State of the Union – The War on Terror Death March
January 23, 2007
The US War on Terror continues its apocalyptic road towards even greater disasters. No matter what, George W. Bush continues to disregard common sense and global opinion. Refusing to face truth, he escalates a lost, meaningless war, sacrificing American lives, not to mention those of the Iraqis. That is not even mentioning the $ trillions to be spent on a hopeless and unethical cause.
This post is a follow up to my two previous posts on the War on Terror: 1) Bad Strategies Lose a Bad War on Terror and 2) Consequences of a Lost War on Terror. Both of these essays go into details of how the War on Terror, at first, was supportable following 9/11, then why it fumbled into misguided and non winnable wars against two independent states with no real connection to the 9/11 terrorism. Not only that, Bush pursued a series of illegal actions to amass personal authority totally incompatible with US and World ethics.
There is more to come in the War on Terror series. This post is a quick update of current events as of mid January 2007. Tonight, as I write this, Bush will give his State of the Union address. Some expect him to moderate his views some. I very much doubt it.
Recent Developments (Jan 23, 2007)
On Jan. 10th 2007, George W. Bush announced yet another brand new strategy for winning the war on terror, that is, the war against religious cults in Iraq. No one expected anything but a rehash of what has not worked in the past and will not work in the future. That is exactly what we got. As expected, the Baker Iraq Study Group’s report was sent to an undisclosed location where it will never be seen again. Instead of listening to the many, Bush choose to escalate the Iraq War. Repeating the same mistakes over and over, expecting a better result is ignorant and bullheaded. Which is exactly what we all expected and we all got from Mr. “Makes-No-Mistakes” W. Bush.
But the opposition to escalating the war is massive. A Democratic Congress sees an opportunity to demonstrate its new power. Republicans up for 2008 reelection suddenly see the light. Domestic and worldwide opinion is flabbergasted and shocked at the Don Quixote moves by a beleaguered, isolated and confused President with no curiosity about what really matters.
By mid/late January 2007, George W. Bush and his fewer and fewer allies are increasingly isolated. Republicans and Democrats alike are in rebellion against Bush’s latest attempt to save face. To Bush, Iraq is by now a mission of rescuing his legacy. He is alone in that concern. Republicans up for a 2008 election are concerned about their own legacy. Democrats worry about how not to screw up this phenomenal opportunity to gain power for a long time. The vast US and world wide majority want to end failed foreign interference in Iraqi politics and long standing tribal sectarianism.
Perhaps the massive opposition to the War is finally wearying some of the Bush Clan down. They all have to realize just how tainted they are for the rest of their lives. The lucrative talk shows, memoirs and lobbying jobs may not materialize.
Who supports this lost war? Dick Cheney likes it and so does, I suspect reluctantly, Condi Rice. Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News jokes think it is a splendid idea. John McCain can’t get out of his too well published support. Hillary Clinton, a long time war supporter, is changing her song. Barak Obama is new and lucky enough to have little baggage to jettison. Rudy Guiliano is walking the tightrope of a tyrant Liberal masking as a Republican. John Edwards does have his luggage but, like Clinton, is dumping it out the back window. Not that the guy has a chance. Bill Richardson, the well respected liberal underdog, wants the troops out of Iraq but who will listen?
Polling the people
US Conservative Christians form the biggest pro War organization. Apparently 2/3rds of them still support the Iraq War. But their private Presidential candidate, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, mixes an anti-abortion and anti-gay stand with actually opposing more troops to Iraq. That shows just how scared the right wingers are of this war.
Compare the current 68% Religious Right war approval rating with the following Newsweek polls: in 2003, 69% of Americans approved of the War. Today, mid January 2007, that has dropped to 24%. The Religious right makes up roughly 1/4 of the US population, perhaps voting for the war at a 68% rate in the Newsweek survey. Using some simple math, this indicates the NON Religious Right population’s support for the Iraq War is as low as 11%.
Other recent polls: An international survey of 25 countries claims: 73% disapprove of the war. A dismal 29% believe the US is a positive factor compared to 36% a year ago and 40% two years ago. 49% view the US as negative international influence. In the US, 57% believe the US is good for the world, down from 71% two years ago. Internationally, 68% believe the US presence in the Mideast provokes more violence. 67% disapprove of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp (who on Earth approves of this obscenity?).
Out of the 25 countries, five are significantly more supportive of the US than the others. One is the US itself. The other four are Kenya, the Philippines, India and Nigeria. Exclude these five and the numbers for the remaining 20 countries will look a whole lot worse.
Take Australia: 78% oppose the US handling of the Iraq war. 77% disapprove of Guantanamo. 68% oppose the US (non) stand on Global Warming. 66% despise the US role in the recent Israel vs. Hitzbullah/Lebanon conflict. 63% are disappointed by the Bush handling of the Iran nuclear program.
That is a dismal view by and scorecard from a friendly country. Let’s look at a few other opinions.
Tony Blair, the golden boy gone awry, is desperately trying to divert the attention to other quite worthy cases such as AIDS, the non-Iraq Middle East and Global Warming. Jacques Chirac of France, not a supporter but loving to put the US down, is laughing all the way to the TV studio. German Chancellor Angelica Merkel is busy saying nothing at all, wanting to improve US relations after a long winter.
Perhaps Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki is supportive in some sort of a manner. He has wisely declared if he could get out of his tenuous position today, he would be the happiest man in Iraq.
Other war supporters, I expect, include otherwise irrelevant Osama bin Laden of who-knows-where, Kim Jong-il of the proudly nuclear Korea, Nashar al-Assad of preying, devious Syria and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of no-holocaust soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. All have good reasons to enjoy a weakened US exercising its few options in a well contained Iraq.
Nixon versus Bush
Most domestic and world public opinions reject Bush policies, in particular as related to Iraq. So do the countless experts and even politicians that demand an exit plan from Iraq. Does Bush listen? No, he escalates. Here is what President Nixon said about his own quite similar quagmires:
Defensiveness: “I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war”; “No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now”.
Defiance: “I can take it. The tougher it gets, the cooler I get”; “When the President does it that means that it’s not illegal“; “Nobody is a friend of ours. Let’s face it”; “Politics would be a helluva good business if it weren’t for the goddamned people“.
Confession: “I let down my friends. I let down the country. I let down our system of government and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government, but think that it’s all too corrupt”; “Well, I screwed it up real good, didn’t I?“
Let’s look at a few Bush quotes:
Ignorance: “America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our people”; “Bring them on”; “Everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear“; “The tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free”; “The wisest use of American strength is to advance freedom”; “There’s no bigger task than protecting the homeland of our country”: “We know that dictators are quick to choose aggression, while free nations strive to resolve differences in peace“; “Mission accomplished”.
Divine justification: “I believe that God has planted in every heart the desire to live in freedom”; “The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them.”
Aggressiveness: “Any government that supports, protects or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent and equally guilty of terrorist crimes“; “Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups or seeks to possess weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world and will be confronted“; “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either, you are with us, or you are with the terrorists“; “Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction.”
Defiance: “I understand everybody in this country doesn’t agree with the decisions I’ve made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand.”; “Iraq is no diversion. It is a place where civilization is taking a decisive stand against chaos and terror, we must not waver” ; “I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me”; “I’m the decider, and I decide what is best.”
Confession: “I’m open to any ideas or suggestions that will help us achieve our goals of defeating the terrorists and ensuring that Iraq’s democratic government succeeds.”; “Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead. Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq’s young democracy continues to progress.”
While these quotes highlight some differences between the two worst Presidents in American History, they really only accentuate the emptiness of two failed men with way too much power for their own and anyone else’s good.
The problem remains
The Iraq solution remains the same as ever before. The US has to get out of Iraq. The problem also remains the same. George W. Bush doesn’t want to get out of Iraq. At some point common sense has to prevail. The US must completely change its agenda towards true moral leadership and peace. My essays on the War on Terror and Global Warming both work on that point. Both issues will shape the world of the future. Actually, they already are.
On the State of Union Address: “President Bush will discuss his determination to defeat terrorists who are part of a broader extremist movement that is now doing everything it can to defeat us in Iraq,” White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said at a briefing last week. It’s all business as usual. Steady as we go.
According to the leaked statements about the State of Union address tonight, Bush will claim “I’m still relevant”. He wants focus on bold domestic initiatives. He wants reach out to the Democrats. Fat chance. This is one of the all time least popular President at a current approval rating of 33%. Congress is controlled by his opponents. We’ll find out soon enough if the Democrats have the will and guts to make a difference.
The Democrats promised an intensive first 100 hours creating important policies and passing great laws as they took over Congress after the first of 2007. They did make progress – minimum wage, student loan interest rates, some Medicare reform, stem research support, more cargo inspections in ports, less tax breaks for the oil industry. There are also promises about Global Warming and threats about cutting Iraq war funding. But it remains to be seen what of all of this will actually be real.
In particular, the Democrat opposition to the Iraq War and the War on Terror is a bit too vague for my taste. On the one hand, they will supply all the money “needed to support out troops”. On the other hand, they want to stop increased US involvement. Any support for a real “get the hell out” strategy is sketchy or nonexistent although it is the only initiative that will actually work.
The real problem is that a lame duck President is the last thing the US needs. My own agenda is to help stopping this Iraq disaster and to contribute to resolving the battle of Global Warming. Either of these resolutions requires strong Washington DC leadership. From where?
Global Warming: Dubious signs of hope
Global Warming is a related issue where the Bush Doctrine needlessly and foolishly goes against the rest of the world. A sign of pragmatic hope is the recent coming out of the closet of some major companies on Global Warming. Walmart, Lehman Brothers, DuPont, GE, Alcoa, Caterpillar, Florida Power&Light, PG&E and PNM all suddenly see the light.
“This is the first time big business has come forward to support major environmental legislation. These CEOs understand the danger if we let climate change go unchecked – as well the huge upside economic opportunity of taking action.” Funny, the point is to make more money. What do you know?
These companies should pay huge penalties/taxes on the carbon gases they release as an incentive to clean up their act. I doubt that is what they implied when claiming to “support major environmental legislation”. Maybe I’m just cynical.
This followed the ExxonMobil’s PR problem where they had to admit very shady attempts to discredit valid Global Warming research and to manipulate public opinion in their favor in a clandestine manner. They obviously read the same books as George W.
In another curious development, evangelistic leaders put aside the never ending creationism/evolutionary issue, declaring they want to work together with scientists on the Global Warming issue. I’m not sure that will save the planet, but any positive act is a good one. I hope.
Here is the last quote for the day from French professor and author Daniele Ganser:
In my research, I put forward evidence that these secret armies not only existed in Italy, but also in all Western Europe: in France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Greece, Luxembourg and Germany. In the beginning, we thought that there existed only one guerrilla-structured organization, and therefore, that all these secret armies had participated in the strategy of tension, and therefore, in terrorist acts.
What’s he talking about? Al Qaeda? Hamas? Hitzbullah? No, he is discussing CIA and NATO clandestine operations in Europe over the last 50 years. True or not, I don’t know but it is indicative of how Europe feels about the proven terrorist actions of the US.
The next issue of my War on Terror series will deal with what it takes to get out of the horrible mess of Iraq and the aftermath of 9/11 knee jerk policies. My ultimate goal is to find out what it takes to restore US ethics and international standings.
Images in this essay
I illustrate this essay with images from my portfolios. After all, I’m a photographer. I use mostly night scenes that may emphasize the starkness of the topic. Professionally, I like night scenes, with their dramatic and quite tricky light. The extremes in contrast, the deep blacks and the graininess appeal to me. Most of the images are shot handheld with an 85mm F1.2 Canon lens and Delta 3200 film, push developed about 1/2 stop.
Thank you, Karl