Sunday, July 30, 2006

US middle east policy: "...a blood soaked failure"!

Israel targets Hezbollah but kills primarily civilians and UN observers. To call it "Unintended consequences" is polite. To liken it to Bush's strategy in Iraq is more accurate. Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere chaos is loosed upon the world.

Things are so bad for Bush that only a catastrophe —Israel's disproportionate and tragic invasion of Lebanon —could knock Iraq, where some 100 civilians are slaughtered daily, off the front pages. If Bush thought a respite from bad Iraq news would help, he is sorely disappointed. A majority of Americans think the nation is on the "wrong track" and the fact that he is seen has having given Ehud Olmert a "green light" does not help his case. [See: Israeli Strike Kills 54]

While the world watches what George Will has called an "cascading escalation" in the middle east, Iraq itself disintegrates. "Operation Together Forward" —a joint Iraqi-U.S. military operation to restore security in Baghdad —is described by The Register Guard as "...a blood-soaked failure." There is even talk of an impending coup d'etat in Iraq. If Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shi'ite majority cannot rule Iraq, then what is to be said of the prospects for Democracy? What is to be said of Bush's rhetoric? But most significant: what is to be said of the many lies told by Bush to start the war to begin with?

There is also talk of a US backed Kurdish minority even as Sunnis take control of Baghdad. But I wonder how the Kurds —betrayed by Bush Sr —will be fooled again. Clearly —Bush never had a plan beyond bombing, attacking, invading and blowing up stuff. Quagmires, I suppose, are to heal themselves. Meanwhile, on ABC This Week, Fareed Zacharias suggested that the US is left with but one option: threatening Iraq with a withdrawal!

That bears repeating: the US presence in Iraq is such a debacle, such an utter failure, that the US —the chest-beating last remaining superpower —is reduced to threatening to withdraw. Perhaps Israel should similarly threaten Lebanon! It may be the only way left to win.

In the meantime, according to a CBS News/New York Times Poll, 62 percent of all Americans, 60 percent of all independents, and 89 percent of all Democrats disapprove of Bush's handling of Iraq.

It's tempting to attribute some of that to Bush's dubious achievements in the Middle East:

  • The Bush administration has ensured that the international community will fail to stop the mayhem in Lebanon by raising the bar, false hopes, and unrealistic expectations. Now, rather, is the time for practical solutions to an immediate crisis.
  • The US has ceased to play its traditional role of "honest broker"; instead, the Bush administration arms but one side of the dispute with sophisticated rockets and powerful bombs

It's time to face the fact that Bush policies, and likewise, the policies of Ehud Olmert in Israel, are counter-productive. A couple of points:

  • Hezbollah didn't exist before Israel invaded Lebanon during the Reagan years.
  • Bush foot dragging and unrealistic insistence upon a "lasting peace" has allowed Israel enough time to devastate Lebanon though it claims Hezbollah is its target.
Israel publicly proclaims that its goal is nothing less than the complete dismantling of Hezbollah's military infrastructure —"once and for all". Aside from the fact that an air campaign alone cannot accomplish this, disillusioned millions, radicalized by the disproportionate nature of the attack in the first place, will most certainly emerge stronger and more radical. Even if Israel should succeed in crippling Hezbollah —the maximum achievable by an air campaign —a stronger, more radical party will emerge on the other side.

Nor can Hezbollah be "dismantled" by an armed invasion. Now that the hoped for cease fire has fallen apart, it is difficult to see how an emerging pattern of escalation —feeding upon its own momentum —will stop short of a disastrous march into Beirut. This option will only result in murderous urban, guerrilla warfare.

It will not render Hezbollah powerless, because it is simply impossible to eliminate thousands of small, mobile, hidden and easily resupplied rockets via an air campaign. And it will not lead the weak Lebanese government to confront Hezbollah, because the civilian casualties caused by Israel's bombing are infuriating the Lebanese population and providing fodder for Israel's enemies throughout the Muslim world.

—Philip H. Gordon, Brookings Institution

Israel should know better; it's been there before. In 1982, Israeli soldiers were greeted with flowers and candy. But the purpose then was to kick out PLO occupiers. But —alas —Israel became the occupier of Lebanon and stayed for some 18 years.

If the world is lucky, Israel will have learned a lesson and settle for something less than full victory which they've defined as the utter destruction of Hezbollah. Hezbollah, however, wins if it only thwarts Israeli objectives.

A by-product of this war has been the increasingly alarmist vocabulary even among conservative commentators. George Will —a conservative —compared the "cascading escalation" to the events which followed the killing of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.






The Existentialist Cowboy

24 comments:

SadButTrue said...

"Only a catastrophe...could knock Iraq, where some 100 civilians are slaughtered daily, off the front pages" (pardon my editorial correction of syntax.)

With the front pages awash in two major bloodbaths, one directly and one indirectly due to Bush's incompetence, he has decided to try to slip THIS in under the newsmedia radar. This is his most cold, calculating cynical and frankly pure ƒµ¢€ing evil move to date. It has the reek of the beginning of the end (if we are not already well past that.)

"U.S. citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts under legislation proposed by the Bush administration, say legal experts reviewing an early version of the bill."

An accusation in the previous thread said, "Calling Bush's imperial warmongering regime a dictatorship is a little hyperbolic and maybe a little defeatist." What do you say now, Vigilante? How could anyone describe this as anything short of dictatorial? This is an affront to every principle that the United States of America has stood for for over two centuries. This is in fact an assault on legal principles accepted in any civilised country since long before the US was founded.

Bush has already tested this tactic of call it what it is kidnapping a US citizen and holding him without charges or legal recourse in the case of Jose Padilla. With this latest move, he is signalling that he plans to start doing this in a wholesale fashion. If this travesty is allowed to come to fruition, every US citizen should arm themselves, and adopt a policy of shoot first, ask questions later with respect to any federal agent, law enforcement personnel and members of the military. This would establish a clear principle of justification by self defense. I dare anybody to tell me I'm being hyperbolic.

Unknown said...

This is an affront to every principle that the United States of America has stood for for over two centuries.

Indeed! That's why I find it appalling that so many Americans seem not to know what "probable cause" is. As I've said: those two words stand between us and tyranny.

The Fourth Amendment standard, of course, IS "probable cause". The new mililtary director of the CIA denies this though it was proven beyond ANY reasonable doubt that he was not only wrong, but wrong headed. His mind had been made up. Even when the fourth amendment had been read to him, he denied that it said that it, in fact, said. That's either imperious or stupid. Possibly both.

When Bush rams this measure successfully, many Americans will get an education —FAST. But it'll be too late to save them. Who will know? They will have been dropped down a legal black hole of Stalinesque proportions.

I advise people to emigrate.

Unless Bush is stopped.

Kitsune said...

I came across your blog by accident and am quite interested in your writing. I am a Kuwaiti English Education major who has always been interested in journalism and the media and its great to see intelligent people such as yourself write something that my generation could learn from. I only hope many people will begin to open their eyes to what is going on in the world. Our world has become much smaller than it ever was and small decisions from one side of the world can impact what is going on all over.

Bush has made many more mistakes than a persident should. Iraq is his Vietnam, his war on terror is his Vietnam and his rape of the American constitution is a crime that should not be forgiven at all.

Thank you for providing these links to all of these interesting articles. I look forward to reading them as well as what else you will write about.

benmerc said...

Israel has got to know that Hezbollah has ingratiated them selves with the Lebanese population where ever they have migrated with their institutional social programs, there will be no more flowers and candy. This has got to be a smoke screen, or a ploy to draw Iran into the fray, it is all hard to say. Another theory I have heard, and this one goes back a ways, but has logic to it ( but not necessarily a rational process). The theory goes something like this: Israel must continually engage the various jihad factions as their strength and armaments rise. This way the enemy never has a chance to stock pile enough material to be of consequence, as these intermittent engagements help bleed down their supplies, and without the resources Israel has will always be a step behind.

Although that theory does make sense, these sort of military adventures are one hell of a way to run a nation. It appears the Israeli press is in about as much a quagmire as the U.S. press core. The U.S. and Israel, two proto fascist states, two peas in the same pod:
Israeli censor wields power over coverage - Mideast/N. Africa - MSNBC.com

I wonder when our media will get around to scrutinizing there own activity concerning their relation ship and protocol concerning Iraq, how they report it and their relationship with the Bush administration. They seem to be keeping up with the Israeli press.

Another point came to my attention over the past few days as some of the right’s popular punditry mouthed off about the current situation. I will mention three that I heard specifically, First Glenn Beck was ranting (on msm cable) about how we should never, ever negotiate with “terrorist” in any shape way, or form. Tucker Carlson was also on that rant, and low and behold Ann Coulter stated how “Reaganesque” it was for Israel to charge in , and not take any crap from Hezbollah. Now. if memory servers me correct, was that not EXACTLY what Reagan did in 1980? And then again with Iran, Iraq and Osama bin Laden when the “negotiations” were in our favor? I’m just saying, and oh yea, he also got 241 marines blown to bits the last time we went to Lebanon, great job Prez.

TheLateMoeHoward said...

'Slam Dunk'. 'Mission Accomplished'. 'The last throes'. And to this day, Cheney doesn't think there is a civil war going on in Iraq. Even the last voice of reason (and I use this term in a comparative sense only) in this appalling administration --Colin Powell -- was first hypnotized and then bulldozed. Foreign policy requires more than a belief in Jeebus and shooting from the hip.

Now Bush is going to rush thousands of troops back into Baghdad... the one place you'd figure the Iraqi 'government' and defense forces would have laid down the law by now. Any bets that the militias are glad to see them coming? Sounds like Custerville to me.

Unknown said...

Re: Kitsune

I came across your blog by accident and am quite interested in your writing. I am a Kuwaiti English Education major who has always been interested in journalism and the media and its great to see intelligent people such as yourself write something that my generation could learn from.

Welcome to the "Cowboy". I think you'll enjoy the regular "posters" here. It's a great group, and, to be honest, it's hard to keep up with them. Even our disagreements are, by and large, civil.

I only hope many people will begin to open their eyes to what is going on in the world. Our world has become much smaller than it ever was and small decisions from one side of the world can impact what is going on all over.

That's my hope as well. I would like to think that that is my primary motivation in creating the "Cowboy". I can't reach millions as do the big networks; but we can reach thousands on this blog. And, if my "stats" can be trusted, we reach incrementally more every day. The best anyone can do in these trying times is to think clearly and hope that by doing so, some truth will be revealed and shared.

Bush has made many more mistakes than a president should. Iraq is his Vietnam, his war on terror is his Vietnam and his rape of the American constitution is a crime that should not be forgiven at all

The word "rape" perfectly describes his approach to the Constitution, a document, that while not perfect, is still among the world's great documents; it is still a testament to humankind's never ending quest for freedom and, in that, the very dignity of our specie. I consider the US Constitution to be an "existentialist" document, in that our founders made of freedom a deliberate choice. They chose to be free and did so in good faith. It was courageous act and remains so today when just going along with Bush is the easy, coward's way out.

Thank you for providing these links to all of these interesting articles. I look forward to reading them as well as what else you will write about.

And feel free to share your thoughts with the gang here.

Re: benmerc,

The theory goes something like this: Israel must continually engage the various jihad factions as their strength and armaments rise. This way the enemy never has a chance to stock pile enough material to be of consequence, as these intermittent engagements help bleed down their supplies, and without the resources Israel has will always be a step behind.

Well, that's a pretty cynical theory but has the ring of truth to it. I hope it's wrong.

I must admit, however, that having supported Israel's right to exist all these many years, I have all but abandoned hope for them. Even conservatives have said that Bush was AWOL on this issue. By refusing all dialoque, Bush has no leverage in the Middle East. Seen in that light, perhaps Israel believed that there was no point in talking. The "honest broker" was AWOL.

But maybe I am giving Olmert more credit than he deserves. I met and interviewed him once —when he was a lowly and almost unknown member of the Knesset. I am ashamed to say that he made little impression upon me and I can't remember for life of me what we talked about.

In the meantime, however, war crimes are war crimes. I see Bush and Ehud in the dock.

Unknown said...

Sad,

Thanks for the proofread. I made the correction. Much better : )

Unknown said...

Now Bush is going to rush thousands of troops back into Baghdad... the one place you'd figure the Iraqi 'government' and defense forces would have laid down the law by now. Any bets that the militias are glad to see them coming?

Another miscalculation by Bush. Another sign of desparation in the worst administration in American history.

Sebastien Parmentier said...

I believe the greatest miscalculation in foreign policy ever - coming from the United States - is indeed - and again - the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Saddam was able to keep the Mullah in check with his lies of possessing WMDs. Now that this wall is gone, the worst scenario feared by Saudia Arabia, Lebanon, Isreal and Egypt is played right on the front of the world's newspaper: Iran being free to fuck around with anyone via sponsoring terrorism...

Fuzzflash said...

Len, you wrote: "A by-product of this war has been the increasingly alarmist vocabulary even among conservative commentators. George Will —a conservative —compared the "cascading escalation" to the events which followed the killing of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914."

"alarmist vocabulary"? Absolutely. George Will and Kristoll Bill and the maddies at Fox are shilling recent events in the Mediterranian Middle East as the catalyst for WW111. Rove is whingeing about how mean the MSM have been lately to "initiatives" of the Imbecile-In-Chief, on the one hand,to Bush's "signing statements" re spying on, and data mining US citizens, or to Bush's calculated inertia on the other(Israel/Lebanon). This is all about unsettling the horses ahead of the November Mid-Terms. "Be very afraid, because if you don't vote for the party of the Mission Accomplished War President Decider , then you will be nuke fodder". Ironically, this message also keeps the jesus fundies rusted on, cos they wanna get raptured ASAP. Global warming leading to environmental catastrophe is far too slow for these people. Their parents sooked it with "Duck and Cover". This generation of Neo-Rapturists are feeling their oats. They want widespread nuking, and they want it now. For Rove, it's win-win spin. Galvanise The Base, AND, frighten the rubes-at-large. Karl is not a particularly nice person, but at his job, he’s very good.

Back to George Will and his classic doublethink. Phrases like "cascading escalation" make my brain hurt. Especially when used in a political, as opposed to a poetic or drug-addled context. Something goes up and down at the same time. Far out, man. GOP physics meets the Uncertainty Principle. As observed by the Road Runner. Maybe George is the bastard child of Auntie Mame from Upson Downs, and poppa was a rolling stone, and he really IS The Seventh Son of Pepetual Motion. It’s got me fucked. Folk like George, apparantly, don't have difficulty getting their heads around a concept like “cascading escalation”, because when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, in the fullness of time going forward, “Ignorance(really) Is Strength”.

benmerc said...

"GOP physics meets the Uncertainty Principle"


Does not get much better then that ...

Unknown said...

Indeed, Fuzzflash "cascading esclation" make my brain hurt as well.

I called it alarmist because I was surprised to hear Will use it. He was, in fact, critical of Bush throughout the exchange and appears to have broken with this administration.

Newt and the other purveyors of apocalypse and WWIII most certainly hope —as you pointed out —to be raptured! Sheesh! But these are the same people who pooh pooh Global Warming because that kind of talk is bad for "bidness".

Secondly, as you point out, things "cascade" down, as conversatives believe wealth trickles down. Escalate implies upwardness. I have never seen anything cascade UP.

Jennie said...

There is little, if any evidence, that the rapture the fundies hope for will occur before the tribulation. In fact, historically the faithful had God-given strength to endure through many tribulations. But, sometimes there's no convincing those fundies, especially since they think Left Behind books are non-fiction in fiction form. Tragic.

benmerc said...

Jen...

What is tragic is that we, the majority of the real world have to deal with these fools on a full time basis at this point, as each day they creep futher into our realm.

At the same time, most of us are trying to cope with the manifested realities of life on this planet and the real challenges and consequences like: racial strife, global warming and a myriad of other environmental issues that are coming to a head, health care, eliminating hunger, stopping domestic abuse and violence, putting and end to war fare, just to name a few.

It gets down right tiresome listening to their insanity and dealing with their day to day dogma along with the distraction and damage it causes us as a society, as a civilization. I have always been patient and respectful of others belief systems, I can not help it...that is how I was raised, but I will tell you, currently that well is getting very, very low.

Unknown said...

Great comments all...but now here's something that is guaranteed to scare the beejeebers out of you:

We all act in accordance with what we believe to be true!

As Voltaire put it: Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities

Anonymous said...

" I am one whom the vile blows and buffets of the world have so incensed, that I am reckless what I do to spite the world"

William Shakespeare

"Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose"

Janis Joplin

By that criteria, I guess they're feeling pretty free in Lebanon these days, not to mention in Iraq. If you're a country in that situation, do you become reckless what you do to spite the world?

If I were George Bush, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night for visions of all the people I might as well have killed with my own hands. That he can sleep in spite of it is a measure of the responsibility he feels. Don't fool yourself into thinking he feels any more for you.

Unknown said...

Great post, Mark. I always enjoy a quote from Shakespeare especially one coupled with a line from one of Janis Joplin's immortal hits. However, the line was actually written by Kris Kristofferson. Now...there is one line that Joplin sang incorrectly. But recently, Kristofferson said that he didn't mind that at all. Joplin, in his opinion, could sing that song anyway she wanted.

If I were George Bush, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night for visions of all the people I might as well have killed with my own hands.

Sadly, Bush doesn't lose sleep at night. The man's soul is dead to the world. He just doesn't care.

I pray that the world survives George Bush.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Len; I knew that Janis Joplin didn't write it, but I was too lazy to look up who did. I remember my folks had that Kristofferson album when I was a kid; I think it's the same album that included "Sunday Mornin' Sidewalk".

You're probably right that George Bush has no soul, although I always saw him as Danny Bonaduce in the Partridge Family - the only one who really couldn't play along, and had to fake it instead. I just don't think he has any real grasp of what's going on, or of how his "decisions" affect the course of events.

Those who hate him heap scorn on his recollection of catching a big perch in his lake as the high point of his presidency - tragically, he was probably telling the truth. Even more tragically, he was right.

Unknown said...

I can't remember the name of the album. Kris Kristofferson often helped out other musicians. He may not have discovered Larry Gatlin but certainly helped him out. Kristofferson was married to Rita Coolidge at the time. I spoke with Larry about that back in the 70's. Gatlin told me (in a broadcast newsroom in Pasadena, TX) that if it had not been for Kris and Rita and Johnny Cash, he might have starved trying to make it big in Nashville.

I attended high school with Gatlin in West Texas, and later, I ran into him at the University of Houston. He was on the football team in Houston, but I suspect music was a much, much better career choice.

I never met Joplin...but she is a legend! She hailed from Port Arthur, TX and, in the early to mid sixties, played little folk clubs in Houston, One of them was the "Sand Mountain" in the Montrose area. It was just a little house that had been converted to serve as a folk music club. It stood for years even after Joplin's death. It's no longer there. Probably replaced by a Starbucks.

Anonymous said...

It began to prey on my mind, so I looked it up. Coincidentally enough, it was titled, "Me and Bobby McGee", released in 1971. I never thought it was the strongest song on the album (perhaps that's why I didn't think of it as the title track), but I liked "Just the Other Side of Nowhere". Kris Kristofferson will always be a better songwriter than he is a singer.

Interestingly, a poll conducted here this past weekend exclusively for the Ottawa Citizen (sponsored by Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs, conducted by Innovative Research Group), sampling right across the country, asked, "Who is the biggest threat to world peace?" Choices offered were Iran, Israel, North Korea, Hezbollah, Syria and Lebanon. Iran won at 26%, but they were only ahead of Israel by 6 points, at 20%. Only 15% picked Hezbollah. You may wonder why our Prime Minister who, as our senior elected official is supposed to represent the will of the people, expressed unqualified support for....Israel. I wonder that, too.

Unknown said...

A few years back LeAnn Rimes tried her hand with "Me and Bobby McGee" along with some old Patsy Cline tunes. Rimes' version of "Bobby" was incredible considering how young Rimes was at the time. But —Joplin rules! You're right, Kris was a better song writer than singer. Another song that many another singer did a fine job with was "Sunday Mornin' Commin' Down". Even Johnny Cash tried his hand at that one. "Me and Bobby McGee", however, remains one of the most poignant songs to ever make a chart. Poetry! It is not by accident that you quoted that immortal line: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose!"

Anonymous said...

Thus spake Zarathustra.

Anonymous said...

Great comments all! Mark, the nitpicker in me prompts me to bring to your attention that "criteria" is the plural of "criterion". :)

Anonymous said...

By golly, you're right. I'm a bit of a nitpicker myself, and typically deplore the miserable state of literacy in progressive countries where public education is free and there is no excuse for poor spelling or grammar. Thanks for pointing that out!