Saturday, October 29, 2005
Nasty suspicious feelings...
Vice President Cheney recently had a 45 minute meeting, asking for the McCain amendment to the military spending bill to have an exception, allowing the CIA to torture captives.
(Let's not mince words and talk about "aggressive interrogation techniques"; they might not be talking about branding irons or skinning knives, but they are talking about things that, if they were done to you and me, we would call them torture.)
It suddenly hit me. Why on earth would Cheney talk about this? The President has threatened a veto... why wouldn't President Bush do the talking?
Let's face it; the Veep is supposed to be the President's servent, right? Why send the servent if this is something so important that it requires the first use of a veto by this President, ever?
Could it be that the Veep is the President's servent, in fact? The one who will tell the lies, and engage in the dirty things that the President doesn't want to touch?
Isn't it curious that one of the selling points used to talk about Dick Cheney is that he is not going to run for President himself?
Cheney tried to derail the 9/11 probe. Cheney held meetings to broker the energy bill. Cheney was the most outspoken supporter of war with Iraq.
I don't know if I'd want to try to prove this, but now it's starting to look like, every time there's an issue where the President would want to be able to deny involvement, Cheney's been there.
But how can President Bush honestly deny involvement, if Cheney's involved? Are we supposed to believe that Cheney is a free agent, acting on his own? Are we to pretend that Bush couldn't rein him in, if he wanted to?
I've long felt that President Bush does a lot of things by working purely on appearances. For example, he'll claim to care about our soldiers, and yet, there still won't be enough body and vehicle armor, and will still be cutbacks in VA... but he says he cares about the soldiers, and keeps up appearances, and that's enough.
Now I'm starting to think I'm more correct than I'd believed. Cheney: the evil twin.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Why we're in Iraq
Here, I don't have to be that patient; this is my living room, after a fashion. It's where I can come to rest, and to rant, and to talk about things differently than I would when fighting for the dream.
And it's time for me to rant. Everything I say is an honestly held opinion, here, and carefully thought out. It's just, I'm not going to be too careful about upsetting people who hold different opinions. Is that clear? I hope so.
So, let's look at the situation. Why are we in Iraq?
Well, first was the question of WMDs. George W. Bush stated that he didn't think the intelligence was all that solid. He asked George Tenet if that was all he had... and George Tenet said that it was a slam dunk case.
Well, George Tenet was wrong.
Next was the suggestion that there were strong, and important, connections between Al Quaeda and Iraq. There were connections, but face it, you have two enemies of the United States; they have common interests, so there are going to be connections. There was no working relationship. If we were looking for governments that supported Al Quaeda, there were bigger fish to fry than Iraq.
Finally, there's freedom; the removal of Saddam Hussein, and freedom for the Iraqi people.
I hope we bring freedom to the Iraqi people. I really do. After we invaded their country, insisting that their leader had WMDs, after we killed tens of thousands of innocent people, they deserve that much. They deserve a hell of a lot more, but they deserve at least that much.
But I want you to think about this.
You have 150,000 soldiers. You have much more than one hundred billion dollars to spend. You have a maniacally hateful organization that killed 3,000 Americans.
Is the best way to protect America to spend over a hundred billion dollars, to see over 2000 of our soldiers killed, to reduce our combat readiness by a huge amount, in order to bring freedom to Iraq?
Bush has this wonderful dream that, if Iraq is free, then freedom will spread through the Middle East. It's a nice dream; I have no problem with that dream, but shouldn't we be demanding something more solid than dreams?
The neo-con dream sounded nice; we invade, overwhelm the Iraqi military, install an interim government, hold elections, and bam, a fast, cheap victory.
But even before the war started, Colin Powell was warning that it might not be that easy. Now, how many people are more respected, in military and civilian roles, than Colin Powell? We had a lot of other people who were giving warnings, but Colin Powell was the Secretary of State, chosen by George W. Bush, and however much Bush trusted other folks, he should have trusted Powell, too.
So, the success of the dream wasn't a certainty, either.
WMDs? Bush knew that the intelligence wasn't solid, but trusted George Tenet.
Al Quaeda? There were bigger fish to fry than Iraq. Al Quaeda didn't have a meaningful working relationship with Iraq. We could have gotten a lot more damage done to Al Quaeda at a much lower cost, if we'd done something else.
Freedom for the Iraqis? A noble idea, a wonderful dream, but again, it should not have been our top priority.
Now, I'll grant you: now that we've invaded, we have to see it through. We don't have a choice. Mind, we should be deciding right now what circumstances have to be met for us to leave. Not a timeline, but we should be deciding when we'll say "we've done all we can", and leave.
Otherwise, we could stay stuck in Iraq, losing the lives of our soldiers, and losing billions of dollars, indefinitely.
How many trained soldiers will the Iraqis need? What should their government look like? What jobs do we need to complete, so that we can say we're done, we've won?
But while we're doing that, we should also be asking the question up above in the title.
Why are we in Iraq?
Not because of WMDs; they weren't there, and we had our suspicions before the invasion.
Not because of Al Quaeda; there were other, better targets.
Not because of freedom for the Iraqis; the cost is too high, and the lost opportunities to do other things is too great. No one would have chosen to pay this price to bring the Iraqis to this stage, not in the aftermath of 9/11.
No, we are in Iraq for one reason, one that over-rides all the others.
We are in Iraq because George W. Bush fucked up.
He trusted George Tenet, and shouldn't have. In other words, he fucked up.
He let himself be blinded by advisors who ignored the evidence that Iraq was not the next step in taking down Al Quaeda. In other words, he fucked up.
He chose a course that was too expensive, at a time when America could not afford that expense, to pursue a wonderful dream, without recognizing (despite Colin Powell's warnings) that he had been fed an unrealistic vision. In other words, he fucked up.
And now we have to clean up after he fucked up. And you know what? That doesn't bother me quite so much as the way everyone seems to believe that he's some kind of hero, that people won't even acknowledge that he fucked up.
People can make mistakes, and the occupant of the White House has the opportunity to make bigger mistakes than anyone else.
The thing is, a true leader will admit to mistakes, rather than hoping the spin doctors can insist they were actually wonderful ideas. A real man will admit to his mistakes, and find a solution, working that much harder, because he's determined to redeem himself.
I can't trust George W. Bush to be either of those things. If you can, hey, it's your choice... but at least open your eyes, and look at the facts.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
I think I might have figured it out... I hope not
It struck me today, I think I know how Bush is picking justices for the SCOTUS.
I think he's picking them based upon war on terror opinions.
The true believers could state that he's doing it so that his sound policies are not overturned; the cynics might believe that he's making sure that his buddies don't get hauled up on charges that withstand appeal.
Protecting his policies, or protecting his pals, both worry me a great deal.
Is the world really safer?
Saddam Hussein is in a prison cell, waiting for trial. So, the world is safer, right?
I mean, the US has over 100,000 troops in Iraq, troops they can't put somewhere else. The US is in over a hundred billion dollars of additional debt because of the war in Iraq, money that could have been spent on better technology, more spies, more (dare I say it) law enforcement officials who will track dangers to the United States.
The military is having problems maintaining top combat readiness; you can't keep troops in a combat zone too long without them having problems with morale, exhaustion, and other issues affecting military discipline.
More importantly, the world has learned a lesson, and it's not a very happy one. They've learned that, if George W. Bush thinks there's something wrong, he's willing to go in... and even if he's proven wrong, he will insist he made the right decision, and insist he'd do the exact same thing, all over again.
Let's just pretend that a miracle happens, and we can rotate almost all of our troops out of Iraq. We're facing a threat of nuclear arms from Iran or North Korea. We threaten an invasion if they don't disarm.
Why would they disarm, right now? Saddam Hussein disarmed... and Iraq was invaded anyway. Clearly, there's no percentage in disarming in the face of a threat of invasion from the US, right? Disarming might just make the invasion that much easier.
How about our allies... how quick are they going to be to trust us the next time we tell them there's a threat? Are they going to jump to our aid, because we don't make huge mistakes... or if we do, we're horrified at our mistakes, and do our best to fix things?
Hey, we're doing a lot of work to salvage Iraq, but that's because (per Bush) that we were going to give them freedom all along, even if that freedom comes in the form of an Islamic republic.
Me, I think it's a funny kind of freedom that comes from the outside, that comes forced by the barrel of a gun. I've always thought freedom came from the inside, with people willing to fight, and die, for it. And if the Iraqi people had already been in active revolt against Saddam, I'd have been glad to see the US support the revolt, and see that a new government, of, by, and for Iraqis was put in place, but that's not how the invasion went.
But this is getting off the main track. The question is, are we safer?
Are we safer when the Middle East has seen we will, unapologetically, invade a country for false reasons? Does that make the terrorists job easier or harder? Will there be more, or fewer, people willing to risk their lives to harm America?
Are we safer with 25,000+ civilians, and an untold number of thousands of Iraqi soldiers (who were only defending their homes) dead? Are we safer with their friends and family mourning those deaths, deaths that they can (fairly or not) lay at the feet of America?
There are a lot of people who say, yes, we're safer. I'm damned if I can figure out why they'd say such a thing. Could they really be ignoring these issues?