Monday, April 10, 2006

GWB: Double or Nothing

So GWB now admits he, ah, declassified the infamous Plame/Yellowcake material. And of course the usual suspects are rushing to let us all know that it was all technically legal, since the president's a law unto himself and all.

It's quite gratifying to see conservatives jumping in with these legalistic, hair-splitting arguments, quibbling over what the definition of "is" is. We may as well dispute the legality a bit, just to make them keep offering these lame excuses. But it's actually not a completely outrageous idea, so let's assume it's true, purely for the sake of argument. I don't see any realistic prospect of GWB ever being held legally accountable for any of his actions, so arguing over legality is a purely theoretical exercise, anyway.

The R's would like to only talk about the letter of the law, and they'd rather not have a conversation about whether the disclosure was ethical, or politically wise, or good for national security, or the sort of conduct we ought to expect from presidents. Well, George sort of took a stab at that today, arguing that he wanted the country to "see the truth" and so forth, but this argument is unconvincing even by his usual standards.

The problem, of course, is that the Niger yellowcake story had already been discredited at the time George leaked it, so it's not clear what connection there is here with the public "seeing the truth". Maybe Bush still believes it, for all we know. Someone ought to have asked him today. It sure sounds like the usual "conservative relativism" we've come to know and love so much, where truth is just any crazy notion you choose to believe, regardless of the evidence (e.g. creationism), and falsehood is anything you happen to disagree with for whatever reason.

I suppose you could argue that there's no way national security could be harmed by releasing a completely fictional tale about African uranium, since no real secrets are being disclosed. We'll probably hear this argument before long.

Meanwhile, George's next war is starting to take shape. No doubt you've already heard about Seymour Hersh's New Yorker story discussing a possible US attack on Iran in the near future. If the account is accurate at all, the most, ahem, striking thing about it is how similar it is to the Iraq plan. The military particulars are different -- instead of a massive ground invasion, we'd apparently stage a huge air attack against Iran, with no advance warning, a la Pearl Harbor. Aside from that, though, it's like deja vu all over again. The Iranian public, apparently, will greet us as liberators, even if we nuke their country a little here and there. We'll get us a second helping of that tasty regime change, and then we roll the credits. Mission accomplished! The article also asserts we've already got covert operations in place, trying to stoke interethnic tensions in Iran. Fortunately there's absolutely no chance there could be any possible downside to this, certainly not after the regime change happens. Because then the country will be an absolute paradise (well, except for all the radiation). Or at least nobody's thought that far ahead. So long as you avoid ever asking "What happens once we win?", there's no need to have an answer, right? Look at Iraq. Three years on, and we're still making amazing, remarkable progress every single day. Bush and Cheney keep saying so, so you know it must be true. And what's all this crazy "exit strategy" nonsense you hippies keep babbling on about? What part of "mission accomplished" don't you understand?

The current WH spin is that they'd maybe kinda prefer a diplomatic solution. Which, again, is exactly what they said about Iraq. And yes, there were diplomatic efforts. They just weren't good faith diplomatic efforts. They were designed to fail, so that war would appear to be the only remaining option. Some people might argue that threating people with nuclear annihilation is just a really shrewd negotiating tactic. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't. There's a fine line between taking a hard line to push negotiations along, and taking a hard line to poison any chance of a deal. You see the latter a lot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with each side pairing a negotiating track with a parallel track of sucide bombings or forcible land confiscations. And we all know how well that's worked out over the years. I'm convinced Bush & Cheney won't settle for anything other than a war. We'll be told that the Iranian leadership is untrustworthy (the complete opposite of our own leaders), fanatical (again, totally unlike Bush & Cheney), and an imminent threat to world peace (once again... you get the idea).

Hersh quotes sources as saying Bush now sees Iran as his presidential legacy. Which again is what was being said about Iraq a few years ago. That one didn't turn out so well, so we're going to try to change the subject and not talk about it anymore, or think about it, or learn anything from any mistakes that may have been made. Instead we're just going to pick a new country, place another high-stakes bet, and roll the dice again. Double or nothing.

Updated: Read this great rant titled Is Your Entire Country on Crack?.

1 comment :

sevenpointman said...

The plan I am sending you has been approved by many prominent thinkers and
activists in the field. Which includes: Benjamin Ferencz, Chief Prosecutor
at the Nuremburg Trials, Tom Hayden, Matthew Rothschild, Anthony Arnove, Danny Schecter,
Tony Benn- Former Member of the British parliament ,Reggie Rivers,
Robert Jenkins, Andrew Bard Schmookler and others.
I formulated this plan in September 2004, based on a comprehensive
study of the issues. For my plan to be successful it must be implemented
with all seven points beginning to happen within a very short period of
I have run up against a wall of doubt about my plan due to it's
rational nature ,and due to it's adherence to placing the blame on the
invaders, and then trying to formulate a process of extrication which would
put all entities in this conflict face to face, to begin to finally solve
the dilemmas that exist.
If you read my plan you will see that it is guided by a reasonable
and practical compromise that could end this war and alleviate the
internecine civil violence that is confronting Iraq at this juncture in it's
I am making a plea for my plan to be put into action on a wide-scale.
I need you to circulate it and use all the persuasion you have to bring it
to the attention of those in power.
Just reading my plan and sending off an e-mail to me that you received
it will not be enough.

This war must end-we who oppose it can do this by using my plan.
We must fight the power and end the killing.

If you would like to view some comments and criticism about my plan
I direct you to my blog: sevenpointman

Thank you my dear friend,

Howard Roberts

A Seven-point plan for an Exit Strategy in Iraq

1) A timetable for the complete withdrawal of American and British forces
must be announced.
I envision the following procedure, but suitable fine-tuning can be
applied by all the people involved.

A) A ceasefire should be offered by the Occupying side to
representatives of both the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite community. These
representatives would be guaranteed safe passage, to any meetings. The
individual insurgency groups would designate who would attend.
At this meeting a written document declaring a one-month ceasefire,
witnessed by a United Nations authority, will be fashioned and eventually
signed. This document will be released in full, to all Iraqi newspapers, the
foreign press, and the Internet.
B) US and British command will make public its withdrawal, within
sixth-months of 80 % of their troops.

C) Every month, a team of United Nations observers will verify the
effectiveness of the ceasefire.
All incidences on both sides will be reported.

D) Combined representative armed forces of both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations that agreed to the cease fire will
protect the Iraqi people from actions by terrorist cells.

E) Combined representative armed forces from both the Occupying
nations and the insurgency organizations will begin creating a new military
and police force. Those who served, without extenuating circumstances, in
the previous Iraqi military or police, will be given the first option to

F) After the second month of the ceasefire, and thereafter, in
increments of 10-20% ,a total of 80% will be withdrawn, to enclaves in Qatar
and Bahrain. The governments of these countries will work out a temporary
land-lease housing arrangement for these troops. During the time the troops
will be in these countries they will not stand down, and can be re-activated
in the theater, if the chain of the command still in Iraq, the newly
formed Iraqi military, the leaders of the insurgency, and two international
ombudsman (one from the Arab League, one from the United Nations), as a
majority, deem it necessary.

G) One-half of those troops in enclaves will leave three-months after they
arrive, for the United States or other locations, not including Iraq.

H) The other half of the troops in enclaves will leave after

I) The remaining 20 % of the Occupying troops will, during this six
month interval, be used as peace-keepers, and will work with all the
designated organizations, to aid in reconstruction and nation-building.

J) After four months they will be moved to enclaves in the above
mentioned countries.
They will remain, still active, for two month, until their return to
the States, Britain and the other involved nations.

2) At the beginning of this period the United States will file a letter with
the Secretary General of the Security Council of the United Nations, making
null and void all written and proscribed orders by the CPA, under R. Paul
Bremer. This will be announced and duly noted.

3) At the beginning of this period all contracts signed by foreign countries
will be considered in abeyance until a system of fair bidding, by both
Iraqi and foreign countries, will be implemented ,by an interim Productivity
and Investment Board, chosen from pertinent sectors of the Iraqi economy.
Local representatives of the 18 provinces of Iraq will put this board
together, in local elections.

4) At the beginning of this period, the United Nations will declare that
Iraq is a sovereign state again, and will be forming a Union of 18
autonomous regions. Each region will, with the help of international
experts, and local bureaucrats, do a census as a first step toward the
creation of a municipal government for all 18 provinces. After the census, a
voting roll will be completed. Any group that gets a list of 15% of the
names on this census will be able to nominate a slate of representatives.
When all the parties have chosen their slates, a period of one-month will be
allowed for campaigning.
Then in a popular election the group with the most votes will represent that
When the voters choose a slate, they will also be asked to choose five
individual members of any of the slates.
The individuals who have the five highest vote counts will represent a
National government.
This whole process, in every province, will be watched by international
observers as well as the local bureaucrats.

During this process of local elections, a central governing board, made up
of United Nations, election governing experts, insurgency organizations, US
and British peacekeepers, and Arab league representatives, will assume the
temporary duties of administering Baghdad, and the central duties of

When the ninety representatives are elected they will assume the legislative
duties of Iraq for two years.

Within three months the parties that have at least 15% of the
representatives will nominate candidates for President and Prime Minister.

A national wide election for these offices will be held within three months
from their nomination.

The President and the Vice President and the Prime Minister will choose
their cabinet, after the election.

5) All debts accrued by Iraq will be rescheduled to begin payment, on the
principal after one year, and on the interest after two years. If Iraq is
able to handle another loan during this period she should be given a grace
period of two years, from the taking of the loan, to comply with any
structural adjustments.

6) The United States and the United Kingdom shall pay Iraq reparations for
its invasion in the total of 120 billion dollars over a period of twenty
years for damages to its infrastructure. This money can be defrayed as
investment, if the return does not exceed 6.5 %.

7) During the beginning period Saddam Hussein and any other prisoners who
are deemed by a Council of Iraqi Judges, elected by the National
representative body, as having committed crimes will be put up for trial.
The trial of Saddam Hussein will be before seven judges, chosen from this
Council of Judges.
One judge, one jury, again chosen by this Council, will try all other
All defendants will have the right to present any evidence they want, and to
choose freely their own lawyers.