Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dispatch from the State of Delusion: exposing the myth of the American "mission" in Iraq

Bush will not only preside over a military defeat in Iraq, he has already ushered in a new era —the end of the "American Century", the end of American ascension, the end of American empire. The new era is already characterized by increased nuclear proliferation and defiance, the decline of Democratic ideals and outright opposition to US interests all over the world. Much was made of the "de-stabilization" of Iraq. More should have been made of the consequences of our failure. More attention should have been paid to the good will that Bush has now pissed away —perhaps forever.

Bush's only argument in favor of staying in Iraq is itself the most damning indictment of his utterly failed and catastrophic administration. That argument was put forward by former Secretary of State Jim Baker to George Stephanopoulus on ABC: pulling out now will plunge the middle east into chaos and Iraq into civil war. But Baker failed to state the obvious conclusion: staying in Iraq will accomplish the same thing but at greater cost.

Iraq is already engaged in a civil war, a war made worse by the continued US presence. The Middle East is already inflamed. Our allies have already turned against us. The war on terrorism is already failed. The recent report of some 16 US intelligence agencies support that conclusion: the war on Iraq has made "terrorism" worse. When it became abundantly clear that an occupation — intended to last 90 days —began to unravel, Bush and Bushies came up with a seemingly endless string of absurd ex post facto rationales for the war in Iraq. Nevertheless, none were true; none addressed the issue! All were spin born of an article of GOP faith that the only thing that really matters is what you can trick or convince people into believing —even if it's a lie.

In fact, Bush never articulated an American mission in Iraq and declared its accomplishment prematurely. Rather, Bush took this nation to war without a mission. Bush took this nation to war upon lies, meaningless slogans, and various hoaxes —not clearly defined objectives! The occupation, we were told, was to last 90 days. Instead, after Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" and some four years of bloody occupation and now civil war, more headless bodies, most of them civilians, turn up every day. It is also increasingly clear that "terrorists" have little if anything to do with it. The violence is sectarian in nature, most certainly a civil war waged amid a growing guerrilla war against the illegal US occupation. This war was lost before it began.

Only in fairy tales is straw spun into gold —but the situation in Iraq has turned into an epithet much less attractive than mere straw. If Bush withdraws from Iraq, there is no lie, no spin, no re-framing technique that will make gold of the stinking mess that Bush has created and will leave dumped and unburied in Iraq.

Arguably —no country has been more widely emulated, if not admired, than the US. Though we often did not live up to them, the values we ostensibly advocated —individual liberty, due process of law, the rule of law, and the ideal of equality of opportunity —made of us a beacon of hope at a time when Adolph Hitler ground millions beneath his Nazi boot and Stalin ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist. Our prosperity was at once envied and resented. But we were forgiven because of our ability to change and face our problems however painful the result: the labor movement, the struggle for racial equality; the still unrealized dreams of equal opportunity regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or religion.

Until the recent wave of ugly, jingoistic, GOP posturing, we were open to debate and ideas. That is not to say that we never made horrific mistakes. Vietnam, for example, is a lasting shame and tragedy that need not have happened but for a fatal American flaw: hubris!

Today, that flaw is epitomized by George W. Bush, the ruler of the states of denial and delusion. The Mark Foley scandal —as repugnant as it is —is more so because it's the last straw. When millions have already said enough is enough, Foley pulls the rug from beneath the well-oiled GOP propaganda machine. Now —even George Will quips that Republicans must awaken each day with but one thought: "What can we do to offend the base?" Even Tony Blankley has been heard muttering that maybe the GOP ought to lose. Don't lose sleep over it, Tony. Just give us a free and fair election and count the votes. The people will speak.

Indeed, the Foley scandal —more properly, the cover up and handling of it by the GOP leadership —has proven for all time that the GOP mission since the ascension of Ronald Reagan, since the Contract with America, has all been an abominable fraud.

An update:

Bush and Republicans are sinking under the weight of the Iraq war and the Capitol Hill sex scandal

... according to a flurry of polls, endangering their control of Congress in the November 7 elections.

Democrats hold a growing advantage heading into the final four weeks of the campaign, with analysts moving more Republican-held seats into the high-risk category and improving the odds of Democrats seizing control of at least the House of Representatives.

The polls, all taken after the sex scandal surfaced, show Democratic candidates with huge leads over Republicans amid broad public unhappiness about the Iraq war, Bush's leadership and the Republican-led Congress.

"These polls seem to suggest the public has decided to just 'throw the bums out,"' said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

"These are huge, huge, numbers and they are very bad for Republicans," she said. "There is not a shred of good news in these polls for Republicans."
Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann's strongest commentary to date, calling Bush out, telling the "President" that he is a liar:

TIME declares end of the Republican One-Party Reign of Error

The End of a Revolution

Sex, lies and power games are just the latest symptoms of a Republican Party that has strayed from its ideals

By KAREN TUMULTY

Every revolution begins with the power of an idea and ends when clinging to power is the only idea left. The epitaph for the movement that started when Newt Gingrich and his forces rose from the back bench of the House chamber in 1994 may well have been written last week in the same medium that incubated it: talk radio. On conservative commentator Laura Ingraham's show, the longest-serving Republican House Speaker in history explained why he would not resign despite a sex scandal that has produced a hail of questions about his leadership and the failure to stop one of his members from cyberstalking teenage congressional pages. "If I fold up my tent and leave," Dennis Hastert told her, "then where does that leave us? If the Democrats sweep, then we'd have no ability to fight back and get our message out."

That quiet admission may have been the most damning one yet in the unfolding scandal surrounding Florida Congressman Mark Foley: holding on to power has become not just the means but also the end for the onetime reformers who in 1994 unseated a calcified and corrupted Democratic majority. Washington scandals, it seems, have been following a Moore's law of their own, coming at a faster clip every time there is a shift in control. It took 40 years for the House Democrats to exhaust their goodwill. It may take only 12 years for the Republicans to get there. ...

There is a temptation to relax as Bush and his endemically crooked party seem headed for political oblivion. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The cornered sewer rat is dangerous:

Torture, Murder, Bush, Kissinger and The Mothers of the Disappeared in Argentina: America on the Brink of Horror

A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL

October 9, 2006

Dateline -- Buenos Aires, Argentina

For some 30 years, the Argentine women known as the Madres (Mothers) de La Plaza de Mayo have marched every Thursday in front of the Presidential Palace of Argentina. They gather in memory of their children and grandchildren, who were among the estimated 30,000 people who disappeared during "Operation Condor." Another 50,000 people were murdered.

"Operation Condor" reached its peak in the 1970s. With assistance from the United States, and the support and knowledge of Henry Kissinger, five of the southern cone South American nations conducted a campaign of unspeakable torture and killing against their own citizens.

When you look at the photos carried by many of the Madres de La Plaza de Mayo, you see middle class men in suits and ties and nicely dressed women. You see young children with smiling faces.

What happened during Operation Condor is so horrific – all done in the name of the safety and security of "the nation" – that it is barely speakable. The torture included one of the Bush Administration’s favorite techniques – waterboarding – and many other methods. Families were forced to watch or listen to their love ones being mutilated. Friends were required to conduct torture on those that they knew. Pregnant women were allowed to stay alive until their babies were born, then they were murdered. Their children were given to military families who adopted them.

In a New Yorker article a few years back, a former member of the Argentinian military recalled flights over the Atlantic where drugged and bound Argentinians, whose interrogation was finished, were thrown alive into the ocean. Bodies of the already killed were dumped into the Rio de la Plata, which divides Argentina and Uruguay.

Many Americans will say that this horror cannot happen in the United States, but they are wrong. Legally, as a result of the legislation passed in September, it is now quite possible.

As was the case in Argentina, America now allows the President or his designate to declare a person an "enemy combatant" (or enemy of the state) without any judicial process. In short, a person becomes an "enemy of America" on the mere basis that Bush or his designate says so.

The fundamental problem with such power is that it allows tyrannical authority to detain anyone, without the right of habeas corpus, on the mere whim or suspicion of the executive branch of government. No one will be informed of the detention, no court will review it, no recourse will be allowed the relatives or friends of the detained.

They will become the new "disappeared," as many foreigners have already become in the CIA gulag of secret prisons, and the not-so-secret jails in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The new law is vague enough that the Bush Administration, which drives a Mack truck through loopholes or openly disregards congressional laws, can justify arresting American citizens it simply declares are providing support to those it declares are enemies of America.

It is "Operation Condor" all over again.

What one must remember about "Operation Condor" and Gitmo, for example, is that they were basically horrifying fishing expeditions. One did not need to be guilty of anything. One was adjudged guilty merely because a state authorized agent declared one so. In "Operation Condor" – as at Gitmo – the vast majority of people were detained and tortured merely on the suspicion that they might have some knowledge of value. And if they didn’t, it was their bad luck – and their detention would be a sacrifice paid for the "security of the nation."

It is not a large leap – however much Americans would like to think otherwise – from the summary arrest, torture and occasional murder of foreigners to applying the same process to residents of the United States. Suspicion or politically-motivated accusations of the government become equivalent to a sentence of guilt. Bush has already declared persons who disagree with his Iraq policies "tools of the terorrists."

To those who say that the recently passed legislation may allow Bush to authorize torture as he deems fit, but that it prohibits murder, we have two words: Abu Ghraib. How quickly we have forgotten that a number of detainees at Abu Ghraib were tortured to death, with no one in the Bush Administration held accountable.

One cannot fully control torture as if it were a thermostat. When you start down the road of torture, people are going to die accidentally. And then when the culture of torture becomes ingrained in the military, people will start to be murdered. It is hard to contain torture; it is impossible to just torture the "guilty." Soon, it becomes – as it did in "Operation Condor" – a nightmare combination of "trolling" and "cleansing" the political opposition.

In such an environment, torture is the first step on a descent into state-authorized murder to achieve political goals, not necessarily "national security."

The mothers of the disappeared, clutching photos now more than three decades old, know this truth.

It is said, in Bob Woodward’s book "State of Denial," that Henry Kissinger is now privately advising Bush and Cheney on the Iraq War.

It was Henry Kissinger who brought us a prolonged war in Vietnam, the bombing that led to the Khmer Rouge massacre in Cambodia, the death squads in Central America, the East Timor slaughter, and Operation Condor -- among other potential war crimes.

It is not a coincidence that he has allegedly returned as an advisor to Bush and Cheney on the debacle in Iraq – and perhaps on other matters. Kissinger believed and believes that murder in the name of some vague notion of "American supremacy" is justified (although he won’t publicly acknowledge it). More than 80,000 victims of Operation Condor are murdered testaments to his worldview. (Kissinger will not travel to several nations, including France, because he would face judicial questioning in these countries about his role in Operation Condor.)

He now has the ear of a man who has been given Operation Condor-like authority. Yes, it is true that murder per se is not sanctioned in the new Congressional legislation; but how would we know if someone has been murdered if we are not told why or by whom they have been detained?

That is how the children and grandchildren of the Madres de La Plaza de Mayo came to be "los desaparecidos."

The mothers and fathers who march in Plaza de Mayo each Thursday are now senior citizens. Their losses are three decades behind them, but still they demand accountability for the nightmare of abduction, torture and death that gripped their nation and the surrounding countries of Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia.

When the mothers first began marching, Operation Condor was still in place. So it followed that some of them, including the founder, "disappeared" because they demanded the right of habeas corpus for their loved ones.

It is early October and the beginning of spring in the Southern Hemisphere. "Operation Condor" appears a distant memory amidst the bustling city of Buenos Aires. Trees and flowers are blossoming. Lovers openly embrace and kiss in the many parks. It is the annual time of seasonal renewal in Argentina.

For some nations, their long nightmare of people being declared "enemies of the state" by faceless men, then tortured and killed is over.

For the U.S., the long nightmare of the disappeared is just beginning to take shape.

And, if that were not scary enough, CNN reports on Donald Rumsfeld's role in North Korea getting nuclear weapons. What was the extent of Donald Rumsfeld's involvement in a US sale of nuclear reactors to North Korea?

Rummy's North Korea Connection What did Donald Rumsfeld know about ABB's deal to build nuclear reactors there? And why won't he talk about it?

By Richard Behar Research Associate Brenda Cherry

May 12, 2003

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rarely keeps his opinions to himself. He tends not to compromise with his enemies. And he clearly disdains the communist regime in North Korea. So it's surprising that there is no clear public record of his views on the controversial 1994 deal in which the U.S. agreed to provide North Korea with two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for Pyongyang ending its nuclear weapons program. What's even more surprising about Rumsfeld's silence is that he sat on the board of the company that won a $200 million contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors.

The company is Zurich-based engineering giant ABB, which signed the contract in early 2000, well before Rumsfeld gave up his board seat and joined the Bush administration. Rumsfeld, the only American director on the ABB board from 1990 to early 2001, has never acknowledged that he knew the company was competing for the nuclear contract. Nor could FORTUNE find any public reference to what he thought about the project. In response to questions about his role in the reactor deal, the Defense Secretary's spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told Newsweek in February that "there was no vote on this" and that her boss "does not recall it being brought before the board at any time."

Rumsfeld declined requests by FORTUNE to elaborate on his role. But ABB spokesman Bjorn Edlund has told FORTUNE that "board members were informed about this project." And other ABB officials say there is no way such a large and high-stakes project, involving complex questions of liability, would not have come to the attention of the board. "A written summary would probably have gone to the board before the deal was signed," says Robert Newman, a former president of ABB's U.S. nuclear division who spearheaded the project. "I'm sure they were aware."

FORTUNE contacted 15 ABB board members who served at the time the company was bidding for the Pyongyang contract, and all but one declined to comment. That director, who asked not to be identified, says he's convinced that ABB's chairman at the time, Percy Barnevik, told the board about the reactor project in the mid-1990s. "This was a major thing for ABB," the former director says, "and extensive political lobbying was done."

The director recalls being told that Rumsfeld was asked "to lobby in Washington" on ABB's behalf in the mid-1990s because a rival American company had complained about a foreign-owned firm getting the work. Although he couldn't provide details, Goran Lundberg, who ran ABB's power-generation business until 1995, says he's "pretty sure that at some point Don was involved," since it was not unusual to seek help from board members "when we needed contacts with the U.S. government." Other former top executives don't recall Rumsfeld's involvement.

Today Rumsfeld, riding high after the Iraq war, is reportedly discussing a plan for "regime change" in North Korea. But his silence about the nuclear reactors raises questions about what he did--or didn't do--as an ABB director. There is no evidence that Rumsfeld, who took a keen interest in the company's nuclear business and attended most board meetings, made his views about the project known to other ABB officials. He certainly never made them public, even though the deal was criticized by many people close to Rumsfeld, who said weapons-grade nuclear material could be extracted from light-water reactors. Paul Wolfowitz, James Lilley, and Richard Armitage, all Rumsfeld allies, are on record opposing the deal. So is former presidential candidate Bob Dole, for whom Rumsfeld served as campaign manager and chief defense advisor. And Henry Sokolski, whose think tank received funding from a foundation on whose board Rumsfeld sat, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the 1994 agreement.

One clue to Rumsfeld's views: a Heritage Foundation speech in March 1998. Although he did not mention the light-water reactors, Rumsfeld said the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea "does not end its nuclear menace; it merely postpones the reckoning, with no assurance that we will know how much bomb-capable material North Korea has." A search of numerous databases found no press references at the time, or throughout the 1990s, noting Rumsfeld was a director of the company building the reactors. And Rumsfeld didn't bring it up either. ...









The Existentialist Cowboy
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