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A Friend Writes In Response To My Last Post

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by Richard Stern

Who says Bush et al want to 'win their War on TERRORRRRR' or their war against Iraq? I think that they would prefer the latter to be at a lower level, just to justify the permanent US bases astride the oil supplies but not so intense as to give traction to the bleeding-heart liberals and the traitorous wing of the Protestant clergy. These wars or, in their Goebbels-speak, THE WAR, will keep them in power long enough to fill the Supreme Court with Thomases and Scalitos and to eliminate all legal restraint on their power to do whatever they want to whomever they want, whenever they want, and if you cry you will get worse! Things are getting worse daily. Who would think that we are all wondering whether or not the Supreme Court will allow stand the latest corrosive bill on detainees, the power of the President, and of anyone he delegates, to designate anyone (citizen or otherwise) an Enemy Combatant, and the gutting of habeas corpus. It is past time to offer calm analysis of the misconceptions of this gang. I think it is we who are subject to the misconception that they are just misguided.

This brilliant indictment supposes a macchiavellian intelligence in those who govern the country, an intelligence, which in view of the constant, if pitifully inadequate pressure of those who populate the media (lazy quibblers at White House briefings, professional ululators on the 24/7 cable channels), would involve a high-level conspiracy just south of treason. Some of the cast of this political melodrama has been set: the insouciant contempt of the vice president, the gray eminent secretiveness of Karl Rove, even the churlish, boyish passion of the president. "The best lack all conviction/The worst are full of passionate intensity" might be the epigraph of this drama. Not very American, not in this self-proclaimed culture of "transparency." And perhaps not all that realistic.

All right, back in the early '90s, Paul Wolfowitz, student of the international policy realist, Albert Wohlstetter, saw the possibility of destabilizing the totalitarian regimes which controlled the oil which controlled American industry, by setting up a democratic regime in Iraq. Over the years, he was able to persuade those who'd been stained by the essential failure of the Gulf war to empower his enterprise. One could make a good theoretic case for such a grand maneuver. But real realists know that the best laid plans of never-embattled mice "gang aft aglay." And we are now where we are, bleeding away in the desert while thousands around us die and millions around the globe hate us, as many of us hate that elected part of ourselves.

Others, like myself, a bit more--naïvely? stupidly?--trusting of elected authority, go along believing that slowly the error of our ways will be perceived and that the next election or two will pull us out of the drink before our slide into inglorious oblivion resembles that of Spain in the seventeenth century.

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