Cyclone Road


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Henry Kissinger threw George W. Bush under the bus today, saying victory in Iraq, as the administration defines it, is impossible. This would be funny if it wasn't for the scores of young Americans killed and wounded daily, and the tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens who've died in the invasion and occupation.

The reason it would be funny is that, just like Vietnam, we have an out-of-touch president insisting on the maintenance of a totally bankrupt and irrational policy. Kissinger whispered in the ear of both men, Nixon and Bush, and there's little question that, like he did thirty years ago, the former Secretary of State told Bush to stay the course and hold to his principles. At least until people started examining Kissinger's role and assigning him some measure of the blame. When the scrutiny heightned over policy in Vietnam, Kissinger stabbed Nixon in the back.

There's a classic (albeit ficitonalized) exchange in the movie Nixon between Kissinger and the President:

That doesn't matter now, Henry.
The point is, you might lose some
of your media-darling halo if the
press starts sniffing around our
dirty laundry.

I had nothing to do with that,
sir, and I resent any

Resent it all you want, Henry, but
you're in it with the rest of us.
Cambodia, Ellsberg, the wiretaps
you put in. The President wants
you to know you can't just click
your heels and head back to
Harvard Yard. It's your ass too,
Henry, and it's in the wind
twisting with everyone else's."

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Day: A Celebration Deferred

I'm glad the Democrats kicked the GOP's ass, make no mistake. But the gloating is premature. We have massive deficits fueled by tax cuts passed during unprecedented government spending. Violent crime is on the rise and our national infrastructure is in decay. Worst of all, 150,000 American soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are caught in the middle of a civil war between Iraqi Shiites and Sunni Muslims who agree on nothing except that they hate the foreign occupiers and want to kill them. The time to worry about how we wound up in such a fucking disaster is over. We're there. Now we have to deal with it.

It has become clear that there is no way to avoid the humanitarian crisis that will follow a withdrawal of American troops. It won't matter if we leave tomorrow or in ten years. In fact, the longer we wait the more pain we might cause, as Iraqi society will have grown up around the US forces and become dependent on the stability they provide. Donald Rumsfeld himself described this phenomena several months ago.

The only answers are to either add thousands more troops so that, hypothetically, the Iraqi government can grow in a more secure environment, or remove American troops and force the Iraqis to stand on their own. Likely Republican presidential candidate John McCain favors the first option. He wants to add one hundred thousand soldiers. A staged and phased withdrawal is the plan suggested by soon-to-be House Majority Leader John Murtha. Those are the choices. The only unacceptable option is the one President Bush insists upon: maintaining current force levels.

One forecast you can guarantee is that either option will result in thousands of dead human beings, American and Iraqi. If we add twice as many soldiers, we'll suffer twice as many casualties or more since the number of targets will double. The increase might be exponential. "Insurgents" are now utilizing snipers and pouring more American teenagers into the streets of Baghdad only makes an easier day at the office for those killers. In a withdrawal scenario, the dead will come from various militias fighting one another, and, tragically, innocent Iraqi civilians. But Iraqi civilians are already dying by the hundreds every week, sometimes daily. Our record in preventing this kind of anarchy is total failure. We can't do it. We can't stop the killings.

The only option left is withdrawal, in a timed, staged, and hopefully orderly manner. It won't be graceful or photogenic. There won't be any chance for Bush to pose with some idiotic banner behind him proclaiming victory (unless he gets anywhere near the real fighting--a very UN-Republican impulse). The invasion of Iraq will go down as an ugly and expensive foreign policy failure; the only question is how many more American soldiers have to die before the nation admits as much.

We are not going to "plant the seeds of democracy" in a place where the concept of an Iraqi "nation" is almost unknown, or somehow make the Sunnis and Shia love each other. They are going to fight it out. It's time to get US men and women out of the crossfire and help the Iraqi government by forcing them to assert themselves.

Many reasonable Americans have felt intimidated by Republicans who talk about how they "support the troops." Now it's time to ask those people how a policy that keeps our soldiers in the crosshairs of a religious civil war equals "support." We might ask them how we can insist things will improve when in fact they are constantly deteriorating, worsening every week. Attacks on US troops have skyrocketed from 400 to 800 in a year. Anywhere between fifty and one hundred dead Iraqi bodies are "discovered" each day.

We might ask, too, exactly who is promising that "victory" is possible? The answer is the same neocons who fucked up the post-war planning and subsequent misadministration of Iraq. We should take THEIR word for how things are going to happen?? The guys who assured us crowds of Iraqis tossing flowers? Ask your favorite Fox News viewer to tell you what, precisely, have these guys been right about so far?

If you support the troops, raise hell with your congressman to pull those young people out of there as soon as possible. Demand accountability instead of emailing death threats to the Dixie Chicks.

It's our turn to support the troops by removing them from an impossible and deadly situation. The Democrats are in. Give them time to celebrate, then get on their asses about doing the job. We owe it to those men and women on the other side of the world. When THEY come home, then we can all celebrate Election Day.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Republicans are famous for voter suppression tactics. The rule of thumb is that higher turnout favors Democrats. I think the 2004 election may have disproven that, but the GOP continues to discourage people from voting through various means. I witnessed this first-hand in Ohio, where they called known Democrats and gave confusing instructions about absentee ballots and polling locations. They also went to Democratic precincts and posed as election workers, asking voters for identification and making false and threatening statements. I would have not believed this if I didn't hear the dozens of reports first-hand. Now I believe.

This year, they're using automated dialers to repeatedly call voters while claiming to represent the Democrat, thus annoying the recipient. If you witness voter intimidation at the polls, don't bother with liberal indignation. We're way past indignation. The first thing to do is get in the face of any Republican harassing voters in line. Suggest where that Blackberry might wind up if they don't beat it back to the golf course. That's the kind of language they understand. They will cut and run and fast. We saw this in Ohio. They shit their pants at the first sign of trouble. Then, like a good spotter, you call it in.

Here's a post with some websites and phone numbers from Daily Kos:

Several sites will serve as clearinghouses for election issues tomorrow. is already on the robocall story. Video The Vote and Veek the Vote are camera-ready. If you have a website, you can add a "Tell Your Voting Story" widget, a tool that makes reporting election shenanigans a snap.

Election incidents can also be reported to several national hotlines. Those reported to 1-866-OUR-VOTE will be catalogued in the Election Incident Reporting System (check out the incident map, which already reflects several incidents across the nation). Problems with voting machines can also be reported by calling 1-888-SAV-VOTE (1-888-728-8683). You can also report incidents through the DNC by calling 1-888-DEM VOTE or by filling out this online form.

Don't be shy. If you witness something at your polling place that seems off, report it. If your friends or family tell you about dirty tricks or suppression tactics, urge them to report it. Because this time around, we're not going to let them get away with anything.

Be prepared. Be vigilant. And let's do everything we can to ensure that no citizen is denied his or her right to vote.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

This is Republican Peter King (not the football writer who predicted the rise of the Romo Empire) describing the AARP as a "radical organization." The crowd laughs out loud at him and he pauses a moment, as if he might try to make a joke about his own characterization. He changes his mind though. Humor and Republicanism don't often go well together.

Watch out on election day for the armies of radical grannies in the street! Don't let the petite handbags and walkers fool you. Be vigilant, for God's sake.

Friday, November 03, 2006

As Close to a Military Coup As We'll See: Armed Forces Newspapers Call For Rumsfeld's Firing

This editorial will appear in the Army Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times and Marine Corps Times on Monday under the headline Time for Rumsfeld to go:

"So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth."

That statement was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent Marguerite Higgins more than a half-century ago during the Korean War.

But until recently, the "hard bruising" truth about the Iraq war has been difficult to come by from leaders in Washington. One rosy reassurance after another has been handed down by President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld: "mission accomplished," the insurgency is "in its last throes," and "back off," we know what we're doing, are a few choice examples.

Military leaders generally toed the line, although a few retired generals eventually spoke out from the safety of the sidelines, inciting criticism equally from anti-war types, who thought they should have spoken out while still in uniform, and pro-war foes, who thought the generals should have kept their critiques behind closed doors.

Now, however, a new chorus of criticism is beginning to resonate. Active-duty military leaders are starting to voice misgivings about the war's planning, execution and dimming prospects for success.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee in September: "I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it ... and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war."

Last week, someone leaked to The New York Times a Central Command briefing slide showing an assessment that the civil conflict in Iraq now borders on "critical" and has been sliding toward "chaos" for most of the past year. The strategy in Iraq has been to train an Iraqi army and police force that could gradually take over for U.S. troops in providing for the security of their new government and their nation.

But despite the best efforts of American trainers, the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity has become a losing proposition.

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

Meanwhile, colonels and generals have asked their bosses for more troops. Service chiefs have asked for more money.

And all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand.

Now, the president says he'll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.

This is a mistake.

It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation's current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.

These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.

And although that tradition, and the officers' deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it.

Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt.

This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth:

Donald Rumsfeld must go.

I've avoided political commentary here because I have come to believe that much of the damage inflicted on America by the Republicans and their right-wing followers is permanent.

We create more terrorists than we kill, according to the intelligence community. As a result of what we've already done, we will face waves of terrorists who want to kill Americans for the balance of our lifetimes. At home, our children and great-grandchildren will enjoy a substantially reduced standard of living because of the monumental debt accumulated during the Republicans' spending spree and tax cuts. Future generations will face massive interest payments to the Chinese and Japanese governments. They will curse this generation of Americans for having sold off the United States to underwrite an orgy of war spending and tax reduction. They won't worry about which party was responsible for what. They will indict all of us.

Meanwhile, young American men and women continue to die in Iraq because a tiny group of delusional but powerful men deny the abject failure of their occupational policy. They are alone in the world. All of humanity, across the entire globe, sees this disaster more clearly than the extreme right-wing ideologues in the Republican Party. Now, facing a massive renouncement in the mid-term elections, they're turning on each other.

MSNBC reports this in their overnight edition:

"Also Friday, several conservatives who pushed for the invasion of Iraq said they would not have supported a war if they knew how poorly the Bush administration would handle it, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

"I think now I probably would have said, 'No, let's consider other strategies for dealing with the thing that concerns us most, which is Saddam (Hussein) supplying weapons of mass destruction to terrorists,"' said Richard Perle, who sat on the Pentagon's Defense Policy Advisory Committee until 2004.

Kenneth Adelman, who served on the Defense Policy Board with Perle, said Bush, Defense Rumsfeld and others in the administration "turned out to be among the most incompetent teams in the postwar era (he's talking about WW2 for those who get their history and civics from Ann Coulter). Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional."

When Richard Perle and Ken Adelman jump ship, you know the universe is upside down. These are the hawks among hawks, the architects of the strike-first policy and authors of a security manifesto that called for American military domination of the 21st century.

The last group to protest the diseased policy is the military itself. It started in the United Kingdom last month, when the Chief of the Imperial General Staff said that the presence of British troops in Iraq only worsened the situation and that they should be removed immediately.

Now comes an unprecedented occurrence in American history. All US military newspapers are set to run editorials on Monday calling for the ouster of Don Rumsfeld. Incredible.

Military Charts Movement of Conflict in Iraq Toward Chaos

"A classified briefing prepared two weeks ago by the US Central Command, obtained by the New York Times, "portrays Iraq as edging toward chaos, in a chart that the military is using as a barometer of civil conflict."

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