Topic: Couldn't be so...
Half a world away, in Indonesia at a summit of Muslim nations, the dapper little nasty man who runs Iran said there was a simple solution to all this - get rid of Israel. It's not a legitimate nation, just something made up in 1948 or so. He's said such things before, so that wasn't exactly news. Even the French, who had been saying nice things about Iran, hoping Iran could help stabilize things, said this was beyond the pale. So this was just not helpful.
The news of the day was the two sides slamming each other and then getting into that schoolyard fight thing - "You want more of that, buddy? Huh? Huh? You want more of that?" The government of the United States was silent on the whole matter. We're working on a cease-fire somewhere far down the road, where some nations of the UN, but not us, provide troops to go in, beef up the useless Lebanese army, and march south to rid the world of Hezbollah once and for all. No one wants to sign up. Hezbollah, defending the Lebanese people from the massive Israeli attacks that have killed a whole lot of women and children and ruined the economy and infrastructure of Lebanon, and displaced a half a million folks, are looking like the relatively good guys to many, as this seems a bit much to force the return of two kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
And even in Lebanon itself you now get this -
As noted by Bill Montgomery here, the whole idea was that bombing the crap out of Lebanon would strengthen Lebanese democracy by uniting the country's various ethnic groups and political factions and turning them against Hezbollah -
He really is a bit sarcastic. But the neoconservatives who have shaped our new foreign policy do believe such things. That's the reported plan for when we take out Iran's uranium processing facilities with our small nuclear weapons - we'll be heroes to the Iranian people when the smoke clears and things stop glowing. They'll cheer and throw out their government for one that works with America. This trial run isn't going so well.
As for the other trial run, that's not going so well either. Thursday, August 3, was the day the top generals and the Secretary of Defense went before congress, actually a senate committee which wanted to know, since things seem to going badly in the older war, the one in Iraq, what the situation really is, as they see it, and what the plan is for getting things back on track.
That didn't go well, as the Associated Press reported here.
Army General John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, and one smart guy who speaks the language and has his PhD and all, said "Sectarian violence probably is as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular. If not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war." Marine Corps General Peter Pace, the most senior US military officer, said there was a "possibility" of civil war in Iraq - after all, about a hundred folks a day are blown up or found dead in the streets or in the river, maimed from torture and such. Two of the Pentagon's most senior generals conceded this looks like a civil war in the making. This got a lot of press. The reason is obvious. That's not the official line.
Rumsfeld doesn't think there's anything like a civil war starting, as earlier, he had said this -
Does he ask himself the questions he thought he should have been asked and then answer them? Yes, that's how he thinks, working with himself as everyone else is unimportant.
Is it a bit schizophrenic, as if he's hearing voices in his head and talking back to those voices? Yes, there's a touch of that, but he's just trying to work out how this "a hundred dead a day" thing is no big deal.
If what's happening doesn't look like our Civil War with the Blue and Gray armies and battles like Gettysburg, should you not worry about what's happening? Maybe, but that would make you seem silly.
Should we worry that the secretary of defense works out what he thinks by talking to himself in public? Maybe, but there's nothing anyone can do about it, as he's staying.
Would medication help? Probably not.
Rumsfeld had planned to skip the Thursday senate committee hearing - he said he was too busy for such political tomfoolery - and instead hold a closed briefing with the full senate, until the junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton, publicly called on him to testify in open forum, in front of the cameras and all that. She said that the senators and the American people "should hear directly from the top civilian leader at the Pentagon, the person most responsible for implementing the president's military policy in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Drat. Now what? You don't let any woman make you look like a coward, especially an aggressive (or assertive) one with presidential ambitions. You have to show that you have more balls than she has - two, at least. And he could put her in her place. But that didn't work out.
The junior senator from New York laid into him but good - watch the video (with transcript) here.
She went over, point by point, each "error in judgment" on matters in Iraq and Afghanistan, and quoted him on things he said that just weren't true - his "rosy pictures" of how things would certainly work out, and that stuff about the Taliban being completely eliminated - and it was devastating. She asked him what he had to say about all that, and what the policy was now.
He looked stunned. His first words were "My Goodness!" The generals don't talk to him like this. The voices in his head certainly don't.
There's video of Rumsfeld here then saying he had "never painted a rosy picture" about Iraq - he had been "very measured" and told "you would have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been overly optimistic." He said he had always maintained "this is tough stuff."
That's followed by this list with hyperlinks to the source -
The records weren't erased. It sure was easier back in the Nixon days when he work in the White House - no internet, and paper shredders did the job.
Then there's this video and transcript, set up by head of NATO's Afghan security force, one Lieutenant General David Richards, saying Afghanistan was "close to anarchy."
So he was asked about that. How's it going, really? Was Richards full of crap?
Well, he has to admit Taliban fighters were "occupying safe havens" in Pakistan and other places, and admitted that violence has increased recently. But this was not a big deal. It was the weather -
The voices in his head told him so.
And then there's this, where he seems to get confused about those voices in his head -
After the hearing ended Clinton called on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign, accusing him of "presiding over a failed policy in Iraq." She was kind enough to not mention the voices. Other Democrats had called for Rumsfeld's resignation - until now she had stopped short of that. But this was just too surreal.
But we live in a surreal world. Thomas Hargrove is a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service, and Guido H. Stempel III is the director of the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University. And the day of the hearings they offer this -
No one is hearing voices. They're just imagining things for which there is no evidence, because they're angry. They've been fed so much bullshit they're trying to figure out what's really going on.
Lee Hamilton, who was vice chairman of that National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission), says the investigation concluded that federal officials bungled their attempts to prevent the attacks, but did not participate in them. But he gets it - "One out of three sounds high, but that may very well be right. Many say the government planned the whole thing. Of course, we don't think the evidence leads that way at all." But he understands.
As for the details of the poll, sixteen percent of Americans hypothesize that secretly planted explosives, not the airplanes and the burning fuel, were the real reason the World Trade Center collapsed. Twelve percent suspect the Pentagon was struck by a military cruise missile rather than by an airliner captured by nasty terrorists.
Why is this coming alive now? The item quotes University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster, the author of the book "Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture" - the findings "reflect public anger at the unpopular Iraq war, realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and growing doubts of the veracity of the Bush administration."
So you get fed stuff you're told is so, then you're told its not so, and you try to work it out yourself. That makes sense. And there's this -
And of course Rumsfeld answering the voices in his head, not the voices in the room, isn't going to help any of this at all.
Is driving the American public into deep resentment and anger at you wise politic strategy? No, it doesn't seem to be. When a good chunk of those angry people start believing you set them up and secretly murdered three thousand of your fellow countrymen to get them to support a useless war that's falling to pieces, should you worry? "Does that represent failed policy? I don't know. I would say not."
And then things just keep coming up, like this from Sidney Blumenthal -
Four fronts? Are we being had again?
And this is cute -
It's double or nothing time, and the word is that senior national security professionals have begun circulating among themselves a 1996 document - "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." This was written by, among others, Richard Perle, the first-term chairman of the Defense Policy Board; Douglas Feith, the former undersecretary of defense, and David Wurmser, Cheney's chief Middle East aide. It was written at the request of Likud Party Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to provide "a new set of ideas" for dumping the policies of the assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.
Instead of trading "land for peace," the neocons advocated tossing aside the Oslo agreements that established negotiations and demanding unconditional Palestinian acceptance of Likud's terms, "peace for peace." Rather than negotiations with Syria, they proposed "weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria." They also advanced a wild scenario to "redefine Iraq." Then King Hussein of Jordan would somehow become its ruler; and somehow this Sunni monarch would gain "control" of the Iraqi Shiites, and through them "wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria." Dump the Oslo agreements, and all agreements - just use force. President Clinton put a stop it, but he's long gone.
Note this -
That's all documented. The man has problems with his father. Yipes.
The bottom line -
Are Sidney Blumenthal's sources feeding him disinformation, setting him up to look like a foolish conspiracy nut? That could be, but recent history argues against that. And there is the document.
Was the plan all along a four-front war, with our forces deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran, working to replace the government in each (two down, two to go)? Maybe so, but no one has said this is the plan.
If this is the plan, should the citizens who must pay for it, and send their sons and daughters off to do this all, have been told this is the plan. Maybe so, but they might object.
Should you feel left out as the last two of the four wars start and you weren't told? That would depend on whether you think the government has the obligation to explain anything to its citizens.
Is there a plan for a fifth and sixth front - regime change in Venezuela and Cuba - and a seventh front, regime change in North Korea? Don't be silly. But don't be surprised.
Who in their right mind talks like this? The answer is obvious.