I Didn't Write That!
So why exactly would Rumsfeld override the army and invade Iraq with half what the Pentagon determined would be an effective force, at least toward Rumsfeld's quick-invade-and-occupy goal? All sorts of people are wondering that because Rumsfeld is increasingly the one to whom the failures in the war are sticking, however he might try to shift blame to the generals. But as it's known already that he largely bulldozed over the military in the planning of this frolic, that strategy doesn't work, so either Rumsfeld gets a big victory soon, finds a plausible scapegoat, or becomes a liability to the Bush administration and has to resign before the blame starts sticking to Cheney as well.
This last is the most plausible: presidents have fired their best friends in wartime. It shows that you're dedicated to the greater goal and Bush is nothing if not that, for whatever reason. And then there's the fact that Bush can be rather hard, cold and corporate when faced with an underling, however dedicated, that is giving people even a reason to doubt. Look at Paul O'Neill and Harvey Pitt. Rumsfeld, if the idea that he's an incompetent who doesn't really understand warfare continues to solidify, will be less effective in his main strength, as a PR man from Hell. Rumsfeld has developed an image of an iron grip on the press which he wields effortlessly. He answers nothing he doesn't want to, he blatantly misleads and lies--it's almost an S/M relationship between him and the White House Press Corps.
But the downside to this is the natural instinct of the press once he shows even the slightest hint of soft pink underbelly. They will tear and tear, most likely, until there's nothing left; that's just the way they are, and this is the pattern of the usual downward spiral in American politics. All Rumsfeld needs is one more big failure. He's fortunate indeed if the casualties are actually as low as has been reported(which I doubt)--it'll fit in nicely with this 21st century HENRY V they're trying to sell to the public.
One could imagine Rumsfeld went so heavy on the tech and light on the support(it's only a ground assault, after all) because of some nice juicy contracts with technology companies he's keen to boost; I remember, before 9/11 gave him the chance to become properly tumescent in his position, likening him when I saw him on TV to Babbitt. He struck me as a salesman, a cheerleader, or a PR flack much more than as a defense secretary. And now I'm seeing him when his pitch is failing. You can tell when he or Cheney are actually in trouble; they take on this old, put-upon quiet gentle voice that says, "Now why would you pick on an old man like me? Some people just like hurting others, I guess." Cheney employed this in his 2000 debate with Lieberman, actually managing to make Lieberman sound aggressive by comparison. I'm sure the pacemaker helped.
The more likely possibility that is being explored in many media outlets, as compiled here at Slate
, is one that occurred to me the first night of the invasion, from such an obvious thing as being reminded what a good land mass, as colonies go, Iraq and Iran together look like they'd make; so close, and one gulf shared by both. And so much oil between them. Not to mention you achieve a goal even Alexander the Great could not manage. It's obvious--Rumsfeld was trying to prove he could conquer Iraq with a relatively small force in order to make a good case for hitting Iran, and maybe North Korea, next. This is not an isolated war, nor is it even the first in this series--that was Afghanistan. But that was the appetizer, and all we got out of that was a pipeline. This is the place we thread the pipeline to. And what would be the purpose of then going after North Korea? Well, assuming nuclear warfare didn't break out, to get rid of one of the few communist countries the neocons haven't managed to break yet; I think we know they hang onto old grudges, these fellows.
And in preparation for war with China. If North Korea hits us with a nuke somehow in the course of a war with them, all the better--it'll prepare the populace, the neocons might think, for the rain of them China would launch upon us. And thus we understand their real reasons for hanging onto the idea of SDI.
They work very incrementally, the neocons. They might not seem to think ahead, but they do--they just always assume they will be able to mold circumstances to fit their plans, rather than thinking of ways their plans could work if circumstances shift.
I may be wrong, but this is increasingly looking the case. And much as I'd like to see Rumsfeld removed--if for no other reason than he wasted the lives of servicemen by his mistakes and hubris--I'm not too keen on the one I'm sure will replace him--indeed the one who I believe has been working behind the scenes all along to replace him: Paul Wolfowitz. This gives me trepidation because those are, essentially, his plans I described above.
Labels: cheney, politics
History Will Teach Us Nothing
Are there precedents to this? I mean besides Vietnam, which has, since I brought it up, of its own become the most-used reference point by the broadcast media? I find the media's willingness to think of this war as Vietnam and still support it just more proof that even when history visits them twice(as in Koppel's case) they can't help making the same mistakes. That's the way people are, especially Americans, presuming we'd learnt too much from the previous debacle to even have waded into such a thing again. No, we don't do that anymore, so this isn't Vietnam. Yet it is, yet it isn't. This coverage gives me a headache.
Yes indeed, there are other historical precedents for this "punitive" conflict. There was this little incident known as the Third Punic War.
Cato was the man on whom rests chiefly the destruction of Carthage. In public and in private, by direct denunciation, by skilful innuendo, by appealing to the fears of some and to the interests of others, he laboured incessantly towards his end.
In any case, Cato from now on was a determined advocate of war with Carthage. Every time he gave his opinion in the senate, he ended with the famous word ceterum censeo delendam esse Carthaginem ("Besides which, my opinion is that Carthage must be destroyed"). Cato was opposed by P. Cornelius Scipio Nasica, a collateral relation of the family of Scipio Africanus. He apparently argued that without the nearby danger of a serious enemy the Romans would grown weak. (An idea already foreshadowed in the speech that Cato had given inopposition to the proposal to declare war on Rhodes in 167.) By the late 150s many senators were clearly looking for an excuse to attack Carthage.
In an appearance on "Fox News Sunday," Rumsfeld cast doubt on the authenticity of footage of Saddam aired recently on Iraqi state television. Rumsfeld said that Saddam prepared "lots" of videos before the war and that U.S. officials have no way to know for certain that the Iraqi leader and his sons have survived coalition airstrikes.
I saw that movie!
One cannot liberate a people--much less facilitate the emergence of a democracy--without empowering the people being liberated ... It is a million times easier for an Iraqi soldier to join his fellow Iraqis in rebellion than it is to surrender his arms in humiliation to a foreigner. To date, however ... the administration still adamantly refuses to let the Iraqi opposition activate our networks to make the fighting easier for the coalition in the cities, towns, and villages. Why?
Iraq, Kanan Makiya's War Diary in the New Republic excerpted at Salon
More good news:
Halliburton Unit Loses Out on Rebuilding Iraq
Remember, kids, crime doesn't pay.
Or does it?
Ex-general who will lead reconstruction heads firm behind Patriot missiles
Jay Garner, the retired US general who will oversee humanitarian relief and reconstruction in postwar Iraq, is president of an arms company that provides crucial technical support to missile systems vital to the US invasion of the country.
An oldie but goodie by Randy Newman.
Or Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld's plans. Take your pick.
Labels: music, politics
Your tax dollars paid for this.
According to the caption it was not bombs but guns that did this. Our brave Marines. She might look like a little girl, but we all know she's a guerilla. Don't let human weaknesses like compassion stop you on the way to Baghdad!
Don't take this as a condemnation of all our soldiers. Soldiers have no choice in being sent where they are to do what they do, this is true. Your average soldier these days is someone who entered thinking they'd get experience and money for college, and most till now have never been in actual live combat. They're scared as anyone in that position would be. Soldiers deserve sympathy and respect. But murderers don't. Sometimes soldiers are murderers and to excuse unnecessary viciousness because it's perpetrated by a soldier does a disservice to the honorable soldiers who try not to do things like this. When soldiers cross the line, it must be mentioned.
I consider our troops to largely be victims in this matter, but that doesn't mean every action they take is justified, and atrocities should be exposed and condemned or we are all criminals.
Actually, to avoid the whole problem, I say we should take advantage of one of America's peculiar strengths. They're going over there, as far as the administration is concerned, to kill and mutilate and inflict mass mayhem and terror anyway. Why not draft America's serial killers? Imagine the recruiting pitch: You want to live out power fantasies? To kill the smaller and more helpless? To inflict pain and death on a mass scale? We think we have the job for you.
Some may object when drafted that they're really more comfortable just killing hookers in the back of cars, but who cares what they think? The best part of this strategy is that who'll care if they're killed in combat? And even better, if we did this in secret we could somehow pretend that they got in on their own. "Richard Ramirez? Now that you mention it, I don't remember when was the last time we seen him..."
America's Serial Killers: Doing What They Do Best.
Well, the war has at least been good for political cartooning
. And here's the source
of that cartoon. Normally I consider Cagle's site to be OK but kind of, I dunno, ho-hum. It's exhausting getting through some of his compilations and depresses me when I note how much sameness there is across the landscape of modern political cartooning.
But I recommend this because it's an interesting collection of cartoons directly critical of the way the war is being waged and should be looked at if only for reasons of history. Most are pretty good and it's interesting to see so many political cartoonists showing at least the pretense of a spine.
War Is Too Important To Be Left To The Strategists
A reminder that this administration honestly went into this thinking a complete refusal to look pessimistic facts in the face would see them through.
This story reminds us about the war games
the military, all 4 branches, ran last year to test out strategies to be used on Iraq. One general quit when he realized that the "Iraq" half of the game was being barred many methods of warfare that Iraq was, even then, just the same assumed to have. In other words, the game was rigged to provide a result that the US would win without any adjustments in their plans, tested or not. The general in question referred to it as "scripted."
And not only is that entirely typical of the Bush administration's demonstrated psychology--if reality disagrees with you, ignore it or shout at it or hammer it till it goes away--that's disgustingly unfair to the troops getting killed because they did not use the war games for their purpose, which is to test strategy before you risk men's and women's lives with it, to see the gaps and mistakes and fix them. To, in short, do everything you can to ensure winning. Otherwise why go to war unless you're an idiot or psychopath? Why waste the soldiers' lives? Were they thinking, like the 19th-century-thinking Russian generals of WW1 who sent their troops against machine guns with sabers, that bravery and pluck would win the day, proper planning or not? Or more succinctly, just what the fuck
were they thinking?
I could think perhaps in some weird way Bush doesn't want to win but touch off some kind of general instability by all this to, as some say, precipitate what he thinks to be armageddon. But this most extreme of all theories as to the sometimes downright weirdly clumsy, blundering and brutish behavior of this baffling administration gives him too much credit. I'm willing to believe he really is simply stupid.
They'll Greet Us With Flowers
on how easy the war was to be. Amusing if sad.
Prince Of Darkness Sent Back To Hellish Realm
At last some good news. Richard Perle, old crony of Cheney and one of the prime architects of this mess, has finally given in to pressure and resigned
from both the Pentagon Advisory Board and Global Crossing.
For those who aren't aware, Perle's latest outrage was advising the Pentagon at the same time as acting as a lobbyist from Global Crossing TO the Pentagon. And if that hadn't been enough, he's now been discussing postwar business opportunities in Iraq, with the Saudis.
Labels: cheney, politics
Between the sandstorm and Tony Blair's plane getting hit by lightning
on the way to meet Bush, I wonder if there might in fact be a God and he's trying to tell them something.
I do know that's how it's being taken by the Muslim world, if reports on TV are to be believed.
And just in time to disprove my Vietnam analogy, a soldier just deliberately took out 12 of his fellow soldiers with a grenade
. I think this used to be called "fragging." Must be happy troops out there.
(I do know this seems like a whole war planned by Apocalypse Now's
Well, well. To counter Iraqi claims that the US has been dressing up civilians as soldiers to parade in front of the cameras as POWs, the US is claiming that Iraqi soldiers are dressing up as civilians to get the drop on US soldiers. Thus justifying for later reference any and all possible slaughters of civilians, on the grounds that they couldn't be sure.
This is certainly not Gulf War II. This is Vietnam II--that is, Vietnam prior to 1968. And it took such a short time to push it to that. And what with the Turks invading from the north and Russia furious that we're seizing oil they also want, there's probably another sort of sequel this can become.
Well, at least one aspect of the 80s is back in style: apocalyptic tension. Oh boy! Better get myself some remastered Dead Kennedys to go with it!
Oh, did I forget that if there's a hell for journalists almost all these embedded reporters, especially the one from Fox I mentioned in yesterday's post, are going to the deepest part of it after this? I haven't seen such objective presentation of events since Leni Reifenstahl.
"Boy, when zings go wrong..." Franz Liebkind.
A Fox News Reporter Tastefully Describes The Destruction of Baghdad
"This looks like that first big explosion that happened ... This looks like that particular one, of course it could be a building burning, I don't know what it is, but it's nice looking, isn't it?"
Baghdad is in flames, what can we say?--AP
A recent speech by the first Bush
that is interesting to compare to his son's approach to international relations and war.
This was an interesting passage:
The day that the Berlin Wall came down, I see my friend John Sununu here, a famous female reporter was standing next to my desk, and she said, "Mr. President, why don't you go to the Berlin Wall and dance with the young kids. Families are being reunited as we speak. Why can't you do that like Senator Mitchell and Gephardt suggest?" The stupidest idea I ever heard was for me to stick my fingers in Gorbachev's eyes when things were going very smoothly towards a unified Germany.
Now leaving aside a large amount of residual loathing I have for that Bush based on his real history, I find this fascinating. I can't imagine his son thinking or saying something like that, or even thinking it would be an important lie to tell for that matter. His father, for ill or good, recognized the value of international relations and diplomacy--EVEN if you're a warmonger. His father was at least a grown-up and understood at least half of what skills his job required. (it was the domestic half he was totally clueless about) The "sticking my fingers in Gorbachev's eyes" remark is something I'd expect more of the Clinton sort of president than the Dubya.
Right now we have someone wreaking the same kind of physical destruction--worse, really--but who may not understand what he's achieving by doing so. I think one can only be puzzled by Dubya's approach to all this if you're expecting the sort of thinking and behavior exhibited by other presidents. That's the wrong approach. Remember that few if any presidents since the first few have come to the job with less international or domestic political experience. He only became governor in the 90s and had no political jobs before that. Therefore it's unlikely we have a complex political psychology going here that juggles this and that aspect of it.
He acts more like someone who's learnt how war and such things go down from Jerry Bruckheimer and Mel Gibson films. Seriously. He gives ultimatums, even to his friends. He doesn't care about consequences or nuance because he seems to think they're distractions that could sap his will, as opposed to matters which, if covered and thought through beforehand, would increase certainty of victory; it implies a certain amount of insecurity of purpose and will.
And his impatience calls for huge explosions, showy demonstrations of his will. Like he was a bored guy checking his watch in a movie theatre.
To those who ask if people like me who oppose this war would oppose ALL wars I would ask why are you so readily for them. Any actual military person who's been in combat--and coming from a 'Nam-era military family that's just about most of the adults I grew up around--will tell you to actually have to get to the fighting phase is something you do only when either under direct threat or when all else has failed. All else hadn't been given a chance to fail. Typically of Bush(think again back to the election) he decides to cut to the chase when he doesn't like where the dialogue is going. Soldiers will put themselves in harm's way but they do not desire it or like it unless they're psychopaths(and from what I heard those were not the kind of guys you wanted next to you in combat, the kill-happy type--those are simply murderers, not soldiers). Combat is a horrible fucking thing and only chicken hawks like Georgie Boy consider it desirable.
Would I oppose all wars? Hm.
(a)If they were for as little reason;
(b)If they were as baldly wars of choice;
(c)If the reason was as tainted;
...then yes, I would oppose all wars. But all wars are not unjust. Whatever our motivations for getting into WW2, it had to be fought or many more would have died. But comnparisons of Hussein to Hitler are spurious at best. I don't think Hussein was going to be marching into Europe, Turkey or Saudi Arabia anytime soon. Hitler aggressively took territory and lots of it. Hussein tried to and got slapped back quite easily. You could not have done that with Hitler once he had even begun.
And for those who like to compare Hitler and Hussein to make their point, I should point out that Hitler's will overwhelmed that of the League of Nations and he launched his blitzkriegs--sudden massive shows of force that produced, um, "shock and awe"--on nations the League considered expendable. At least until that included the League itself, which Hitler basically caused the dissolution of. And Hitler came to power in the first place through a special deal cooked up with old and corrupt(and in the most important case, senile) government figures that negated an election's actual results. There's someone, yes, very specifically, in this matter who's been acting like Adolf in more than a few ways, yes, but I don't think Hussein's the one on a scale for the comparison.
The more that Bush pounds Iraq, the more he disproves his point. Hussein has been abandoned by the world, the recent UN transcripts make very clear. They're now simply discussing reconstruction, Annan apparently taking the invasion's success as a fait accompli. No one will lift a finger to save him. So tell me, if he has weapons of mass destruction, just what the hell does he have to lose by using them now? You can take three viewpoints on this, I think:
(a)He wants to go out as a total martyr. Doubtful, as the Arab world does not respect someone who goes meekly to their death at the hands of enemies. One last stab with bio or chem weapons would be taken as what a martyr would do, something courageous, something to inspire.
(b)We destroyed them all. Unlikely as well.
(c)He doesn't have any and all we did was use the recept inspections and dismantlings to evaluate their defenses and locations and to reduce their ability to defend themselves from the war we were gonna launch anyway.
The last is my guess, and if so, what a cowardly and thuggish way to act. I feel like my country is being run by the Corleones.
Labels: Mel Gibson, politics
The New York Times nukes Richard Perle.
Even as he advises the Pentagon on war matters, Richard N. Perle, chairman of the influential Defense Policy Board, has been retained by the telecommunications company Global Crossing to help overcome Defense Department resistance to its proposed sale to a foreign firm, Mr. Perle and lawyers involved in the case said today.
Especially funny and not to be missed are the three differing lame denials he gives. (free registration req'd)
As an example of the media's kind of unseemly gee-whizness about this war(of the anchors Peter Jennings seems the least pumped about this and has given a lot of airtime to the protests) that seems to be kind of willing blindness to the nature of the operation, Ted Koppel's been quoting from Shakespeare to describe the situation, the quote being "Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war." Actually, I think he got the first word wrong(don't recall what he had instead) and changed "let slip" to "unleash" but there's something telling about it in that he said it was from what is considered a very patriotic play about a young, untested(and a bit of a partier in his youth) ruler gaining his rightful manhood by taking back what his forefathers lost, HENRY V. I'm sure many rulers would be flattered by a comparison to that ruler, though I suspect it'd be lost on Dubya.
But in fact it's from a play about a well-intentioned but destructive act that leads to the end of a Republic and the start of an Empire. The act causes exactly what it's meant to stop, and what may have been inevitable anyway. It's called JULIUS CAESAR. Interesting slip he let slip there.
Speaking of the protests: looks like the Chicago cops have reclaimed their porcine ways from 35 years ago. They went into a crowd they did not bother to ask to disperse with riot gear and clubs(even the horses had face shields), drove them to Lake Shore Drive, and now have them rounded up in the middle of the Northbound side awaiting arrest, or so I'm seeing on live TV now. This was a nonviolent protest except for one isolated window-breaking incident that occurred long before the cops started coming in. The cops gave no warning and indeed many of the protestors herded to Lake Shore Drive would have gone home but the cops had them hemmed in so tightly they couldn't even breathe easily, and they're keeping them that way right now.
This is only the first 24 hours. What are they prepared to do if protests continue? In Chicago they almost certainly will: this is the city of the '68 Democratic Convention and the Haymarket Massacre. Chicago protestors aren't easily intimidated and Chicago cops don't have to get things like brutality put on their record(no, seriously; it's something several organizations are lobbying to change), which is why it's hard to prove charges of it here.
This doesn't bode too well.
An interesting interview just now on CNN with members of the 7th Cavalry, probably chosen because of their name recognition. Was that the one that Custer commanded?
There was what may have been a very telling moment, in regards to our soldiers' own enthusiasm in this operation, when a graduate of West Point's class of 2000 was asked if he was "anxious to go" into combat. He had a sort of halfhearted smile cross his mouth and said, "Ready to go." The reporter asked him about the hesitation he seemed to be communicating, but he just sort of drifted away from the camera.
These soldiers don't seem to have the full-on jingoistic kill-rage the soldiers in Gulf War 1 exhibited. What if they realize they're being put in harm's way by a president fully for reasons of re-election, and realize this is, as Sen. Robert Byrd rightfully put it today, a "war of choice," whether that's a right or wrong choice.
It would be horrible to be there and understand someone else sending you there looks at your life as an expendable luxury, and even went on TV telling the American public there will very definitely be heavy casualties. Thanks, commander in chief. I don't want our soldiers to know what the soldiers in Verdun or Vietnam knew. I fear for them; they had no part in choosing this.
His father waited much longer to mobilize ground troops. BUt then his father at least had the justification of Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. God alone knows this Bush's reasons, but he has no true cause that the world acknowledges.
Suppose the rest of the world decides we're a threat worth fighting and decides to do it with more than words. That does sound absurd, doesn't it? Just like the idea that the Kaiser would slink out of the country at the end of WW1 was to Germans.
What would it look like? We'll only know if Bush decides to go for Iran too, and why wouldn't he?
And judging from what I saw on ABC, looks like it's going to be a bright, sunny day in Baghdad. Poor bastards.
By the way, has anyone considered, looking at the map, that Bush--judging by his sense displayed so far of the nuances of international affairs--is also in a perfect position to attack Iran? This might explain what seemed to some an inordinately large amount of troops committed.
May fate have it that as few as possible on either side die. This is wrong, but our opinion won't change the fact that some of our loved ones are now in harm's way.
Actually, all of them, and you or myself as well. Unless you've forgotten that the possibility of massive domestic terror attacks just increased a hundredfold.
On the eve of war, Norman Mailer
on why the hell Bush would want any of this in the first place.
Okay, quick quiz: which country, Israel or Iraq, deliberately drove over a 23-year-old American woman who lay in front of a bulldozer to stop it destroying an innocent family's home?
I'll give you a hint: it's the one that has also shamelessly spied on us and defied our advice. And yet we consider someplace like France ungrateful. Note to Israel: if it wasn't for the United States you'd be a parking lot. Perhaps you ought to be a bit more polite to us?
Advice for the British PM: Careful about going against the very loud and unambiguous will of your people for the sake of sucking up to an American president: his government might, at a crucial moment, make you realize it was all for nothing, like Donald Rumsfeld did today.
Let me guess: is the UK part of Rumsfeld's "Old Europe" now too?
Maureen Dowd in the New York Times
today speculates that perhaps it was Bush's intent all along to drive the world away:
Now we've managed to alienate our last best friend. We are making the rest of the world recoil. But that may be part of the Bush hawks' master plan. Maybe they have really always wanted to go it alone.Maybe it has been their strategy all along to sideline the U.N., deflate Colin Powell and cut the restraining cords of traditional coalitions. Their decision last summer to get rid of Saddam was driven by their desire to display raw, naked American power.
It's actually been my suspicion all along that this is a pattern throughout the actions of the Bush administration from day one. Think about it: almost everything they have done in terms of domestic and foreign relations has been interpreted as "stupid," "clumsy," and "ineffective." This is only so if their intended result from, say, spiking Kyoto, or openly displaying contempt for the UN, or doing nothing about our economy and racking up record deficits in record time are not what they wanted.
This may seem strange, but suppose all this were in fact what they wanted--a drying-up job market, a tepid consumer economy, and no international friendships--but enough power to make sure we don't need friends anyway. If you look at these results and more as something one might have a reason to want--just not the common public--they may be savage moves but they might have logic behind them, if you wanted to undo much of the world created by the latter 20th century. Contemplate: could someone want that, and if so why?
Consider as one example: why would Bush want to embrace Tony Blair, his country's Clinton politically, in the first place? If I were a neoconservative president, wouldn't I instead use him if I had to till he was dried up, but do what I could to assure he fell and, hopefully, the Tories were restored? By linking Blair so much to this Iraq matter Bush is killing both birds with one stone--securing British involvement and destroying Blair. And Blair is apparently too trusting to see it, still blinded by Clinton to seeing not all American presidents really want to be your friend. Blair will be remembered as one of the more tragic PMs for this, but there is no doubt his power in England has been rent asunder and I can just see the Mayberry Machiavellis laughing at how easy it was to play this sucker.
Then consider too the degree to which Bush has demonstrated that he is willing to go to war even if the people of the US are against it, and how he acts like a president not so much assured of re-election as certain he will not have to face having to run anyway. Remember this is a president who, no matter how many or few votes he got, is the result of an election never properly completed; that technically he was never elected anyway.
Reasons to be wary?...
Hey, guess which Republican president has pissed away his spike in support after 9/11 through pure hubris, neglect, arrogance and stupidity just like his father and if the election were held today would lose to any Democrat at all.
Like father like son.
During the innocent summer before 9/11, the defense secretary's office sponsored a study of ancient empires — Macedonia, Rome, the Mongols — to figure out how they maintained dominance.What tips could Rummy glean from Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Genghis Khan? Mr. Rumsfeld would be impressed, after all, if he knew that Genghis Khan had invented the first crude MIRV (a missile that spews out multiple warheads to their predetermined targets). As David Morgan writes in "The Mongols," when the bloodthirsty chieftain began his subjugation of the Chinese empire in 1211, he had to figure out a way to take China's walled cities:
"Genghis Khan offered to raise the siege if he were given 1,000 cats and 10,000 swallows. These were duly handed over. Material was tied to their tails, and this was set on fire. The animals were released and fled home, setting the city ablaze, and in the ensuing confusion the city was stormed."
Maureen Dowd at NYTimes.com
After obscuring the real reasons for war, the Bushies are now obscuring the Pentagon's assessments of the cost of war ($60 billion to $200 billion?), the size of the occupation force (100,000 to 400,000?) and the length of time American troops will stay in Iraq (2 to 10 years?). A Delphic Mr. Wolfowitz tried to blow off House Democrats who pressed him on these issues: "We will stay as long as necessary and leave as soon as possible." Rahm Emanuel, a congressman from Chicago, chided Mr. Wolfowitz, saying, "In the very week that we negotiated with Turkey, the administration also told the governors there wasn't any more money for education and health care." The president's humongously expensive tax cuts leave less for all programs except the military. Asked if we should give up the tax cut to underwrite the war, the president demurred, replying, "Americans are paying the bill."
Maureen Dowd at NYTimes.com
(free registration req'd)