By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
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 the region.
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.
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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.
"...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 mercentary 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), ( http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/04/30/iraq.reconstruction/index.html ) 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 citizenry.
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 troops, etc.
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 political superiors.
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 party line.
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 to come.
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 get-out-the-vote drives.
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 maneuverings.
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 Rove's politicalization ( http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/4/26/94823/0541 ) 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. Many of these actions are illegal.
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 mumo-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 inviability of Constitutional rule.#
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught government & international relations at universities in California and Washington, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly two decades, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (http://www.crisispapers.org). To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 5/1/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...