A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up..."

This was an unusually candid remark from Army Recruiting Sergeant Gregory Davis, who recruits in suburban Atlanta. It was made on camera last night on CNN's "News Night With Aaron Brown."

Sergeant Davis is a straight shooter and a class guy. He does not equivocate about the dangers of war. Davis tell recruits directly that the chances of their going into combat are about 50/50.

And its not just the potential recruits who are resistant, it is also their parents:

So I say, well ma'am, your son or daughter can get killed right out there in the streets of Atlanta, and you know, when you compare the numbers of the people that have died as a result of combat, you would think there was more war going on here.


There is more war going on here and Sergeant Davis is the really big loser of it:

A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up...


Not one of our team of War Cheerleaders in this country--whether on a blog, in a pulpit, on an editorial page, or on a cable news program--has had the gall to tell those young men and women in Atlanta that they should sign up, that they have no reason in the world to doubt the President. Sergeant Davis can't tell them that, either.

We all know why. You know why. I know why. Sergeant Davis knows why. The War Cheerleaders know why, too, though they cannot face it. The Press & Media know why, as well. And they know that anyone who attempts to say why will have their guts ripped out by the War Cheerleaders.

A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up...


When I wrote below about the Downing Street memo, I pointed out, first, the systematic deception of Congress by President George W. Bush in order to obtain war powers to invade Iraq:

It appears that even before the war many senior intelligence officials in the government had doubts about the case being trumpeted in public by the president and his senior advisers. Moreover, as war approached, many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about Hussein's alleged weapons programs. All these claims were made by Bush or then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in public addresses even though, the reports made clear, they had yet to be verified by U.S. intelligence agencies.

In an Oct. 7, 2002, speech, Bush mentioned a potential threat to the U.S. mainland being explored by Iraq through unmanned aircraft "that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons." Senior members of Congress were told in September 2002 that this was the "smoking gun" in a special briefing by Vice President Cheney and then-CIA Director George J. Tenet.


I later pointed out how the President repeatedly and systematically lied to the public about his intention to invade Iraq no matter what stood in his way. This was told by the White House to Sir Richard Dearlove--who is "C", the chief of the British Secret Service or MI-6--as he reported to the Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 23, 2002:

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.


The first of the President's lies was in a speech on October 1, 2002:

Of course, I haven’t made up my mind we’re going to war with Iraq. [10/1/02]


The last of them immediately preceeded the invasion:

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. And it has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda. [5/17/03]

I know that the families of our military are praying that all those who serve will return safely and soon. Millions of Americans are praying with you for the safety of your loved ones and for the protection of the innocent. For your sacrifice, you have the gratitude and respect of the American people. And you can know that our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done. Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly -- yet, our purpose is sure. [5/19/03]


Of course, it wasn't supposed to matter. When the evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the links to Al Qaeda, were finally found, the real reluctance, whether in the nation or in the world, would be swept away. After all, George Tenant, the CIA Director himself, had told the President that it was "a slam dunk."

Well, surprise. It wasn't a slam dunk. The deception, and the self-deception, did matter then. It really began to matter when the evidence was never found. And on May 1, 2005, when the Times of London published the absolutely undeniable evidence of the lies, from the highest circles of the British Government, every last hope that history would say that we made a just, honorable, and honest war died completely. We didn't.

It did matter then. It does matter now. Why does it matter now?

A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up...


The War Cheerleaders, to the last pom-pom, are still telling us the nobility of our cause will win us through to the end, we should only pay attention to the news that says we are doing well in our noble cause, and that what happened before now still doesn't matter. So we should let the evidence of the lies just fade away.

But...

A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up...


When an honest War Cheerleader, whose job it is to report on the war from Iraq, comes home, this is now what he has to say:

Two years ago I went to Iraq as an unabashed believer in toppling Saddam Hussein. I knew his regime well from previous visits; WMDs or no, ridding the world of Saddam would surely be for the best, and America's good intentions would carry the day. What went wrong? A lot, but the biggest turning point was the Abu Ghraib scandal.

Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. There is no evidence that all the mistreatment and humiliation saved a single American life or led to the capture of any major terrorist...

I'm not one of those who think America should pull out immediately. There's no real choice but to stay, probably for many years to come. The question isn't "When will America pull out?"; it's "How bad a mess can we afford to leave behind?" All I can say is this: last one out, please turn on the lights.


So now what does Sergeant Davis say to the young men and women of Atlanta about our war in Iraq? Does he tell them, "For your sacrifice, you have the gratitude and respect of the American people. And you can know that our forces will be coming home as soon as their work is done,"?

I wouldn't have the face to say that to them now. Probably you wouldn't have the face to say that to them now. And, if the War Cheerleaders have the face to say it, they certainly don't seem to be saying it.

What they are saying, whether they will admit it or not, is that, from Sea to Shining Sea, we have a noble war, with positive consequences, which will change the world--as long as somebody else fights it and somebody else pays for it.

Just who is that somebody else, I wonder?

A lot of people just don't really support who we have as a president, and they say that they're not signing up...


Why should they support him? Really.

Five years ago I would have said that this country had finally learned something from our disasterous experience in Indochina: to make war successfully you must tell the truth, have clear war aims, have a genuine reason to fight, and not take on more than you can handle. We demonstrated that knowledge the first time we fought Iraq in 1991. In 2002, it looked like we understood this in Afghanistan, as well.

There were 58,226 American casualties in Southeast Asia between January 1962 and March 1973. We made the wrong war, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, based on a questionable incident of attack upon us. To the very end, our Government never ceased lying to itself, and to us, that everything was under control, that we were making progress, and that the conclusion would eventually be something to be proud of.

Lies really matter, because they are lies. The truth really matters because it's the truth.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Former President Clinton:

Iraq Changes Good for Region

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050518/ap_on_re_mi_ea/clinton_iraq_1&printer=1

By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press WriterWed


May 18, 2005

Former President Clinton said Wednesday the political changes in Iraq, including parliamentary elections in January, will help bring stability to the region.

Clinton met with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and a number of Danish lawmakers during his visit. The former president spoke with reporters before flying to Jordan for a poverty conference.

"The Sunnis and the Shiites, the Kurds and all the various tribes can work out accommodations that will allow them to build a stable society, I think that will be good for Iraq and good for the Middle East," Clinton said at the end of a two-day visit to Denmark.

In January, Iraq held the its first democratic parliamentary elections to choose a 275-member National Assembly and provincial legislatures.

"There is no point living in the past," Clinton said. "Look at where we are now. Everyone, all freedom-loving people would be better off with a genuinely representative, effective, free government in Iraq whatever your feelings are about what went on before."

3:53 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

"Everyone, all freedom-loving people would be better off with a genuinely representative, effective, free government in Iraq whatever your feelings are about what went on before."

The key word in the sentence is "effective". That is what is eluding us, and has eluded us for about 1700 deaths now.

Any country where nobody, and particularly no foreign national, is even remotely safe outside of a four mile square "green zone" (and this despite having the most powerful army in the world there) can hardly qualify as having an "effective" government.

Even in the chaos of Southeast Asia, things were never as bad as that.

The Iraqi government will, in the end, be only as effective as our army will make it, which is precisely the problem, as Sergeant Davis is finding out.

At the rate things are going, we are likely to be there at least a decade with less than the total goodwill (to say the least) of many Iraqi citizens.

My point was that George W. Bush has cut Sergeant Davis off at the knees with his conduct of this war and has bitterly divided the country in the process.

I note that you can apparently find no one really willing to help Sergeant Davis with his problem either, no matter how noble they think the goal.

That is what the fundamental betrayal of public trust by George W. Bush has created.

7:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joseph,

In your healthiest of conditions and
earlier youthful years would you ever volunteer for service in the US military regardless of what the future would portend or given unknown circumstances ?

8:32 PM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

I might have. All it takes is courage and self-confidence in your immortality, and many 18 year olds I know have that in plenty. Whether I would have had enough, I don't know.

But any such that I might have had, when the opportunity arose, was spoiled by the clear mendacity and self-deception of our government after six years of war in Southeast Asia.

My point is not that young will or will not volunteer. It is that we, young or old, have been given every reason to disbelieve the motives, the intentions, and even the simple intelligence of those who led us into this war.

As Sir Richard Dearlove said, "There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action." This is the most important reason why the current situation is still a mess.

Who wants to join an army where nobody in charge has enough sense to locate and lock up all the loose firearms, ammunition, and explosives before insurgents could steal them? And this even when they had six clear months to do so.

When Americans have believed their cause was just, the courageous volunteered. Any reading of our history will show this. Not everyone has such courage, but who, under the current circumstances can seriously call this war a just cause being effectively pursued?

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“…. but who, under the current circumstances can seriously call this war a just cause being effectively pursued ? “

I will. I will call this war a just cause. I served some years in the U.S military yet not recently. I recall my first assignment. I had some fear about its locale and I asked a young USAF NCO, a career man, what he thought about remote assignments.

His answer was: “Sir, wherever they plant the flag, I will serve.”

And, I dare suggest that:

Mr. Lincoln would answer these questions thusly:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Of course those words do not apply to today’s applications but nonetheless, the cause is the same:

Liberty Liberty Liberty

So I would suggest that if you seek to know for whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for Liberty----not Saddam.

Liberty is not going to happen by accident via permission slips to the likes of Saddam, or Assad, or Kim Jong Il.

The point is not whether you disagree with GWB.

The question is how committed are you to Liberty ?

John Kerry was never the answer because he could not answer the questions Liberty asks. All he had was his medals which he threw away before he didn't throw them away.

Since 9-11 our choices are few. One of which is Liberty.

I know which side I am on. I suspect your position isn't the same side.

That's how I see it.

12:09 AM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

The above comment is of sufficient interest that I have made a new post about it.

10:52 AM  
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