Posts Tagged 'Iraq'



Bush Speaks with God, World Suffers

God speaks through me. Without that, I could not do my job.
– George W. Bush, 9 June 2004, in meeting with Amish leaders

I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …” And I did…
– George W. Bush, June 2003, in meeting with Palestinian Ministers

The imbecile president seems an unlikely prophet. And the occupation of Iraq does not exactly seem divinely inspired.

Which is it, Mr. Bush: are you delusional or is god fucking with you?

Reassessing the Pottery Barn Rule and the Way Forward in Iraq

Main Street, Cottage Grove Oregon

Before the Bush administration decided to go to war in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell urged caution in US policy, citing the apocryphal Pottery Barn Rule: you break it, you own it! Well, the mess has been made and, like it or not, America now owns it. But for how long?

The anti-war movement has become reenergized; and the hawks are only one step behind. The political debate in America is becoming familiarly polarized around the question of what to do next in Iraq. Everything is running true-to-form: liberals demand an instantaneous pull-out, conservatives spout dribble about “supporting the troops,” Republicans stay on-message to “stay the course,” and Democrats can’t decide what to think about anything.

The present situation in Iraq is terribly fluid. It is also terribly terrible. This latter aspect so captures our attention that we seem incapable of analyzing the dynamic complexities of the present – or of developing a strategy for the future. The cacophony of opinion does not impress me as helpful in framing the issues, much less in properly assessing how to move forward. Both the pro-war and anti-war factions need to reexamine their positions and, if they cannot constructively contribute to the formulation of policy, shut their pie-holes so that others can.

Continue reading ‘Reassessing the Pottery Barn Rule and the Way Forward in Iraq’

Making Haste and Waste in Iraq

Baby we can do it
Take the time – do it right,
We can do it, Baby –
Do it tonight.
– S.O.S. Band, Take Your Time

I said, I hope you get your constitution written on time, and he agreed… He understands the need for of a timely write of the constitution.
– George W. Bush, On his conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, 28 April 2005

It is depressing to watch the US government pressure the Iraqi Transitional National Assembly to complete the drafting of its country’s constitution. As always, the Bush administration places higher priority on partisan politics at home than the successful democratization and governance of Iraq. If constitution drafting can be checked off the to-do list, then Republicans standing for re-election in 2006 can point to a tangible accomplishment of the new Iraqi government, and try to strike a hopeful note about the abysmal situation they and their president have created.

But will a constitution created in haste really signal a positive achievement? In all likelihood, it will simply codify, in the nation’s supreme legal document, the sectarian divisions that already threaten to rip the country apart. The Sunis remain largely estranged from the process. The kind of negotiation and compromise necessary to build sufficient cohesion to avoid civil war will take time.

But now the first arbitrary deadline has been passed and the Bush administration wants the constitution done yesterday!

The drafting of a constitution is the single most important political act in the governance of a country. If America is, as our politicians like to tell us, the greatest nation on earth – and, indeed, if that phrase has any discernable meaning beyond its hollow, prideful jingoism – it is entirely down to the fact that it has an absolutely beautiful constitutional system. Sure, the US Constitution contains the quirks borne of compromise and historical context. Sure, Madison and others agreed, even at the time, that it was an imperfect document. Sure, the Constitution is more principled and noble in conception than it is in practice, given the careless disregard our politicians sometimes have for it. But no other country in the world has so ably defined the mechanisms of self-governance, finding the delicate balance between effective administration of the public welfare and curtailing the awesome power of the state over the rights of the individual.

The American experience itself shows that these things take time. The Philadelphia Constitutional Convention of 1787 commenced on 25 May. It was not until 29 September – more than four months later – that the Constitution was approved by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. This is more than a month longer than the Bush administration mandated for the drafting of Iraq’s Constitution. And let’s not forget that the work of the Constitutional Convention was preceded by the Annapolis Conference in 1786 and by weeks of crucial advance work by James Madison and the delegates of Virginia; or that the Bill of Rights, the crowning achievement of American constitutionalism, wasn’t ratified until 1791. The Iraqis were starting from scratch on 16 May, and were asked to be done by 15 August.

You may also have noticed that the Iraqi’s are working under somewhat more difficult circumstances than the American delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. America was enjoying peace and prosperity unheard of in a newly-minted, formerly colonial country. The delegates to the convention were all established legislators and included some of the most brilliant political minds of their day – or of any day, for that matter. The issues dividing the delegates were well-drawn, with the country having had the benefit of nearly a decade of experience with democratic self-governance under the Articles of Confederation. Iraq, on the other hand, is a shambles. It’s all the constitutional delegates can do to get themselves to the meetings alive!

It is patently unrealistic to expect an inexperienced, cobbled-together, sectarian, shell-shocked group of would-be politicians to do in three months what James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Roger Sherman, and their colleagues could not do in four.

If only President Bush weren’t on another protracted vacation, he might be able to lend them a hand.

Knock It Off!

Yesterday, an assassin widely presumed to be a Syrian agent murdered yet another high-profile anti-Syrian politician in Lebanon. George Hawi’s killing follows the murders former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and prominent journalist Samir Kassir, both important anti-Syrian voices in a Lebanon that is trying to find its political footing.

Just so we are all clear about what’s happened here: the political will of a long-troubled country is being subverted by assassination. Real lives are being extinguished in cold-blooded murder.

Secretary of State Condoleza Rice gave Syria a piece of her government’s mind: “They need to knock it off.”

Knock it off!?!

Continue reading ‘Knock It Off!’

Colin Powell: Unlikely Avitar of a Failed and Shameful U.S. Foreign Policy

Powell & Bush 

The political obituaries for Colin Powell nicely illustrate the myopia and forgetfulness of what passes for media scrutiny in this country. Like a Greek chorus reading from the same script, all the press commentary intones that Secretary Powell has been out of the loop on every high-profile issue of foreign policy since the decision to go to war in Iraq. Only since then? Hell, he was never in the loop!

In his very first week in office, Secretary Powell declared that the Bush administration would build on the substantial negotiations commenced by the Clinton administration to bring North Korea into the community of nations. He was promptly bitch-slapped by Vice President Cheney and was not heard from again for nine months. The 10 September 2001 issue of Time magazine asked from its cover, “Where is Colin Powell?”

Continue reading ‘Colin Powell: Unlikely Avitar of a Failed and Shameful U.S. Foreign Policy’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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