Clinton Steps Forward

Verthillaryclinton Senator Clinton held a press conference today on her resolves following the announcement of President’s new and improved strategy on Iraq.

Bottom Line:

She intends to introduce legislation that would:

– Freeze the number of US troops in Iraq to 132,000 while providing full funding for US forces there.

– Set up "penalties" for the Iraqi government in the form of cuts in money to support their armed forces if the Iraqis do not perform to uphold their "end" of the president’s new campaign plan.

– Require the president to secure Congressional approval before increasing the number of US troops in Iraq.

Senator Clinton understands that this legislation will not be enacted, but it is clear that it is her intention to "lay down a marker" on these issues, both for President Bush and herself.  She has also urged the Defense Department to increase the size of US forces in Afghanistan.  She was asked for this by commanders in Afghanistan.

At the same time, there are Senate resolutions "cooking" that:

– Would require the president to attain Congressional approval for troop increases in Iraq.

– Would require the president to get congressional approval before any armed action against Iran.


Pointless? No. No. No. Given the desperate situation in which President Bush finds himself, I find it likely that he will "double up" his "bets" in Iraq and/or Iran to retrieve his place in history.  Present surveys indicate that as things are now ’43 will go down in history as one of the worst of all American presidents.  I do not believe that GWB could possible accept this and, in that context, he will "bet the ranch" to try retrieve the situation.

If he does that after ignoring such proposed resolutions, it is arguable that a case for impeachment could be made.  pl

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68 Responses to Clinton Steps Forward

  1. Michael says:

    I find it interesting how the Democrats are handling this situation. One the one hand the further GWB drags the country, the larger the landslide in the next election – and yet the more damage they will ultimately inherit (and it goes without saying, the additional lives lost). Colonel Lang, what sort of odds would you place on Bush going INTO Iran? The pieces seem in place, but I just can’t see him actually pulling the trigger – that’s a big step.
    As always, thank you.

  2. ExBrit says:

    Col. Lang,
    What would be the point of impeachment? Cheney is in the wings. Is there no recourse in the Constitution to removing a president due to incompetence, illness, insanity, whatever, other than impeachment?

  3. Got A Watch says:

    Another great post Col.
    GWB’s legacy will live on long after he is gone.
    In America, the soldiers killed and wounded, and money and influence lost in fighting this pointless war will be what people remember.
    In Iraq and the wider world, the legacy will be more conflicts, deaths and destruction. The blowback looks to be multi-generational – very sad and troubling article on Iraq’s lost generation:
    “The Next Jihadists: Iraq’s Lost Children”
    Key quote “estimates that at least 1 million Iraqi kids have seen their lives damaged by the war…These children will come to believe in the principles of force and violence,” says Ali. “There’s no question that society as a whole is going to feel the effects in the future”—and not only Iraqi society. From the Middle East to Europe to America, violence may well beget violence around the world for years to come.”
    Impeachment won’t fix this (though it sounds like a great idea) – Bushies, the gift that keeps on giving.
    Sen. Clinton has completed a year of sniffing the wind, determined with able assistance from a thousand operatives, pollsters, strategists and flunkies which way it is blowing, and is now ready to make a nuanced stance totally aligned with the latest public opinion polls. It’s probably pure coincidence that this time her position might accomplish something useful in the real world. What’s the Obama Plan?

  4. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I believe it is time to entertain the idea of amending the constitution so that no individual could become president without passing an I.Q. test (with the minimum result on the upper end of the spectrum).
    Additionally, I think a basic test in U.S. history and civic awareness should be required of any presidential candidates.
    That would, of course, have precluded the “decider” from every having attained power in this country.

  5. PSD says:

    If nothing else, Clinton’s plan is one way to stop Bush and his friends from saying that the Dems have no plans to put forward re: the war in Iraq. Dems have plans for Iraq all right–George just doesn’t like (or understand) them.
    So, Col., what do you think are the chances of impeachment actually happening?

  6. Charles says:

    Ok, impeach Bush. President Cheney, or President Pelosi, inspire any confidence, anyone? Besides, isn’t there a signing statement on the Constitution: “No force or effect until further. . .” ahhh “No force or Effect”. Period. Wasn’t it announced that notices to that effect are in the mail, and will be delivered after opening, just to be sure?
    And re: more troops for Afghanistan, well as a Canadian, I’d be all for it, except that the rest of Nato won’t fight, and there’s no more U.S. troops to send, unless maybe there’s more Peshmergas to surge through that pipedream , er, pipeline too. Not to mention the niggling detail that Afghanistan seems pretty well irredeemable, let alone penetrable, by outside forces. Or that Pakistan will always hedge its bets and protect its assets.
    Then there’s the “War on Drugs” (ffffphtt – derisive farting noise here). Fought to keep the drugs coming, the peasants rebelling, the armies fighting, and hundreds of billions annually washing through the underground and enforcement empires to flow through the global economy for SOMEBODY’S benefit. Pretty obvious that’s not going to stop.
    Why wasn’t Bush impeached for the originally reported diversion of $700M of Afghan appropriations to the Iraq invasion fantasy? Or for the bungled(?) contracting out of the Bin Laden “hunt” in Tora Bora?
    Now we hear Condi’s helpful suggestion that a “temporary Palestinian state” be established on the bits left over outside the Israeli “security fence”. Chief Wiggum comes and suggests that you camp out in the garage (oops, sorry, that was shelled by computer error), suggests that you camp out in your own yard behind the barricades that your home invaders have pitched, until we work things out permanently for you. Just so long as things don’t work out according to international law, the U.N, or the 2002 Saudi offer.
    We are so far through the looking glass that sometimes I wonder what the Mayans knew when they ended their calendar in 2112. Waiting to impeach Bush until after another go at Iraq and Iran will be as efficacious as “expressing strong disapproval” of the latest provocative Israeli crime without truly punitive action. Always a day late and billions short of stated intentions – but that’s the intent isn’t it?
    And then there’s a presidential election coming, and heaven knows that’s a hardly a forum for sober second thoughts. Be a good time for an Operation Northwoods though. I don’t think the United States has what it takes to restore itself to a constitutional democracy amidst war and elections. And those are pretty well permanent conditions for the foreseeable future, even if permanent GOP government is not.

  7. lina says:

    I’m not sure ignoring resolutions constitutes high crimes and misdemeanors. The only way they’re going to stop him is in the appropriations process, and that will take a while. He could do his worst damage before that happens.

  8. meletius says:

    The constitution does not prohibit joint impeachments, so Bush and Cheney could be impeached simultaneously.
    Don’t get too concerned over what constitutes a high crime and misdemeanor—we’ve got a barge-load to choose from, and attacking and starting a war with Iran without prior Congressional approval (a violation of the constitution and the proposed joint resolution) would just get thrown onto the already enormous heap of existing lawbreaking, misrepresentation and malfeasance in office.
    Bush’s historical designation as worst president ever is already assured, whatever desperate measures he might elect to undertake from here on out.

  9. Peter Principle says:

    “If [Bush] does that [bomb Iran] after ignoring such proposed resolutions, it is arguable that a case for impeachment could be made.”
    But of course, at that point the United States would be in the middle of a hot war (very hot, probably) with Iran, Centcom would probably be fighting to keep the supply lines open to Baghdad, the Shi’a regions of Saudi Arabia (which is to say, the world’s biggest oil patch)could be in flames — you get the picture.
    Not exactly the best time to depose a sitting president and put Dick Cheney — who’s even more out to lunch than Bush — in the driver’s seat.
    You go to war with the president you have, not the president you would like to have.

  10. ked says:

    “I do not believe that GWB could possible accept this…”
    Col Lang, you are correct in your observation, but perhaps not your conclusion – Bush is so dissociated from the reality-based community (by his handlers, sycophants & mostly, of course, by his own powers of self-delusion) that his public standing merely confirms for him that he is right(eous). His feedback loop is badly skewed – and the nation is greatly screwed.

  11. robt willmann says:

    Perhaps the above post should be entitled, “Clinton Steps Forward . . . After
    Everybody Else Does.”
    Desperate to cover up her prior vociferous warmongering, yet maintain her and her
    benefactors’ goals in the gangster foreign policy, Hillary Clinton serves up
    pablum for the masses and, as I have noted before, Iraqi “Prime Minister” al-Maliki
    is given a fish wrapped in newspaper.
    From the assertion that Sen. Clinton intends to “lay down a marker” on these issues, I respectfully dissent.
    The distillation of her three points shows an internal contradiction and legal nonsense. Or nonlegal nonsense, it might be called.
    Since “the plan” by the
    unAmerican Enterprise Institute (AEI), retired Gen. Jack Keane, and now the White House requires more troops, along with Iraqi participation, then if the added troops aren’t provided, it will be even harder for the “sovereign” Iraqi government to uphold its part of the plan.
    If penalties in the form of withholding money are going to be set up if the “sovereign” Iraqi government does not hold up its end of the occupier’s new plan for securing the Iraqi population, then the so-called Iraqi government will be less able to help with “the plan,” since its troops are supposed to take the lead in clearing and holding Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi, and so forth, and that will take money.
    And now a law is going to be proposed requiring Congressional approval before increasing the number of U.S. troops in Iraq?
    Leaving the constitution to the side for a moment, by what legal authorization did the U.S. military invade the previously sovereign country of Iraq? It is Public Law 107-243, entitled “Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.”
    I am not saying that the text of the “authorization for use of military force,” as opposed to a “declaration of war,” is constitutional, but reading the whole thing is very useful.
    Section 3(a) is the money quote, and for a few persons and companies, it was and is literally that:
    “AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq.”
    Read that language again.
    Section 3(a)(1) did not apply at the start, and still does not apply, because Iraq was not and is not a threat, much less a continuing threat, to the national security of the U.S.
    Section 3(a)(2) lets the president use the U.S. military “as he determines to be necessary” to enforce all un-named and un-numbered, yet “relevant,” U.N. Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq, existing, we would think, on October 12, 2002.
    That’s all that was authorized, folks. Nada mas. Nothing more.
    Thinking of all the unnecessary death, maiming, and grief of Americans and Iraqis, and waste of money, that the few words of the “authorization” have caused, can lead you to go to a private place and weep.
    Mrs. Clinton, who happily voted for the so-called authorization to use force, is not calling for a withdrawal of any soldiers, or closing any bases, or prohibiting permanent military bases there, or withdrawing the proposed law in Iraq to allow U.S. (and probably British and Israeli) oil companies to control Iraq’s oil, or using Congress’ clear power of the purse to shut down funding for the war. Even though the terms of Public Law 107-243 were satisfied long ago.
    And “Prime Minister” al-Maliki is getting the same treatment given to Slobodan Milosovic, Saddam, and Iran: you make them an offer they have to refuse. He is being told he has to help blast away at some of his own people in Baghdad, Ramadi, and Fallujah (again). Or else.
    Hillary Clinton is fully on board with the gangster foreign policy being shoved on the Middle East. Any disagreement she has will be on the methodology, not the goals.
    And are Mrs. Clinton and the Democrats working up a subtle, sophisticated plan to set up Bush jr. and Cheney for impeachment with these positions having the force and consistency of jello?
    Think for a minute. Did the Democrats do something when the White House demanded that Congress NOT investigate the murder of over 2,500 people on September 11, 2001? Did they vote against the Anti-Patriot Act and its renewal and expansion? Did they vote against the Homeland Security Act of 2003, which established for the first time in the history of this country a secret, internal security apparatus? Did they oppose the authorization for use of force against Iraq? Did they vote for the massive amount of money feeding these wars? Did they vote for raising the federal debt ceiling, which helps fund the wars, and which now is near $9 trillion dollars?
    There are legal reasons why the behavior of some persons in the executive branch on and not long after September 11, 2001 justified articles of impeachment back then. And the list of impeachable conduct keeps growing, about domestic and foreign matters.
    This compromised and cowardly Congress will not impeach and remove Bush jr., Cheney, and others for their gangster foreign policy and domestic misconduct. After all, Congress voted for most of the problems which plague us. Impeachment will happen only if the policies are bungled so badly that the goals in the Middle East and here at home might be in jeopardy.

  12. Peter Eggenberger says:

    Berliners used to compare Hitler to a mad bus driver, and the Germans to passengers stuck in his bus. Nothing can stop the driver as he hurtles through the streets, bumping into cars and buildings until a final, destructive crash. The passengers aren’t completely innocent, of course.

  13. Leila says:

    Didn’t William S. Lind write a sort of blog post a clef about being called to the White House to hear the Prez discuss his great gamble?
    I mean, this was presented as “in a parallel universe” but it sounds like he was speaking of something that really happened, but making it “fictional.” Anyway, if you haven’t read it, it’s germane to this discussion.
    Perhaps it is total speculation and he is only writing about what would have happened had he been called to the White House for such a discussion. I dunno. It does look like W is going for the big gamble and Lind thinks it’s a sure loser.

  14. ali says:

    Don’t you need a 2/3s majority to impeach a President? This would be a bit tricky as most of those roosting in Congress have either been cheerleading for the neocon cause or have meekly sat on their sweaty hands until very recently. La Clinton was not even one of the latter.
    A cap on forces isn’t a line in the sand, it is feeble posturing. She’s found a chink here though. Talking up the idea that those brigades are needed in Afghanistan and demanding they be sent were they might do some good is not only smarter politics but militarily accurate. Highlight that we are losing in Afghanistan because of the foolishness in Iraq. Even Rove will find it hard to swift boat his way round that.

  15. pbrownlee says:

    The “well, where’s your plan?” gambit seems a bit thin when the latest KoolAid version of reality (as shown in the Great Leader and Teacher’s astounding interview with Jim Lehrer) is so warped:
    “The administration has continued to offer inaccurate information to Congress, the American people and sometimes to itself. The Iraq Study Group, in its December report, concluded, for example, that the U.S. military was systematically underreporting the violence in Iraq in an effort to disguise policy failings. The group recommended that the military change its reporting system.
    “Whether many of the administration’s statements about Iraq for nearly five years have been deliberately misleading or honest but gullible mistakes hasn’t been determined. The Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to complete an investigation into the issue that was begun but stalled when Republicans controlled the committee.
    “Frustration over the accuracy of administration statements on Iraq boiled over during Rice’s testimony at the recent Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
    “Madam Secretary,’ said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., ‘I have supported you and the administration on the war, and I cannot continue to support the administration’s position. I have not been told the truth over and over again by administration witnesses, and the American people have not been told the truth.”
    Incidentally, I have often found quite bright people perfectly capable of doing very stupid things; this may be more about character, checks and balances, proper scrutiny and accountability than it is about formal, IQ-measurable intelligence.

  16. confusedponderer says:

    I read an interview with the psychiatrist who wrote ‘Bush on the Couch’, Justin A. Frank.
    He’s making a good argument for Cheney in favour of Bush on the topic of impeachment:
    “BuzzFlash: But then we have Cheney.
    Justin A. Frank, M.D.: The way the Republicans did it in ’73 was, they got rid of Agnew first, and they made sure that the person who would be the Vice President would be somebody who would be acceptable to both sides of the aisle. Maybe they should threaten to impeach Cheney first or something, and make Bush appoint somebody else. I’d rather have Cheney than Bush.
    BuzzFlash: Why is that? Many people would disagree with you.
    Justin A. Frank, M.D.: A lot of people would disagree with me. I really think that Bush is not competent to be President. He is unconsciously destructive. He is out of touch with his cruelty. He is unable to think clearly when presented with new information. He cannot do it. He cannot read. He cannot pay attention to the Baker-Hamilton Report. He never looked at that report. He looked at the opening title, about a new way forward or something, and that’s what he’s been using as his slogan now. He is not able to process information.
    I think Cheney, as much as he is malevolent and destructive and greedy and self-interested as an oil executive and wants absolute power, he’s out front about it. I think that he would have to negotiate in a way that’s different because he can’t not think, whereas Bush doesn’t think.
    BuzzFlash: It would certainly bring Cheney out of the shadows and make him accountable. Is that what you’re saying?
    Justin A. Frank, M.D.: Yes.”

  17. Paul Lyon says:

    “I do not believe that GWB could possible accept this and, in that context, he will “bet the ranch” to try retrieve the situation.”
    You may be right about what Bush is planning, but if there were any doubts anywhere about his being the worst Prez since at least Warren Harding, an attack on Iran will certainly erase them.

  18. taters says:

    Impeachment may the card that’s forced to be played. Excellent, Col. Lang – with the unique insight that you bring. I recall that Sen. Clinton is an excellent lawyer.

  19. bh says:

    While I welcome Sen. Clinton’s recent conversion, her criticism of Bush’s current plan indicates that she is still on the wrong track. She described Bush’s plan as a “losing” plan.
    If you are still talking about winning and losing, you still don’t understand what is going on in Iraq. Bush is not critical of his Senate critics because they don’t have an alternative plan. He said they should provide an alternative plan “for victory.”
    As long as Sen. Clinton is still talking about “losing,” she is still within the Bush strategic framework.
    A reality based plan must start with accepting that Bush has already lost.
    Sen. Kennedy said in an interview last week that Bush has already exceeded Congress’s authorization in Iraq, which only allowed military action to stop Iraqi aggression and end development of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Those goals have been met, so Bush has already exceeded the authority given him by Congress in 2003. Bush and the neo-cons further defined their strategic objective as “establishing a free and democratic” Iraq. That objective has failed and Bush does not want to acknowledge defeat by withdrawing from the field.
    Thus, the situation is already different from the perspective of Congress. Congress has met the strategic goals of its original war authorization. Congress has “won” the war it authorized, but Bush lost his war.
    I agree with Lina that Bush’s violation of new resolutions would not amount to impeachable offenses. I would submit, however, that Bush’s prosecution of the war at least since 2004 has been direct violation of Congress’s original war authorization. That violation is a much more serious matter.

  20. Antifa says:

    Why do people discuss impeachment in terms of what is allowable or not allowable, proper procedure or not proper?
    Impeachment of a sitting President is a matter of getting sufficient votes, that’s all. If enough Senators and Congresspersons vote to impeach, the President is impeached. It’s a political act, not a judicial one.
    The LAST detail to put in place, on the afternoon of the impeachment vote, is which particular high crime or misdemeanor to put atop the impeachment order. It’s an afterthought to the pure political act of voting the President out of his office.

  21. JFM says:

    Hilary, now an advocate for the troops and sage expert on national security policy? Yeah, and I’m Batman! I shake my bony head at the parading legions of grousing Congressional members who don’t know a wall locker from a lister bag but are willing to assume the mantle of Sun Tsu. Expecting Congress to galvanize and take definitive action to block further Administration idiocy almost requires one to believe also in the tooth fairy. Despite continued mutterings of bipartismship by all, Congress remains the Muppet show…most doing their own thing with the attempted appearance of working together. No, this travail will continue lurching along toward the national elections well over the horizon. Certainly mention must be made of the inane premature media coverage of proposed Presidential candidates which only stokes the useless speculative fires of what’s to come.
    Here the best advice is probably to heed again the encouragement of the old drill sergeant of many years ago, “take two salt tablets and keep moving.” Little relief is to come from within the Beltway.

  22. John says:

    David E. Solomon said:
    I believe it is time to entertain the idea of amending the constitution so that no individual could become president without passing an I.Q. test (with the minimum result on the upper end of the spectrum).
    Personally, I would rather do what a lot of businesses do in the US for high level positions and what is a generally accepted practice in Europe for top executives. Make all people who are interested in running for political office take various personality tests. These tests identify various psychopathic and personality disorder problems. The results of the tests should then be published for everyone to see.
    It should also be noted that such testing was also performed in the US on all nuclear missle crews. If you are going to test the peons should you not test the guy who could actually push the button.
    I have a very bad feeling that we have not seen anything yet. GWB shows many signs of a psychopath. Lack of remorse, manipulative, various antisocial behaviors (he was a alcoholic among other things) and anger when confronted with things he does not want to hear. There is also the issue where he appears to think he is smarter than anyone else. All signs of a personality disorder.

  23. Mo says:

    Nothing but a marker laid down for her upcoming declaration to run for the Presidency, trying to pander to both left and right (such as left and right is in US politics!).
    Nevertheless, for someone who is considered, outside the US at least, as an intrinsic part of the AIPAC/Friends of Israel group in Congress, I was still surprised to see her include caveats to any attack on Iran.

  24. arbogast says:


  25. John Howley says:

    I agree with the Col. here.
    The first step is a good, solid vote for a “toothless” resolution condemning Bush escalation. After six years asleep, Congress needs to crawl before it can walk. Republicans need to learn they can vote against Bush without being struck by lightning.
    Even the toothless resolution will be a final blow to Bush Administration credibility abroad. His calls will be returned more slowly if at all. Talking to Condi — what a waste of time.
    Further, it sends a signal to the U.S. armed forces that the Commander in Chief no longer has the support of the people’s elected representatives. While the “chain of command” remains in place to be sure, is it still quite so taut? Col Lang and others could comment on this more usefully than me.
    Blair, Olmert and Bush — all three are collapsing together.
    Impeachment? Must force Cheney resignation first. What about that old Halliburton bribery case…Nigeria, wasn’t it?
    None of which eliminates the short-term risks in the Gulf region.

  26. mlaw230 says:

    High crimes and misdemeanors are whatever Congress says they are.
    The question would come down to a war powers argument, i.e. whether he usurped Congress’ role of declaring war by instigating a war against its express prohibition.
    The problem is that the Administration has very little credibility left with anyone, friend or foe. Credibility is the life blood of diplomacy. So our potential enemies do not fully believe the President can follow through with his threats and our friends do not trust him enough to join in with his efforts.
    The best we can hope for, absent impeachment or resignation, is a holding pattern for the balance of his term.

  27. Duncan C. Kinder says:

    Beyond question, the Iraq War is now substantially lost, and the major questions now are:

    1. How do we get out?
    2. What sort of fallback position can we then establish?

    Let’s not delude ourselves. Our situation is that of Athens post-Syracuse or of Napoleonic France post-Moscow. If the Iraqis did not shower us with flowers in 2003, they most certainly will not do so now. Our military has been mishandled, our resources spent, our enemies strengthened, and our friends betrayed. None of the problems posed by 9/11 have been solved; they appear instead to have been aggravated.
    Still, serious thought must now turn to figuring out how to mitigate the likely damages that are apt to ensue from the Iraq venture.

  28. James Pratt says:

    The real question in Congress is how many Republican senators are willing to oppose the President on all votes for escalation or its limitation.
    Right now he has a 51-50 majority, counting the ever ‘non-partisan’ Sen Lieberman and the Vice President’s tie breaker vote. It would be courting impeachment for him to use subterfuge and creative accounting to bypass a funding limit, but I’m sure that’s what he would do.
    The real question in Iraq is whether the determined US effort to separate the Kurds and SCIRI from Iran this month is going to have any blowback. There are those two neo-con fantasies about Iran that Bush and Cheney may choose to believe, that Iran is deliberately arming the Sunni insurgency and that bombing attacks on Iran will topple the government there. If that happens I suppose the worst that could happen is that Imam al-Sadr begins a guerrilla war against the US instead of staying with bloody and futile gestures of defiance. I wonder if there are any Iranian short range missiles cached in Iraq?

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Duncan C. Kinder:
    The answer to your questions:
    1. By boat
    2. None

  30. FB says:

    Re John’s post on Bush’s mental state as a factor in the current debacle.
    This article is worth reading. It is by a couple of psychiatrists who think his badly damaged psyche is a prime cause of the terrible decision-making he has undertaken (and not the general supposition that he is an idiot manipulated by the evil ones):

  31. Walrus says:

    Lets look again at the actors.
    Forget about Hilary Clinton. She is owned by AIPAC and is treading a very delicate line. She is being deliberately ineffectual, as are most of the democrats concerned about remaining “A friend of Israel”. Why do you think AIPAC are going after Jimmy Carter?
    Forget about IQ tests for Presidential candidates, some psychopaths like Bush and narcissists like Hilary may score very well on them.
    Forget about impeachment, at least for the present. Bush is surrounded by a carefully constructed wall of “plausible deniability” I do not believe you will be able to find a level of Nixonian dishonesty in his behaviour, at least without a major whistleblower surfacing, and being stupid and wilful doesn’t count as “High crime”.
    Lets get back to basics and analyse the situation in terms of the fears of the actors.
    1. The military/industrial complex is afraid of losing control of oil resources. Its also deathly afraid of peace breaking out and a “peace dividend” in the from of reduced military spending being required. Cheney is its creature.
    2. Israel is afraid of having to negotiate over the Palestinian problem with prosperous and relatively strong Muslim countries. It finds it more comfortable to be an island of stability in an ocean of muslim disorganisation, chaos and corruption. They remain fearful of Iran.
    3. Bush is a twisted excuse for a man who is still mentally a child competing with his father. He is not his own man. He is not whole. He has inner demons. There is probably an untranslatable German word for his condition, for it was recognised by Adler, Jung and Freud. He is now extremely fearful of “losing” the final competition with his father by “losing” in Iraq. Such a loss would be psychological death for him. He would literaly cease to function.
    4. Iran’s government is fearful of change and its peoples deciding that western values offer more hope of a better life than the rigid theocratic values being forced on them.
    5. The rest of the gulf states are fearful of Iran’s growing strength and status.
    6. The American people are not afaid of anything at the moment because, informed by a sloppy or complaisant media, they have no idea what could befall them.
    7. The rest of the world watches this house of cards with disbelief.
    Now my personal observations which I hope will prove wildly off the mark.
    Bush will do literally anything not to lose, for losing is death to him.
    All Iran has to do to “win” is to see the U.S. leave Iraq with its nuclear program remaining intact, thus making it effectively the arbiter of the region.
    Israel wishes to see Iran’s nuclear and military capability reduced to rubble. I believe the rest of the gulf states wouldn’t mind this either.
    The military/industrial complex would like to see another fifty years of extreme military expenditure.
    I therefore believe that all the main actors wish to see Iran attacked. Iran has no reason to accommodate us in any way, since an attack would in some ways strengthen its government and institutions.
    For Bush, war with Iran would, in the words of one blogger, reduce Iraq to a sideshow, a preliminary skirmish in the GWOT, that could thankfully be swept under the carpet.
    The tried and true method of procuring an American attack on Iran is for there to be an Iranian attack (real or false) on U.S. assets.
    The “surge” is designed to provoke Iran if possible, I do not believe it will remove the militias from Baghdad.
    Things are going to get much, much, worse before they can possibly get better.

  32. Will says:

    It’s my understanding that Ms. Rodham is the one that insisted her husband bomb Serbia. She doesn’t get my vote for anything.
    I got a kneejerk email today saying “did you know Obama was born a Muslim, had a fanatical Muslim stepdad, went to a madrassah, & is just pretending to be a Christian.” One of those redhot alerts.
    I replied
    “More fortuanate are those that accept Christ willingly and choose him actively than those that are born blindly to the faith and do not truly understand it. ”

  33. Tupharsin says:

    Slightly off topic, but hey, I’m on the other side of the Atlantic!
    Breaking news (news because the very airing of the thing is another indication that the “tectonic plates” are shifting):
    Wonderful drama on Brit television tonight called The Trial of Tony Blair. It’s about how “the [post Blair/post Bush] world has changed”. And how in those changed circumstances Blair gets Pinochet’d. Or to put it more politely, dropped in the shit. I.E., his upcoming date with a War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague. A consummation devoutly to be desired.
    Best line in the thing is new Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s, “This is a man who thinks he’s on a mission to save the world when all he does is start wars.”

  34. Chris Marlowe says:

    Watching this administration’s Iraq policy fall apart is like watching some of the American Idol contestants. Seriously, why not get those rejects to come up with a coherent Iraq foreign policy; at least it would be entertaining…
    Now, al-Maliki is complaining that the US did not give him equipment for his own army:
    But of course the Bush administration could not give them equipment; otherwise how could it fork over billions of dollars to the “private defense contractors” which fund the Republican party and the Christian fundamentalist movement?
    We have spent $300-450B in Iraq, and the Iraqis we support don’t have any equipment! Go figure…
    The legalistic discussion is very amusing. When you get an administration like this, which has violated the law in numerous ways, is getting ready for expanding war against Iran, and you want to fight them with the constitution and impeachment?
    Get real!
    That’s like Germans in May 1941 saying that they were going to impeach a certain little guy with a funny mustache who said that he was going to kill Jews because he was planning on invading the Soviet Union.
    In other words, you do not impeach when he violates the law; you impeach him when you see that he is going to lose and take the country down the toilet with him!
    Sorry, too late!
    I’m sure that Bush/Cheney are cringing under their beds…
    If there is a good outcome, it will be that the neocon movement will be destroyed by their own policies. But a lot of other innocents have already been killed, and it is all because Americans have been complacent in their tolerance for a group of idiot sociopaths as their elected leaders.

  35. taters says:

    Slightly off topic -did anyone read Baghdad or Bust from this week’s The Economist? I had to send them an email, it was so bad. The piece made it seem that the only option was the Decider’s and lamented that neither congress or theAmerican couldnot My letter to the ed recommended a reading of Col. Lang’s

  36. taters says:

    Slightly off topic – did anyone read “Baghdad or Bust” editorial from this week’s The Economist? I had to send them an email, it was so bad. The piece made it seem that the only option was the Decider’s surge and lamented that neither the Dem congress or the American people truly understood the gravity. Hell, maybe Kagan wrote it. My late night letter to the ed (I couldn’t sleep after I read it ) recommended a reading of Col. Lang’s “Concert of the Greater Middle East”. Pleasepardon the indulgence, I’ll share it with you,I should have edited it first..
    Dear Sir,
    I must respectfully disagree with the opinion piece, “Baghdad or Bust” and it brings to mind an excerpt from T.E. Lawrence’s “A Report on Mesopotamia” – dated Aug. 22, 1920, addressed to the Sunday Times.
    The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honour. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are to-day not far from a disaster.
    The Op/Ed piece seems to suggest that there are no other options than the Bush surge and the Iraq Study Group report. Iraq is no more Iraq now than Lebanon is Lebanon. It is no longer a reality. James Baker asking people in the region “What can you boys do for us?’ is not diplomacy, that might be how a Texas oil deal is conducted perhaps, to paraphrase Ret. General Wesley Clark.
    The piece itself laments the current the state of affairs in Iraq and then states that Pres. Bush has the only solution – the surge. It possesses a curious detachment – as if this man and his administration had nothing to do with the dismantling of this relatively young country ( I speak of Iraq, not Mesopotamia ) and possibly inflaming the entire region, which is partitioning itself as we speak. This appears to be a talking point straight from the neocon wing of the American Enterprise Institute. Where, by the way Frederick Kagan, author of the ‘surge’ – is a resident scholar.) As an American, I watched helplessly in the lead up to this war, as the few that did stand up, were called hopelessly confused, cowards, appeasers, traitors and even anti Semites.Some of those so targeted were decorated combat veterans who had been grievously wounded in the jungles of Vietnam.
    There are other possibilities offered by other Americans which include real diplomacy, something this administration has sorely lacked. I would like to call attention to a brilliant article by Col.Patrick Lang, ( USA, ret.,and former Intel chief for the ME, DIA ) in The National Interest entitled “A Concert of the Greater Middle East” ….
    In my circles, I know of no fellow Americans who want to pull out of Iraq immediately or who wish failure in the region. The images of helicopters on rooftops in Saigon are still fresh in our country’s memory and we seek a better ending for Iraq. However,we need our best and brightest minds to accomplish this, and they are not in this administration. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to express my views.
    Robert M. Murray
    Detroit, MI USA

  37. David E. Solomon says:

    Wouldn’t that be wonderful…
    Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Frum, and the whole pack of NeoCons on trial in the Hague.
    Maybe we could even throw in Kissinger for good measure….
    I love it!!!
    I might even begin to consider forgiving Gerald Ford for the much debated pardon.
    Unfortunately, it will never happen.
    But “Hope Springs Eternal”.
    P.S. It might even be time to consider the culpability of Powell (the man “who knew that Iraq possessed WMD’s). And while we are at it, how about Negroponte?

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nixon was a brilliant strategist – he had a very deep understanding of the real world – regardless of his other well-known faults.
    On the subject of pssible war between US and Iran; I just do not see that.
    What I see is that the President of the United States has given up on Iran, Iraq, and Palestine-Israel. He is only trying to keep things going until he can pass the batton on to the next president.
    There is no time left for this President to accomplish much either internally or externally – FDR he is not. For the Col. Lang’s idea of the Concert of the Middle East we are talking of months of preparatory work; for example.
    Better luck with the Giuiliani Administration.

  39. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Walrus @ 5:46 PM
    I am afeared that your personal observations may prove to be all too realistic and on the mark. In the category of provocative actions aimed against Iran one might include the raid against their soon-to-be-formal consulate in Iraqi Kurdistan. We certainly don’t know all of the rationale for this action, but it appears to be not only highly provocative towards Iran, but also a severe embarassment to the Kurds. Kurdish security forces were pushed aside to gain access to the facility for starts, and it was a slap at the supposed sovereignty of the Kurds if, as appears to be the case, the raid was staged with no prior notifications given to the Kurdish political authorities. View things from the Kurds’ point of view if you will: 1) They have little reason to truly trust the US after the horrifying betrayal at the end of the First Gulf War; 2) They can see that our days as their “protectors” (for what that has been proven to be worth) may be limited; 3) They stand in need of regional friends who may help them in countering the hostilities of the Turks and the Arabs of which they must constantly be mindful, and the Iranians may be useful in this role; 4) There are significant Kurdish populations in both Iran and in Syria (with which Iran has influence) who also require tolerance and protection; 5) The Iranians, although Sh’ia as opposed to the mostly Sunni Kurds, are also Indo-European peoples with more cultural affinities with the Kurds than the Turkic and Arab peoples; 6) In any kind of free-for-all in the near future, the Turks might take advantage of the chaos to whack the nascent Kurdish state in northern Iraq in order to discourage any foolish ideas that their own “mountain Turks” (i.e., Turkish Kurds) might have of uniting with the Iraqi Kurds. Under these circumstances, the Kurds would have to be fools not to be cultivating the Iranians as a potentially friendly regional power, and fools they are not. The Iranians could find them useful through both providing them with a march on their border insulating them from Turkey, and as a source of intelligence to augment their own. Make no mistake, Central Asia is in play. The Turks still seem fascinated with Pan-Turkism in some form, and this project may be viewed as threatening to the Iranians. The Turks may just decide that getting membership in the European Union will remain an unattainable goal and decide to go adventuring amongst the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. Outlet for the region’s energy resources through the intermediation of the Turks might suit them just fine. It would also provide an interesting alternative for the Europeans as a counterpoise to the worrisome reliability of the Russians as their major energy suppliers. Keyser Sozay (sp?) lives.

  40. priscianus jr says:

    That’s a very keen analysis, except for
    “6. The American people are not afaid of anything at the moment because, informed by a sloppy or complaisant media, they have no idea what could befall them.”
    I agree the American people are woefully uninformed by the media, but when 71% say they do not like the way the war is being handled, when the ‘surge’ idea has gone up like a lead balloon, when the American people have just done the impossible and turned a Republican-controlled congress into a Democratic-controlled congress — all evidence, BTW, is that the Repugs DID rig this election, they just didn’t rig it ENOUGH — it’s because tthe American people know something’s VERY wrong. They don’t have to know exactly what might befall them, whatever it is it doesn’t feel right. McCain and Hillary are about as popular as a wet dog in a crowded elevator. This and much more might point to different conclusions.

  41. Freeman says:

    There has been speculation here about the mental state of President Bush, and sometimes PM Blair.
    An expert’s review of the mental states of several political leaders (including the above) has been made by the distinguished medical doctor, Lord David Owen. This is entitled “Hubris and Nemesis in Heads of Government” and is published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (4 pages), Nov 2006.
    A copy of this review is at:

  42. Frank Durkee says:

    Col. What is your take on the recent actions taken against the Mahsdi Army in Bahgdad? Is it the betinning of something different, an enacted sham, or a collusion between the government and Sadr, or none of the above?

  43. arbogast says:

    It is hard for me to believe that this is not the most important story of the day.

  44. John says:

    Thanks, that was interesting reading.
    Most people logically believe that people think and feel like they do; however, there are some people who are severally damaged mentally and have tragic flaws. I did not realize that until I was approx. 45.
    I have encountered two psychopaths in my life. Luckily, I was sensative enough to detect there was something wrong and stayed away. One was a friend in college who later killed another friend of his and is serving a life term in the state pen for the brutality of the murder. The other was a CEO of a company I encountered approx. 5 years ago. I told the Board of Directors there were real problems there and that he was capable of physically harming someone. I was basically ignored. Later on he threw someone to the ground, choked the crap out of them and was convicted of felony assault. Oh well I then get a rather pathetic — “We should of listened to you.”
    I also focused in on the speaking problems of GWB. These are windows into his real person and the troubles that rests there.
    What this country has missed for a long time is a real leader. I did not care for him much at the time, but I think Jimmy Carter might have been that. He attempted to move us away from the over consumption model and self indulgence model that the nation has followed since Reagan.
    Probably the Industrial Military complex did him in.

  45. Analysis of an ancient war in modern times
    “More than two thousand years ago, 10,000 Greek soldiers found themselves isolated among hundreds of thousands of enemies in Mesopotamia, not far from where American troops are now in Iraq. They had marched from Greece to take sides in a civil war they knew too little about.
    Xenophon told his men the truth about their situation and led the 10,000 back to the sea and home to Greece, leaving an example of courage, leadership, skill and honor for generations yet to come.
    The American forces in Iraq deserve a Xenophon.”

  46. FB says:

    Walrus’s post on 18 Jan is an excellent analysis. It cuts through all the confusing actions and reactions of the principal players to the crux of their respective positions and aims. His conclusion, though depressing, is sound.

  47. Chris Marlowe says:

    This story says that the Defense Department is planning for a broad attack against Iran which includes holding and securing Iranian territory.
    Some expert named Katzmann says that Iran is weak; he must be Wolfowitz’s long-lost twin brother. He forgot to say that the Iranians would be thanking us. Forgot to mention that it could be done with 50,000 troops.
    What will we invade with? I guess those guys in Iraq have had such an easy time that they would welcome the opportunity to invade Iran…
    “Let’s see, what would we call this? The American people don’t like the word surge; how about liberation? That’s it, we can call it Operation Barbarossa! How original!”

  48. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I believe history is indeed cyclical.
    For this posting my time frame is very short.
    “Remember The Maine, Pearl Harbor, and the Gulf of Tonkin”.
    While the debate goes on about Pearl Harbor, and it was clearly an act of aggression, one must consider the possibility that FDR had his own reasons for allowing the aggression to occur. Right or wrong, the history of our country does not really allow for a great deal of self-satisfaction.
    For all our pompous pronouncements about WMD’s, it is important to remember which country was the first and only one to use nuclear weapons.
    Let us all hope that the Democrats and their fellows on the other side of the aisle have enough gumption to protest the idea of a preemptive strike against the Iranians.

  49. David E. Solomon says:

    Bush and crew have most certainly never read Xenophon or Herodotus.
    And what is even more disturbing is that they do not even remember the nightly Vietnam follies presented by the esteemed Bill Moyers in his role as Johnson’s press secretary.
    I find it ever more disturbing that the likes of Lyndon Johnson are becoming more and more palatable.

  50. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Admittedly I am probably getting more and more disturbed about the possibility of our country once more resorting to the use of nuclear weapons.
    However, for anyone with half a brain who grew up in the era of “Duck and Tuck”, the reasons for my increasing anxiety should be obvious.

  51. Chris Marlowe says:

    It all became clear to me with the 60 Minutes interview. I’m convinced Bush is in “bunker mentality” mode. He is convinced that most Americans do not understand the depth and scope of the Islamic fundamentalist threat, and that most have gone soft, unwilling to fight a long war of attrition.
    But he is convinced that he knows more, and the softer others get, the tougher, the more resolute, he must become.
    The only way to break out is with a dramatic military move which will make him even more unpopular in the short-term, but will vindicate him in the history.
    This is where war with Iran comes in. There will be massive blowback, maybe even an attack of 9/11 proportions in the US, which will ironically vindicate his worldview, proving that he was right about the scope of the threat.
    He is convinced that his worldview will eventually be vindicated by history, or he will be betrayed by the American people, or both.
    If not, he will be the last president of the US.
    In his own mind, he wins no matter what happens. He may very well be proven to be right (in his own mind), but betrayed by the American people who were unwilling to side with him and fight the long fight. If that is the case, then the US deserves to die as a nation-state.
    Sounds like Hitler in April 1945, doesn’t it? This is the man the American people have elected. He is Karl Rove’s Manchurian candidate.

  52. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I am getting more and more anxious about this whole thing.
    Bush and the Iranians are becoming mirror problems.
    I may be nasty, but I would be remiss without mentioning our incredibly wonderful Secretary of State Condi Rice.
    Would somebody please knock her stiletto heels out from under her?
    And while they are at it, how about somebody explaining who pays for her expensive clothing?
    Finally, can we get her to stop sounding like she is about to embark on a crying jag every time she gives a pronouncement.
    You may be beginning to think I am nasty, but I am really just a plain old citizen.
    I think more and more of us may well be getting sick of the manure.

  53. David E. Solomon says:

    Colonel Lang,
    I believe it is time to focus on the American Friends Service Committee.
    Unlike the “decider” I believe they are a source of reason.
    Web Address Follows:
    Text Follows:
    “10 Reasons Why the U.S. Must Leave Iraq
    1. The human cost of war is unacceptable.
    The U.S. decision to invade and occupy Iraq comes with a horrific price tag: deaths of an estimated 100,000 Iraqis and more than 2,345 occupation troops, including 2,140 U.S. military personnel. The numbers rise daily. Hundreds of thousands have been physically wounded or traumatized by chronic violence and insecurity. This path will not lead to victory. There are no winners, and there is no military solution. In spite of this, the U.S. continues to embrace military rather than diplomatic approaches. An immediate end to hostilities is essential to stem the carnage and loss of human life.
    2. The U.S. occupation is a catalyst for violence.
    The longer the U.S. occupation continues, the more Iraqis will join the resistance, which primarily opposes the foreign presence. Conservative estimates say the number of resistance fighters in Iraq increased from 5,000 in November 2003 to 20,000 in November 2005. Violence is aggravated at all levels by the U.S. presence: in neighborhoods, among militant extremists, and between ethnic groups. When the brutality of occupation — raiding homes and hospitals, detaining people without charge or due process, torturing detainees, imposing curfews on communities, using military force to suppress demonstrations — ends, the majority of resisters will lay down their weapons.
    3. U.S. actions inflame divisions and the chance of civil war.
    The occupation and its divisive policies deepen tensions within Iraqi society. Three major mistakes the United States made from the beginning of the occupation were: (1) dissolution of the Iraqi army and police, leading to insecurity, looting, and violence; (2) failure to dismantle militias, allowing the number of armed combatants to increase; and (3) support for Shi’a demands for regional autonomy, fueling the possibility of a break-up of the country along ethnic lines. Problems from these mistakes will continue as long as the United States controls Iraq politically and militarily. If U.S. troops leave, an independent Iraqi government, free of external control, could open the door to discussion and reconciliation between groups.
    4. Iraqis want the United States to leave now.
    Recent polls reveal that Iraqi opinion coalesces on four demands: (1) an end to foreign occupation, (2) compensation to Iraqis for damages caused by the U.S. invasion, (3) release of Iraqi prisoners, and (4) establishment of political and military institutions independent of outside influences. A survey in Iraq commissioned by the British military in September 2005 found that 82 percent of Iraqis “strongly oppose” the continuing presence of coalition troops, and 45 percent feel attacks against coalition troops are justified. The battle for hearts and minds has been lost.
    5. Democracy cannot flourish under an occupation.
    For Iraqis, the key issues in the December 2005 election for the first permanent government were security, economic opportunity, and removal of foreign occupation. The mechanics of voting worked — the third election for Iraqis during 2005. However, the election is only a milestone in the country’s difficult journey toward self-determination, with great challenges ahead. The new government must now move beyond artificial deadlines set by outsiders, determine its own goals, and see the process through.
    6. The United States has failed to rebuild Iraq or provide for Iraqis’ basic needs.
    Twelve years of economic sanctions (1991-2003) nearly crippled Iraq. Malnutrition became widespread. Life-sustaining systems such as water and sewage treatment, electricity, and health care were severely degraded. These problems led to deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraq’s most vulnerable citizens, many of them children. Since the beginning of the occupation, U.S. forces not only failed to reverse these trends, but also failed to restore services disrupted by war and looting. This is not due to a lack of funds, but to a perversion of priorities. While the United States spends $6 billion a month fighting the war (a total of more than $226 billion so far), it has not spent even half of the $18 billion allocated for reconstruction. Much of the money evaporates due to corruption and ballooning security costs. Plus, awarding major contracts to U.S. corporations who fail to complete their work takes money out of the economy and creates little benefit to Iraqis. The money that is spent on war and occupation should be spent on meaningful Iraqi-led reconstruction.
    7. The Iraq war and occupation waste resources needed for U.S. domestic programs.
    Community programs are being cut in every corner of the United States – from public schools to libraries to hospitals to transportation. Meanwhile, the U.S. deficit continues to skyrocket, building a massive debt for future generations of Americans. Money that could be used for domestic needs instead goes into the war and occupation. Furthermore, using National Guard troops in Iraq leaves states shorthanded when disasters strike at home. Hurricane Katrina, in particular, highlighted the need for massive reallocation of resources from armaments into disaster preparedness and infrastructure at home.
    8. The U.S. occupation of Iraq destabilizes the Middle East.
    The rash, ill-advised, and nearly unilateral invasion of Iraq and subsequent U.S. occupation has profoundly damaged the United States’ relations with other Middle East governments, including those it considers to be allies. U.S. actions have galvanized militants in the region to join the insurrection in Iraq and attack other countries, such as Jordan, considered to be too closely aligned with the United States. Elsewhere, the United States’ “tough talk” toward Syria has led the Israeli government to warn that U.S. actions threaten to destabilize the region. The massive number of civilian casualties in Iraq are caused by heavy weapon attacks and flesh-burning compounds such as white phosphorus, particularly devastating in urban areas. Such attacks greatly damage U.S. credibility and political influence in the Middle East, as well as respect from the international community. The many U.S. bases in Iraq are seen as a long-term threat to the region and the future of Iraq. They should be removed when the troops leave.
    9. Humanitarian aid is crippled by the occupation.
    The U.S. military seeks to win Iraqis’ support by delivering food and medicine and implementing reconstruction projects. Such activities are also used to gather intelligence, blurring the lines between the military and humanitarian efforts. As a result, civilian humanitarian aid is confused with military-led operations, creating the misperception that relief workers are part of the occupying forces and a legitimate target. These conditions have forced almost all NGOs and UN agencies to leave. Coupled with lack of progress by the U.S. military in rebuilding Iraq, this severs the lifeline of international humanitarian aid to Iraqis. Ending the U.S. occupation would reduce tensions and clear the way for humanitarian organizations to support Iraqis in rebuilding their country.
    10. The global community wants the war and occupation to end now.
    The United States cannot afford to ignore the voices and sentiments of the many other countries that oppose the occupation. Bridges need to be rebuilt between the United States and the international community. The past three years show that unilateral militarism, with disregard for our allies, leads to isolation and failure. Iraq needs political and diplomatic support from the international community—including its immediate neighbors—to get back on its feet and keep peace internally and externally.
    December 2005”

  54. Freeman says:

    I found the demolition job done by “plp” on Dr Owen’s article titled Hubris and Nemisis in Heads of Government interesting, but I’m not qualified to determine whether his views or those of the good doctor are more relevant. All I can say is that, as a layman in such medical matters, the article seemed to me to provide a fairly balanced review, and the remark on genetic linkages was just a passing reference to other research.
    Maybe one should take greater note Dr Owen’s introduction: “Ever since I began to lecture and write about illness in Heads of Government four years ago, I have been struck by the mismatch between what the press and public see as mental illness amongst their leaders and what the medical profession are ready to diagnose as mental illness.”
    Before we make a hard judgement on mental balance and and its effect on decisions of our political leaders we need to be sure that, from where we are now, we have a better solution to issues in the Middle East. The severe difficulties now facing us have been abundantly aired, but most surely they will not all disappear if we were simply to withdraw. I do not know what is for the best, but I do believe that whatever action we take will require strong and determined leadership – and that is not always popular. As “Peter Principle” put it above in his magnificent turn of phrase: “You go to war with the president you have, not the president you would like to have.”

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I recall reading in Ha’aretz many years ago that so and so would make an excellent PM for Israel but he had no chance of winning.
    Likewise, I heard comments to the effect that Senator Bradly is a very decent man that could be an excellent President of the United States.
    Here is my thought:
    Could it be that these representative systems are now selecting for people with (mental) pathologies?
    In other words, only the mentally un-balanced can win?

  56. Freeman says:

    Babak Makkinejad:
    There is much in what you say, though I suspect that non-medical people like myself ought to note Dr Owen’s caution over attributing mental pathologies to some extreme personal characteristics.
    My take on the matter is simply that one needs a particular mix of ambition, ruthlessness and risk-taking, on top of strong financial backing, in order to struggle to the top of the political heap – and to stay there for more than one term. Being decent, hard-working and well-qualified are not in themselves sufficient qualities to prevail against aggressive, self-serving competition, and this may at times be to the disadvantage of good government.
    Maybe now is the time to start speculating on Hillary Clinton’s mental qualities?

  57. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is a Korean saying: “Leaders are born, not made!”

  58. David E. Solomon says:

    There is the historian’s question:
    “Does a leader make history or does history make the leader?”

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David E. Solomon:

  60. Chris Marlowe says:

    The dumbed-down democracy which the US has become is a vehicle for greedy large business interests, with the people as consumers for their products/services, for which they are paid wages as low as possible unless you belong to the ruling elite. In order to keep them harmless, it is necessary to keep them in a constant state of fear and paranoia, thinking that everyone non-American is out to kill them, and that the US government is the only one out to protect them.
    During wartime, they become useful cannon fodder for delusional political leaders working to further the interests of their corporate providers in the name of patriotism and America, which we all know as the greatest country in the world (if you were raised as an American). In fact, Bush is just like an Incan priest, cutting out the hearts of his subjects in sacrifice to his corporate patrons’ business interests and his own ego.
    In this idiotopia, media interests sell people what they should think and do at the behest of their corporate leaders, with the vast majority eating up the nonsense that there is any difference between the two political parties, when in fact all they offer is the choice of how much and how fast they want to be screwed. (The Republicans offer a faster more brutal rape of the middle class, and faster decline for the US now, while the Democrats offer a slower more gentle decline.)It’s like offering someone the choice of a massive stroke or cancer; either way you’re dead.
    In this world, it is natural to pander to the worst tastes and instincts of the majority of the voting idiocy. Bush’s decisiveness and leadership was more appealing to most of the lemmings, even though they figured out too late that they were being marched off a cliff.

  61. David E. Solomon says:

    As a follow-up:
    I worded my last post incorrectly.
    The question is actually:
    “Does the leader make the times, or do the times make the leader?”
    My previous post was really mixing up another historical observation, and that is:
    “Every generation re-writes
    history within the context of its own experience”.
    Sorry for the error.

  62. David E. Solomon says:

    “Both” is probably correct in the context of my first posting, but if you read my follow-up, I think you will agree that the answer is not so clear.
    The fault is, however, mine, since I worded the first post incorrectly.
    Thank you.

  63. David E. Solomon says:

    Chris Marlowe’s posting certainly hits the nail on the head.
    It is too bad that the majority of this country will never get it.
    Nor will they ever understand that “We The People” are the victims of the world’s most successful propaganda system, at least to this date.

  64. Will says:

    Dynasties make me nauseous. Remember that German quote. I would eat more, but I would throw up. Presently Bush II, now the prospect of Clinton II.
    But here is an intriguing what-if article. If Jeb Bush had not narrowly lost the 1994 FL governor race, we might have had a serious grownup as POTUS instead of an irresponsible smirking frat-boy.
    “The Should-Have-Been Bush Presidency”
    Read it and weep!

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David E Solomon:
    The times make the leader since the ideas of those times take posessions of people’s minds, including the leader.
    There would have been no Hitler without the ideas of the French Enlightenment.

  66. confusedponderer says:

    One common thing I encountered when I told Americans: ‘Haven’t you heared read your President’s and Vice President’s speeches? Haven’t you read the official documents, like the NSS?’ was the reply: ‘That’s just talk. Bush’s just a politico and sais that only for his approval ratings.’
    No, no, no. Bush isn’t going to be re-elected. He doesn’t need approval ratings. Bush’s personal input and involvement is IMO very much underestimated, and overshadowed by Cheneys scheming. Cheney is only Bush’s hatchet man, not the puppet master behind him. Bush calls himself the decider, and he means it. He has the last word.
    ‘Nothing may seem more strange to the future historian than the way that the electorate failed to anticipate the course that Bush and his neo-cons would persue after 911. Rarely politicians had so clearly disclosed beforehand both the general process and particular methods by which they were seeking to fulfill it.
    ‘A clean break’, the Defense Planning Guidance and eventually the new National Sercurity Strategy, together with their speeches and other utterances, provided abundant clues to the direction and sequence of action. If this amazingly clear self-revelation is the best evidence that what they achieved was not a matter of accident nor of mere opportunism, it is also the clearest confirmation of the proverbial saying–‘What fools men are’.
    Even Napoleon did not show such contemptuous disregard for his opponents, and for the risks of unveiling his intentions. Their apparent carelessness in this respect showed a realisation that men easily miss what is right under their eye, that concealment can often be found in the obvious, and that in some cases the most direct approach can become the least expected–just as the art of secrecy lies in being so open about most things that the few things that matter are not expected to exist.’
    Probably that’s what another Liddell Hart will say in a couple of years of America and the current administration.

  67. David E. Solomon says:

    I think most historians are not so clear about the answer.
    There are always reasoned minds on both sides of the divide.
    It is what makes the question such a good subject for courses in “history methodoloby”

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David E. Solomon:
    One can use simulations to try to answer this type of questions. I have in mind software systems that are like computer games such as the Age of Empires except that they are on steroids. Such systems can be built and executed on supercomputers – all the pieces are there except funding. With them we can definitely setup an “Institute for Theoretical History”.

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