Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Winds of Continuous War

It is with some bemusement that I see a gaggle of the usual suspects have started a petition calling for an "immediate withdrawal" of US forces from Iraq. Not that this isn't a fine and noble effort. It is. Consider that the Bush administration have fairly well ignored the results of the election -- widely perceived as a repudiation of his failed Iraq war -- and Bush will, in all likelihood, "surge" already battered soldiers into Baghdad in one last effort to halt the violence. A petition is just one more thing for Bush to ignore. This is terribly cynical, of course. It is a cynicism borne of six years of watching this country buried by relentless, blinding stupidity in pursuit of a dreadful and destructive agenda, both foreign and domestic, supplemented by piles of deceit and untrammeled by any utterance of truth. But it always serves to keep the pressure on, no matter whether Bush is aware of it or not. And rest assured, he is not. We know that he is plenty unaware of a lot of things, Noam Chomsky and Arundhati Roy's boisterous criticisms notwithstanding.

Bush, however, is determined to see this war to a conclusion only he and a few nattering acolytes have an ability to see. He possesses a singular capacity to ignore even the most recent of his own miserable histories. US forces already have surged once this past summer. It was a similar effort to the one being described now, one that was supposed to quell the escalating violence in Baghdad. The summer troop surge had just the opposite effect. But to those who have Bush's ear, this was not a sign of wrongheaded thinking but that the tactic simply needed to "go big" or bigger as the case may be. If something fails, this merely indicates that more of it needs to be done; failure is solely the result of an inadequate supply of the whatever it was that led to failure in the first place. In the minds of the Pentagon, the White House and its various, ridiculous supporters, it is the magnitude of their failed policy vector that has been incorrect; it hasn't been big enough. But the direction of that vector is never questioned. This kind of thinking dominates Washington.

Which is probably why the senior commander of the Middle East, General Abizaid, is on the way out. He delivered to the deaf ears of George Bush a prescription that defies the limited neural network of this president's meager mind; the idea is simply too big, too much to grasp and, importantly, doesn't require more guns.
You have to internationalize the problem. You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically. You just can’t apply a microscope on a particular problem in downtown Baghdad and a particular problem in downtown Kabul and say that somehow or another, if you throw enough military forces at it, that you are going to solve the broader issues in the region of extremism.
This is a prescription that will not be filled. The White House, aided and abetted once again by simpering Democrats, will do just as they are planning to do: throw more guns at the problem. Despite the fact that this has not worked in Iraq, it is all they know.

Thus, we have George Bush today acknowledging that his misery-soaked, militaristic policies in Afghanistan and Iraq have strained, if not broken, the US armed forces. But his recipe is not a call to reduce our calamitous military misadventures, but to "increase the size of the Armed Forces" because "this ideological war we’re in is going to last for a while." This is, foremost, a self-fulfilling prophesy and it has become the theme of Bush's reign of terror. In furtherance of the relentless militaristic posture of this administration, US embassies around the world have been and continue to be populated by Pentagon personnel, who conduct their own intelligence operations and "self-assigned missions." While this is causing friction with the diplomatic corps of the State Department, something a Congressional Republican report has now cited, this is exactly the tack the White House and the Pentagon insist upon.
As the Pentagon takes on new roles collecting intelligence, initiating information operations and conducting other “self-assigned missions,” the report found that some embassies have effectively become command posts, with military personnel in those countries all but supplanting the role of ambassadors in conducting American foreign policy.

The report, completed by the Republican staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week, concluded that Pentagon “enthusiasm” has blurred chains of command and has the potential to backfire by weakening American relationships abroad and setting back American counterterrorism efforts.
There is almost nothing this administration has done that has not increased the threat of terrorism, so this revelation is of a piece with every other foreign policy prescription that has charged out of the White House. Naturally, the world has the erstwhile Sectretary of Defense -- the best one ever -- Donald Rumsfeld to thank for the introduction of US troops into embassies througout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

As this country slides further and further into irrremediable debt, one cannot help but wonder how much longer the rest of the world will continue to fund a US war machine that insists its presence where none is wanted. We know we cannot fund it and haven't for sometime. Our strident posture, disconnected from any ability to pay for it, is surely doomed. Later than sooner, perhaps, but it is doomed nonetheless. It is curious then that, as he has led the way toward the government's diminished fiscal capacity, Bush sees ramping up for more military spending as the only solution to troubled times ahead, times that his agenda is either exacerbating or creating anew. Bush, however, pays no mind to such petty concerns as national debt (unless it happens to be money for Medicaid or Pell grants). He never has. With Bush as commandant, his adminstration are the world's police, stomping about the globe with the heavy boot of militarism, bringing freedom and democracy to all. Who, now, will not be happy to pay for that?


Blogger The Misanthrope said...

...failure is solely the result of an inadequate supply of the whatever... I would say introspection, inability to accept they are not omnipotent.

Excellent post.

1:11 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...


Cheers, mate! I hope things are going well.

12:19 PM  

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