(EVERGLADES CITY, FL.) For the past four years, as
I've been cris-crossing the country -- and even when traveling abroad in
Southeast Asia, North Africa and Europe -- I have run into the same
pattern: Conservative, Reagan-style Republicans, many of them serving or
former military types, ranting about the Bush Administration and the
incalculable damage done both to the Constitution and to America's
reputation in the world.
In all these conversations, these angry screeds just burst out of these
conservatives, without any pre-knowledge that the fellow they're talking
with is an editor of a progressive, anti-Bush, pro-democracy website.
When they find out my political slant, they seem overjoyed that they've
met someone who shares many, though clearly not all, of their anxieties
about the wrong direction in which the country is being taken. They need
to vent their anger and disappointment big time; they can't do so in
front of many of their military superiors and fellow officers. So
they're happy to have someone to talk with who listens to their rants
and agrees with much of them.
I'm in Florida for my uncle's 85th birthday celebration in a wealthy,
white neighborhood in South Florida and one of the extended-family
members, an active-duty official in one of the armed forces, volunteers
that "the Cheney Administration," as he puts it, has wrecked the
standing of America abroad by its obsessive pre-occupation with
launching this ill-advised Iraq war and then continuing it long past the
point of no-return.
CONSERVATIVE ANGER AT BUSH
This former Reagan staffer opines that if the U.S. had gone into Iraq
with "a half-million men, and taken care of business," America would not
be trapped in the quagmire it's in today. But he also believes that you
can't fight extremist Muslim terrorists mainly in militarily campaigns
since "you can never win" that kind of guerrilla war.
The war we should be fighting and winning, he said during his 30-minute
rant, is for the hearts and minds of the locals, and CheneyBush policies
are not capable of succeeding in that type of battle, especially given
the use of torture as approved state policy, the not uncommon rapes and
murders of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops, the corruption everywhere
that accompanies the U.S. occupation, the continuing lack of a
functioning infrastructure (electricity, fresh water,) etc. .
Later in the evening, my sister and I engaged the military man again on
a seeming contradiction: You stated, we say to him, that the U.S. can't
win these type of wars against nationalist guerrillas but you think we
should have thrown 500,000 troops into the battle anyway.
In an argument I've heard before from other military types, he didn't
see his position as containing a contradiction:
"If we had moved that half-million in there in force
and kicked ass immediately, stopped the looting, secured the ammo
dumps, made it more difficult to come across the porous borders,
installed our Iraqi strongman in charge -- if we had done all that
then, chances are pretty good that things would have turned out much
differently and to our advantage now.
"But since the Cheney Administration, mainly Cheney and Rumsfeld,
messed up the situation royally from the git-go, there's no way we
can put Humpty Dumpty back together again, achieve anything
approximating a victory. It's simply time for us to go, before we
make the situation even worse. Better to simply get out of there
with as much of our tattered reputation as we can take with us,
rather than flail about for a year or two before having to exit even
more ha stily in humiliating Vietnam-War fashion."
DEMOCRATIC MOVES ON THE IRAQ WAR
The latter part of that argument seems to animate many Democrats in the
House and Senate, willing to take the political risk by attaching strict
conditions to war-funding bills, as a way of crippling CheneyBush's
ability to wage its aggressive war-of-choice and to build momentum for
ending the U.S. misadventure in Iraq as soon as is practicable. Sure,
the Dems' moves are a kind of attack-from-the-side approach, rather than
opposing CheneyBush policies frontally, the result of which timidity is
to leave U.S. troops on the ground there for several more years.
But if it takes small, incremental but significant steps to start the
exit-Iraq ball rolling, then let's take them -- as long as the effort
continues with more meaningful de-funding and withdrawal bills in coming
months. In addition, it is essential that Congress pass a bill
stipulating that there will be no financial support for any pending Bush
war against Iran.
Passing resolutions devoid of legal teeth in them doesn't help all that
much in getting U.S. troops, and innocent civilians, out of harm's way.
Passing bills that fund the troops' withdrawal, in concert with U.N. and
regional stabilizing efforts, can draw the day closer when the U.S.
military machine can start rolling out of this catastrophic war, now in
its fifth tragic year.
ALBERTO GONZALES, BUSH TOADY
So how does Alberto Gonzales, the "Abu Gonzo" of the headline above, fit
into the Iraq picture?
For one thing, to figure out how to stop the Iraq war, first you have to
know the key players who took the U.S. into that war and bungled
Occupation. My advice is to look for those with their fingers in a whole
lot of policy and operational pies. In the current CheneyBush
Administration, that translates to Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bush Himself,
Alberto Gonzales, Stephen Hadley, and the ineffectual Bush lapdog
Condoleezza Rice. (Previous co-conspirators Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz,
Steven Cambone, Doug Feith, and John Ashcroft have already left the
scene of the crime, and would make excellent witnesses.)
What we're witnessing in these waning days of the CheneyBush
Administration is an implosion of the once-monolithic inner circle, with
the rest of the remaining crew hunkering further down in the White House
bunker, trying desperately to avoid both the stain of history and to
stay out of the federal slammer as a result of their crimes and
"Bush Heads for
Attorney General Gonzales (who, from his earliest association with Bush
in Texas, has been his personal legal toady) has demonstrated time and
again his willingness to do whatever needs to be done to keep Bush in
office. Rove and Gonzales and Harriet Miers, key figures in Bush's
so-called Texas Mafia, are stand-ins for the elite, behind-the-scenes
powers that prop up this shady enterprise.
And now Gonzales, caught knee-deep in the U.S. Attorneys scandal, looks
as if he's a political liability and will be thrown overboard in short
order. His key aide, Kyle Sampson, was the designated scapegoat (with
Deputy A.G. Paul McNulty the new chosen patsy), but his resignation
couldn't stanch the bleeding in this ever-widening scandal, and
Gonzales' lies, dissemblings and probable perjuries before U.S. Senate
committees requires something more drastic, such as his firing or
resignation -- or, failing that, his impeachment.
(But dumping him won't come easy to CheneyBushRove: more than most,
Gonzo knows too much, knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak.
Who can guess what he might be willing to tell a grand jury in order to
save his own neck?)
GONZO'S LARGER CRIMES
As is often the case, the real crimes go uncharged and the thing that
brings down the kingpin is a lesser scandal. In the 1930s, for example,
Al Capone, the master mob boss, was imprisoned for non-payment of taxes
rather than for the numerous murders and mayhem he engineered. In the
case of Gonzales, he'll probably go down for covering-up his political
maneuvering to fire competent, dedicated U.S. Attorneys and install Bush
loyalists in their stead, ones willing to concoct phony "vote fraud"
charges against Democratic opponents.
Gonzales would seem to fit in the Rove category of domestic-policy
criminals, but Gonzo's impact on foreign/military policy is much, much
larger. Consider: Gonzales is the one figure most responsible for
creating a legal philosophy in support of Bush authoritarian rule
whereby the President is permitted to violate the Constitution and laws
passed by Congress whenever he says he's acting as "commander-in-chief"
That suspect legal philosophy also winds up justifying torture and other
severe violations of Americans' civil liberties in the so-called
"Patriot" Act, military tribunals, "extraordinary renditions" of
suspects to countries notorious for their extreme interrogation methods,
the forced disappearance of the 600-year-old legal tradition of habeas
corpus,, and so much more. In short, the "war on terrorism," Gonzales
asserts, trumps all laws and constitutional protections.
However, Gonzales will not be removed from office for those gross crimes
-- where domestic and foreign policies meet -- but because internal
White House emails by others reveal his complicity in the politicization
of the U.S. Attorneys system, and because he lied publicly in his
attempt to escape culpability.
RUNNING OUT OF SCAPEGOATS
It does the heart good to see the shrinking Bush Bunker crew start to
run out of lower-level scapegoats (Libby the fall guy for Cheney,
Rumsfeld the sacrificial lamb for continuing the Iraq war policy,
Sampson and McNulty for Gonzales, et al.). That means that the genuine
villains, those in control of policy, are now having to face the music.
When Gonzo goes, that should mean that the progenitors of CheneyBush
policy (those two, plus Rove, Rice and Hadley) will be left even more
exposed and thus the primary targets of congressional investigations --
and, in the case of Bush and Cheney, impeachment proceedings.
Cheney and Rove should be first to go after Gonzo -- Cheney for
attempting to run the world, Rove for so disastrously running Bushworld
politics. As Patrick Fitzgerald's Libby trial showed, Cheney is at the
heart of virtually every bad decision and policy in the Administration,
running virtually a shadow government, covert intel organization, and
foreign policy apparatus. Rove likewise on the domestic politics front.
Their fingerprints are all over the joint, and bulldog-tenacity
investigations should reveal the extent of their perfidy.
Let's get on with it.
Copyright 2007, by Bernard Weiner