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The Horror, The Horror

Everyone is following Atrios' lead and getting all outraged that the president thinks our troops are campaign workers and that military strategy should be a sub-set of the Bush-Cheney re-election strategy. And, well, it's outrageous, so by all means get outraged. But I'm a self-promoter, so let's note that this was the subject of my column several weeks ago:

Bush has adopted policies designed to keep the death count low, primarily by avoiding ground combat in the Sunni triangle. Good campaign tactics, needless to say, but, as ever, the Bush team seems better at winning elections than winning wars. . . .An important point comes next, so it gets a paragraph of its own: This plan will get people killed. If an assault is to be mounted, it should be done as soon as possible, before the adversary has been given months to prepare for it. The Marines and soldiers serving in Iraq volunteered for the military, but they've been conscripted into the Bush campaign. Decisions, as Lieutenant General James Conway recently stated, are being made on the basis of narrow political considerations rather than military ones. It's appropriate for generals to be subordinate to civilian politicians, but not to civilian campaign strategists. We're waging war as an extension of an electoral campaign, exposing our soldiers to harassing attacks right now and to a more difficult fight later on in order to help secure the president's re-election.
It was a bit shrill and, I'm sad to say, entirely accurate. In the column, though, I portray this as of a piece with Bush's lack of principle and general mendacity. Having gotten a better glimpse at his persona through the debates, however, it seems more likely to me that these despicable actions are undertaken in perfectly good faith. The president genuinely believes that his own re-election is a vital, strategic military goal that should take precedence over narrower tactical considerations. He is, in other words, in the grips of a fairly demented world view, one that will take on a different form if he's granted another four years in office, but not one that will abate. It's an extraordinarily dangerous situation.

October 11, 2004 | Permalink


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» President playing politics with war from Grubbykid.com :: Words
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Moo Cow is back!

Did you miss me?

Moo Cow asserts that President Nixon I mean Bush is a man or moral certainty and unfailing principle who would never ever conduct military operations on a political timetable.

Did you miss me?

Posted by: Moo Cow | Oct 11, 2004 2:31:50 AM


Do we have any other sources for this? Other than the LA Times piece?

More importantly, has there been any backchannel feedback from military sources? This story could get very ugly very fast for everyone if its legit.

Posted by: Waffle | Oct 11, 2004 3:07:20 AM

This is just the tip of the iceberg.

America will be unrecognizable after four more years of Bush, et al.

Brad DeLong advocates impeaching him. How? How, when the Republican’s control both houses of Congress?

I repeat, America will be unrecognizable after four more years of Bush rule.

The sad thing is, it seems that 45% of the electorate thinks enough like he does to be willing to allow him to carry out his “revolution.”

I came across the Sept. 20th issue of "The Nation." There was an article by Dale Maharidge titled "Rust & Rage in the Heartland."

He has some interesting insights...

"Nancy and Jim were typical...every person I interviewed was unemployed, underemployed, hurting economically in some way. This group of Americans, who number in the millions, harbors deep-seated anger over corporate shenanigans, their lack of healthcare and good jobs, yet in interview after interview I found they are often the most fervent in their support of George W. Bush and his tough rhetoric."

He goes on to explain how the Republicans have twisted "social issues" school busing, Willie Horton, gay marriage to speak to these people, and he goes on to say that at any time the nation is at war, there is a tendency toward nationalism.

Further into the article he makes this observation,

"There are millions of American workers living in a virtual depression, in a virtual Weimar. Their anger is real, as is their fear. The right has been addressing it in the form of appearing decisive with "preventive war," or by cranking up the xenophobia."

The gut question is this; if it is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Bush pilfers this election, what do the rest of us do? What do we, that other 45% who don’t believe as he does, how do we take back our country? What will it take? Will massive, non-violent civil disobedience be enough? Or, will it take something more?

I hope it never comes to that. But, that is what we should be thinking very, very hard about.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 4:32:15 AM

The implication of this is that Bush will not peacefully turn over power to Kerry if he loses the election.

I don't think it's an invalid one, just one we need to be concerned about.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Oct 11, 2004 5:54:40 AM

Well, given that the NSC is in charge of Iraq, this is to be expected. To be able to subject events in Iraq to BC04's political timetable, after all, is the reason the Iraq Stabilization Group was put together.

Posted by: praktike | Oct 11, 2004 8:36:34 AM

I do agree that the war in Iraq has been timid largely because of electoral concerns, and that a large reason for that is the inclination of the opposition to get shrill whenever there are any casualties. If we were still in an age when politics stopped at the borders, I would expect a more aggressive and wiser military campaign.

And BTW, it is not demented for the Bushies to believe that reelection is essential. If you believe that we are already in a critical clash of civilizations, and that Kerry would not be willing to wage that war, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that a defeat of Bush would lead to disaster, as a Kerry administration would not be willing to take preemptive steps to defeat the enemy before it gains in power overall (think Iran with nuclear weapons, Iraq as a power base for Islamic Jihad, and so on).

Posted by: russ | Oct 11, 2004 8:46:24 AM

Also, if you believe that God reached down to make sure Bush won in 2000 so that he could lead Good vs. Evil in a holy crusade against Islam, then, well, any thing Bush does to continue God's will is justified.

Posted by: theCoach | Oct 11, 2004 8:55:40 AM

Absolutely. The only way to save American freedom and democracy now is to destroy them. Only temporarily, of course. Only as long as there is a threat. Only for as long as there are terrorists or muslims...

Posted by: G. Svenson | Oct 11, 2004 8:56:15 AM

Al Qaeda took your job?
Al Qaeda cheat on you with another man?
Al Qaeda give you that college-type bettern'you look down at the loan office?
Al Qaeda repossess your car?
Vote Bush. He took care of 75% of Al Qaeda*. Texas-style.

* Those making this claim do not know how many members Al Qaeda has or had.

Posted by: John Isbell | Oct 11, 2004 9:46:02 AM

Looking this morning, on the blogs I posted my comments above, I've seen few responses that seriously address this question, or most of those that have spoken to it have been surprisingly "sheepish;" "...democracy will work..." "...vote..." "...more time and money..."

And that is what worries me. Not enough people recognize the danger. If Bush wins, either fairly or not, and most likely not, I think it will be too late for "rational" approaches. If Bush wins, democracy and its institutions as we have know them will essentially disappear in the United States. Those of us who don't subscribe to both the domestic and foreign "Bush Doctrines" will be disenfranchised. Some more slowly than others, but the polarization in this country will deepen, and harden, and those of us not on the "right" side will become second class citizens.

What is the problem? Are we really too afraid to address this issue and what it implies? Are we really so passive that the mere thought of actually having to perhaps shead our own blood to preserve our domestic rights and freedoms is beyond us? If that is the case, then indeed, we do deserve what we get.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 10:00:49 AM

"It's an extraordinarily dangerous situation."

Why, it's practically a nuisance!

Is the Republican Party becoming the sworn enemy of vocabulary words? First "sensitive," then "global," now "nuisance."

Posted by: Grumpy | Oct 11, 2004 11:02:16 AM

Are we really so passive that the mere thought of actually having to perhaps shead our own blood to preserve our domestic rights and freedoms is beyond us?Hmm... Given that the people who think that bloodshed is necessary against the Impending Bush Dictatorship have almost no experience with firearms, explosives, blasting caps, etc. the "revolution" would be something of a farce. A bloody, messy, farce. The fact that the people believing that violent action against Bush will be necessary come November are people who for the most part do not even *own* guns (Hell, most of them believe guns should be illegal to begin with) means that people like Scott should calm the f**ck down before people get hurt.
Tell me Scott, what happens when the "unoccupied" government building that the revolutionaries set off a bomb in turns out to have actually been full of custodial staff who work in these places in the evenings? What happens when people who think that this will be a big game like building big-ass paper mache puppets decide that they're going to strike a blow for the Workers and People and wind up dead and crippled because the police had more guns and training?
Killing a man is a lot more difficult than calling Bush a chimp on the internet.

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Oct 11, 2004 11:47:11 AM

I was active duty in the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1973. I was in Vietnam. I enlisted and served there because I believed in the "ideal" of helping beleaguered people fight for their freedom. If I was willing to fight and risk my life there, why should I be any less willing to do so here, in my own country?

So, please don’t pretend to lecture me about guns, and killing.

I do not advocate violence, certainly not for its own sake. But what are the parameters of our resistance to what is being inflicted upon us by our own government? Is it going to be non-violent civil disobedience? Or will it have to be something more? The question has to be asked. At what point do we say enough is enough? How much of our civil liberties do we allow to be eroded?

Do people really think their precious Internet can’t be taken away? Please, grow up.

America is at a tipping point, economically, politically, and socially. We are at a multi-dimensional cusp, and the direction we go will be determined by next four years.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 12:12:59 PM

Okay, Scott, I will grant that you actually have experience using firearms. Most of your fellow ideologues don't. Most of your fellow ideologues have next to zero experience inflicting violence, even on a paper target. Maybe you could take charge of your local insurgent cell and direct attacks on police officers, the local guard units, etc.
At what point do you think that taking this step would be necessary? A Bush re-election? A war with Iran? The fact of the matter is, you are advocating violence against the U.S. government because of what exactly? Because in 2001 the Congress passed the PATRIOT ACT that granted everything that Clinton asked for (and didn't get) in his own anti-terrorism bill? Bad tax policy? The Free Trade orthodoxy of the Washington extablishment? Which of these is so terrible that you're willing to kill your own fellow citizens?

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Oct 11, 2004 12:22:44 PM

I do not consider myself an ideologue. Certainly not on the order of a Wurmser, a Feith, a Perle, a Franklin, or any number of others now in Government, some whom seem to have a confused sense of duty to the United States. Where do their loyalties really lie?

You ask at what point does armed resistance become necessary. That is a fair question. When did it become necessary during our own revolution? When should it have become necessary to the "Good Germans" who knew Hitler was leading them to destruction, that his policies were wrong, and that his actions had to be stopped? Did they wait too long?

I personally think all non-violent alternatives should first be exhausted, massive non-violent protests, a general strike, concerted pressure in the form of letters and phone calls to our elected representatives, etc. But, what if all that fails, and what if this outpouring of discontent results not in constructive change but leads to violent repression by the government? At what point do we have a right to defend ourselves? I seem to hear you saying that there is no threshold to what we might have to bear. At what point do the words "We…hold these truths to be self evident..." become meaningless?

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 12:46:48 PM


Going to war with a five-year old casus belli that turns out to have been expired, horrible tax policy, and granting law enforcement powers that they've been asking for for the last twenty years simply do not strike me as actions that bespeak a coming dictatorship. They run the risk of causing the U.S. economy to melt down like that of a bananna republic, but they don't rise to the level of democracy itself in danger.
Something else I want to point out is that for most of the wars fought by the U.S. in the twentieth century up until about the middle of the Korean war, there really wasn't much mainstream dissent at all. Indeed, if you think that the right media of today is bad, in 1917, you had someone who refused to stand for the anthem and was shot dead by another American, at which point all present applauded. That environment, followed by the Red Scare of the early 20's didn't lead to the end of democracy.

Posted by: Andrew Reeves | Oct 11, 2004 1:03:58 PM

Well, then we agree to disagree. I see what is happening as being more sinister than you do. I sincerely hope I am wrong in my perceptions about the danger. I hope Bush is not re-elected and America can move in a different direction. I fear that after another four year like the previous four, we, the people may not have the chance to correct our mistakes.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 1:10:15 PM

I really don't think talk of "violent resistance" is warranted.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Oct 11, 2004 1:23:39 PM

I really don't think talk of "violent resistance" is warranted.


Posted by: praktike | Oct 11, 2004 1:34:50 PM

Talk of "violent resistance" is dead wrong. It does our side no good at all.

Posted by: janeboatler | Oct 11, 2004 1:39:15 PM

"I personally think all non-violent alternatives should first be exhausted, massive non-violent protests, a general strike, concerted pressure in the form of letters and phone calls to our elected representatives, etc."

Scott - The most effective pressure we can exert, which would have far more impact than any form of violence, is to create carefully targeted, very organized product boycotts. Get the RNC list of the largest corporate contributors, and the list of large private contributors who are also CEOs, CFOs of the largest corporate contributors. Take your frustration and direct it towards these tasks. Then set up your own web site and let others who are as frustrated as you but prefer nonviolent measures know who what when. For example, give us a particular corporation, a particular product, a particular day, and we can all boycott together. Would it be that hard, for example, to get 200,000 frustrated citizens not to buy Mobile gas on a partiuclar day? We wouldn't break the company but we could give them pause enough so that the lobbyists would be on the phone to Rove and Delay.

Posted by: GoScott | Oct 11, 2004 3:02:05 PM

No credibility... that's all I have to say. I've been so demoralized lately by Karl Rove and the Republican's dirty tricks especially since it's such a damn important election. The trick that's getting to me most in the Republican bag is their continued help of Ralph Nader to get him on the ballot in major key swing states in order to as former House Majority Leader, Dick Armey said, "divide the liberal base." They've done everything from having Ken Sukhia, one of Bush's elections lawyers from the 2000 campaign, represent Nader in court in Florida to having the Michigan Republican party collect 40,000 signatures to get him on the ballot in Michigan. I know this was a bit off topic but it really annoys and angers me to see the lengths these Republicans will go to in order to take this election. In terms of Nader, they've been helping him get on the ballot in every battleground state. Please go to http://www.thenaderfactor.com/press/072304/ and check out what I mean. We've got to stop this before it's too late!

Posted by: Ace Parsi | Oct 11, 2004 3:28:04 PM

"I fear that after another four year like the previous four, we, the people may not have the chance to correct our mistakes."

Scott, relax. We are a long way from that, and there is simply no way there are not enough of us, like 50% or more, that non-violent measures won't be effective. I don't like the incrementalism, nor do I like the DLC accomadationists (sic?) but there will come a tipping point when Hilary will start screaming "dictator" on the Senate Floor and Lindsay Graham will not vote for closure.

We have survived and endured worse. Go read a biography of Eugene Debs.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Oct 11, 2004 3:47:37 PM

This is my last post on this thread. Any of you are welcome to have the last word on this subject.

Hello Bob,

Indeed, at what point do I get inducted into the "Order of the Shrill?" Perhaps I have to "be somebody." Well, I'm not, I'm not anybody at all except a very concerned individual, who does love his country.

I would like to subscribe to the “self-correcting” theory of markets, politics, and societies, but in some instances, the process of correction has been very painful indeed. How many examples of the recent past do you want?

I’m not encouraged with what I see right now, at this point in time. Sure, someone can get up on the floor of the Senate and scream “Dictator,” or not vote for closure. So what?

Is that not what the Bush administration been saying to that segment of the American people that do not support them (some 50% perhaps,) to that part of the world that doesn’t support them, for four years now? “You don’t like what we are doing? So what? Tough.”

By the acclamation of his own party Tom DeLay is one of the most corrupt and devious men ever to sit in the House of Representatives, but what can be done? What has been done? Once, twice, three, four times?

“Ohhhhh, bad Tom, bad, bad. Don’t do this again.”

He can’t even be shamed into resigning, much less forced to resign. Where is the power of that 50% of “us” you are talking about?

This is the whole point of my line of questioning in this thread of discourse. You say

“We are a long way from that, and there is simply no way there are not enough of us, like 50% or more, that non-violent measures won't be effective.”

Let’s take the example I used in a comment earlier, that there was irrefutable evidence that the forthcoming election had indeed been pilfered in favor of Bush. I’m not as sanguine as you that even 10% of that 50% could be mobilized into an effective force of economic or passive non-violent resistance to correct the results. What makes you so optimistic? How many of us are willing to make the necessary sacrifices; lose our jobs perhaps, become disenfranchised, lose our credit, become outcasts in our own communities, perhaps even imprisoned, to protest, not violently, just protest the results?

How many of us remember the Church Commission?

Journalists Ron Ridenhour and Arthur Lublow investigate Operation Cable
Splicer, a subplan of Operation Garden Plot, designed to control civilian
populations and take over state and local governments. Bill Moyers later
lists Operation Cable Splicer and Garden Plot among examples of ways "the
secret government [has] waged war on the American people." Sen. Frank
Church's Committee to Study Government Operations sheds light on
government-sanctioned civil rights abuses, most notably those conducted
from 1956 to 1971, under the COINTELPRO initiative.

Then, again during the Iran Contra investigation,

Col. Oliver North helps draft secret wartime contingency plans… "the
imposition of martial law, internment camps, and the turning over of
government to the president and FEMA." Columnist Jack Anderson reports
that FEMA's emergency "standby legislation" is meant to "suspend the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

The Rex-84 "readiness exercise" program is conducted by 34 federal
departments and agencies under Ronald Reagan's directive. Reportedly
established to control illegal aliens crossing the Mexican/U.S. border,
the exercise tests military readiness to round up and detain citizens in
case of massive civil unrest.

Do you think these plans, or others, formulated more recently, have somehow magically gone away? Do we really think these plans could not be subverted away from legitimate use in times of national emergency to ill-legitimate use for repression of our own population? Why are you so confident it can’t happen here?

I think that the implications are so ugly, the possible effects are so dire, that most Americans do not even want to contemplate the fact that such plans exist.

What will America look like the day after another day of terror like 9.11? Could we resist even greater extremism than what happened after that day? The vast majority of Senators admit they didn’t even bother to read the Patriot Act. How far are we, even at this moment, from internment of all Arab Americans, especially if some truly catastrophic incident were to happen? Would it be right? Would it be necessary? Who would bother to ask?

I repeat, I do not advocate the use of violence. But, I think we need to think about these things, and we need to ask ourselves some very hard questions.

Posted by: Scott | Oct 11, 2004 7:03:18 PM


No offense or anything, fella, but you appear to be a fever swamp left-wing mirror image of the fever swamp right-wing nutcase type I got out of organized Libertarianism to keep from running into. I refer, of course, to the "black helicopters" subculture of hayseed paranoia and militia fruitcakery. Try this handy worldview checklist and see if you don't agree:

1. The current administration is populated exclusively by crypto-totalitarians who spend every waking hour devising fiendish schemes by which they intend to utterly exterminate liberty in these United States and send all of the "Good Guys" like me off to die in the Spice Mines on Kessel.

2. Only we select few are able to see through the lies and propaganda carefully spoon-fed to the clueless and manipulated populace by the secret puppet masters and their boot-licking lackeys in the establishment press.

3. The veritable Fate of Civilization rests on the shoulders of we few brave souls who see through the evil plot and aren't afraid to risk (shudder) the who knows what awful fates awaiting those who would oppose the ruthless usurpers.

4. If the oblivious masses fail to heed our warnings and throw out these would-be slavemasters, we have no choice but to go underground and resort to more direct means of resistance.

Still with me? I thought so.

Notice, if you will, how this belief system:

1. Makes you the Center of the Universe.

2. Lets you and your pathetic buddies reinforce one another's pitiful delusions of grandeur by "bravely" speaking out against and standing up to fake danger.

Fake, that is, unless you actually start playing around with guns and explosives. The Weather Underground tried that back in the day and killed more of their own than they did "fascists."

Word to the wise. Build all the castles in the air you want to. Just don't try moving in.

Posted by: Dick Eagleson | Oct 13, 2004 7:37:35 PM

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