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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

Thursday, May 10, 2007

 

Winning Hearts and Minds

We have zero credibility in the world today. All of that "good will" which led the French newspaper Le Mond to write "We are all Americans today" after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 is gone. In its place is a mistrust that I haven't experienced in my entire life. Sure there were many, many times that one nation or group of nations both feared and distrusted us all at the same time, but we always seemed to have support from our allies. That's all gone today.

And if you want proof, take a look at this quote from someone representing a company who, more than likely, make most of their money from their dealings with the United States:

"We have a deep mistrust of both sides. Each is trying to defend his corner on major issues in the region. But neither is likely to accomplish very much."
-Mustafa Alani of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, comparing how the middle east nations, even our allies, mistrust both Iran and the US equally

"We have a common interest with the U.S. in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power and intervening in Iraq and Lebanon, but the problem is that we have a huge mistrust of the U.S. and cannot publicly support its position."
-Alani

In a report just a couple of weeks ago, US News and World Report stated that mid-east oil billionaires, from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and other nations, didn't want to invest in the United States, preferring European investments. They feel that the US simply can't be trusted. For an administration constantly pushing their global economic agenda to lose trust with their economic allies (not to be confused with our REAL allies, although there is some overlap), this is a huge issue. And for our oil rich middle eastern "allies" to even equate us with Iran in terms of trust has to be a major blow, as well. But we're used to the Bushies alienating anyone who disagrees with them, so for the rest of us it comes as no surprise.

You may say "good riddance" in response to our loosely-aligned middle eastern allies, but a US strategy which excludes diplomacy, as we witnessed in the United Nations under John Bolton, the six-party negotiations with North Korea and now, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's snub of the Iranian Foreign Minister in Egypt, it's just smug, not smart.

And somehow, the Bushies think that sending Dick Cheney to the region as their front man is a good idea.

The Gulf Nations are afraid of Iran, and they are especially afraid of a nuclear Iran. (Just as a point of note: Iraq, in their ten-year war with Iran under the reign of Saddam Hussein, was considered the eventual winner - today Iran has influence over major portions of the population in Iraq - go figure.) And even though they distrust Iran and both its religious and political leadership (the latter led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), they distrust us as well. While we are led by the likes of Bush and Cheney, it's an understandable sentiment.

"Iran is maintaining the policy of persuading the Gulf states from being allied with America. Perhaps Ahmadinejad as a hard-line president will also be assuring his hosts that there is no need to be afraid of us."
-Sadeq Zibakalam, a Tehran University political scientist

In other words, what Zibakalam seems to be asking is, "Who is the better of two evils?" It's a questions that a mere six-plus years ago wouldn't have even been thought of.

As we became more hard-line by an administration out for their own special interests and those of their "base" of "haves and have mores: as we've become less compromising in search for a "New Pearl Harbor" (which the Project for a New American Century urged in 1998 (it's members include: Cheney, Richard Perle, Jeb Bush and was chaired by former Bush White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card), we have lost our ability to compromise and see where compromise is better than complete victory.

The first job our new President will have to take care of is our global credibility. It's a job created by the Bushies that should never have been.

I wonder if it counts towards the jobs created numbers?

-Noah Greenberg



Candor in the White House
(What took so long?)

Now I get it. Now I know why President Bush sent Vice President Dick Cheney to Iraq to talk the Iraqi government out of going on vacation while their people and American soldiers die for whatever the cause du jour is. Dick Cheney was sent away so that a gang of eleven Republican Congressional Members could have, what they termed, the most open honest and frank conversation with the President since he took office. GOP Congressional members are afraid for their political lives and, I believe, the life of their party.

President Bush, according to NBC's Tim Russert, listened and offered up this piece of his psyche: He doesn't want to leave this war to the next president and, more to the point, he doesn't want to leave it to a Democratic President.

Why?

If President Bush, with the lowest and most consistently low approval ratings of his presidency, leaves it to a Democratic President it won't bode well for the future of the national Republican Party. Sure they'll still listen, take words out of context, lie and spin in their sniper's stance at a the Project for a New Democratic Leadership, but they will have the lowered respect of an American people who are fed up with the "mistruths" about Iraq.

Russert stated that in attendance along with the eleven congressional members, led by Reps. Mark Kirk (Illinois) and Charlie Dent (Pennsylvania) were Karl Rove, Tony Snow, Condi Rice and "others". What we do know (or like Donald Rumsfeld would say, a "known-known) is that Cheney wasn't there. According to Russert, an unidentified congressman in attendance said it was "the most unvarnished conversation they've had with the president."

Just what in the world were they doing all this time before? It took a giant defeat of the GOP in the 2006 election for the House Republicans to have a meaningful chat with President Bush, something most of us would call closing the barn door after the horses have run away. It's only fear which makes these GOP reps stand up and speak out: Fear of losing in 2008; Fear of losing their seats; And fear of being remembered as the least effective group ever to occupy the House. It's too late for that last one - that title is theirs already.

Another Congressman stated "My district is prepared for defeat" in Iraq. They are tired of seeing theirs, and their neighbor's children die without a goal and without justification. He added, We need candor, we need honesty, Mr. President."

Well, I guess there is a first time for everything, but these guys are going to have to take a number. We've been waiting for six-plus years!

But the statement attributed to President Bush that really made me get up and take notice was this one: "I don't want to pass this off to another president - I don't want to pass this off, particularly to a Democratic President," stated Russert, and he added "underscoring (President Bush) understood how serious the situation was.

Is it a problem ONLY if a Democrat wins in 2008? And what is THAT problem? I bet that George W. Bush doesn't want his mess cleaned up by the opposition party. It appears he knows that his legacy will be one of failure no matter what. He must know that his place in history will show how much damage he has done, not only to the United States, but to the World as a whole. All of the sugar-coating of Fox News and Friends won't make that realization go away.

If a Republican gets into office in 2008, President Bush will certainly take the approach that the end of the Iraq war came about because of the decisions he made during his tenure. (After all, he is "The Decider.") And a new Republican President surely will give him some of the credit due to the fact that today's front-runners are all saying "give the surge a chance". forgetting that the "other surges" didn't work before them.

If a Democrat does gain the White House in 2008, you can be sure our troops will be out by 2009, unless something President Bush does between now and then really screws things up to the point that they can't leave. (I shudder to think of what that might be.)

By now, George W. Bush should be used to others cleaning up after him. They have been doing so his whole life.

-Noah Greenberg



General Ray Odierno wants to give "Plan-A" even more time.

Why?

The Commander of Multinational Corps in Iraq, and the guy just under Mid east Commander General David Patraeus, thinks the "Surge" needs more time to work. Actually, he thinks that THIS surge needs more time.

"Our forces will stand shoulder to shoulder, as we have now for almost four years with the Iraqi security forces, until they no longer need our support,"
-Odierno (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2007/04/mil-070413-dod01.htm)

Sounds a bit like "stay the course" and "there is no Plan-B" to me. What's it sound like to you?

Like a child who requires training wheels prior to learning how to ride a two-wheeler, sooner of later you have to take the training wheels off. As of now, the Iraqis are riding tricycles.

"In Baghdad, steady progress is being made, and... is showing some early results. But real success is based on sustaining progress over the long term, with eventually Iraqis alone providing security to their people,"
-Odierno

Wait a second here. We've been "helping" the Iraqis now since "Mission Accomplished" just over four years ago. We've been "on the course" with "Plan-A" all of this time and we're still waiting for the Iraqis to pick up their own slack?

"When the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down,"
-President Bush and numerous Neo-Cons using their favorite wait-and-see excuse to stay in Iraq

"In terms of the surge, we now have over half of the troops' plus-up in place,"
-Ordierno

Hey, General Ray (and anyone else who will listen)... this "surge" is OUR surge. These are OUR troops. They're using OUR resources. These are OUR decisions. Just how do we expect the Iraqis to stand up when we refuse to get them to take their asses off their seats?

Make no mistake about it, while we refuse to change our failed "Plan-A", the enemy, whoever they happen to be at any given time, are probably up to their "Plan-Q". They adapt and we stay put. We "surge" our troops into Baghdad and the "insurge" into the al-Anbar province, Basrah and any other area left open by our concentration of troops to make nice pics for George Bush's dog and pony show.

As Dick Cheney makes a surprise visit to the troops and to chastise Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (although I don't know why - after all, he is playing this according to "the Plan"), we look at an Iraq where people are afraid to come out of their homes; an Iraq whose professionals find it better and safer to live in Syria as outcasts rather than practice medicine or law in their home land; an Iraq which is now overly influenced by the Iranians on their eastern border, the Syrians on their northwestern border and enough of an al-Qaeda smattering to make Osama bin-Laden happy.

Cheney arrives as if his presence will make a difference. All it does is remove soldiers from their posts and put them on the Vice President's protection detail, A.K.A. "The photo-op politico of the day".

Maybe Cheney could go into Senator John McCain and Lindsey Graham's favorite shopping spot, the Shorja Market. I hear Blair House needs some new rugs.

-Noah Greenberg



Reverend Al Sharpton should forfeit his radio show

"As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation."
-Sharpton, referring to the religion of Former Massachusetts Governor, and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon

Now I'm no fan of Romney, but I am less a fan of bigotry and stupidity. It's why I blasted Don Imus for his "Nappy-headed hoes" remark; it's why I pointed out Sharpton's own race-baiting in New York which directly or indirectly (however you wish to view it) actually caused the deaths of several people in new York City; and it's why I'm so upset about the obviously bigoted remark by Reverend Al.

if Imus had to go, so does Al Sharpton. If we let him get away with this remark, then he'll just keep on spewing this hate which we no longer have any room for.

I'm reminded of the saying "Those in glass houses shouldn't throw stones." I'm surprised Reverend Al still has any windows left at all.

-Noah Greenberg



Israel's Has its Own George W. Bush

I consider myself a supporter of our armed services, but even more so a supporter of our troops and the men and women, in uniform, who lead them. This is the reason why it pains me to see and hear the President of the United States, and those under the President, blame what went wrong in Iraq on the troops.

Likewise, I consider myself a supporter of Israel. But when I see a headline like this one from Reuters, "Olmert criticizes army in Lebanon war testimony", it pains me similarly.

"I think the army disappointed itself to a large degree,"
-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to the Winograd Commission investigating last year's war against Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas

Olmert is under the same kind of pressure in Israel which George W. Bush faces here at home. And blaming the soldiers when the policies which you and your advisors came up with may be expedient, but it doesn't help. It doesn't help you in the eyes of your constituents. It doesn't help you in your dealings with your Generals; it doesn't help you with troop morale. And it doesn't help you, your nation or your nation's interests in the long or short run. It's design is to deflect blame from your failed policies and put it squarely on the backs of anyone you decide could shoulder the blame.

If it sounds familiar, it's because that's just what the Bush administration is doing.

Where has all of the personal responsibility gone? Where has gone Harry Truman's idea of "The Buck Stops Here"?

"He should take responsibility now for his failings and resign,"
-Zevulun Orlev, an Israeli opposition party (Religious Party) legislator

As we have seen here, surrender is not an option and neither is changing one's mind.

"I believe, I still believe today, that my approach was correct,"
-Olmert

Sounds like someone's got a case of the "Stay the courses" to me. How about you?

-Noah Greenberg



In response to, "No wonder why Halliburton is moving to Dubai," Eddie Konczal writes:

Good riddance! Maybe Cheney will join them after his term is up - which HOPEFULLY will be sooner rather than later.


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-Noah Greenberg