Friday, April 21, 2006

Insightful Words from John W. Dean...

It's not often that I'll cut and paste a lengthy portion of someone else's essay, but below from former presidential counsel John Dean deserves a wide-reading. Read the essay in its entirety. I discovered it reproduced on "Common Dreams" from a FindLaw.com essay published today....

"As the 2006 midterm elections approach, this active/negative president can be expected to take further risks. If anyone doubts that Bush, Cheney, Rove and their confidants are planning an "October Surprise" to prevent the Republicans from losing control of Congress, then he or she has not been observing this presidency very closely.

"What will that surprise be? It's the most closely held secret of the Administration.

"How risky will it be? Bush is a whatever-it-takes risk-taker, the consequences be damned.
One possibility is that Dick Cheney will resign as Vice President for "health reasons," and become a senior counselor to the president. And Bush will name a new vice president - a choice geared to increase his popularity, as well as someone electable in 2008. It would give his sinking administration a new face, and new life.

"The immensely popular Rudy Giuliani seems the most likely pick, if Giuliani is willing. (A better option for Giuliani might be to hold off, and tacitly position himself as the Republican anti-Bush in 2008.) But Condoleezza Rice, John McCain, Bill Frist, and more are possibilities.

"Bush's second and more likely, surprise could be in the area of national security: If he could achieve a Great Powers coalition (of Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, and so on) presenting a united-front "no nukes" stance to Iran, it would be his first diplomatic coup and a political triumph.

"But more likely, Bush may mount a unilateral attack on Iran's nuclear facilities - hoping to rev up his popularity. (It's a risky strategy: A unilateral hit on Iran may both trigger devastating Iran-sponsored terrorist attacks in Iraq, with high death tolls, and increase international dislike of Bush for his bypass of the U.N. But as an active/negative President, Bush hardly shies away from risk.) Another rabbit-out-of-the-hat possibility: the capture of Osama bin Laden.

"If there is no "October Surprise," I would be shocked. And if it is not a high-risk undertaking, it would be a first. Without such a gambit, and the public always falls for them, Bush is going to lose control of Congress. Should that happen, his presidency will have effectively ended, and he will spend the last two years of it defending all the mistakes he has made during the first six, and covering up the errors of his ways.

"There is, however, the possibility of another terrorist attack, and if one occurred, Americans would again rally around the president - wrongly so, since this is a presidency that lives on fear-mongering about terror, but does little to truly address it. The possibility that we might both suffer an attack, and see a boost to Bush come from it, is truly a terrifying thought."

John W. Dean, a FindLaw columnist, is a former counsel to the president.
© 2006 FindLaw.com

Sunday, April 16, 2006

No Surprise At All...

From the New York Times, Editorial Section, 16 April 2006:

"Just the other day, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the House Judiciary Committee that the names of the lawyers who reviewed Mr. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program were a state secret."

Surely, all of this has crossed the threshold into folly, laughable disaster, psychotic disconnections from reality. Nothing about the current "war time" status of the United States surprises me anymore. And honestly, we should have expected all of this.


Let's look back, briefly:
The evening before he left the Oval Office, General Eisenhower addressed the nation and famously warned the world about the dangers of the then new but likely-to-grow Military-Industrial Complex. Eisenhower has been proved very right, everyone would concede.

And from Eisenhower, through Kennedy and Johnson and Nixon and Ford and Carter and Reagan we fought the Cold War and the Military-Industrial Complex grew and grew into a massive beast requiring enormous amounts of funding and infrastructure and legislative support.

Then, the Soviet Union collapsed under its own weight and the Cold War ended. The United States ascends to the status of single global superpower and all over the country people who make their living making war collectively asked: "What do we do now?"

Move forward in time to the nine o'clock hour on 11 September 2001 and their question became deliciously answered. Not only was that harrowing day the luckiest day in the life of George W. Bush, the aimless and brush-clearing dunce in the White House, but it was the luckiest day in the lives of C.E.O.s, engineers, designers, arms manufacturers, generals, congressman (whose districts include jeep plants, tank manufacturers, M.R.E. packagers, Humvee factories, uniform stitchers), executives at Halliburton, KBR, Boeing, Raytheon, General Electric, General Motors, well... the list goes on and on.

In a culture where "progress" is associated with "bigger, better, faster, stronger" ask yourself: What's the only sort of war that could exceed the Cold War? What could be more encompassing? What could surpass the reach of the Cold War and justify endless spending, endless fighting, a literally endless flow of money into the war machine? In other words, what's the only event that could trump the Cold War?

The War on Terror, of course!

Though the Bush Administration and others in power had the option to define the 9-11 event in many different ways, the single definition-reaction they selected was "cause for war." The benefits yielded by defining it that way were simply too attractive. What an opportunity!!

This "war-on-a-method" is a perfectly sculpted war, not one against a group of people or a nation or a cult, but one against a method, so that by definition practically any form of violence can be made to qualify.

It's not bounded by any geographical limits. Within the expansive Cold War, yes there was the Domino Theory and yes Senator Joe MacCarthy made a reputation by "outing" phantom communists, but in the War on Terror anyone anywhere can be a terrorist, even an American citizen arrested on American soil, whose civil rights can be signed away by the re-definition of "criminal" into "terrorist."

This bigger, better, perfect war is fueled by all the abstract forces needed to fuel it endlessly: religion, patriotism, fear, lifestyle, "civilization - vs - barbarism." The Oval Office can easily demonize the enemy and scare the hell out of the voting masses in one easy swoop.

Every expansion of governmental and presidential power can be justified by invoking the efforts to protect Americans from this war-on-method. Since the people in power who benefit from the re-definition of "threat" are the very people doing the re-defining, the problem remains perpetual and a solution remains impossible.

As the War on Terror goes, so goes the Military-Industrial Complex, which now can enjoy assurance of an unending life expectancy. Of course, American leadership would be very much supportive of the life-cycle of the terror war.

The problem isn't only a Bush problem, it's an American cultural one because we can be fooled into supporting any war as long as they tell us to feel fearful. Because we've structured our entire culture and economy around enormously profitable war-production. And while the Cold War lasted roughly four decades, my concern is that this war will last at least that many centuries, and will become an epoch or era in and of itself.

Wise Eisenhower. There's no stopping the monster, and the real monster is us.

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