Flee the frumious Bandersnatch and prepare the vorpal sword . . .
Video on the web is now a commonplace in the YouTube world. Yet this performance by Cheney (via StiftungTV) with Wolf is a fascinating glimpse of the defiant bunker mentality, determined to go down to the last cartridge. If you've not seen it, it really is worth glimpsing.
Cheney appears stung but unbowed by three simultaneous blows. First came McCain's desperate effort to reverse his nosedive in polls over his “surge” enthusiasm. His solution? Blame Cheney. Second came Scooter's defense pitting EOVP versus the Big Man's EOP. Can you say awkward? And finally today came Hagel's bravura performance before the cameras in the Senate.
When the hopelessly prodigal son mounts the podium to deliver his sixth State of the Union address, seated behind him will be the parents he never had: the good mother, caring yet demanding responsibility, and the bad father, granting license for misadventure. As he evades and rebuffs Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, President Bush clings to Vice President Dick Cheney as his permissive authority figure.
To Wotan, a 28% approval rating for the regime's handling of the war means nothing. Democrat fulminations merely summon synaptic echoes of Frank Church. More disappointing but a sideshow? To see previously reliable minions speak out against his use of Siegfried. Warner, Collins and Coleman's defections ultimately mean nothing. More hurtful to Wotan is to see his old friend St. McCain now hold Siegfried essentially blameless for it all, saying Wotan was the bad Iago. St. McCain states “The president listened too much to the Vice President . . . Of course, the president bears the ultimate responsibility, but he was very badly served by both the Vice President and, most of all, the Secretary of Defense.”
All noise. Wotan will sit back and smile and watch Siegfried perform. The Ring may be lost. But let Siegfried prattle on tonight about health care, the environment and all the other little issues mortals worry about. Let them be distracted. Who cares if the U.S. image around the world is at all time lows? Wotan knows the Norns' thread of destiny has been severed. The boats have been burned; all the non-binding resolutions or establishment figure study groups can not restore the status quo ante. Ragnarok will come. All roads to Tehran start in Baghdad. Eventually.
The debilitating American addiction to the hyper-real continues. The other day we watched a nationally famous pundit assert without blinking that our difficulties in the world are caused by the Warlord's language. Moreover, had the Warlord only used different words in AgitProp since 2005, both the Republican disaster of November 2006 and collapse of support for Operation Excellent Iraqi Adventure eminently avoidable. (Presumably he meant beyond Cher Condi's infelicitous “augmentation” effort).
The ad generator is a generative artwork that explores how advertising uses and manipulates language. Words and semantic structures from real corporate slogans are remixed and randomized to generate invented slogans. These slogans are then paired with related images from Flickr, thereby generating fake advertisements on the fly. By remixing corporate slogans, I intend to show how the language of advertising is both deeply meaningful, in that it represents real cultural values and desires, and yet utterly meaningless in that these ideas have no relationship to the products being sold. In using the Flickr images, the piece explores the relationship between language and image, and how meaning is constructed by the juxtaposition of the two.
We accept dis-associative AgitProp memes into our lives hundreds of times every day. Can anyone really deny the above experiment also applies to our politics? To our “serious media”, too? De-sensitation to synthetic manipuation is now so widespread that 11 year olds can look at an image and dismiss it with a shrug and “that's been [photo]shopped”. CGI now so common that the special long gone from “special effects”. We accept the fake and the dis-associated in our lives all the time. So why should a pundit or a politician or a national policy be any different?
What will release America from the hyper-real nightmare and permit her to descend back to the concrete here and now? Some suggest a further international crisis might jolt perceptions. Our friends at Global Paradigms, for example, have long warned of a coming U.S. shock when its brittle and artifical global standing is exposed in another Suez. Others looking back in anger like both Buchanan and VDH get an almost pornographic thrill reciting catastrophes to come just because the Democrats do not bow before Executive Authority (Pat's papal devotion to the President, if he had a sense of aesthetics and more refinement, would almost be Mikado-esque). But we think even their warnings of genocide and bloodshed and rising gas prices won't do it.
Our sense is we lose the addiction to the dis-association and posturing over the abstract only when we are all subject undeniably to the consequences of life. In this case, to a national draft (with no cheating dodgers ala Cheney, the Warlord, etc.). As long as America wields a small professional armed forces (now perhaps increasingly sustained by the foreign brown and other peoples the Republicans despise so much seeking to earn citizenship the hard way), we are destined to stay in the worlds of hyper-reality, the ad generator, VDH and the pundit who advises that the Warlord's words are responsible for our reality.
A good piece demonstrating this is by Laura Rozen in Washington Monthly. She surveys the remnants of the Cheney governing apparatus. (Ignatius offers his guess on Cheney's influence here). We've always liked Laura's reporting and persistence over the years. Her ideology is not ours on all things. And we've not always agreed with some of her conclusions. But as a journalist and blogger, we definitely admire the commitment and professionalism.
A Straw-eyed View Of The World
Laura's good piece relies in part on Larry Wilkerson as a source to lay out the individuals and institutions in the EOVP/Neocon network. (Wilkerson is Powell's former Chief of Staff). Wilkerson's role perhaps explains why the excellent piece still misses the larger point about EOVP. Almost entirely. Here's why.
Consider General Atomics' Predator. Despite the hype, it is a fairly crude thing even now (contra gold plated UAVs like Global Hawk, etc.) One of the greatest disappointments of those who first glimpse live Predator video feed is how different it is from Jack Ryan and or Jack Bauer's world. The video feed, particularly the first generations, is intensely narrow in scope. It remembles trying to look at the Grand Canyon through a straw. And that is what Wilkerson and those who continue to listen to him do.
The EOVP governing apparatus and its radicalism is and was not limited to foreign affairs and national security matters. To someone like Wilkerson, looking at the world through the narrow straw of his own former perch, the institutions Laura names and the people he notes *are* the EOVP network. So it makes sense perhaps for Wilkerson to use the code-word “cabal” in describing this network (all the while denying he is trying to be cute in deliberately choosing that epithet). But the Grand Canyon that Wilkerson's tiny straw can not see would reveal how much more vast and encompassing the EOVP radical agenda was and perhaps might be far and away beyond foreign policy.
This is not an absract theory but based on personal direct experience. The EOVP governing apparatus had its fingers in almost every single sector of public policy that came before the American government. When Wilkerson can't account for what 88 staff plus those detailed (and probably viewed by EOVP with suspicion for good reason) do, that says it all. OMB? Cheney's son-in-law was general counsel at OMB for years and EOVP-friendly personnel were placed at all levels. And on and on elsewhere. (Those intimately involved with government understand how important OMB infiltration is).
On DoD/homeland security/national security issues, on antitrust “reform” issues, taxes, budget matters, on energy issues (obviously), on legal reform/tort reform, acquisition and contracting, labor/training issues, environmental issues, telecom and other regulatory issues, EOVP's influence was pervasive and as radicalizing as anything Wilkerson experienced.
Time and time again whether we were on the Hill with House leadership, in the Senate, or even sitting Old Executive Office Building, we saw ideas, proposals or legislation either die, get hijacked or dramatically radicalized. Sometimes it took months to learn where it came from. Sometimes we never did. The personnel and political forces involved in this expansive effort to impart “The Movement's” priorities into action were far vaster and more complex than any mere “cabal.” What EOVP understood long before even some of the most powerful members of the Republican leadership on the Hill is that radicalization, once started in one silo, builds precedents for the next and so on until the proverbial frog was cooked. The interlocking nature of this activity eventually began to be self-reinforcing.
Getting Beat Senseless With Baseball Bats
What did this mean to those out of the Movement loop who opposed extremism popping up on subject x in silo y? Say, out of the blue . . . someone sitting at the THE STATE DEPARTMENT? It meant that they often entered a policy landscape already saturated by radicalization on topics a, b and c. And thus they are akin to the proverbial man walking in a dark room from the bright outdoors surrounded by others wearing night vision goggles holding baseball bats. (And left to bitch that the policy process appeared “broken” ).
We've tried to explain this directly to Wilkerson — that the radical foreign policy of this regime could not be divorced from its innate ideological fundamentals. And that the extremism that he, that bowl of jello Powell, and Armitage all experienced was replicated across almost all sectors and silos of public policy expertise and knowledge.
Thinking that EOVP's radicalism was limited to just their corner of the world, Wilkerson still looks through a straw and misses the profoundly larger point: the Neocons and their Middle East fantasies were and are merely one strand in a larger and equally (if not more so) virulent Schmittean ideology — one hostile to essential Enlightenment rationalism, hostile to the basic tenets of small “d” liberal democracy. Rolling the dice once more in “the hope” of success is not just a Neocon conceit.
As mentioned, we tried to engage Wilkerson on this in 2005 when he was making his first pirouette going public against the Administration. He didn't see it and still doesn't. In fact, he told the Stiftung to our face that Dick Cheney in his opinion is not ideological. It was all this “cabal.”
If one were Dick Cheney, we would close by saying “Some may ask why Wilkerson gets any attention at all, but I do not.” No need to be coy. We understand Wilkerson's value as a meme. His connection with General Jello ensures attention, draws crowds, helps institutional fund raising, and the media mentions are helpful for reports to board of directors or grant supervisors. The “imperatives” to genuflect before him are standard Imperial City stuff.
Against those larger institutional forces, we just offer once again our judgment: Wilkerson kept silent until *after* the 2004 election. And only *after* he and his jello-esque Boss got unceremoniously tossed into the dumpster. De Gaulle already answered his retort that staying on inside was “essential” to stop the extremists. But more damningly, Wilkerson fails his own logic. If the “cabal” were so truly extreme and dangerous and alarming, then alerting the American people about what he knew before an election was especially critical to allow meaningful choice. Cy Vance could put principle before the job title. But not this crowd.
The truth about Powell, Armitage and Wilkerson is the transcendent imperative to protect their own reputations, brand and professional viability. Over country. Over conscience. In this respect, one has to hand it to the Neocons. They took Powell et al.'s measure early on. And knew they had an easy mark.
A closing thought. Please do read Laura's piece. Our pique with Wilkerson should in no way detract from its value as a much needed survey of the landscape.
One pleasant fiction that Oppositionists tell and told ourselves during the Dark Years was that the Administration and its governing apparat were “unique” and an “aberration” in the American political experience. We've used that analytical frame here alot. But this always assumed a submerged America still loyal to the Enlightenment, held hostage, waiting for “liberation” or “restoration.”
The regime remains true to the last cartridge. Even now, cornered, the Administration snarls with contempt at essential liberal democracy. Both the Warlord and Cheneydismiss congressional opposition to escalation in Iraq and preparation for Iranian strikes. Administration figures gloat in congressional weakness before a fait accompli.
Are they right to be so disdainful? After all, isn't the real political penalty imposed on the Administration that they didn't succeed? As opposed to rejection of what it is they are and tried to do?
We Still Believe Democrats Don't Understand How Radical This Regime Is
When these Young Pioneers in 2002 embarked upon their Operation Iraqi Excellent Adventure, they brimmed with confidence in the Administration's fundamental premise: politics and ideology can indeed shape culture. Contemporary Democrats largely lack any meaningful ideology of their own (beyond coalition management mechanics). For six years they therefore could not lay a glove on the regime. Helpless to respond because they didn't understand the philosophy behind its purposes, goals, techniques and raison d'etre. We remember the excitement in Democrat ranks circa 2004 by a powerpoint presentation. (Yes, sadly true). The presentation did a decent job explaining the Republican and Movement's keiretsu (but did not understand the difference), and how much it cost to build, etc. “Aha! That's why we lose!” was not an uncommon reaction.
It was a good first step. But did it explain the ideology that assembled the construct and gave that mechanism purpose? Not so much. Sadly still true today.
Unfortunately for the Administration in Iraq, the regime's ideological impulses actually precluded building their New Iraqi Man. Hitch describes it at a “jinx” (as anyone intoxicated still with Paris in '68 would). Not a single book out of many excellent ones about the CPA and afterwards examines the regime in D.C. and its bastard offspring in Baghdad from the prism of political science and ideological frames and their impact on decision-making or lack thereof. We highlight Chandrasekaran's book because he was the first to note some of the ideological litmus test for CPA employment. But he is a journalist and lacks the analytical training to take it to the next level. What is missing is really the Iraq anti-Graham Allison's Essence of Decision if you will.
From Hitch's pov how easy to lament after emptying the third middle priced bottle of bordeaux that the Warlord simply lacked the iron will and personal organizational competence of Stalin, Kaganovich, Felix and his heirs to sweat the details. Or send in the Peshmurga in 2004 to finish off Sadr. But the ideological impulses which set the disaster in motion ensured its failure. That is something that has lessons at home, too.
The Bush Cheney New American Man/Woman
Incompetence at Katrina was a watershed and set in motion Nov. 7th, 2006. But we believe the regime has been far more successful in creating the New American Man/Woman than many recognize. And we submit that until Democrats understand that and confront it directly and without flinching, they offer little more than a mild palliative or caretaking interregnum before this regime's successors return (powered by JP-5 level self righteous dolchstosslegende fury). The essential Social Darwinism of this regime we believe has sunk very deep into the fertile American conscience.
The American social contempt for weakness, losers and misery of others is one key barometer of the larger implications. Indeed, it is reaching such levels even the American Idol fanbase is shocked at the cruelty and mockery that that they themselves have demanded. Yet, the tolerance for social inequality and massive misappropriation of wealth is accepted in a way that stuns anyone interested in the essential equilibrium of a functioning liberal democratic republic, let alone traditional partisan framing issues of fairness and other social implications. The very viability of a democratic republic is at stake. Yet how is that this issue must remain in the clutches one cable TV anchorman (and mocked by the wealthy and successful). The list goes on — Congress last year authorized execution of American prisoners based on hearsay and information obtained by duress. And so on.
Ian Kershaw and host of others have written unflatteringly about the poor planning and inept execution of those who plotted against the Corporal. Whole racks of books at Barnes & Noble are devoted to how these few bungled the effort. And a movie about Sophie Scholl of the White Rose student group reminds us of a few others. They tried and risked their lives doing so against a legitimate and full fleshed out dictatorship. Yet how many today think of those people in those circumstances and demand “Why didn't you do more?” Reading the historical material is shocking after 2001-2006 because the comfortable judgment of soft contempt for the Becks and others in the military or quaint admiration for the White Rose screams out. One wonders how many reading those locked in concrete narratives would want at least a re-write?
We are not facing anywhere the same type regime. Yet this current Administration's reckless ideology is trampling on the Constitution at home and resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths abroad. And 2001-2006 shows a clear evisceration of liberal small “d” democratic government here at home.
Given that, who is taking a stand to rollback the damage done to the Constitution? A new Democrat Congress must do more than oppose Iraq/Iran. That's a given. More importantly, do they understand what has been done to shape American political and social identities over the last six years? Who today in Congress is calling for a rollback of the Authoritarian State built up 2001-2006 component by component? Or would even understand it as a unified assault on liberal democratic government? Not just demanding the 4th Amendment's restoration. Not just rejection of McCain's bogus compromise re detainees. Who is asking the macro political questions of whether a liberal democratic republic can survive the unprecedented consolidation of wealth in a juvenile effort to restore the Gilded Age-esque fraction of a fraction (probably because Rove cried watching Titanic, but for the Billy Zane character). Who will do more than mouth pieties about the destruction of the middle class?
Yes, Chuck Hagel deserves credit for opposing the regime on Iraq. And God bless Olympia Snowe for joining him. But this is a non-binding resolution abd Congress' options are limited. The New Iraqi Man is already dead and buried. Stopping further carnage is a noble goal. But so much more remains to be done. Who will stand for putting forth a positive political agenda to overthrow this regime's program for the New American Man and Woman?
What America comes home from this disasterous war?
The Warlord's speech re-affirms the fundamental radicalism of this regime. It remains a political creature outside the experience of traditional American pluralistic politics. Perhaps now, with his frightened mien and revelation that his escalation concept is really a preparation for wider regional conflict targeted at Iran and Syria (with Iraq as already a past pre-text), all Oppositionists to this ideological aberration — Democrats, conservatives, libertarians and progressives — can unite. Ending this regime's undisciplined extremism is the most urgent task before us all.
The firm denial by Israel of a report in the London Sunday Times that its Air Force was training for a strike against Iran's nuclear facilities was as predictable as it is hollow. There is no doubt that Israel's fighter-bombers have been training for a long-distance mission; NATO sources say they have for weeks been watching Israeli warplanes running flights the length of the Mediterranean to Gibraltar — and nobody expects an Israeli strike on Gibraltar.
The reckless Administration and its partners in Likud-esque circles here and over there have far broader ambitions. The true scale, implications and catastrophic nature of a wider regional war have not sunk in or even permeated surface discussions of the immediate address aftermath. The troop escalation for Iraq is a token — it will have marginal or even no moderate term military impact. A 15% troop increase in Baghdad is merely symbolic with extremely limited tactical objectives. Those hoping this modest bump in troop levels will enable a Fallujah-style show down with the Mahdi Army are drinking spiked Kool Aid.
The wider escalation implications for the Administration are threats the Warlord made to Iran and Syria (and repeated by Cher Condi this morning). That is the real news. The minimal Iraqi escalation is ill-advised and deserves opposition. But the regime's wider regional ambitions are so much more alarming. It is urgent that Congress assert its widest possible constitutional authority and perogatives to curtail this regime before it sets the region alight and drags the Nation into a deserved abyss.
The question of the hour: can Democrats wake up and understand that they are dealing with a White House divorced from traditional American pluralistic partisan politics and an unprecedented ideological aberration?
UPDATE This morning's Soviet-style briefing with Cher Condi, Gates and Keitel Pace confirms the essential emptiness of the regime's Iraq escalation. Cher Condi's robotic twitter that State would also “surge” in Iraq was comical. In almost Commissar like patois she demonstrated her AgitProp fealty by statistical recounting of how many State personnel would leave the Green Zone to localities around Iraq to build “bottoms up” civil society. Farcical on so many levels - (i) it was tried before the elections and largely failed; (ii) Iraq in 2007 is chaotically violent and without major military protection such excursions are of dubious survivability, particularly in Anbar but everywhere else; and (iii) Rice knows it is all bullshit for the Washington press corps anyway, and has no real importance changing events on the ground.
We noticed yet again how Condi emphatically denounced Iran and Syria and the prospects of engagement. Even if her apologists still want to believe that Zelikow's speech last Fall represents “the real Condi', the brittle Neocon Princess on display today is beyond apologia. The ”real Condi“ was and is a staffer. And later an enabler to her Warlord 'husband'. Nothing more and possibly far far less.
Republicans in Congress, who do not want to be quoted, tell me the State Department under Secretary Condoleezza Rice is a mess. That comes at a time when the U.S. global position is precarious. While attention focuses on Iraq, American diplomacy is being tested worldwide — in Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Korea and Sudan. The judgment by thoughtful Republicans is that Rice has failed to manage that endeavor.
Rice's previous government duties had been as an analyst and staffer rather than as manager . . .
Gates performed at the presser today with the cautious bureaucratese he is (in)famous for, but together with Cher Condi dispelled the notion that the two were in any way a realist brake on this regime. Significantly Gates could not define success of this escalation and deferred to the sound bite prattle of Cher Condi.
Pace too was at the press conference. But he was not there even while standing in full view.
(We revised Mnemosyne after the Warlord's speech - it may take a few minutes/ a short while for YouTube to process the upload so please check back if it says 'not available').
Musical chairs among the Warlord's Court mesmerize much of the Imperial City. A salacious counterpoint to the transfer of power on the Hill.
Negropotentate fleeing his empty sinecure and eagerly embracing demotion is noteworthy enough. (Although his eyes are also on Cher Condi's chair, thinking Eagleburger gets to use the title even if he was a short timer caretaker, too). More meaningfully, CENTCOM reverberates with the Warlord's withdrawing and bestowing of favor. And the Navy even finally gets GWOT playing time albeit late in the 4th Quarter with the score already run up. (They are looking at the next game anyway). We also saw Miers dumped to the curb to do the walk of shame. All while AEI pulls out the stops for “Surge Fever” with Joementum as opening act for Saint McCain — the real Iraq Study Group as Salon rightly calls it. Who knows? Perhaps AEI even spiked the drinks with Placidyl 101. Paranoia about the CIA is not restricted to Rehnquist.
We'll get around to it all shortly . Particularly about Negropotentate. There are some substantive issues about the Community and the intelligence cycle worth touching on there. Look for something on that later next week.
But note Dear Reader with deserved bemusement how Arianna suddenly realizes on January 5, 2007 McCain is in the Neocon tank. Too rich.
Today we instead skip a beat and note the Mansfieldian fury foaming from Movement (as opposed to just Republican) and socially reactionary circles. The transfer of power on the Hill is not a mere cyclical ebbing of partisan fortune. Estrogen, that baleful pollutant, has been unleashed. Code words for Nancy Pelosi were on full display — “coronation”, “Queen Bee”, “Cheerleader in Chief”, etc. All that was missing? Quotes about drinking only pure grain alcohol, rain water and denying women to avoid loss of essence. It's not just the usual suspects across the radio dial, although we heard a fair sampling during some commuting today. Chris Matthews and other liberal faux blue collar posers also indulge in the estrogen fear mongering but they mask it better. Unless Matthews talks about HRC. Then he crosses his legs and becomes simply unbalanced.
I believe I have discovered the sacred text that inspires and animates ferocious, fur-bearing authors such as David Brooks, John Tierney, NRO's Stanley Kurtz, and Harvey Mansfield--author of Manliness (which gets a rough going-over in next weeks NY Times Book Review by Walter Kirn)--to assert male prerogative and keep women in their proper place, i.e., gazing up adoringly at Daddy. It provides their vision of a future patriarchal society in which the warrior within every man is restored to his lounge-recliner throne . . . I speak of John Boorman's 1974 sci-fi low-budget beefcake extravaganza Zardoz, starring Sean Connery, who, in Pauline Kael's classic review, “traipses around in a loincloth...playing the only potent man at the discotheque.”
Set in the year 2293, which'll be here before you know it, Zardoz posits a “stately yet cranky vision of a future society dominated by immortal, hyperintelligent women--soulless, heartless, sexless.” And this was before Hillary Clinton appeared on the scene to shrink all those chipmunk testicles out there! “The men are immortal, too, but, being impotent, they are passive and effete.”
Doesn't this sound like the Worst Possible Scenario for the World as dreamt by Brooks, Tierney, et al? (Not to mention antifeminist female pundits such as Kate O'Beirne and Ann Coulter.) Read Kael's description of Boorman's mindset in making Zardoz and tell me it doesn't sound like John Tierney or Harvey Mansfield beating their chests after eating a bowl of Wheaties, or the sort of Chris Matthews Beltway insider hoisting a major woody for John McCain.
Without the benefit of Wolcott's acidic wit, here on the blog and in comments we have talked about Amrchair's 'HRC-Pelosi Pincer Movement' and the freudian-political implications of 'withdrawal' forced on blue-painted braveheart pundits - their martial ardor denied by women with political power.
Consider the Pelosi as 'Queen Bee' meme all over talk radio. Rush for example cited a study from somewhere claiming that women are unable to abide other women in positions of power because other women provoked female subconscious competititon for powerful male attention. And then Rush segued into a hilarious but still effective Agitprop denunciation of European petitions allegedly requiring that all people must by law sit when using bathroom facilities for urination. A Western decline into The View and the end of Sergio Leone-era laconic Eastwoodisms.
One memorable caller said he was just back from 10 years in Berlin (yet sounded suspiciously like a 30 year old NASCAR fanboy) and blamed the 20th Century European civil wars for eliminating millions of males from households. This loss of male genetic leadership explained France in 1940 (but not Algeria apparently), Western European opposition to Dubya, and the political rise of women such as Merkel (who is a Neocon's Neocon anyway but that's beside the point) and the striking Segolene Royal, a socialist candidate for president in France. Rush's show as we listened did not address how Verdun, the Somme and 1939-45 begat Pelosi and Rosie O'Donnell on this side of the Lake.
To his credit, Rush refused the bait and kept focus on pushing his “Queen Bee-ism” biological determinism. To Rush, the “science” is in — inevitably and biologically a bitter feud between Pelosi and HRC is mandated. Adding insult to injury, he also linked the European (read decadent) sitting down law thing to the start of insidious subversion of gay rights here. So the Code is clear — some unelected Godless court somewhere will take away standing and trough urinals at sports arenas. Switching channels stuck in traffic, we heard another, less talented host try and link Pelosi's rise to power to some high school cheerleaders behaving badly in Texas. Female authority begets chaos, dysfunction and cries out for corrective male power apparently.
And so on. All so laughable. Except one suspects these are the true thoughts of more than just the NASCAR nation.
On the other hand, here is an acceptable display of Movement/conservative female archetypes. The WaPo reports that Laura Bush, Cher Condi, Mary Matalin, Margaret Spellings and legal titan Harriet Miers just celebrated Karen Hughes' 50th birthday at Cactus Cantina. (The CC is a decent TexMex restaurant. The Stiftung used to frequent it for the drinks and is a good place for an unpretentious get together). Consider what these women represent. All of these women are enablers, guardians, nurturers of the fragile Warlord ego. They orbit, reflect and support their man. These women are safe. Proximity to decisive male power is never a temptation to usurp it or use it. Those anorexic harpies such as Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Malkin, etc. are separate — attack dogs and mere cannon fodder.
The Zardoz/Mansfield -HRC/Pelosi divide will play out with the backdrop of a failed war and failed presidency. But the divide speaks to wedges in the anti-Dubya sentiment. We'll be watching some of our anti-war, anti-Bush defense analysts, government apparatchiks and other acquaintances closely — will their fears of loss of essence trump their objective disdain for Christian Socialist Authoritarianism? It is not an idle question. One can almost hear more than a couple of them saying “Franco may have had some problems, but at least he would not brook Buffy the Vampire Slayer . . .” And a stab in the back meme in history has never been mixed with such vitriolic reptilian-brain misogyny.
Oh, by the way here is Arianna (whom we have always liked since her embrace of Newt's whacked Wellington's Penninsular Campaign against Napoleon/Clinton imaginings back in 1995 — with Newt as Arthur Wellesley and all the other polyester pomp and Toffler-esque circumstance of that time and place. . . ) (more at the jump).
This is a spoken dream. It is a literal reading from a long email sent by a friend of ours yesterday describing a vivid dream. Our friend wanted to share this reaction to the Saddam execution. We have taken no real liberties with the dream. And present it as written and conveyed to us.
We offer it here as a multimedia exercise because the content comes alive over a mere written post. The dream's themes also resonate with much of what we here have been discussing on this blog and in the comments section. It is a long piece but we think worth the investment.
This is our effort to give voice to our friend. A nationally prominent personality, the pain and unease expressed make clear the conviction that we are all stained.
YESTERDAY, the man directly responsible for conducting the war in Iraq received semi-official notice that he'll soon be relieved of his post. It's ironic that the semi-official notice came in a front-page New York Times story, considering how hostile the paper has been to the war effort and the Bush administration generally - and how profoundly angry senior Bush officials are at the Times.
Welcome to 2007. Democrats rule Capitol Hill, and the Bush White House is using The Times to deliver a message. Who says things never change in Washington?
The message: The president has lost confidence in the strategy and tactics designed and implemented by the generals running the war. They have, as the Times put it, “become more fixated on withdrawal than victory.”
And so the Warlord's (nee the Decider) decision to escalate now permeates the global infosphere. One sentence in JPod's piece resonates because it is what Neocons have been saying off camera — when referring to when Iraqis will govern their country and the U.S. withdraws, he notes “. . . not yet, and maybe not ever, the way things are going” (emphasis added). Those pundits who fail to understand the radical impulse of this White House continue to assume the Warlord will “surge” for a month or three and then make a face-saving withdrawal.
President George W. Bush is about to launch a final push in Iraq with a large reinforcement of American troops in the hope of crushing the insurgency before America embarks on a large-scale withdrawal of force from the country.The size of the force is commonly set at about 40,000-50,000 troops. The aim of this surge will be to inflict severe damage and loss on the problem-making elements within Iraq, including both Shia and Sunni militias, and to increase training of the Iraqi security forces under American supervision . . .
In any case, the sending of such force will be a necessary preliminary to any reduction in strength, since it would be necessary to cover the withdrawal. Retreat is a complicated operation of war which paradoxically always involves far more troops if it is to be brought off successfully. The reason for that is that the spectacle of withdrawal tempts the enemy to interpret the time of withdrawal as an indication of weakness, and so risks infliction of passing shots and the launching of farewell attacks. It is vastly important to have additional troops on hand at such a time.
The surge reinforcements may therefore have a dual purpose to cover the reduction and also to deal final blows at the source of the disorder prior to departure. American commanders certainly will not wish to leave Iraq, tail between legs. We may therefore confidently expect to see the number of American troops in the theatre increase suddenly from 150,000 to 200,000, if only for a short time.
As a historian of European warfare, Keegan has few peers. As an interpreter of events from 2001-2006 he is woefully out of his depth. Keegan would do well to read Henry the K's 'salted peanuts' memo, Woodward's belated reporting and The Weekly Standard. From the perspective of traditional military operational art, Keegan's observations are conventional wisdom, applicable to opposing conventional armies, whether Napoleonic or in WW II.
His 'gentlemanly' observations however are divorced from today's post-modern Neocon Agitprop, from contemporary insurgent situations or the related 4th Generational gestation in the Middle East. As Jack Keane and Kagan declare, “[o]f all the ”surge“ options out there, short ones are the most dangerous. Increasing troop levels in Baghdad for three or six months would virtually ensure defeat. It takes that long for newly arrived soldiers to begin to understand the areas where they operate. Short surges would redeploy them just as they began to be effective.”
Keegan's quaint, old school analysis is a bookend for the ISG. His operational interpretation is irrelevant; the replacement of Abizaid and Casey and the escalation theories of Kagan, Keane and the Neocons assume a darker and more disasterous aspect. The Warlord is shuffling the deck chairs for a sustained escalation to last through 2008 and beyond in a Guiliani/McCain (even HRC?) Administration. The false AgitProp manipulation of “freedom” and “democracy” has been discarded like a failed scripted prime time drama. The stage is being set for the more visceral, brutal and emotionally manipulative 'war of civilizations' against Islamofascists. The long simmering but distant Manichaen meme will by necessity become the foreground.
Any pretense of a liberal deliberative democracy is tossed aside now with savage smirks and dull belligerance. The table being set for a dark repaste of violence, death and 'existential' memes. Until and unless the Democrats understand the game afoot — which has no bearing on traditional political calculations of 'legacy' or short term face saving sleight of hands — It is hard to see how a week of hearings from concision-challenged Biden or anything else will amount to much.
President Bush and McCain, the front-runner for the next presidential nomination, in pressing for a surge of 30,000 more troops, will have trouble finding support from more than 12 out of 49 Republican senators. “It's Alice in Wonderland,” Sen. Chuck Hagel, second-ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, told me in describing the proposed surge. “I'm absolutely opposed to sending any more troops to Iraq. It is folly.”
The White House couldn't be less impressed. Personnel movements in CENTCOM speak louder than even 12 members in the Congress of Peoples' Deputies. Abizaid and Casey are both being cashiered - even though Casey thought he was playing political football for the the White House. It reminds one of when Manstein was retired, and the Corporal said to him (in paraphrase here) “the time of grand operational maneuver is over. I need generals who have the fanatical will to defend until victory.” (His favorite Field Marshal at that time was Model). Gates is surrounded by the Old Team. We suspect his lauded “independence” and “moderation” and all the other panegyrics will whither when he is in the chair overseeing escalation. General Jack Keane from the sidelines, like Kristol, is dismissing a six month gesture.
We've said all along that this radical regime is incapable of altering its fundemental impulses. And that from the benighted ISG, whose lonely tomes now gather dust forlornly on the shelves next to diet books and sex advice from porn stars, to the estimable Richard Clarke, none of them get it even at this late date. Facts, management, orderly policy deliberations are antithetical to the ideological impulse. (And Neoconism is but one now tarnished strand in that Movement still ensconsed in the White House — although many around the world noted that Dubya bestowed a Presidential Medal of Freedom on Sharansky the other day).