When looking at daily news reports, we all tend to fall into the trap of
focusing on juicy details of the scandal du jour. It's
natural to do so. But often by concentrating so carefully on the
minutiae, we miss seeing the import of the larger picture.
So let's just take two representative scandals from the CheneyBush
Administration -- those derived from the Iraq War and those surrounding
the firing of the U.S. attorneys -- and see where they overlap and what
they might represent when viewed from a longer-range perspective.
1. THE IRAQ WAR
The first thing to recognize is that the Iraq War was never about
conquering Iraq per se. It was about using Iraq for a variety of
sub-rosa purposes: to secure control of the huge oil reserves there and
in the rest of the Middle East; using Iraq as an example to convince
other Arab leaders to be more agreeable to U.S. demands or face
America's "shock & awe"; to establish a "democratic" government willing
to do America's bidding as a model for the region (the sleazy convicted
felon Chalabi was the original choice to be "our man" heading that
government); to maintain a permanent, massive U.S. presence there to
help carry out America's political aims in the Greater Middle East; to
remove Iraq's ability to attack Israel, America's one certain ally in
Even though war with Iraq was on the CheneyBush agenda long before 9/11,
to get to the point of being able to use Iraq for those hidden purposes
it was necessary first to manipulate public opinion into recognizing a
supposed "imminent," probably even a nuclear, danger to America. Not a
difficult task at all, since the mainstream press simply echoed the lies
and deceptions underlying the CheneyBush rush to war. Then it was on to
toppling Saddam. That was the easy part.
CheneyBushRumsfeldWolfowitz and their fellow illusionists, all of whom
bought into the exiles' "cakewalk" claims, were fatally handicapped by
their ideological blinders from seeing reality. They assumed that once
the hated Saddam was toppled, the Iraqis would welcome the invading
troops with chocolate and flowers and would cooperate as their society
was turned into a U.S. suzerainty. "Democracy" and a "capitalist free
market" would take root and prevail.
In its arrogant ignorance, the Bush Administration had scant knowledge
of the complexity of Iraqi society, its many strong divisions, even who
the real leaders were, and so were wrong from the get-go in so many
social, political and religious areas as it began the Occupation. One
mistake was piled on another until anything approaching "victory" became
impossible. From that time on, and even into the present, the U.S.
constantly was reduced to playing catch-up and seeking do-overs, almost
always disastrously late and ineffective.
THE WEAKNESS OF THE MUSCLEBOUND
Reality intervened. Small, insular countries do not take kindly to being
occupied, humiliated and brutalized by foreign giants. And so they
resist and, in doing so, they reveal the inherent weakness of the giant
powers (the Russians in Afghanistan in the '80s, America now in Iraq):
musclebound by their technological superiority. In guerrilla warfare,
the guerillas "win" not by defeating the more powerful occupation
armies, but by bleeding the occupiers with a thousand cuts over a
thousand months or more, if necessary -- and eventually the invaders are
forced to leave.
For a wonderful contemporary assessment of the disaster that is
CheneyBush war/occupation policy in Iraq, check out
Marshall's trenchant take. Here's the concluding money-quote:
"...We're occupying Iraq because continuing to do so
allows us to pretend that the initial plan wasn't completely
misguided and a mistake. If we continue to run the place a bit
longer, the reasoning goes, we'll root out this or that problem that
is preventing our original predictions from coming to pass. And of
course the longer the occupation continues we generate more and more
embittered foes to frame this rationalization around, thus creating
an perpetual feedback loop of calamity and self-justification. ...
The reality though is that the disaster has already happened.
Admitting that isn't a mistake or something to be feared. It's the
first step to repairing the damage. What the president has had the
country in for four years is a very bloody and costly holding
action. And the president has forced it on the country to avoid
admitting the magnitude of his errors."
STRETCHING OUT THE CATASTROPHE
The state-authorized tortures, the corporate looting of billions and
billions of dollars, the lack of oversight of the near 100,000 mercenary
soldiers in U.S. pay, the lack of a functioning reconstruction plan for
the country's infrastructure (by the way, 7 out of 8 completed
reconstruction projects are already worthless, a
new study has found), the lack of adequate care for wounded U.S.
soldiers, etc. etc. -- all these scandal tributaries flow out of the
original scandal: the decision to launch a war of choice based on lies,
deceit, arrogance, ignorance and cynical manipulation of the American
Until that admission can be openly and honestly admitted and dealt with,
no surge, no escalation, no staying the course will, or can, work.
A house built on a faulty foundation eventually will collapse,
especially when given a good shake. And that's where we are today: an
Administration trying to convince its tax-paying citizenry that a
belated escalation of the war will yield "victory." It will not. It will
simply inflame the civil war and elongate the catastrophic U.S. policy.
But that doesn't matter to the Administration. CheneyBush are still
committed to a permanent U.S. presence in Iraq -- since they regard Iraq
as the vital pivot in their neoconservative drive to control the
political/military situation in the Greater Middle East. They are
escalating the allegedly "temporary" surge by sending tens of thousands
of additional troops, with more in the pipeline; unfairly tacking on
more months to soldiers' rotations; calling up more National Guard
In short, the Bush Administration is preparing for years and years of
continued fighting there. (Or, if things get desperate, at the very
least they will stretch out the war past the 2008 election, and then the
new administration can take the blame.)
Given U.S. policy in Iraq, the al-Qaida recruiters in that country and
around the globe couldn't ask for a better scenario.
2. THE U.S. ATTORNEYS SCANDAL
Underlying the Iraq War and Occupation is a political rapaciousness and
will in the CheneyBush Administration that leads inexorably to
self-destructive behavior. Much the same can be said about their
obtuseness, arrogance and all-consuming political agenda with regard to
the U.S. Attorneys scandal.
Each day, it seems, more and more facts emerge about this growing
scandal stemming from the firing of key and generally first-rate U.S.
attorneys around the country by Alberto Gonzales' Department of Justice.
These U.S. Attorneys were replaced with "loyal-Bushie" attorneys (that's
the DOJ description) who can be relied upon to do the bidding of their
The key to the scandal can be found in Karl Rove's unceasing desire to
create permanent domination of the U.S. political scene by conservative
Republicans. To accomplish this, those U.S. Attorneys who continued to
go after corrupt Republican officials had to be removed and replaced by
those who would go after Democrats, even if there were no corruptions to
be found there. Originally, there were a dozen U.S. Attorneys on the
chopping block, but eventually Gonzales and his minions settled on
eight, knowing that the 80-plus others would get the message and toe the
Rove has made no secret of how he "wins" elections, and he isn't about
to change his techniques now. The name of the game -- even for the
moment ignoring vote-counting irregularities, especially as connected to
the corrupted computer-voting system -- is massive suppression of
likely-Democratic voters. In the main, this means minority urban and
rural voters, with a heavy emphasis on African-Americans.
Several hundred thousand votes in large cities, for example, can shift
the election results in tight races in key states -- see Ohio and
Florida 2000 and 2004 -- which can influence national politics for years
HOW ELECTIONS ARE STOLEN
Republican officials lop tens of thousands of minority voters off the
voting rolls for one reason or another: because the voters may have
moved and not filed a timely change-of-address form, and because they
are supposed convicted felons or those who have the same or similar name
as convicted felons, etc.. What Rove and Gonzales want the various U.S.
Attorneys to do is to indict liberal organizations -- the Democratic
Party itself, advocacy groups such as ACORN, et al. -- for alleged
"electoral fraud" in signing up new voters and in that party's
It doesn't matter if there's little or no truth to the "voter-fraud"
charges. (fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias refused to prosecute what
he called these "bogus" cases). The point for Rove and his minions is
that by charging and indicting Democrats, a lot of legal smoke is
created that could lead many wavering voters to believe there's a
genuine fire there and thus not vote for the Democratic candidates.
Additionally, such charges tie up the Democratic Party and its
supporting organizations for many months in costly legal proceedings.
Then, too, if such charges are made often enough, it sort of balances
out any negative publicity Republican candidates and officials might be
receiving as a result of their corrupt political and financial
In the short term, for 2008, Rove wants the Republicans to regain
control of the House and Senate and to maintain their hold on the White
House. The longer-range goal is to return the Democrats to permanent
minority status, thus giving free rein to conservative Republican rule
for another generation or two.
No independent-minded U.S. Attorneys could be permitted to interfere
with this plan, hence the midterm firings and replacements.
POLITICALIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
It seems apparent that what we are witnessing now as the U.S. Attorneys
scandal widens is just the tip of a huge, nasty, illegal iceberg of
politicalization of Bush's entire Department of Justice, along with
other departments as well. Examples: Those seeking jobs in the
CheneyBush Administration were asked about their political affiliations
and philosophies, sessions were held in government offices on government
time to try to help "our [i.e., GOP] candidates," Civil Rights divisions
were manned by anti-civil rights "loyal Bushies," etc. Such actions are
As in Iraq, the arrogance of power rears its head in this scandal as
well. Just one for-instance: The normal way of choosing U.S. Attorneys
is for the two senators in each state to either nominate candidates or
have what amounts to veto power over an Administration's nominees before
they are publicly named. By and large, the 93 U.S. Attorneys around the
country had been named by Republican presidents and approved by the two
senators in each state.
What better way to thoroughly piss off U.S. senators from your own party
than to ignore their traditional input in this process? In effect, the
Bush Administration was forcing the Senators to acknowledge their utter
powerlessness against an all-powerful Chief Executive. Not even
conservative Republican senators take kindly to such arrogant bullying,
which may help explain why they are not coming to Alberto Gonzales'
defense and are even calling for his firing or resignation. (Henry
Waxman might well want to call former A.G. John Ashcroft to testify
about what was going on in the Bush Administration that led him to
resign so early.)
Gonzales deserves punishment for crimes much more serious than
covering-up the partisan machinations in the U.S Attorneys scandal:
inventing a rationale to justify torture as U.S. policy, conceiving
legal mumbo-jumbo that claims the President is above the law, etc. etc.
But Gonzales is, and always has been, Bush's toady. The real villains
are Cheney, Rove and Bush, and one can hope that sooner rather than
later, the Democrats and appalled conservative Republicans will decide
that enough is enough and get rid of the lot of them -- a decision that
could be made easier because Republicans want to hold onto their seats
in Congress, association with the Bush Administration is political
suicide, and the 2008 election is not that far away.
And if these legislators, Democratic and Republican, don't have the
courage or perspicacity to force out Bush and Cheney and Rove, we the
electorate should make sure they don't remain in office, replacing them
with members of Congress who will help restore America's time-honored
checks and balances system and who are committed to the inviolability of
Copyright 2007, by Bernard Weiner