A myth has just been shattered

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This may seem a little late, but since we keep getting the same lies repeated over and over again from the Whitehouse and echoed by conservative pundits and right-wing blogs it doesn’t hurt to emphasize where we’re at as regards two separate issues, Iraq and fighting terrorists. Fred Kaplan writes at Slate, Bush Goes a Bridge Too Far

In his speech this morning before the American Legion’s national convention, President George W. Bush may have gone a bridge too far. It was the first of several speeches he plans to deliver in the coming days to rally support for the war in Iraq (and, not incidentally, for Republicans in November). But one passage in particular reveals that the campaign is getting desperate:

The security of the civilized world depends on victory in the war on terror, and that depends on victory in Iraq.

Here’s the question: Does anybody believe this? If you do, then you must ask the president why he hasn’t reactivated the draft, printed war bonds, doubled the military budget, and strenuously rallied allies to the cause.

If, as he said in this speech, the war in Iraq really is the front line in “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century”; if our foes there are the “successors to Fascists, to Nazis, to Communists”; if victory is “as important” as it was in Omaha Beach and Guadalcanal—then those are just some of the steps that a committed president would feel justified in demanding.

If, as he also said, terrorism takes hold in hotbeds of stagnation and despair, then you must also ask the president why he hasn’t requested tens or hundreds of billions of dollars for aid and investment in the Middle East to promote hope and livelihoods.

Yet the president hasn’t done any of those things, nor has anyone in his entourage encouraged him to do so. And that’s because, while the war on terror is important and keeping Iraq from disintegrating is important, they’re not that important. Osama Bin Laden is not Hitler or Stalin. Baghdad is not Berlin. Al-Qaida and its imitators don’t have the economic resources, the military power, or the vast nationalist base that Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union had.

So, the speech sends the head buzzing with cognitive dissonances. There’s the massively exaggerated historical analogy (which should have been obvious, if not insulting, to the World War II veterans in the audience). And there’s the glaring mismatch between the president’s gargantuan depiction of the threat and the relatively paltry resources he’s mustered to fight it.

Kaplan gets it about right, but he is just a very good political pundit and has a fraction of the media pull of Dubya. Fred is trying to sell his wares, reality in this case. While Bush has changed course to some degree he is still selling bunk. Who is going to end up the winner in the market place of rhetoric. It is not enough for Kaplan to be right, certain people need to assimilate the truth of what he and others are pointing out.  One gets the impression that the right-wing nationalists that have taken over conservatism bought a cheap reality receptor from Radio Shack about forty years ago and it just isn’t capable of putting together the pieces. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Jordan are are Islamic and at least officially pro west. They are also not anything resembling what the average American would describe as democracies. The rulers of those countries would never accept a western style of liberal government shoved down their throat. Are they fascists? Only if fascism is a casual description of any government whose policies range from authoritarian to totalitarian. To repeat for the umpteenth time the 9-11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan, and none came from Iraq. The terror attacks and attempted terror attacks that have occurred since 9-11 have been through the efforts of scattered groups around the world, none of whom have been the least deterred by events in Iraq. To keep inserting Iraq into the the national debate about terrorism is like talking about jelly beans every-time the subject of baseball comes up. There’s an esoteric connection at best. Anyway Kaplan brings up another important point,

The real danger is that Iraq might devolve into anarchy and total civil war, the likes of which would make the present turmoil seem placid by comparison. Killings could soar into the hundreds of thousands, even millions. Neighboring countries, whether for aggrandizement or security, would feel compelled to intervene—Iran siding with the Shiites, Saudi Arabia bolstering the Sunnis, Turkey suppressing the Kurds—and, from there, one good spark could set off a horrendous war across the whole region.

Bush doesn’t see this danger—he chooses not to see it—because it plays against his ideology. He views the world as locked in a titanic struggle between, as he put it in today’s speech, the forces of “freedom and moderation” and the forces of “tyranny and extremism.” This is, in his mind, “the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”

Kaplan is right when he says that Bush doesn’t see the real danger if Bush really believes he is in some kind of struggle with Islamic fascism and Iraq is the path to its defeat. Again Bush and the right should look to Churchill in Iraq and how that worked out. Where Kaplan may be a little off is the idea that Iraq will automatically fall into some horrible intractable civil war that is worse then the one they already have. That is possible. It is a possibility that should be carefully weighed and would be if we had a better caliber of leaders at the helm. It is also possible that if the U.S. were to redeploy to the sidelines that Kaplans predictions about various factions within Iraq allying with others wouldn’t come about. There are good reasons to think that while the first few weeks would be messy that things would simmer down after that. In this clip from Abu Ardvark keep in mind that the “Baghdad Caliphate” is the specter raised by the Right school of thought as a bogeyman not Kaplan’s strategic and humanitarian considerations , debating withdrawal II: the phantom menace

Is this scenario, which I would call the “Baghdad Caliphate” position, a strong argument against withdrawal? I don’t think so. Al-Qaeda can not seize control of Iraq because of the ethnic and regional balance of power, regardless of America’s presence. The majority Shia, backed by Iran, would fight tooth and nail against it. So would many Sunnis – probably with the backing of the Saudis, Jordanians, Egyptians, and even Syrians who see al-Qaeda as a direct threat to their own security and survival. The al-Qaeda role in the insurgency has always been exaggerated, with the bulk of what we call the insurgency rooted in the local Sunni community (as just one example, recall the Nawaf Obayd presentation which put the foreign religious presence at about 7% of the insurgency; for a more in-depth discussion, read Ahmed Hashim’s richly detailed book Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Iraq).

Pausing for a moment, one really has to think for minute about the concept of Iraq as a failed state. If Iraq is at risk of being one, that can be traced all the way back to the distortions and lies made by Bush that got us there, and then intermediately as testimony to the shoddy way that Bush has managed the occupation.
The short version, Bush takes decisive action, Iraq becomes a failed state.
Bush’s lying and the lies told by the right-wingers that support him no matter how many people die, no matter how screwed up the economy gets see the Big Lie as necessary, some seem to actually believe it. It is funny and a little sad to recently read a right-wingers post that said that he had yet to hear Bush lie about anything or any proof offered that Bush has lied. Maybe we should start calling them ostriches rather then wing-nuts. I suspect that many of them don’t even listen to Bush’s speech’s or if they do they quickly forget them. Bush spoke, the sea parted and all was good. No sense keeping track, Bush would never contradict himself in such a blatant and easily fact checked manner in one of his rare speeches or press conferences, Bush plays politics with terrorism, resorts to McCarthyism and old lies

Secondly, even Bush admitted —after having lied it about it for years —that Saddam had nothing to do with 911. So which is it? It’s unclear how Bush intends to convince people that Iraq now has anything to do with terrorism when only a few days ago he told the truth at last by denying it. So —when Bush now says that Iraq is a part of the war on terrorism, Americans should ask themselves: was Bush lying then or is he lying now?

A myth has just been shattered
Upon the four winds scattered
Back to some storybook
From whence it came
Vicarious hearts may ache
And try to mend the break
And seek for a righteous place
To put the blame
from MYTHS words and music by Joan Baez