Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Toto Moment

Short excerpt from a report in the LA Times:
Bush said Americans strongly condemned Wednesday's attack on the Golden Mosque and that he understood "the consternation and concern of Iraqi Shias when they see this most holy site wantonly destroyed."

He said the United States would continue to work "with those voices of reason to enable Iraq to continue on the path to democracy" and pledged that the U.S. would help rebuild the shrine.
And this, from the AP:
Top U.S. officials strongly condemned the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine Wednesday, calling it a desperate and despicable act designed to foment sectarian strife.

"Given the historic, cultural and religious importance of this shrine, this attack is a crime against humanity," the U.S. ambassador and the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said in a joint statement. "The Shrine should be rebuilt and the United States will contribute to its reconstruction."
So this is what it's come to. Ponder it for a moment. We are now in the mosque-rebuilding business in the Middle East, smack-dab in the middle of a civil war. (And yes, it is a civil war. For the past week, the phrases "on the brink" and "possibly leading to" have preceded that term. Those waiting for an American style stand-up fight with skirmish line battles a la Antietam will be waiting for a long time.) We are asking 20-year olds from Tulsa and Des Moines and Gary and Fresno to navigate hundreds of years of religious and ethnic hate and to sacrifice their feet, legs, hands, arms, eyes, and lives in the process. We asked them to remove Saddam and his regime, and they did that. We asked them to guard infrastructure, and they did that. We asked them to rebuild an entire nation's military from scratch, and they are doing it. We asked them to find WMD's, and they tried. Now, we're rebuilding mosques.

This is one of those "Toto Moments" when you realize how far from Kansas you've come, and you retrace the path in your mind wondering just how it happened. Soon, five years will have passed since 9/11. During those years, we've lost tens of thousands of troops to death and permanent injury by going "massive, things related and not, sweep it all up." We've spent hundreds of billions, with more to come. And after all of it, Bin Laden---as "marginalized" and "irrelevant" as ever---continues to urge attacks on oil facilities, the latest of which occurred this week at the crucial Abqaiq plant in Saudi Arabia.

And through it all we have a president who can only tell us to trust him because democracy takes time to develop and this is, after all, hard work. "Fret not, little a few hundred years the history books will call me a genius." No. Just as patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, citing history's inevitable judgment is the last resort of an incompetent. It's a feckless and faith-based approach to leadership, and it's a cop out.

No, we can't simply decamp and leave Iraq en masse right now. We've broken it, and we own it. And there's a danger in dwelling on the negative and lapsing into paralysis through pessimism. Certainly, constructive criticism and a glass half-full outlook is preferable to ranting for ranting's sake. But if skepticism heightens our vigilance and keeps us focused on who got us to the point at which we're pledging to rebuild mosques, then it's important---particularly as the same bunch compares Venezuela's president to Hitler, beats the war drums on Iran, and presumably sets up more Toto Moments to come.


Blogger Innes said...

I would take issue with only one thing you said. That we can't leave because we broke it and we own it. Not that I don't believe we own it, we do.

But I'm of the impression that our being there is only making things worse. I think Murtha was correct, we should move our troops out as quickly as possible.

Iraq is FUBAR to the max, and there's no good answer.

2/25/2006 3:37 PM  
Blogger mikevotes said...

You got it exactly.

But, I think the terminology is important, at least as how it is portrayed to the American people.

For years, Iraqi civil war has been presented as a distant worst case outcome, and if that becomes the story background, rather than the less inflammatory "sectarian violence," I think it will make that "Toto moment" have a much broader impact around the country.


2/25/2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger copy editor said...

I am very glad that you have posted on this.

This adminstration's stupidity is overwhelming. The Shiite will not accept one cent for the reconstruction of that shrine from the occupying power. They don't need our money for this -- Sunni groups have offerred to help, and if there is a budget crunch they'd settle for Sunnis over Americans.

But, how exactly is the American military supposed to operate in a red-hot 21st Century civil war without choosing a side?

2/25/2006 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, let's do rebuild mosques. To hell with New Orleans.

2/25/2006 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with only one thing you said, and that was that we created this mess and now we own it.

To hell with Iraq. Let's get out of there before we do any more damage by our presence. It's obviously not helping. In fact, it's contributing to the problem, and I don't want to see us sacrifice one more American life.

The incompetence of this Administration in stunning in its depth and breadth.

2/25/2006 7:12 PM  
Anonymous jay said...

"Go massive ... Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

If that's not enough grounds for IMPEACHMENT / War Crimes trial, I don't know what is.

Can somebody say 'smoking gun'?

2/25/2006 7:55 PM  
Blogger frank said...

Dude- You are going to want to check out this Jim Henley post:

It can’t be stressed enough: the Pentagon was aflame; there was smoke pouring from a hole in the Pennsylvania fields and the World Trade Center complex was belching its ghastly cloud, and already our rulers were thinking not, who is to blame? but what can we get away with? What will the still-bubbling fat of the murdered serve to cook?

2/25/2006 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No positive change is possible while Bush remains President. This has been clear since before 2004.
Impeach, or suffer 3 more years of unparalled disaster: that is the choice our nation faces.

2/25/2006 8:35 PM  
Anonymous Yellow Rose of Texas said...

To Anonymous 8:35 PM:

If we don't get rid of both of them, nothing will change.

2/25/2006 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure keep dwelling on the negative. Just like you liberals.

Yes, 224 Iraqis were killed in the violence this week. But 26,239,002 were NOT. That's the real point now isn't it.

I hope Bush points that out to the Amerikun people this Sunday in his radio address.

2/26/2006 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: its American NOT Amerika or Amerikun.

We are proud of OUR country. We have established rule of law.

2/26/2006 12:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your leads are f.r.e.e., your will experience free signups weekly.

2/26/2006 3:15 AM  
Anonymous Jeremy said...

To my knowledge you haven't built much at all in Iraqm as Rice testified last week electricity is still well below Saddam era levels. You didn't guard much infratsructure either and you haven't trained a single battallion. You are buil;ding four superbases though.

You have ruined a country few thought could be made worse though which is a considerable achievement.

2/26/2006 3:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing what we are witnessing here.

If you think back to the speeches from Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Rove, etc, they stoked our emotions rather than our intellect, talked about quick, painless, cheap, to go from Iraq and onward. The reason, the slogan, the propaganda changed to fit the latest polling data. Anyone that wanted to discuss costs, ramifications, culture, alternatives, number of troops, process, exits were personally attacked with a coordinated effort (even Generals and ambassadors stepping down).
Our President prefers to be in cocoon, wrapped in yes-people and croonies, having Rove and Cheney pave the path and he walks in for the sales job, and the rest of us don't matter.

But right now, it appears we keep doing the same thing, with the same people, expecting different results.

Let's be honest, the current culture of our politics has been escalating since the take over of both houses by Republicans, the attacks on Clinton, and the weird and corrupted election of 2000. Anyone that reads up on politics knows from 2000 onward things were changing, secrecy growing, all before 9/11, and may even have created an environment that allowed it to happen. We witnessed it with Katrina too; the lack of leadership - our President on vacation, hiring people like Michael Brown (the hiring of Brownies is normal personnel protocol), corruption, no coordination, insufficient resources. We are spending more on tearing down and rebuilding Iraq than we are on our own gulf coast. And all of it put together is deficit spending.

Preemptive permanent war? Most of us wanted justice for those responsible for 9/11, but our President takes us to war with Iraq, and now does a turnabout, and decides to give east cost port control to the UAE where we know hijackers came from and we know money was funneled through. UAE needs to take responsibility for its role in 9/11, since it created them, it funded them. What is the UAE doing to stop the civil war in Iraq? The UAE gave money to Bush Sr library, Neil Bush business, how about helping out with a few 100 billion to rebuild Iraq and our own Gulf cost [cost]

My biggest fear is that ordinary people have learned nothing, and we have entered into a terrible cycle of a corrupt government, radical fundamentalists, and uninvolved or uneducated populace.

Whether to use the C-word or not? Words, especially by this administration, mean very little. Watch what they do, and not what they say. How does it affect the world? I think the the world is smarter and already knows. How does it affect America? I think it is a good thing, because people will take it more serious, and may hold this administration accountable at least to do their job right and hopefully within the law. Is Rumsfeld really doing a hell'a of a good job, as Bush declares --- just like Michael Brown?

But mostly I think it shows a sign of weakness, our fear of that word. Be straight, be strong, be honest, and deal with the problems in the most effective manner. Lying and covering-up doesn't work in the long-term. It seems that this administration spends more time and money on marketing, than it does on actually doing things right. Actions speak louder than words (unless you are a swiftboater). I think Iraq is a template, as was Katrina, and so what does that mean for our future dealings with the world and our own country.

I just remember the first thing Bush said when asked, how is history likely to judge your Iraq war?" replied, "History, we don't know. We'll all be dead."


2/26/2006 1:36 PM  
Anonymous coal_train said...

Of course Bush is urging restraint for the Iraqis. We wouldn't want them to overreact to a terrorist attack by getting all emotional and going massive, things related and not, sweep it all up.

Rebuilding mosques? I smell another no-bid contract for Halliburton.

2/26/2006 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they could electroplate the Enron "E". That'd be symbolism for ya.

2/26/2006 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get ready for the new Al Jazeera reality show:


Secretarian groups compete in real life civil war. Winner takes all. Maybe.

2/26/2006 4:41 PM  
Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

Just because Bush is a complete moron, doesn't mean that history won't be kind to him. When F.D.R. died, H.L. Mencken said that he had no doubt that he would be revered after his death because he had all the attributes that morons admire in their heros. And so does Bush. Like Gen. Custer, he goes all out and doesn't veer from his course, no matter how self-destructive. And in the end, isn't that what the great unwashed worship? Consistency!

2/27/2006 6:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading Twilight in the Desert" and it is provides a background on the Middle East (ME) and the history of oil.

First, it boggles the mind how the neocons thought they could quickly and inexpensively change the ME given its tribal, volatile history; and then top the emotions over Israel and fundamental Islam. Wow. These folks are good at fighting; decades after decades after decades. It is hard not to think this war was not partly, if not entirely, about oil. If there is one thing Bush will fight for, it is the rights of corporations, especially oil corporations. [Why would Bush allow UAE to manage our ports, regardless of our National Security and connections with Al Qaeda? It is a corporation.]

I already knew from a 60 Minutes pgm that Saudi Arabia oil fields were in various states of disrepair, that the country has huge social problems, and exponential population growth. This book confirms that and more.

Most important, this book also brought to my attention that we are being mislead and do not know the state of oil reserves because of funny accounting and secrecy, both at a country level, as well at a corporation level (Highlighted in the 2004 Shell scandal). One thing we know, the world's oil supply is extremely mature, and demand is only going to increase dramatically if China and other countries take on our excessive consumptive appetite and waste for stuff, with no conservation or alternative energy.

3/02/2006 1:09 PM  
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