Monday, April 24, 2006

News of the Day (Monday, April 24, 2006)

Boy, lots of important items in today's news..... Arthur Schlesinger's "Bush's Thousand Days" Op-ed First off, Arthur Schlesinger writes an op-ed in the Washington Post called Bush's Thousand Days. He quotes Lincoln who had some choice words about preventive warfare. Lincoln said:

"Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure [emphasis added]. . . . If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us'; but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.' "
Schlesinger makes the point that Bush's way is "Be silent, I see it, if you don't." He shows how Presidents Truman and Eisenhower chose not to engage in preventive wars against the Soviet Union. And then when talking about Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis, he says the following:
It was lucky that JFK was determined to get the missiles out peacefully, because only decades later did we discover that the Soviet forces in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons and orders to use them to repel a U.S. invasion. This would have meant a nuclear exchange. Instead, JFK used his own thousand days to give the American University speech, a powerful plea to Americans as well as to Russians to reexamine "our own attitude -- as individuals and as a nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs." This was followed by the limited test ban treaty. It was compatible with the George Kennan formula -- containment plus deterrence -- that worked effectively to avoid a nuclear clash. The Cuban missile crisis was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in all human history. Never before had two contending powers possessed between them the technical capacity to destroy the planet. Had there been exponents of preventive war in the White House, there probably would have been nuclear war. It is certain that nuclear weapons will be used again. Henry Adams, the most brilliant of American historians, wrote during our Civil War, "Some day science shall have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race shall commit suicide by blowing up the world."
Our world would have been destroyed if Kennedy had followed the plans and thoughts of the neo-conservatives of his day and preventively attacked Cuba. Schlesinger continues:
Enter George W. Bush as the great exponent of preventive war. In 2003, owing to the collapse of the Democratic opposition, Bush shifted the base of American foreign policy from containment-deterrence to presidential preventive war: Be silent; I see it, if you don't. Observers describe Bush as "messianic" in his conviction that he is fulfilling the divine purpose. But, as Lincoln observed in his second inaugural address, "The Almighty has His own purposes." There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war. Maybe President Bush, who seems a humane man, might be moved by daily sorrows of death and destruction to forgo solo preventive war and return to cooperation with other countries in the interest of collective security. Abraham Lincoln would rejoice.
Bush's Approval at 32%
In the telephone poll of 1,012 adult Americans carried out Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 32 percent of respondents said they approve of Bush's performance, 60 percent said they disapprove and 8 percent said they do not know. That's a significant drop from the way Americans perceived the president a year ago. In a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll carried out April 29-May 1, 2005, Americans were split on their assessments of Bush's performance, with 48 percent saying they approved and 49 percent saying they disapproved.
Gas Prices Hit Average $2.91!!!
The pain at the pump keeps getting worse for U.S. consumers as the national price for gasoline skyrocketed 13.1 cents over the last week to $2.91 a gallon, the fourth highest average retail price on record, the government said on Monday. Republican congressional leaders, worried that high fuel costs will turn voters against them in this November’s midterm elections, urged the Bush administration to investigate whether oil companies are gouging consumers at the pump. “Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted,” Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert wrote on Monday in a joint letter to President George W. Bush.
Uh, I think it's too late Mr. Frist. They've already gotten away with it..... Rolling Stone's "The Worst President in History?" The rule of George W. Bush should put a seal in the coffin of neo-conservative thought, for good, a stake to the heart, to dust this vampire of a ideology. Neo-conservatism has failed. Not because not enough people signed on, but because it was flawed to begin with. Rolling Stone magazine has the following as its cover story:
George W. Bush's presidency appears headed for colossal historical disgrace. Barring a cataclysmic event on the order of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, after which the public might rally around the White House once again, there seems to be little the administration can do to avoid being ranked on the lowest tier of U.S. presidents. And that may be the best-case scenario. Many historians are now wondering whether Bush, in fact, will be remembered as the very worst president in all of American history.
Let us pray to God that either Democrats win control of the House and Senate this November, or enough Republicans start listening to reason and realize just how terrible Bush's war in Iraq was for America. I'm not holding my breath though on the second option..... Terrorist Attacks in Egypt Three blasts struck a resort town in Egypt. The "War on Terror" continues on with more dead than ever before..... Find Law's John Dean on Bush's Failures
President George W. Bush's presidency is a disaster - one that's still unfolding. In a mid-2004 column, I argued that, at that point, Bush had already demonstrated that he possessed the least attractive and most troubling traits among those that political scientist James Dave Barber has cataloged in his study of Presidents' personality types. Now, in early 2006, Bush has continued to sink lower in his public approval ratings, as the result of a series of events that have sapped the public of confidence in its President, and for which he is directly responsible. This Administration goes through scandals like a compulsive eater does candy bars; the wrapper is barely off one before we've moved on to another. Currently, President Bush is busy reshuffling his staff to reinvigorate his presidency. But if Dr. Barber's work holds true for this president -- as it has for others - the hiring and firing of subordinates will not touch the core problems that have plagued Bush's tenure. That is because the problems belong to the President - not his staff. And they are problems that go to character, not to strategy.
Foreign Affairs Article on Intelligence Fixed Around Policy This article shows how Bush and his administration fixed the intelligence to fit the policy, much like the Downing Street Memos showed last year. Those memos were enough for some to call Bush to be censured, something conservatives think benefits them. In any case, this is what the Foreign Affairs article states at the begining:
The most serious problem with U.S. intelligence today is that its relationship with the policymaking process is broken and badly needs repair. In the wake of the Iraq war, it has become clear that official intelligence analysis was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized. As the national intelligence officer responsible for the Middle East from 2000 to 2005, I witnessed all of these disturbing developments.
It is a recommended read, so read the entire article. It will enlighten you about this administration. Drumheller's 60 Minutes Interview Regarding Cherry-Picking Intelligence Before Iraq War Yes, that is correct, yet another CIA officer has come out to say that the intelligence was cherry-picked. Interestingly, this man was interviewed by the Senate and the commission that was supposedly looking into whether or not the intelligence was manipulated. He was interviewed, and he stated in his interview that the intelligence was indeed manipulated. Interestingly, his interview never made it into the final report......
Did the Robb-Silbermann Commission not hear about what Drumheller had to say? What about the Roberts Committee? I asked Drumheller just those questions when I spoke to him early this evening. He was quite clear. He was interviewed by the Robb-Silbermann Commission. Three times apparently. Did he tell them everything he revealed on tonight's 60 Minutes segment. Absolutely. Drumheller was also interviewed twice by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (the Roberts Committee) but apparently only after they released their summer 2004 report. Now, quite a few of us have been arguing for almost two years now that those reports were fundamentally dishonest in the story they told about why we were so badly misled in the lead up to war. The fact that none of Drumheller's story managed to find its way into those reports, I think, speaks volumes about the agenda that the writers of those reports were pursuing. "I was stunned," Drumheller told me, when so little of the stuff he had told the commission's and the committee's investigators ended up in their reports. His colleagues, he said, were equally "in shock" that so little of what they related ended up in the reports either. What Drumheller has to say adds quite a lot to our knowledge of what happened in the lead up to war. But what it shows even more clearly is that none of this stuff has yet been investigated by anyone whose principal goal is not covering for the White House.
The Spy Who Voted The Wrong Way Adding more to the woes America is now dealing with, apparently the Bush administration is doing the following:
The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.
Apparently the way one thinks politically now matters to one's job at the CIA..... and Finally, this piece about Rumsfeld (Time For Him To Go) from The Economist. This is a highly recommended read, as the author better lays out the reasons for his removal from office than I could ever do.
But the current furore can't be brushed aside. Six retired generals have publicly called for the secretary's resignation. This is extraordinary in itself. But it comes on top of a mountain of other problems. Senior politicians such as Joe Biden and John McCain have been calling for his head for months. And a series of books—most notably “Cobra II” by Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor (Pantheon)—have provided yet more ammunition for Mr Rumsfeld's critics. The secretary of defence has become a liability that Mr Bush's troubled administration can no longer afford: a distraction at home and a barrier to success in Iraq. There is now widespread agreement on what he got wrong. His biggest mistake—the fons et origo of all the others—was to try to fight the war with too few troops. His second-biggest was to make no proper provision for restoring order afterwards. But there is no shortage of other mistakes. Mr Rumsfeld misread the intelligence in the build-up to the war, and much of it was simply wrong in any case. He failed to plan for the occupation. He ignored the growing insurgency. He disbanded the Iraqi army, scattering 300,000 armed and unemployed men into the population. The more interesting question is why he messed up so comprehensively. The most obvious reason, of course, is arrogance. Mr Rumsfeld suffered from exactly the same problem as another whizz-kid CEO turned secretary of defence, Robert McNamara: iron self-confidence. He junked the army's carefully laid plans for invasion (General Zinni's plan called for at least 380,000 troops, for example, far more than Mr Rumsfeld sent). He dismissed warnings from General Shinseki that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to win the peace. He ignored pleas for more troops on the ground. And he surrounded himself with similarly one-dimensional strategists such as General Franks and yes-men like General Myers. Another reason is bureaucratic turf wars. Henry Kissinger once described Mr Rumsfeld as the best practitioner of the art of bureaucratic infighting that he had ever seen, which is no mean compliment; and he certainly did a brilliant job of elbowing Colin Powell and the State Department aside, putting control of post-war reconstruction in military hands for the first time since the second world war. But he had no idea what to do with his new-found power. Without the State Department's experience of post-war reconstruction, gathered in Bosnia and Afghanistan, Mr Rumsfeld veered all over the place. ----------------------- But this is a tragedy that America can no longer tolerate. Getting rid of Mr Rumsfeld is no guarantee that things will get better. But keeping him ensures that they will get worse. Mr Bush made a huge mistake in not accepting Mr Rumsfeld's offer to resign in the wake of Abu Ghraib. Every day he keeps him in his job he compounds his mistake and weakens his presidency.

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