honorary Hose Monster:
I'm beyond flattered that Jeff Cooper has added my blog to his linked pages run by other library night watchmen. I find his work to be very insightful and well crafted. Now that he has linked me, I'm suddenly feeling the pressure to give this blog a more legitimate reason for existence ...
... which is the perfect segue to ...
God damn George W. Bush and his enclave of belligerents who believe the sanctity of human life (US version) is more important that the sanctity of human life (that of anyone who doesn't agree with us or toe our line).
Mr. Cooper made some good commentary on the rather shifty-seeming shift in policy making yesterday:
This approach to government—determine a policy, then offer a series of dishonest (or at best half-honest) rationales in support of the predetermined policy—is deeply corrosive in a democracy; it betrays utter disdain for the public. And, as others have observed, this approach has characterized the Bush administration from day one, from the tax cut on down. Rather than focusing on the fundamental dishonesty of the administration's methodology, however, the Washington Post today essentially celebrates its effectiveness. As Tim Dunlop notes today, the approach works only because the press's fascination with winners and losers rather than policy allows it.
The administration's approach is alarming in another respect as well: the president and his advisors seem indifferent to the larger consequences of their actions. We saw this with the tax cut. When opponents argued that the plan would cause the deficit to explode, the president simply asserted that it wouldn't. And when deficits did in fact return, the administration insisted that the tax cut had nothing to do with it, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
We're seeing the same thing with Iraq. It is quite clear that the administration intends to remove Saddam Hussein from power. It's not at all clear, however, what the administration envisions happening next. Indeed, at one point the administration suggested that it would not decide that question, but would leave it to the international community. That may have been a faint gesture toward multilateralism, but it came across as an abdication of responsibility. Unless we go in with a clear vision of the endgame and the aftermath, how dare we act unilaterally to throw Iraq into disarray?
I don't know how much I can agree with the last paragraph, not because I think Mr. Cooper's concerns are invalid, but because I don't believe our leaders have the privilege to consider an end game strategy at the moment. I think to have this privilege, you need to have the justification to forcefully exert your proposed end, and I am still not convinced this needs to happen.
But apparently this is not a concern for the Administration. Take yesterday's fundamental policy shift that the Bushies are trying to bring to fruition to justify their contention that force is needed in Iraq now. You need to read this article in its entirety (for one, because it's amazing that I can so incensed off a Yahoo! News article, which is the USA Today of internet news), but I need to highlight this comment:
"As a matter of common sense and self-defense, America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed," [Bush] wrote in "The National Military Strategy for the United States of America."
Self-defense? Since when does taking an agressive stance and attacking another amount to self-defense? This isn't hockey or football, and the maxim "The best defense is a good offense" absolutely cannot apply. And remind me, when was the last time in an international conflict that the US was the clear agressor nation? Yeah, I forgot when that was too. I think one of the reasons our military is so widely respected, other than the fact that it's well trained, well led and well supplied, is that its leaders are usually pretty good about employing it only in necessary situations. If we start going into lands of "emerging threats" with guns blazing on the basis of self-justification, the terror attacks are only going to increase, and I sincerely believe that. Think other peoples complain of US imperialism and efforts at hegemony now? Wait until the Bush Doctrine (has anybody called it this yet? Am I coining a term?) goes into effect, then you'll really hear the tables thumping.
Another question: supposing the Bush Doctrine does go into effect (god forbid), then who makes the decisions on what constitutes valid emerging threats? I think this is VERY DANGEROUS, and if the voters let this happen (and I wonder if we are powerless to do anything against its happening right now, which is alarming), I think we'll start to see a disappearance of crucial elements of democracy in the coming years. Way too vague for comfort under any administration, and under current circumstances, I don't know about you, but I don't want someone who has to be briefed on who the world leaders of various countries are during his campaign so he doesn't look completely stupid. Not saying I know them all, but I assure you if I were ever to run for president, I sure as hell would.
And COMMON SENSE? What? You're kidding, right? Going into lands where the population is starving and shooting them up because people there might want to massacre a couple thousand people with tactics largely beyond their means in most circumstances is common sense? You know, I don't like thinking there are people out there who want to massacre anyone like that, least of all potentially me, but witch hunts against those sorts of things is NOT common sense. It's more like facism, and that is absolutely not an exaggeration.
Read the full article to get the sense of how stupid the Administration sounds right now.
You know, I think this Administration has done a decent job of handling the turmoil of last year. I admit, when Bush was theoretically "elected" two years ago, I was concerned that he would not be able to handle the day to day grind of the job. As it stands, he seems to be balancing against a normal life better than anyone (bimonthly vacations to Crawford, all the exercising - you have to be impressed at that). I still didn't agree with him on a lot of issues, but at the very least, I had lost a great fear that he would really screw the country domestically and internationally over for a few generations.
I've now re-developed that fear.