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Following in the Footsteps...

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Message Jayne Stahl
The manic warriors, in Washington, are at it again, only now they've found someone who can manage more than one syllable at a time to head their team. Yes, not only is this a new year, but we now have a "new" strategy, at least in Bushspeak. And, how's this for the defense department's latest policy in the Gulf; Donald Rumsfeld's designation of the phrase "bad guys" for Al Qaeda has now been replaced by Robert Gates' new and improved phrase "very negative" when describing the actions of Iran; same stigma, different target.

During a stopover in Brussels en route to Kabul where our newly installed defense secretary was going not to buy another Persian rug for his office, but instead to clarify why this president, and his team have decided to buff up their military presence in the Gulf, Gates gave as a motive for the enhanced military presence only that Iran was "doing nothing to be helpful" in Iraq (International Herald Tribune). Well, then, what better reason to occupy and pummel Iran next than that they're doing "nothing to be helpful?"

But, how can it be that this is the same Robert Gates who, only a few years ago, spoke, with equal gusto and credibility, in favor of talks with Iran. Has he been instantly transformed into a born again bomber? My, my, what a quick study! One barely notices Rumsfeld's departure. When asked about his radical metamorphosis, Gates responded that the bad guys have gotten worse, and that diplomacy is now only possible when Iran comes to the table "prepared to play a constructive role." (IHT) Considering the demolition of Baghdad, over the past four years, it would be refreshing to see the U.S. come to the table prepared to play a "constructive role," too, but indeed that might only be possible after the decimation of Iran, too.

Consider this: according to an article in the New York Times, as part of our plan to "stabilize" Iraq, the State Department has requested an addition $400 million for 2007, and intends to "more than double" reconstruction teams, add another 400 to facilitate "rebuilding and governance projects." What's more, to add insult to injury, approximately $2 million of our tax dollars will go to "office furnishings." We want our reconstruction teams to be comfy when they check their emails, right? Oh, and when they're not surfing the World Wide Web, they will also be expected to get a bit of fresh air, and lend a hand to the military's "counterinsurgency efforts."

We may rest assured that, when all is said and done, Tehran will receive the same royal treatment that we gave Baghdad, hangings and decapitations included, of course. After all, destruction has always been a prerequisite of Reconstruction 101, has it not?

While Gates critizes Iran for aiding Hezbollah, he doesn't go into the question of how they got the weapons, and/or the wherewithal to use them in the first place. And, more importantly, now that we hear that government officials are trying to get international cooperation in pressuring the Iranians to give up their nuclear enrichment program, why is it that we aren't urging India to give up its nuclear ambitions, or Israel? Can it be that non-proliferation, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, too?

In light of this administration's dogged determination to demonize its opposition, and its transparent tenacity with respect to longterm occupation despite international resistance and censure, one marvels at the statement by the current secretary of defense that, by capturing Iranian nationals outside of their home country, and by openly acknowledging sending aircraft and "anti-missile batteries" to the Gulf, he is "simply trying to communicate to the region that we are going to be there for a long time." Go figure, that must be why they call it occupation, and all this fuss about O.J.'s rumored confession to murder, argh!

It might be worth noting that, of all the countries acting "in a very negative way," regrettably, ours is at the top of the list.
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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.
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