Wednesday, January 10, 2007


After digging the Republican Party into a hole Jesus Christ couldn't climb out of, George W. Bush has taken a closer look at the mess in Iraq. He has little choice because only two years after the country gave him a mandate on the strength of a narrow margin of victory in a dubious Presidential election, the voters delivered Bush a furious rebuke by giving Democrats control of both the House and the Senate. Granted the Democrats hold a slim majority but when you consider how beleaguered the "cut-and-run welfare mongers" were through 2005 it was a huge reversal.

Now Bush has to mend fences. He is facing a legislature that will lose patience with him quickly and his own party is afraid to side with him. The expectation is that Bush will spend the next two years fixing the damage he has done here and abroad.

The key project is the war in Iraq. While those who still support the military efforts in the Middle East claim that the causalities have been minimal, this endeavor has dragged on longer than this country's involvement in World WarII. The expense has been monumental and the effort has our military stretched so thin there is reason to believe that our defenses have been weakened to a point that leaves us easy pickings for any country that might see our demise as advantageous to their long term growth. Who would do such a thing? Nobody's sure but China has a lot of people very nervous. Especially Russia who could be driven into thrid world status by a prosperus China.

The idea of Russia attacking the US to gain some sort of economic advantage in an evolving global economy might be a long shot but before World War I this country was a sprawling nation of farmers held at bay by greedy industrialists. By 1950 we had finished two global wars and started what might one day be considered the most significant conflict of all: the Cold War. If you could go back in time and describe the current balance of power to somebody in England back in 1909 they would have laughed at the ridiculous notion that the United States was the most powerful country in the world and that China and India were the most rapidly developing nations. Things change.

What's frightening is that these issues seem to elude Bush. Domestically Bush is interested in setting back our conservation and environmental policies to what we had in place back when the last great Republican president was reelected. Sadly Lincoln was assassinated before he could address anything beyond slavery and a war perpetrated by treacherous southern plantation owners who didn't like the idea of paying for labor but had he been given the time it's reasonable to believe that he might have established a national park or two.

But Bush has invested most of his energy, at least whatever is left after he clears brush on his Crawford estate, on foreign policy. Not surprisingly, for the man who thinks Chumbawumba is a country in Africa, this is his weakest skill. Unless you're the sort of world leader who might be inclined to pound on a desk with a shoe, foreign policy demands a considerable degree of diplomacy. For some reason, no matter how small a country might be, they insist on being treated with respect. Bush treats them like valets at Augusta National. That is when he's not grabbing them from behind like some 1950's CEO making a pass at his secretary.

It doesn't matter why Bush opted to invade Iraq at this point. Those dishes have already hit the floor. The problem is that this clod is still running around blind folded in the china shop. It didn't take a genius to see that ousting Saddam from power in Iraq would create unending chaos in that corner of the world. In fact, the man who first recognized those consequences was our President's father. Granted, kids do tend to defy their parents for spite but its a phase they grow out of by the time they run for elected office, usually.

Now, faced with an angry general public that has grown weary of the open-ended Iraq strategy, Bush has to bring a swift end to the futility. People have heard all the lies and watched the deception unfold with deliberate arrogance. Bush and his administration acted as though they had absolute power and made false promises about the progress being made with a wink and a nudge to the majority of the population they thought they couldn't lose. But they misjudged the stupidity of the public and squandered the benefit of the doubt their shameless manipulation of religion had gained them.

The war in Iraq has decimated global relations for the U.S. During this misguided war on sensibility, Bush has successfully alienated the entire world to the U.S. While few world leaders could condemn Bush for rapidly deploying forces after 9-11, the heavy-handed and ineffective tactics soon evoked concern. That's when Bush, like a crazed gunman, started wagging his finger and making threats. You were either with us or against us. No questions.

Now Iraq is a total mess and it is difficult to see what benefit ousting, capturing and executing Saddam Hussein has delivered. Clearly Saddam's totalitarian regime was borne at least partly out of necessity. His secular government and the mild-mannered Sunni people it favored held sway over a country of fundamentalists from numerous backgrounds including more aggressive Sunni clerics, Shiite extremists, Kurds and a number of general antagonists out to create chaos for the sake of chaos. As brutal as his tactics were, perhaps it was necessary to maintain control.

Like him or not, Saddam had control over a country that seems impossible to control. Britain tried for quite some time to no avail. In fact a significant part of the reason there is so much instability in the Middle East is thanks in large part to imperial meddling. The countries we're are now fighting with were designated by British rule and the borders were inexplicably drawn with total disregard to religious creeds. Mortal enemies were forced to share small countries with limited resources. Such was the case with Iraq. Saddam simply rose to power and succeeded in maintaining it. He couldn't have done it with out the CIA and the Reagan administration but that's another story.

For some reason, in spite of history and his father pleading otherwise, George W. Bush thinks that victory is attainable. He believes he can install a pro-American government in Iraq and that an approved democracy will prevail. Mind you, a democracy that supports Hammas or Al Qaida is unacceptable. Apparently the voice of the people will only be heard if they say what Bush wants to hear.

Instead of taking a cue from the recent election, Bush has opted to increase our presence in Iraq and essentially, to borrow a phrase from the Vietnam era, escalate our effort in order to help the precarious Iraqi government gain control over the uncontrollable. Unless this Iraqi government is willing to employ the brutal tactics Saddam was executed for, the opposing forces of fundamentalism will win. That's the problem in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East: Fundamentalists are not reasonable. For the most part they are ignorant people blinded by rage. Because they are uneducated they don't understand their anger or how to resolve it so they are easily manipulated through religion. The religious leaders are intelligentr and informed but also power-hungry and selfish. It's a cult mentality.

If Bush really wants to bring an end to terrorism and stabilize the Middle East he would be well advised to deploy diplomacy instead of the military. The lesson 9-11 should have taught us is that these are people who are not afraid to die. What good does it do to threaten them with death and destruction when they have proven a willingness to blow themselves up to further their cause. It's like throwing Br'er Rabbit in the brier patch.

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