Friday, May 28, 2004

Feet of Clay

The Bush Administration’s security policy is swiftly becoming its greatest political liability. In Iraq, the future of the occupation is shadowed by grave doubts. Even as the UN Security Council negotiates a new resolution laying out governance of Iraq after June 30th, the composition of that government remains unknown and America’s control seems likely to be fatally compromised. Insurgencies which boiled beneath the surface for so long have broken out into unofficial militias wresting control from the Coalition bit by bit. In the Sunni triangle a Baathist warlodism is being born, while Iran controls the Shi’a-majority south behind the scenes. Insurgents are bringing American forces to a stand-still and gaining very favorable truce agreements, which amount to little less than simple capitulation, first in Fallujah, and more recently in Najaf. This is how a colonial powers are marginalized and eventually expelled.

Meanwhile, back at home, blowback from the Abu Ghraib scandal is opening the Administration to scrutiny and criticisms in the media that simply would not have occurred just months ago. Security professionals and experts, and even former allies, are beginning to question and openly criticize the Administrations performance and priorities regarding both the war on Iraq and the struggle with terrorism. The Administration’s domestic agenda is dead in the water. The President was pitching a new computerized medical records system the other day. This is the sort of whiz-bang, gee-shucks, no-down-side plinker that a wounded politician makes. Rove is after the ‘wired worker’, the latest ‘NASCAR dad’, or ‘soccer mom’ demographic who, along with Latinos, iare supposed to pull Bush’s chestnuts out of the Thanksgiving fire.

The reality that the Bush team is ducking, while still staying remorselessly on-message, is that the world is born anew. The Abu Ghraib scandal marks the end of the Bush Administration. They and their defenders have finally dropped over the edge of tasteless bastardry, and into the abyss reserved for moral lepers. They keep marching, but there is nobody following any more. History will look back and mark the end of the Bush doctrine at the release of the first batch of Abu prisoner photos. The world’s attention is now focused on the hubris and arrogance grounding the Bush doctrine, and the foolish conceits which lay at the heart of the plan for a New American Century. Even Congressional Republicans are backing away from the disaster area the Bush Administration has become.

Tremendous blowback from the torture scandal is ripping the lid off the once tightly sealed box of Bush criticisms sitting under the desk of every editor in the American press. Questions regarding the conduct of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, long suppressed and ignored, are beginning to belatedly bloom in the press. The Congress, emboldened daily by resistance to Bush from the left and weakening support on the right are increasingly questioning the Administration, and reasserting their co-equality. Bush was unable to prevent the opening of a Congressional inquiry into the baseless WMD charges that led us to war Iraq, and he is quickly loosing control of the torture inquiry. Leaks are opening up all over as from a pipe after a Spring thaw. Throughout the military and CIA professional corps those increasing weary of Bush’s bungling and ham-fisted treatment of them are taking their revenge on the dilettante ideologues of the Administration. Independent and non-partisan voices with immense expertise and prestige, such as Retired Gen. Zinni and author Tom Clancy, the Army War College, and the call the election for Kerry, over 5 months out from the election.

The foundations of the nightmare into which Bush has plunged this nation’s people, the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the citizens of world are cracking. The unstoppable titan Bush became after 9/11 now has feet of clay. From behind the lens of 9/11 now peers a barely competent, deeply flawed man, who had no damned business being President in the first place. There are frightening lessons to be had from the last 3 1/2 years about the nature of democracy, the allure of the fascist impulse, and the perfidy of corporate media, and I hope that we have the wisdom to extract them and heed them. But for now, I’m just going to say how glad I am that our long national nightmare is finally coming to an end. We haven’t yet opened our eyes; we are in that disorienting space following a nightmare where you aren’t sure what was a dream and what was real, and you aren't sure you want to know. Despite the nation’s reluctance to resolve the uncertainty, some of us already know that it is all far too real and we will be dealing with the results for the rest of our lives. We are mired in conflict, despised by the world, poorer by far, and not one whit safer for it.

The recriminations will be long and bitter. No one has any viable excuse for buying into for Bush’s desperate, hollow, incompetent mummery show. Many accepted a completely incompetent President because they needed competent leadership so badly that they just decided to pretend. Rather than to admit that the ‘leadership’ we had wasn’t up to the task, they inflated a dolt into a hierophant. But you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Our naked Emperor roamed the beltway for years as so many praised the cut of his new clothes, that even those who saw a naked guy quiet clearly questioned our own eyes.

The temptation to blame Bush, and to blame his Administration, and to blame... well, everybody, will be overwhelming. But Bush was just a con man handed the opportunity of a thousand lifetimes; no one as weak and limited as he could help but try to pull the grift off. He richly deserves whatever he gets and more, certainly, but I can’t blame Bush for all of it. It is many more than a few in power that are at fault; it most of us. Some were too gullible. Some too desperate to have their faith confirmed. Some so heartsick to belong to something powerful and invulnerable after 9/11 that they were primed for the seduction of the fascist impulse. Some were unwilling to think the worst of the ‘government’. Some too ready to give the benefit of the doubt to the product of a ‘democratic’ process. Some were skeptical from the outset, but unwilling for various reasons to voice their doubts too loudly. All of these share some measure of blame for Bush. But what of those who despised Bush from the outset as the puppet and pretender he so obviously was? Well, the only satisfaction we get is to say, "I told you so." Unfortunately, those four little words have yet to endear their speaker to anyone. The most we will get is the quiet satisfaction, and despairing regret, at having been proved right.

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