EVERGLADES CITY, Fla. -- For the past four years, as I�ve
been crisscrossing the country -- and even when traveling
abroad in Southeast Asia, North Africa and Europe -- I have run into the same
pattern: Conservative, Reagan-style Republicans, many of them serving or former
military types, ranting about the Bush Administration and the incalculable
damage done both to the Constitution and to America�s reputation in the world.
In all these conversations, these angry screeds just burst
out of these conservatives, without any pre-knowledge that the fellow they�re
talking with is an editor of a progressive, anti-Bush, pro-democracy website.
When they find out my political slant, they seem overjoyed
that they�ve met someone who shares many, though clearly not all, of their
anxieties about the wrong direction in which the country is being taken. They
need to vent their anger and disappointment big time; they can�t do so in front
of many of their military superiors and fellow officers. So they�re happy to
have someone to talk with who listens to their rants and agrees with much of
I�m in Florida for my uncle�s 85th birthday celebration in a
wealthy, white neighborhood in South Florida and one of the extended-family
members, an active-duty official in one of the armed forces, volunteers that �the
Cheney administration,� as he puts it, has wrecked the standing of America
abroad by its obsessive pre-occupation with launching this ill-advised Iraq war
and then continuing it long past the point of no-return.
Conservative anger at Bush
This former Reagan staffer opines that if the U.S. had gone
into Iraq with �a half-million men, and taken care of business,� America would
not be trapped in the quagmire it�s in today. But he also believes that you can�t
fight extremist Muslim terrorists mainly in militarily campaigns since �you
can never win� that kind of guerrilla war.
The war we should be fighting and winning, he said during
his 30-minute rant, is for the hearts and minds of the locals, and CheneyBush
policies are not capable of succeeding in that type of battle, especially given
the use of torture as approved state policy, the not uncommon rapes and murders
of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops, the corruption everywhere that accompanies
the U.S. occupation, the continuing lack of a functioning infrastructure
(electricity, fresh water,) etc.
Later in the evening, my sister and I engaged the military
man again on a seeming contradiction: You stated, we say to him, that the U.S.
can�t win these type of wars against nationalist guerrillas but you think we
should have thrown 500,000 troops into the battle anyway.
In an argument I�ve heard before from other military types,
he didn�t see his position as containing a contradiction:
�If we had moved that half-million in there in force and kicked
ass immediately, stopped the looting, secured the ammo dumps, made it more
difficult to come across the porous borders, installed our Iraqi strongman in
charge -- if we had done all that then, chances are pretty good that things
would have turned out much differently and to our advantage now.
�But since the Cheney administration, mainly Cheney and
Rumsfeld, messed up the situation royally from the git-go, there�s no way we
can put Humpty Dumpty back together again, achieve anything approximating a
victory. It�s simply time for us to go, before we make the situation even
worse. Better to simply get out of there with as much of our tattered
reputation as we can take with us, rather than flail about for a year or two
before having to exit even more hastily in humiliating Vietnam war fashion.�
Democratic moves on the Iraq war
The latter part of that argument seems to animate many
Democrats in the House and Senate, willing to take the political risk by
attaching strict conditions to war-funding bills, as a way of crippling
CheneyBush�s ability to wage its aggressive war-of-choice and to build momentum
for ending the U.S. misadventure in Iraq as soon as is practicable. Sure, the
Dems� moves are a kind of attack-from-the-side approach, rather than opposing
CheneyBush policies frontally, the result of which timidity is to leave U.S.
troops on the ground there for several more years.
But if it takes small, incremental but significant steps to
start the exit-Iraq ball rolling, then let�s take them -- as long as the effort
continues with more meaningful de-funding and withdrawal bills in coming
months. In addition, it is essential that Congress pass a bill stipulating that
there will be no financial support for any pending Bush war against Iran.
Passing resolutions devoid of legal teeth in them doesn�t
help all that much in getting U.S. troops, and innocent civilians, out of harm�s
way. Passing bills that fund the troops� withdrawal, in concert with U.N. and
regional stabilizing efforts, can draw the day closer when the U.S. military
machine can start rolling out of this catastrophic war, now in its fifth tragic
Alberto Gonzales, Bush toady
So how does Alberto Gonzales, the �Abu Gonzo� of the
headline above, fit into the Iraq picture?
For one thing, to figure out how to stop the Iraq war, first
you have to know the key players who took the U.S. into that war and bungled
Occupation. My advice is to look for those with their fingers in a whole lot of
policy and operational pies. In the current CheneyBush administration, that
translates to Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bush Himself, Alberto Gonzales, Stephen
Hadley, and the ineffectual Bush lapdog, Condoleezza Rice. (Previous
co-conspirators Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Steven Cambone, Doug Feith, and
John Ashcroft have already left the scene of the crime, and would make
What we�re witnessing in these waning days of the CheneyBush
administration is an implosion of the once-monolithic inner circle, with the
rest of the remaining crew hunkering further down in the White House bunker,
trying desperately to avoid both the stain of history and to stay out of the
federal slammer as a result of their crimes and corruptions. (See Bush Heads for the Bunker.)
Attorney General Gonzales (who, from his earliest
association with Bush in Texas, has been his personal legal toady) has
demonstrated time and again his willingness to do whatever needs to be done to
keep Bush in office. Rove and Gonzales and Harriet Miers, key figures in Bush�s
so-called Texas Mafia, are stand-ins for the elite, behind-the-scenes powers
that prop up this shady enterprise.
And now Gonzales, caught knee-deep in the U.S. attorneys
scandal, looks as if he�s a political liability and will be thrown overboard in
short order. His key aide, Kyle Sampson, was the designated scapegoat (with
Deputy A.G. Paul McNulty the new chosen patsy), but his resignation couldn�t
stanch the bleeding in this ever-widening scandal, and Gonzales� lies,
dissemblings and probable perjuries before U.S. Senate committees requires
something more drastic, such as his firing or resignation -- or, failing that,
(But dumping him won�t come easy to CheneyBush/Rove: more
than most, Gonzo knows too much, knows where the bodies are buried, so to
speak. Who can guess what he might be willing to tell a grand jury in order to
save his own neck?)
Gonzo�s larger crimes
As is often the case, the real crimes go uncharged and the
thing that brings down the kingpin is a lesser scandal. In the 1930s, for
example, Al Capone, the master mob boss, was imprisoned for non-payment of
taxes rather than for the numerous murders and mayhem he engineered. In the
case of Gonzales, he�ll probably go down for covering-up his political
maneuvering to fire competent, dedicated U.S. attorneys and install Bush
loyalists in their stead -- ones willing to concoct phony �vote fraud� charges
against Democratic opponents.
Gonzales would seem to fit in the Rove category of
domestic-policy criminals, but Gonzo�s impact on foreign/military policy is
much, much larger. Consider: Gonzales is the one figure most responsible for
creating a legal philosophy in support of Bush authoritarian rule, whereby the
president is permitted to violate the Constitution and laws passed by Congress
whenever he says he�s acting as �commander-in-chief� during �wartime.�
That suspect legal philosophy also winds up justifying
torture and other severe violations of Americans� civil liberties in the
so-called �Patriot� Act, military tribunals, �extraordinary renditions� of
suspects to countries notorious for their extreme interrogation methods, the
forced disappearance of the 600-year-old legal tradition of habeas corpus, and
so much more. In short, the �war on terrorism,� Gonzales asserts, trumps all
laws and constitutional protections.
However, Gonzales will not be removed from office for those
gross crimes -- where domestic and foreign policies meet -- but because
internal White House emails by others reveal his complicity in the
politicization of the U.S. attorneys system, and because he lied publicly in
his attempt to escape culpability.
Running out of scapegoats
It does the heart good to see the shrinking Bush Bunker crew
start to run out of lower-level scapegoats (Libby the fall guy for Cheney,
Rumsfeld the sacrificial lamb for continuing the Iraq war policy, Sampson and
McNulty for Gonzales et al.). That means that the genuine villains, those in
control of policy, are now having to face the music.
When Gonzo goes, that should mean that the progenitors of
CheneyBush policy (those two, plus Rove, Rice and Hadley) will be left even
more exposed and thus the primary targets of congressional investigations --
and, in the case of Bush and Cheney, impeachment proceedings.
Cheney and Rove should be first to go after Gonzo -- Cheney
for attempting to run the world, Rove for so disastrously running Bushworld
politics. As Patrick Fitzgerald�s Libby trial showed, Cheney is at the heart of
virtually every bad decision and policy in the administration, running
virtually a shadow government, covert intel organization, and foreign policy
apparatus. Rove likewise on the domestic politics front. Their fingerprints are
all over the joint, and bulldog-tenacity investigations should reveal the
extent of their perfidy.
Let�s get on with it.
Copyright � 2007
Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international relations at various
universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle,
and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers.
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