Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Better than Impeachment!

Branding Bush as the Defeat Chimp before he leaves the White House!

Few themes have I pounded on in these pages more than the idea that we are and have been in occupation mode in Iraq. We 'won' the war - Gulf War II - when Bush launched his unprovoked and unnecessary invasion of Iraq and toppled its dictator, Saddam Hussein. But then Bush elected to stay in Iraq, following our successful blitzkrieg, following the conclusion of major military operations, which Bush called 'shockandawe'; and we even stayed after the capture and killing of Hussein and sons. Nevertheless, we have persisted in calling our presence in Iraq, a war.

I understand why Bush wants to prolong the myth of the 'Iraq war': he has always lusted after the mantels worn by Churchill and Roosevelt. Bush is a wannabe war-time leader. It simply won't do for him just to preside over an occupation. He needs a vanity war. Perpetuating this myth of being a war-time president, allows him to pretend that he is pursuing "Victory". Everyone understands this fraudulent spell which he has been able to cobble together and cast upon the nation. What's more difficult for me to understand is why the loyal opposition, including much of the Democratic Party and even some of my closest blogging friends, have swallowed this toxic fiction.

It is a fatal attraction, this attachment that Americans have to waging wars. We have a war on illiteracy; a war on crime; a war on drugs; a war on poverty; a cultural war; a war on Christmas; even a War of Words. Whenever we are faced with a challenge in which failure is unthinkable, we have to dub it a war. Thus, it's not an accident that we use a three-letter, mono-syllabic word to describe our Iraqi misadventure; it is by design. Bush wants his war because he knows Americans do not like to settle for anything other than victory.

By chance this past weekend I hit upon C-SPAN2's BookTV interview of Jonathan Steele. He is the author of
Defeat: Why America and Britain Lost Iraq. During the interview, he pimped his recent column on the Huffington Post which made me think I've been pushing and pulling a Sisyphean load up the wrong mountain.

I've always argued that, unlike wars, you can't win or lose in occupations: you can only end them. Not so, Steele argues. Bush has overcome all the odds and managed to lose an occupation. Moreover, he argues, the Democrats need to brand Bush with that defeat while he is still in office.

Below, I have excerpted (and tuned up!) the conclusion of Steele's essay, Why the Democrats Should Use the "Defeat" Word now!


Better therefore to get the "defeat" word on the table now, in 2008. Make a pre-emptive strike this year, while the Republicans still control the White House. They are the ones who took the U.S. into a doomed occupation of Iraq. They are the people who deserve to take the blame.

Defeat is a powerful word, and no country or person likes to use it. Even to mention it invites the charge of being unpatriotic. So it is no accident that in Washington, critics of the war occupation prefer the F-words -- failure, fiasco, and folly. But the decision to stay in Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein was worse than that. It was bound to lead to defeat. The U.S. did not lose on the battlefield, but every political goal that the Bush administration set for itself has been thwarted. So the verdict on the U.S. adventure has to be "military stalemate, political defeat."
  1. Bush sought to justify the occupation as a vital element in the war on terror. Yet al Qaeda is now implanted in Iraq where it never was before, and thousands of new jihadi recruits are getting valuable training and experience in provoking death and destruction. That is Defeat number one.

  2. Bush wanted to mount a demonstration of overwhelming U.S. power in the region so as to reduce Iran's influence. Instead, he put U.S. troops into a quagmire that has already cost 4,000 4,101 lives and helped to install a Shia Islamist government in Baghdad that has close links to Tehran. That is Defeat number two.

  3. Bush and the neo-cons wanted to turn Iraq into a secular pro-Western democracy that would be a model for other Arab states. Iraq has become a humanitarian catastrophe that no sane nation or people would wish to copy. Defeat number three.

  4. Finally, by toppling Saddam Hussein Bush hoped to enhance the feelings of sympathy, respect, and solidarity which many people around the world expressed for the United States after 9/11. Instead, by occupying Iraq and denying it genuine sovereignty, he has undermined America's image and reputation, not just in the Middle East but in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Defeat number four.
The Republicans should not be allowed to escape the blame. It is not the U.S. forces and the American people who have been defeated, though they have had to bear the costs of Bush's disastrous decisions. As the country's official opposition, the Democrats should have the political courage to use the D-word and pin on it on those who led the country into political defeat.

The Democrats control both Houses of Congress. Why don't the chairpeople of the relevant committees call hearings this spring and fall to call administration officials to account for what has gone wrong? Label the hearings "The Lessons of Defeat" or "The Reasons for Defeat", and get Bush's past and present people -- the Wolfowitzes, the Feiths, the Rumsfelds, the Cards, the Roves, and all the others -- to explain why they did no analysis of the political consequences within Iraq and the region of occupying the country.
  • Did any official prepare pre-war option papers that assessed the Iraqi mood, or were the assurances from Cheney and Wolfowitz that the troops would be met with flowers simply propaganda?

  • Why did the intelligence community not recognize the strength of political Islam in Iraq, or foresee that the forces that would inherit the post-Saddam vacuum would not be the secular pro-Western exiles who paraded through Washington before the war?

  • Why did Bush's advisers not realize that jihadi militants would flood Iraq if the United States stayed too long?

  • How could Bush imagine that the U.S. and Britain -- the two countries with the longest recent history of intervention in the Middle East and the Gulf -- could send troops to occupy an Arab country on an open-ended basis and not meet Iraqi suspicion, resentment, and opposition?
Blunders made by the Coalition Provisional Authority -- disbanding the Iraqi army, dissolving the Baath party, failing to stop the looting -- are not the main problem. The very concept of occupation was doomed. Once Saddam was toppled, Iraqis should have been given control of their own country.

Of course the Democrats are divided on Iraq .... Some support Obama. Some think the "surge" is working. Others doubt it. But the best way to forge party unity is to hold hearings on the recent past. Otherwise Bush may get away with his absurd claims of looming victory.

Holding such hearings would also help to focus the presidential campaign on Iraq as an issue. After five years of war it seems absurd to think the Republicans can mount a better case than those who want to end it. Can a candidate who suggests keeping US troops in Iraq for another hundred years (with 4,000 dead in the last five years, that means condemning another 80,000 to death over a century) and who thinks Iran is training al Qaeda really convince Americans he understands security issues? Iraq is the Republicans' weakest link. Are the Democrats really unable to exploit it? Iraq needs to be at the center of the Democrats' campaign. Holding Congressional hearings over a series of weeks is the best way to lift the Iraq debate above the level of sound bites, and keep the public spotlight on what went wrong, and why.

Some American analysts to whom I have been making this case in Washington in recent days say the strategy may be too risky in domestic political terms because defeat is such an explosive concept. Yet they also concede that the Republicans will have no compunction about using the D-word if the Democrats regain the White House. On balance, therefore, it looks best to seize the moment now. In 2009, for the Republicans to accuse the Democrats of defeat in Iraq would be pure political spin. In 2008, for the Democrats to accuse the Republicans of defeat is a charge that carries the weight of irrefutable evidence. The fingerprints on the Iraq disaster belong to Bush and those who worked with him.

Sounds like a fucking good idea to me! Barry and Wesley, are you listening?

34 Moderated Comments:

Blogger Emily said...

Great post, Vig!!!! Steele is absolutely correct: the Democrats need to refuse to allow Bush and his cronies to brand them (the Democrats) as being responsible for the defeat our nation is experiencing in Iraq.

Busheney and Condi wanted to do the opposite of whatever it might be that Clinton had done, so throughout the spring and summer of 2001, they minimized, discounted, and ignored the warnings that arrived in our nation's capitol from national and international intelligence agencies, warning of terrorists plotting to fly airplanes into American buildings. Their pride, egoism, naivete, insolence, and ignorance permitted 9-11.

Our nation was lied into Bush's Iraqui war and its continuing and endless occupation. This heinous decision made by "The Decider" has wasted our nation's blood and treasure merely to permit Bush to appear in the guise of being a "War President", partly to gratify his oedipal wishes and partly to improve his electabilty prospects in 2004.

The Republicans, ever quick to attribute the failures resulting from their hubris and venality onto the hapless and spineless Democrats, plan to do every thing in their power to blame the Democrats for the Republican-created defeat that is Iraq. Steele is correct: the Democrats must not allow the Republicans to once again evade being held to account for the damage which they have inflicted upon the body politic. Democrats must speak the truth: America's defeat in Iraq is the inevitable result of actions taken by "The Decider" and his sycophantic handlers. It is the Republicans, who for far tooooo long have controlled the Supreme Court, the White House, and both houses of Congress, who have enabled this poseur-president to inflict such grievous wounds to the spirit, the citizens, and the Constitution of our beloved country. America's defeat in Iraq, Iran's increasing prominence in the Middle East, and the rising numbers of Al Quaida recruits all are the result of the Republicans' handiwork. Never again should we Americans be suckered into believing the Republican distortions and lies. Their years of rule have decimated America's standing in the world, They can not be trusted.

6/18/2008 12:46:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

You and I are on almost exactly the opposite sides of this argument.

I'll not repeat my position here as I made it rather forcefully a few days ago on my blog. For those who might be interested see Timetable? We Should NEVER Leave Iraq

I appreciate your excellent essay and we do agree completely that this is most certainly not a war, but an occupation. And we agree the initial Invasion was a tragic, no make that "horrific," mistake.

But we disagree strongly on the situation on the ground today and the direction for future action.

6/18/2008 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Blogging4Food said...

Vigilante, the stenographers who pass for journalists nowadays in the MSM prefer shorthand to accuracy. That is why they mouth or type "war" where they should say "oc-cu-pa-tion". It saves more time and space for advertising.

6/18/2008 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger MadMike said...

I won't debate "war/occupation". The fact is men are dying so I suppose we need to come up with a definition for that unfortunate paradigm.

I disagree that we are being "defeated" in Iraq. First how, if it is an "occupation" can you be in "defeat"? That makes little sense. So does that mean it is a war? You can win a war, lose a war, or declare a stalemate. I do not believe we are being defeated, and I find it insulting to the soldiers fighting and dying there. To start such a movement for political purposes, to say that we are being "defeated" so as to help one party or another dishonors the men and women unfortunate enough to be in the Iraq theater. It will also serve to demoralize them. Demoralized troops make mistakes and men die.

I am also not saying that we are winning. This is a "war/occupation" of attrition. There are no real winners until such time as the fighting ends, once and for all. Then and only then can the country recover from Bush's Crusade.

So, I think that leaves a stalemate. There are no winners and there are no losers, except of course the weary civilian population. For them there is no hope until the reckless cowboy occupying the White House rides into the sunset.

Obama '08

6/18/2008 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Petrosexual said...

Furthermore, referring to Bush as a 'chimp' is a cheap shot, equally disrespectful.

6/18/2008 09:55:00 AM  
Blogger Stella said...

Actually, I think referring to Bush as a chimp is disrespectful to those noble and more intelligent animals.

Perhaps chump would do nicely.

6/18/2008 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger J McKiernan said...

Right on, MadMike! You are hitting it right on the head...as you have been doing a lot lately.

And Stella...very clever...and true.

6/18/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Haji said...

Haji
Let me get this right, Wizzzard. First you and your pal Kagan break into our house uninvited, burn, rape and steal. And then you say you get to stay and be our friend because you don’t like the way our women dress? Well FUQUE, fella.

6/18/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/18/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Beach Bum said...

“The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.”
Henry Kissinger


I heard that quote years ago and you would be surprised how hard it was to dig up for some reason. However, I believe it to be true but for many reasons right now it doesn't completely apply to the American actions in Iraq. As much as I don't believe in a million years the "Surge" has been a strategic success on a short term basis there may be some merit to the idea that by placing American troops in a forward position more readily visible to the common Iraqi that it has lessen the violence. While the various political republican and "independent" pundits are full of hot air about progress in Iraq I have yet to hear a real story with evidence that such is happening.
With this I agree with MadMike that we are in stalmate but time is not on our side. Repeated rotations of soldiers and marines, mental and physical injuries to soldiers, and the simply fact that as much as the military might cook the books on recruiting the vaulted American patriotism may be a mile wide but it is an inch deep since there has been no rush to join the fight and bring relief to American service men and women already serving.
Calling Iraq a defeat right now would be a mistake due to the strength of hype the right wing could generate saying that the Democrats were stabbing the fighting men and women in the back. Of course what was written of the opposite is true if Obama is elected and the situation falls apart before he can remove the troops he will be saddled with that very accusation.
Given all my hot air I have to say that right now we have not been defeated but unless some miracle on par with God him or herself coming down and bringing victory we ain't far from it.

6/18/2008 04:29:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

The war was a cheap Hollywood script and Americans were dumb enough to sit through the whole stupid movie.

Now they continue to sit by fielding another candidate... or rather two that are basically the same... both controlled by the exact same special interest groups.

So if you stick with this system why expect any thing different.

Obama if he wins will have his own dirty little occupation or war to generate dollars and keep our economy afloat as all these politicos have done since 1948 when we entered the 1984 economy of perpetual war in our Political Price System.

6/18/2008 06:00:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Petro, calling Bush an 'effete defeat chimp' is just pay-back for calling opponents to the war, "surrender monkeys."

6/18/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Really ?

It just sounds like more of the divide and conquer method of putting people off any real issues and enthralling them with B.S.

But that is what political blogs are for. To gather up the riff raff and let them attack each other with feather pillows.

God forbid any one talks about changing the system to not allow the behavior that Bush is rewarded for ... and Obama and McCain will be rewarded for.

So... go ahead and sublimate all the rage and anger... and helplessness by calling Bush a monster.

One day you will transfer that scapegoat honor to Obama or McCain because they follow the same policy and are controlled by the same same same groups.
Understand?

6/19/2008 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

Obama said yesterday during a Retired Flag Officers event:

We should finish the fight against Al Qaida and Taliban instead of going into Iraq. We need to take more resources and put them in Afghan - at least two additional combat brigades and USD 1 billion in non-military assistance each year.

...And I've repeatedly challenged George Bush and John McCain's refusal to hold the Pakistani government accountable for inability to crack down on Al Qaida and Taliban operating within their borders. We are not going to get Afghanistan right until we get our Pakistan policy right.

...Why they not explain to American people what exactly we're doing in Iraq, stay indefinitely, build permanent bases in a country that doesn't want them and keep shortchanging our efforts in Afghanistan and our ability to deal with nearly every other national security challenge that we face.

Or we can finally end this disastrous approach to national security, because the record shows that George Bush and John McCain have been weak on terrorism. Their approach has failed. Because of their policies, we are less safe, less respected, less able to lead the world.

6/19/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Wizard, I know you not to be a fool. So, I'm confident you wrote this article sort of like pulling the pin from a hand grenade, because you just wanted to ignite an argument. I do not have time to refute point-by-point. (Forgive me!) I Just have time to let you know I showed up.

Here are the major points of laughable idiocy I noted in your column:

I believe the occupation is now at an end and we are ready to enter into a period of mutual support, cooperation and even friendship .....

The agreement would absolutely mirror our agreements with Japan, Germany and dozens of other countries .....

..... but because Bush is terrified by our Congress and the mood of the electorate. He cannot bring a treaty before a Congress that most certainly will fail to ratify it.

..... There are no facts on the ground that will ever placate a Congress effectively controlled by Moveon.org.


All of the above is news to me. But then I don't have any time to waste on Faux news.

You are certainly right on this score:

..... Bush is so inarticulate and so inept he cannot speak to the American people and convince them to do the right and intelligent thing. He lacks the powers of persuasion of his predecessors and the current Democrat Presidential candidate.

That is why I favored an early impeachment of Busheney.

As for Fred Kaplan? He's a major part of the problem. Pundits and scholars who signed that Mein Kampf document, the so-called Project for a New American Century (PNAC) are part of the problem. History has already impeached them.

6/19/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

As far as my good friend Mad-Mike who does not waste our time by throwing verbal hand grenades, there is not much daylight of disagreement between us. Steele's major point is:

The U.S. did not lose on the battlefield, but every political goal that the Bush administration set for itself has been thwarted. So the verdict on the U.S. adventure has to be "military stalemate, political defeat."

Followed by his major (4) points which I have bullet-pointed. And, all he is saying is let's get started on history's inevitable indictment of Busheney. Yeah, that's what I'm asking for. You can call it a rush to judgment, because I'm in a hurry to correct our national course.

6/19/2008 08:23:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Finally, I acknowledge the cogency of the remarks by Beach and Boris.

Haji's comment, I take, to be addressed to Wizard's final idiocy at the conclusion of his column. Right fucking on Haji: The U.S. military do not go to war or prolong occupations over enforcing Wizard's choice of dress for women across the world.

6/19/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/19/2008 08:33:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6/19/2008 08:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Skip Sievert said...

The same ''judgment'' will be called down for McCain or Obama. That being perpetual war. That being America as a place controlled not by a secular humanitarian creative group of citizens... but by a group of special interest bandits engaged in gutting and destroying our land and people in the pursuit of money. The election is a fraud. Bush and Obama will be glad handing as Bush 1. and Clinton glad hand. The people that congregate here are political soldiers and victims.

We should finish the fight against Al Qaida and Taliban instead of going into Iraq. We need to take more resources and put them in Afghan - at least two additional combat brigades and USD 1 billion in non-military assistance each year.- Obama

More of the same from Obama. No one cares though ... because lots of special interest money will be spread around. The name of the game.

6/19/2008 08:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Moderator said...

Skip Sievert's comments have been moderated to reduce column inches.

6/19/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger the WIZARD, fkap said...

My response to Vigilante's comments are enshrined over in my blog, should anyone wish to follow up.

But I find the comment by haji with Vigilante's echo to be ironic.

Am I to assume you support Iranian President Ahmadinejad's tightening the laws and the Iranian police forcing all women into absolute and strict compliance of his narrow version of Islamic Law? Do you support the closing of shops selling non-approved clothing and the closing of barbers who give men western style haircuts?

I am not the one who wishes to control with anyone's dress of choice. I want all women to have the freedom to control there own lives, bodies, peoperty, dress and future.

6/19/2008 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

People get the government they deserve.
Why do we care?
The American people have the government they deserve also.

6/19/2008 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Petrosexual said...

We have to stay in Iraq. That oil will go for fixing our energy problem.

6/19/2008 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

We do not have an energy problem. We have a special interest problem.

We could be driving electric cars. The whole system is a scam.

6/19/2008 12:45:00 PM  
Blogger MadMike said...

Good point Boris! I had forgotten that "monkey" remark!

Petro we are not going to see a drop of that oil.

Beach and Vigil: You are right V: there is not a lot of daylight between us on this one. Interesting discussion.

6/19/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Utah Savage said...

Vig, this is a great post. Thanks, I needed that! It's a great strategy.

6/19/2008 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Stella said...

Bravo, Skip, on your completely appropriate response to Pisshitextualess. OK, no more. I don't want you "moderated to reduce column inches." We do go on so...

6/19/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Mike, I’m also down with Vigil and his “rush-to-judgment”. We don’t have all the facts in yet. But the circumstantial evidence is enough to convict. Jury’s not been convened? No matter. I’m calling for vigilante justice for Bush and Cheney – the “defeat chimps”! Hang ‘em high!

6/19/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Boris said...

Figuratively!

6/19/2008 05:55:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

The correct link to my discussion in Wizard's blog is here.

6/19/2008 07:47:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Wizard you and I share a wide range of aspirations for the emancipation of women throughout this globe. As this issue pertains to Iran, neither one of us has a vote to cast in Iranian elections. And until Barack Obama is elected as our president, our government will not even have an ambassador in Tehran to represent our aspirations for Persian women (among many other issues). But protecting the honor of Persian women should not be the reason or a reason to prolong our occupation of Iraq.

6/19/2008 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger ALLSovereign said...

It was never a war according to our US Federal Constitution and Congress has yet to declare war on Iraq!!

What we have is an illegal criminal invasion and occupation police state action.

While unlike Iran/Contra which was done in secret this current illegal police action was done in full view of the sovereigns of a Democratic Nation, the United States of America which has failed to uphold their own Laws.

This is why torture is now reported and FISA was passed. US Sovereigns have proven time and time again that regardless of the exposure of crimes nothing will be done to those criminals committing the crimes as a matter of fact Congress and the President can make the illegal now legal.

This happened in Germany during the 1930s. I'm 56 years old and it is shocking to me to now be in a country that is following the path we fought a war to stop.

I love the United States of America and I've been missing my country since November 22, 1963.

7/12/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

It was a scam to make money.
That is all it was.
It kept the economy going for a while.
Corporate fascism ran your country since W.W.2.
You are brainwashed.

7/12/2008 09:38:00 AM  

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