Sunday, May 20, 2007

George Bush's Flypaper = Slow Bleed for America

Endless This Occupation of Iraq!

There's a natural segue from Paul Wolfowitz into the subject of George Bush's Flypaper strategy.

Remember? It was Wolfowitz who disclosed to Vanity Fair in May 2003 that for 'bureaucratic' reasons, the war-starters actually had great difficulties deciding among the top three, basically different, rationales for invading Iraq:
. . . .there have always been three fundamental concerns. One was weapons of mass destruction, the second is support for terrorism, the third is the criminal treatment of the Iraqi people. . . we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on which was weapons of mass destruction as the core reason. . . . .
Once there, the war-starters decided that we couldn't just leave because minimal regime-change - deposing a dictator - was not enough. Long story, short: three rationales for occupation emerged:
  1. Protection of oil resources. This talking point was not mentioned much because it was sensitive and subject to untidy and potentially damaging interpretations. Even though it was transparent to most observors, Bush and Cheney couldn't use petroleum openly as a rationale for occupation of Iraq for the same reason they couldn't name their invasion 'Operation Iraqi Liberation' (OIL): it was too. . . . well, demeaning, polarizing and revealing: Bush and Cheney weren't content acquiring our oil under other peoples' sand the old fashioned way (through purchase)
  2. The need to create and nourish democracies, wherever possible, because democracies are trendy and never attack each other (just other and weaker states). This was talked up wildly and uncritically as America's mission. 'Nation-building' was extremely altruistic, at least in the eyes of the war-starters, anyway. But nation-building lacked one crucial ingredient: fear. If and when the occupation started to go bad or became expensive in terms of blood and treasure (way beyond their wildest expectations), there had to be some fearfulness attached to any notions of ending occupation.
  3. The "Flypaper strategy' , which offers the false choice of fighting terrorists 'over there' in Iraq than 'here' at home in New York, was improvised as a rationale because it brought with it fear and trepidation.
Soon after the Anglo-American occupational force discovered that they weren't ever going to be greeted as liberators, the Flypaper concept was fabricated to justify suppression of Iraqi popular resistance. Andrew Sullivan, writing in The Sunday Times is the first pundit I know of who discovered Flypaper embedded in a September 2003 briefing by U.S. Army Gen. Ricardo 'Torture' Sanchez, (then commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq). Iraq. Sanchez said, what I would call a terrorist magnet, where America, being present here in Iraq, creates a target of opportunity... But this is exactly where we want to fight them. . . . This will prevent the American people from having to go through their attacks back in the United States.
Later, Flypaper would be one of George Bush's favorite refrains. Take an example dated August 21, 2005:
Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq . . . . They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war. . . .
And as recently as 10-April-07, speaking to the American Legionnaires in Fairfax VA Bush laid it on thick:
We want to defeat them there, so we don't have to face them here. . . . .The best way to defeat the enemy is to find them overseas and bring them to justice so they will not hurt the folks here at home. . . . What's interesting and different about this war is that the enemy would follow us here. . . . It's in our pursue the enemy overseas so we don't have to face them here.
I want to point out that nothing close to Flypaper was ever envisioned for our troops going into Iraq. We were supposed to be fighting the jihadists in Afghanistan. Remember way back when? And, of course, no one thought of asking Iraqis ahead of time if we could lay out on our flypaper in their sun.

This cynical use of our highly-valued service men and women as bait seems not to be a problem for the dwindling number of Bush supporters. Listen to Dick Morris on a recent show of Hannity and Colmes, forthrightly claiming that we need to keep U.S. troops in Iraq so that terrorists don’t come to the United States:
I think that withdrawal from Iraq — it obviously gives al Qaeda a huge victory. Huge victory. On the other hand, if we stay in Iraq, it gives them the opportunity to kill more Americans, which they really like.

One of the things, though, that I think the antiwar crowd has not considered is that, if we’re putting the Americans right within their arms’ reach, they don’t have to come to Wall Street to kill Americans. They don’t have to knock down the trade center. They can do it around the corner, and convenience is a big factor when you’re a terrorist.
Of course this Flypaper strategy is only a prescription for mutual attrition: will Al Qaeda flesh and will power last longer than Americans'? It is clear that it will. Al Qaeda jihadists arrive at the so-called front at a fraction of the costs, time, and logistics that its American adversary takes. Flypaper's premise is that there is a finite number of jihadist to recruited. In fact, each Sunni Iraqi killed generates multiple anti-American recruits from his klan. In a sense, it's not 'flypaper.' We're running a cadillac state-of-the-art, on-the-job training camp for terrorists.

The Flypaper rationale for endless occupation of Iraq has spawned a corollary which Richard Clark has dubbed Bush's puppy dog theory of terrorism:
He keeps saying that terrorists will "follow us home" like lost dogs. This will only happen, however, he says, if we "lose" in Iraq. . . . . The President must believe that terrorists are playing by some odd rules of chivalry. Would this be the "only one slaughter ground at a time" rule of terrorism?
In the real fact-based world, as Clark says, nothing about our being "over there" in any way prevents terrorists from coming here. But that doesn't stop John McCain from robo-mouthing,
We lose this war and come home, they'll follow us home.
This self-generating slaughterhouse we are running in Iraq cannot be stanched by surging occupation troops in Baghdad or purging puppet politicians in the Green Zone. Flypaper is a formula for squandering more lives and more treasure until the Constitutional term of Bush and Cheney expires on 01.20.09.

Is this what the American people are resolved to accept?

Only in His Own Mind Is there Any Uncertainty to George Bush's Legacy

But I have a question I've been waiting to ask him, anyways.

First, I need to set the context:

Exhibit one is Bush in the Rose Garden with Tony Blair:
This may not interest you, but I'll tell you anyway -- I read three histories on George Washington last year. It's interesting to me that they're still analyzing the presidency of our first President. And my attitude is, if they're still analyzing 1, 43 doesn't need to worry about it. (Laughter.) I'm not going to be around to see the final history written on my administration.
Exhibits two and three: the 39th President trashing Bush and Blair. First, Jimmy Carter on Bush:
The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me.

We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered. But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies.

I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history.
And Carter wanted to set the Brits clear on the outgoing first poodle:
Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient. . . . One of the defenses of the Bush administration... has been, okay, we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us.

So I think the combination of Bush and Blair giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made the opposition less effective and prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted. . . . caused deep schisms on a global basis. . . .
And now the question:

Mr. President, from the perspective of your having read three biographies of America's first president last summer, I wonder if you have speculated about whether or not centuries after your own death,
  • long after we have erected an Iraqi war veterans' memorial (yet to be designed)

  • long after we have funded the medical costs of permanently disabled veterans in the aftermath of this unneccessary invasion and occupation (yet to be established),

  • long after our children have finished paying back the trillion $ costs of your Iraqi invasion (yet to be totalled),
will historians regard the 43rd President as still being the worst president in American history?