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Our political elite is in paralysis'

Posted on Thu, Sep. 29, 2005
Our political elite is in paralysis'


President Bush is in big trouble, and so are we. In this town, there is barely disguised glee that the president so badly bumbled the rescue-and-recovery operation post-Katrina that he has lost the aura of a strong, decisive leader.

Democrats and their coalition partners in the media are gloating that Bush's fumbling proves them right: He is the fortunate son who is beyond his depth in an office he would not have won had it not been for his name, connections and a friendly Supreme Court. The piling on begins to grate, but that is the nature of politics. When Nixon was mired in Watergate, Reagan in Iran-contra and Clinton in the Monica mess, Washington was whistling Happy Days Are Here Again.

67 percent disapprove

But even if Bush is in trouble, why are we? It is not because his approval rating has plunged to 40 percent, the nadir of his presidency, but because support is evaporating for a war upon the outcome of which hangs America's position in the Middle East and the world.

According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll, 67 percent disapprove of how Bush is prosecuting the war. Only 32 percent approve. Three in five think that America made a mistake going in. Close to two-thirds think we should start withdrawing troops now.

By a CBS/New York Times poll, only 7 percent of the nation is willing to cut domestic spending to pay for this war, only 20 percent is willing to raise taxes. A majority of Americans wish this war had never happened and would just go away.

How, then, does Bush, for the 3 ½ years left to him, persuade the American people to keep spending the blood of their soldiers and the treasure of the nation to fight it?

Undeniably, there is progress. The enemy is suffering losses. U.S.-trained Iraqi troops are more often taking the initiative. As for victory in Tal Afar, a Turkmen city, the Iraqi troops we assisted were apparently Kurds, which further inflamed Turkey, our estranged NATO ally.

War could end badly

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, here last week, put no gloss on Riyadh's alarm. Iraq is hurtling toward a civil war that may become a regional war, he said, with Iran intervening to aid the Shiite, Turkey attacking the Kurds and Sunni Arab nations aiding their dispossessed and embattled Sunni brethren. ''All the dynamics are pulling the country apart,'' he said.

Though most Americans have lost confidence in Bush as a war president and believe that the war was a mistake and we should start bringing our troops home, no elected leader of national stature is demanding an end to U.S. involvement or a new policy for victory.

Our political elite is in paralysis. Sen. McCain talks of more troops, but has not broken with Bush on his refusal to send them. Sen. Feingold calls for a withdrawal timetable, but passed on the antiwar demonstration in Washington last weekend.

Critics fear this war could end badly, if not disastrously, for the United States. No one wants to say anything that can be used to substantiate a future charge of having given aid and comfort to the enemy in a time of war and helping to ensure an American defeat.

40 months to go

Both parties bear moral responsibility for the mess we are in. The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Republicans for beating the drums for war on a country that did not threaten us. The Clinton-Kerry-Biden-Edwards Democrats for giving Bush a blank check to take us to war to remove the issue from the 2002 election.

Now Bush's legacy as well as this country's standing as a world power and its vital interests in this oil-rich region are riding on the outcome.

Does Bush have a plan to win? Or a plan to cut our losses and end our involvement in a way not ruinous to the global economy or America's position in the Persian Gulf and Middle East? In that CBS/New York Times poll, 75 percent of Americans said that he has no plan. Yet, he is president for the next 40 months.

Yes, we are all in this boat together, and it is taking on water.



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This ship is sinking and fast...will the captain go down with the ship?

Any greatness America has had, or still clings to, resides in the struggle to achieve the 'American Dream'. Which is, self governance by consent - of/for/by we the people. Implicit in this is equality, justice, fairness and a 'common good'. Its 'A more Perfect Union', not more money, power, position, or stuff. Its a more perfect way for all of us to live out our lives together.

Pat and the weak minded who can only go along with, or conceive of what has been, want to play the losers game of empire. Maybe this impossible position they've now gotten us into will throw some cold water in their faces. Lets get back to the promising work of achieving the American Dream.

Pat writes tougher than he speaks. On McLaughlin, he always refers reverentially to Bush, as if he were legitimately elected. He and Tony Blankley just seem to lie their heads off and skirt around the questions raised by the Downing Street Memos.

Let's not forget GWB administration has enough time left to do really stupid things. Donald Rumsfeld has sabotaged arms agreement for over three decades now, and the PNAC folk believe a nuclear war is winnable if we act now.

The draft of CONPLAN 8022 authorizes the use of nuclear weapons as a preemptive first strike policy against Iran. While Mr. Buchanan does seem to understand who the terrorists are, and truly see this war as folly, I see no evidence that Cheney or Rumsfeld share this view.

The real danger is akin to the one of the irate husband's "if I can't have her, no one can", and DC/DR lashing out in anger and frustration in one last attempt to fulfill a lifelong dream of unfettered power. I was born under Hitler, who I actually find more rational and sane than the current administration. So I have no confidence in a rational choice being made against Iran by those for whom power and control are everything. With the growth in demand for oil worldwide, even Tom Friedman makes this power struggle a major point in The Earth is Flat:

At the business conference I was attending in Beijing, I kept hearing references to the Strait of Malacca – the narrow passage between Malaysia and Indonesia that is patrolled by the U.S. Navy and controls all the oil tanker traffic from the Middle East to China and Japan. I hadn’t heard anyone talking about the Strait of Malacca since the 1970s oil crisis. But evidently Chinese strategic planners have begun to grow increasingly concerned that the United States could choke off China’s economy at any time by just closing the Strait of Malacca, and this threat is now being increasingly and openly discussed in Chinese military circles. It is just a small hint of the potential struggle for power -- energy power – that could ensue if the Great American Dream and the Great Chinese Dream and the Great Russian Dream come to be seen as mutually exclusive in energy terms. p.409

Let's be honest. Our energy plan is essentially a military one. While there may be a current falling out between Iran and India, there is not between Iran and China-Russia. It is premature to conclude,just because the boat is sinking, that we are out of WWIII. Power does strange things to people. I know.


Tom Fox, Electronic Iraq, 27 September 2005

The draft constitution for Iraq that has been published in
the Western press has been widely reviewed and commented
upon by many individuals. There have been ongoing
revisions to the constitution. The most recent version was
released internally on Sept. 13th. This version has not
been disseminated to either Western or Iraqi press or to
the Iraqi public. CPT Iraq was sent a copy by a contact in
the government. While much of the document is similar and
most changes are more in terms of replacing a word or two
there are some significant differences.

Perhaps the most dramatic change is the omission of a
section of the "Transitional Provisions."

The published draft reads:

1. "It is forbidden for Iraq to be used as a base or
corridor for foreign troops."

2. "It is forbidden to have foreign military bases in

3. "The National Assembly can, when necessary, and with a
majority of two-thirds of its members allow events stated
in #1 and #2 to take place."

This provision is completely missing from the current
unpublished version.

Perhaps a more subtle change is in the "Fundamental
Principles" section. In the published draft, Article 2
states: "No law can be passed that contradicts the
undisputed rules of Islam." In the unpublished current
version, the article reads, "No law that contradicts the
established provisions of Islam may be established." Now
this may be splitting hairs but Iraqis have said that
"undisputed" would imply Islamic law that is recognized by
both Sunni and Shi'a. The word "established" would imply
that law that exists in one branch but not the other would
be considered the basis of national law. This could create
serious tensions if a Sunni or Shi'a were required to obey
a national law that is outside of their particular faith

Financial issues play a major role in the constitution and
there is a significant contradiction in two sections of
the unpublished current version. In the "Powers of the
Regions" the second clause of Article 117 states, "Regions
and governorates shall be allocated an equitable share of
the national revenues [as a clarification oil revenue is
considered national revenue] sufficient to discharge its
responsibilities and duties." But there is an addition to
the unpublished current version in reference to oil and
gas revenues that states, "A quota shall be defined for a
specific time for affected regions that were deprived in
an unfair way by the former régime or later on." In other
words the Kurdish region or a new Shi'a region in the
south could get the lion's share of oil revenues for years
while the Sunni central region gets but a pittance.

This document is not available to the people of Iraq at
this time (Sept. 24th) and yet they will be asked to go to
the polls and vote on it in 23 days. Is this democracy or
yet another chapter in the ongoing saga of sectarian and
religious divisiveness in the country?

Three BBC videos RE: Leo Strauss' political philosophy


Part I

Part II

Part III

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