Thursday, January 31, 2008

Trying to Put the U.S. Beyond Repair

First, a tribute to Molly Ivins, lost to us a year ago today. July of 2006 she wrote, "The Suicide of Capitalism" for the Texas Observer:

It seems to me that we’ve seen enough evidence over the years that the capitalist system is not going to be destroyed by an outside challenger like communism—it will be destroyed by its own internal greed. Greed is the greatest danger as we develop an increasingly winner-take-all system. And voices like The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page encourage this mentality by insisting that any form of regulation is bad. But for whom?

It is so discouraging to watch this country become less and less fair—“justice for all” seems like an embarrassingly archaic tag. Republicans have rigged the “lottery of life” in this country in ways we don’t even know about yet. The new bankruptcy law is unfair, and the new college loan rules are worse. The system has been stacked so that large corporations have an inside track over small businesses in getting government contracts. We won’t see the full consequences of this mean and careless legislation for years, but it’s starting to affect us already.

Look around you, did she call it or what? And her bete noire, w, is well on then way to destroying a lot more than the economy.

(Thanks to racymind.wordpress for reminding me of the date in Molly Ivins adoration.)

Can we last out the next 354 days - which seems to be just enough time for the occupied White House to screw up everything so badly in addition to its failures of the past 7 years - that no successor will be able to save this country from disaster?

In Afghanistan, it seems we're after the only measures that have proven up to keeping our justifiable war from failure.

Several groups of the U.S. foreign policy establishment have released reports calling for major changes in strategy on Afghanistan (I am a member of the Afghanistan Study Group, the first mentioned). From a media advisory (links added):

Three independent reports have concluded this month that a major new effort is needed to succeed in Afghanistan. These reports – by the Afghanistan Study Group, established by the Center for the Study of the Presidency following the Iraq Study Group; the Strategic Advisors Group of the Atlantic Council of the United States; and the National Defense University – concur that without prompt actions by the U.S. and its allies, the mission in Afghanistan may fail – causing severe consequences to U.S. strategic interests worldwide, including the war on terrorism and the future of NATO. The U.S. cannot afford to let Afghanistan continue to be the neglected, or forgotten, war.
Besides the well-known dispute over aerial poppy eradication and eradication in areas where farmers have no alternative livelihoods (but are said to be "greedy and corrupt"), the US is now pressing the Afghan government to use the Afghan National Army to provide security for eradication operations. Sources in the Afghan government who do not wish to be named state that this will make the ANA fight the people and destroy its morale. Morale is already falling, since mullahs who conduct funeral services for fallen ANA soldiers risk assassination. But the Bush administration is apparently determined to wreck its one partial success story in Afghanistan before leaving office.

Of course, the possibility of making use of Afghanistan's uniquely suitable conditions for growing poppies to give that resource to painkiller manufacturers can't be brought into play by the administration, as it interferes with their posture with the rightwingers who have the hots for drug eradication programs.

It's not just in Afghanistan that the surge is on to make an impossible situation for the next White House resident.

George W. Bush can lap the Middle East, the planet, the solar system and America's Iraq is still never going to get up and walk away. Not even in 2018 or 2028. Don't forget, it's a corpse. (In fact, unlike the politicians and the media, recent opinion polls show that the American people generally have not forgotten this.)

In the meantime, the military in Iraq is preparing for something other than a simple victory lap, just in case the President's surge luck doesn't quite extend to 2009. Former brigadier general and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle Eastern Affairs Mark Kimmitt, for instance, recently suggested that there was "only a mild chance" that surge security gains would prove permanent: "[I]f I had to put a number to it, maybe it's three in 10, maybe it's 50-50, if we play our cards right."
So, here's a simple reality check: The whole discussion of, and argument about, "success" in Iraq is, in fact, obscene. Given what has already happened to that country—and will continue to happen as long as the U.S. remains an occupying power there—the very category of "success" is an obscenity. If violence actually does stay down there, that may be a modest godsend for Iraqis, but it can hardly be considered a sign of American "success."

Every now and then, history comes in handy. In a previous moment, when the neocons and their allied pundits were feeling particularly triumphant, they began touting Bush's America as the planet's new Rome (only more so). That talk evaporated once Iraq went into full-scale insurgency mode (and Afghanistan followed). But perhaps Rome does remain a touchstone of a sort for administration Iraqi policies.

What comes to mind is the Roman historian Tacitus' description of the Roman way of war. He put his version of it into the mouth of Calgacus, a British chieftain who opposed the Romans, and it went, in part, like this:

"They have plundered the world, stripping naked the land in their hunger, they loot even the ocean: they are driven by greed, if their enemy be rich; by ambition, if poor; neither the wealth of the east nor the west can satisfy them: they are the only people who behold wealth and indigence with equal passion to dominate. They ravage, they slaughter, they seize by false pretenses, and all of this they hail as the construction of empire. And when in their wake nothing remains but a desert, they call that peace."

Folks, it's obscene. We're doing victory laps around, and dancing upon, a corpse. (Emphasis added.)

Again the war criminals are showing that they cannot wrap their minds around concepts like peace and prosperity because those great goals of political gains get in the way. The troops they extol they inflict with unimaginable trauma and deny the bare benefits of economic support like the GI Bill and the 'stimulus' package.

The damage inflicted on this country pales in comparison with that the war criminals have inflicted on Iraq and Afghanistan, and are trying to extend to Iran. It is a horrible burden that the next President will have to bear. The sooner it begins, the better for us all.

To take a leaf from Diane's book; 354 days to go.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've long thog it would be cheaper and easier to manage to just sent someone around with wads of money to buy up all the opium in Afghastan as it's harvested. That would keep it from getting into America, support Afghan farmer and save us from all the heard work of trying to find and arrest smugglers.

7:26 PM  

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