Friday, July 13, 2007

The Wise Men Cometh?

Revisiting some Halberstam:
In late March, Johnson summoned his Senior Advisory Group on Vietnam, a blue-chip Establishment group. These were the great names of the Cold War: McCloy, Acheson, Arthur Dean, Mac Bundy, Douglas Dillon, Robert Murphy. And over a period of two days they quietly let him know that the Establishment -- yes, Wall Street -- had turned on the war; it was hurting us more than it was helping us, it had all gotten out of hand, and it was time to bring it back to proportion. It was hurting the economy, dividing the country, turning the youth against the country's best traditions. Great universities, their universities, were being destroyed. It was time to turn it around, to restore some balance....and the switch in this group, which was saying in effect that the war had to be de-escalated, had a profound effect on the President....Events, and pressure, it was clear, were closing in. He was cornered now....He had in late March given particularly belligerent speeches, but now he was caught and he knew it. The Wise Men, as they were called, were telling him what the polls and the newspapers had told him; that the country had turned on the war.
Will the history books call the past week or so Bush's "Wise Men" moment? Maybe, though it feels a lot more like Wise Men Lite. It depends on what happens next, obviously. And it's important to note that LBJ's intervention took place in early 1968. If the Vietnam analogy holds -- and so far it has, in more ways than not -- then the past week might mark the end of the beginning as much as the beginning of the end, with some ugly twists and turns to come.

10 Comments:

Anonymous NeilS said...

Johnson and Bush may both have been from Texas, but aside from their knack for politics, they are very much different.

Also, Johnson did not have a VP like Cheney.

7/13/2007 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Lord said...

Bush won't rest until Al Quaeda is as strong as when he took office.

7/13/2007 3:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The NeoCons want the Middle East to be so bad they can nuke it. It's quite plain and simple.

7/14/2007 8:52 AM  
Blogger reality-based educator said...

A bit off topic, but The Politico reports that Ron Paul said on a radio show that we are in "great danger" of the U.S. gov't staging a terrorist attack or Gulf of Tonkin style provocation as the war in Iraq continues to deteriorate and support for both the Iraq war and Bush's WoT policies falls.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/thecrypt/0707/Ron_Paul_warns_of_staged_terror_attack.html

7/14/2007 9:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If the Vietnam analogy holds...some ugly twists and turns to come"

- so does Hillary have a Secret Plan to get us out of Iraq?

Bruce

7/14/2007 3:40 PM  
Anonymous howard said...

the big difference is this: johnson actually cared what other people think. he cared about doing a good job. he had a party that was willing to engage in vigorous debate.

compare that to bush, who could care less what anyone not named dick cheney thinks, who doesn't care about doing a good job, only about never admitting a mistake, and who (at least nominally) leads a party so authoritarian and thuggish in its congressional makeup that the idea of vigorous debate is an anathema to them.

in short, no, there are no "wise men" as far as bush is concerned. if there were, he'd have taken the hint from the ISG.

i realize that our host is not naive, but truly, anyone who, at this late date, thinks anyone can get through to bush and make him see sense is just engaged in self-deception.

there's a reason bush is widely recognized as the worst president in the 20th century, and perhaps in american history....

7/15/2007 1:47 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Hillary is already heading down that path...lately her message has been the ungrateful Iraqis have not taken advantage of our generous help and the Bush has been such a bad manager we have no choice but to start a withdrawal (allthough she really means draw down).

7/15/2007 8:50 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Bush is hardly the worst president. He isn't even close. Democrats hate him because he is belligerent and is a diplomatic nightmare. Whether he listens to people or not his policies are nearly identical to Johnson. War as a foreign policy and Welfare at home (medicare prescription drug benefit...crazy education policy). Guns and Butter. America was broke after Vietnam and had to leave the gold standard. This led to the rampant inflation of the late 70s that Carter got blamed for. We quit publishing M3 to hide our current inflation...though the world is starting to catch on...note the Canadian dollar and US dollar are almost equal now. Just because Bush is belligerent does'nt mean he is worse. And it is why I have no sympathy for the Democrats. They think it is fine to kill foreigners as long as you cry a few crocodile tears and let your friends get in on the action too. It may be a great way to keep the foreign press happy so European citizens don't hate you...but you probably wind up killing even more foreigners (mainly poor brown skinned ones) because you have more suppport! Clinton's Iraq embargo may have killed more people than Bush's war. Mainly old and young due to a lack of clean water and medical supplies. Clinton claimed it was because the chemicals involved had "dual use" potential. This was a lie. They didn't have dual use potential. Clinton's policy was designed to make life a living hell for Iraqi citizens so they would overthrow Saddam themselves. Instead it didn't work and it just killed a bunch of people. Madeline Allbright pratically admitted this was the policy to Leslie Stahl. Hell...It might even be better to have Bush as president because the US has less support in the world and this causes many in DC to worry and restrains their actions a bit(we haven't attacked Iran yet). It isn't Bush that is evil. It is our federal government that is evil and has way too much power in the world. And this is what motivates the terrorists.

That is what Ramzi Yousef meant when he said at his sentencing trial "You keep talking also about collective punishment and killing innocent people to force governments to change their policies; you call this terrorism when someone would kill innocent people or civilians in order to force the government to change its policies. Well, when you were the first one who invented this terrorism.

"You were the first one who killed innocent people, and you are the first one who introduced this type of terrorism to the history of mankind when you dropped an atomic bomb which killed tens of thousands of women and children in Japan and when you killed over a hundred thousand people, most of them civilians, in Tokyo with fire bombings. You killed them by burning them to death. And you killed civilians in Vietnam with chemicals as with the so-called Orange agent. You killed civilians and innocent people, not soldiers, innocent people every single war you went. You went to wars more than any other country in this century, and then you have the nerve to talk about killing innocent people.

"And now you have invented new ways to kill innocent people. You have so-called economic embargo which kills nobody other than children and elderly people, and which other than Iraq you have been placing the economic embargo on Cuba and other countries for over 35 years... "

Bush didn't start this!!! We have been doing this kind of thing for over a hundred years now.

7/15/2007 9:20 AM  
Anonymous howard said...

goldhorder, i don't really want to go massively off-topic here, and i stoop to no one in criticizing johnson in various ways (indeed, i say that bush brings together the worst of nixon, johnson, and harding), but the idea that johnson and bush were equally bad is insane.

when you demonstrate to me that johnson invented new theories of executive power, that he determined that the geneva conventions were old hat, that he authorized torture on a broad basis, that he authoried wiretapping on a broad basis, that he stole a planned payroll tax surplus to fund tax cuts for a highly limited number of households, that he maintained in his cabinet a bunch of liars and sycophants at the exclusion of professionalism, that he reached into the work of the "permanent government" and politicized it at every turn, and that he demonstrated no concern at all for the soldiers dying for his cause, then you've started to make your case.

and then when you've shown us how bush did anything as important as getting the civil rights and voting rights acts passed - even though they undercut his own party's political standing - you've finished making your case.

good luck with that.

7/15/2007 12:16 PM  
Anonymous rapier said...

You won't see any consensus from the Wall Street establishment now days about Iraq or anything political for that matter that doesn't relate directly with them. The fact is that there is no longer any 'establishment' on Wall Street. Back in those days the leading Wall Street firms were staffed by the sons of moneyed and political establishment. It was all quite gentlemanly leading to the moniker of White Shoe firms. Sure down on the trading floors and in the sales offices it was that same old competitive dog eat dog world but upstairs things were different.

By the early eighties Wall Street after a decade of carnage started to wise up. It started hiring lots and lots of super competitive non social register types. Coincident with the rise of the computer nerdy so called 'quants' began to invent new ways of making money with new products and the results were, and continue to be stupendous.

Nobody on Wall Street gives a rats ass about Iraq or the general trend of mis governance or the outright failure of government. That is all just a sideshow for them. Wall Street is making so much money, and in fact by a long shot they are making more now than ever before by several orders of magnitude, it's easy for them to conclude that things could not possibly be better in the country and the world.

There are no serious men from the money establishment to gather in the White House to deliver a sober message to the President. There is only one of their own, Mr. Paulson from Goldman Sachs at Treasury , $35 million earned in 05, who is watching out for their interests.

7/16/2007 8:05 AM  

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