderous diagnosis of the feminine characteristics in the IDF. All more reason for their enthusiasm for McCainism 2008.
David Horowtiz however already knows who is really responsible. You and me.
The appeasers of Islamofascism, who have been calling for a ceasefire and bewailing “civilian casualties” in Lebanon and Gaza, will succeed. Hezbollah will agree to turn over its arms to the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese army. The pro-Hezbollah UN will establish a security zone on Lebanon’s southern border to keep the area clear of non-government militias, of which the Hezbollah “militia” is the only one. The credulous in the Western camp will greet this as a victory for the peacemakers. But exactly the opposite will be the case.
The division of America is the greatest threat to our ability to prevail in the War on Terror – and the Left knows this and is incited by it. America is not divided enough for the American Left, which is now in full purge mode in Connecticut, where it is attempting to bring down the one statesman in the Democratic Party who might re-unite this country in the face of its enemies.
Those who in the midst of these wars clamor for ceasefires with an implacable foe, those who call for withdrawals that would leave sovereign states in the hands of the terrorist forces, those who decry civilian casualties caused by the only forces in this war who do not target civilians, those Blame-America-Firsters who exploit the Abu Ghraibs on our side and not their atrocities, those whose hysterical fear of the conflict we face takes the form of pathological denial and projects the rabid hatred of the enemy for us onto our own commander in the war, are destined to have a lot to answer for before this conflict is over.