Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 4

Even With the Iraq War Going SOOOOOOO Wrong, Bush Still Wins Election. So, Yes, This Could Happen Again.

Ugh. It was almost unimaginable. In a very short time, the country had gone from post-9/11 unification to vastly divided over the Iraqi War and an ugly, grotesque resentment by many Americans towards Muslims arose – many times ending in violence.

Simply stated (as Cheney would say), Bush screwed the pooch. As did all his boys. And Condoleeza.

Our intervention in Iraq was a nightmare that wouldn’t end. It devolved so quickly, that by election season 2004, I was no longer a moderate, independent voter. Watching the war hellishly unfold day after day, week after week pushed me farther and farther into the liberal column. I would atone for my support of Bush by likely never voting for another Republican again. It became clear that all Republicans do is tear asunder what the rest of us try to build and progress.

I was truly never fond of Gore and Kerry. They didn’t really have fire-in-the-belly Americans like to see in their executive leader. But they did have better decision-making capabilities and so many more men and women would be alive and kissing their children and putting gas in their cars and laughing at stupid jokes had Gore or Kerry carried the electoral college. But Justice Scalia and state constitutional bans on gay marriage prevented that.

A vast number of Americans are incensed by the sins of the unrepentant Bush et. al. As a former political analyst and current political junkie, I think on it quite often. I work out quite a bit to American Idiot by Green Day – a masterpiece, musically and lyrically providing stunning, often avoided insight by the popular music crowd. The album’s message clear and true: Americans were mindless lemmings, not asking questions, not conducting analysis, and allowing an un-fucking-necessary war to be launched in their name. Shame doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Relevant Questions Today

Would Bush have gone into Iraq had 9/11 not happened? He would have tried, but it would have been much, much harder to convince the public to support him.

Would Obama be president had Bush lost? Probably not.

Would McCain have ended the war? Certainly, undoubtedly not.

Could this happen again? Absolutely.

Example No. 1: Drone strikes. We do not know enough about this offensive weapon that is likely a valuable tool in the efforts to prevent another attack against the U.S. If, however, Obama alone is deciding who dies and who lives, he has extensive powers protected once again by the “classified intelligence” argument that absolutely should be augmented.

Example No. 2: Wall Street. The investment bankers on Wall Street brought the global economy to its knees. The economic destruction has likely lead to large numbers of early deaths, as well as having blow-torched the economic livelihoods of countless people worldwide. Not one executive has been prosecuted for this grand malfeasance and the public outcry is a whisper.

Example No. 3: Global Warming. U.S. fossil fuel consumption, extensive environmental destruction, and unchecked corporate transgressions to our air, water, food, ground have helped cause climate change, heralding mass storms, wildfires and floods that threaten the existence of towns, neighborhoods and people. Only in the most recent couple of years have the majority of Americans expressed their concern over this growing, looming danger.

Wreckage can be wrought and Americans – even with their access to information and freedom of speech – will turn a blind eye again and again. I have no doubt that, under the right set of circumstances, Americans will permit their leaders to conduct great evils in their name. Should I be amazed that Republicans support their leaders as they conduct voter suppression, attack the most fundamental rights of women and abandon the poor?

The United States of America is a wonderful country, but we, as its citizens, have an awesome responsibility to do right by each other and hold the powerful accountable. We cannot remain idle. We cannot keep quiet. We cannot ignore. That was the lesson of the Iraq War. Let’s not have to learn it again.

Writing this blog series has been a huge catharsis. I will never relinquish my responsibility in supporting the war, but I won’t stop talking about it, either.

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 1

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 2

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 3


Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 3

The War Goes Bad Fast

The overthrowing of Saddam Hussein only took a matter of weeks, if not days. The bastard had gone into hiding and their army quickly disbanded. Shock and awe. It seemed like attaining victory would be much easier than we thought. Visions of Iraqis celebrating in the streets as they tore down statues and decimated murals of Saddam were fulfilling, stroking our egos and reinforcing our self-perceptions as benevolent Americans, intent on sharing (not imposing!) our freedoms and democracy.

Soon, however, things started to not feel right. At least, no to this young analyst. My sources in the Iraqi opposition were complaining that the U.S. was not keeping them informed of the goings on and weren’t making strides in helping establish a credible government.

Then the looting started. Iraq has previously been an epicenter of mathematic discovery, a bastion in terms of world academia, modernity, development before Islam and dictatorial rule snuffed it’s beacon for the pursuits of knowledge. Iraqi artifacts were second to none in comparison to the rest of global antiquities. And the black market for such priceless gems of history is boundless and insatiable. Was it surprising the U.S. was wholly illprepared to protect these treasures? Not for this Monday-morning quarterback.

Quickly, Iraqi’s newfound freedoms lead to a mass surge in sectarian violence. The majority of Iraqi Muslims are Shia, also the majority of Muslims in Iran, but the Sunni faction retained control of power in Iraq for centuries. This ended when the American military ended the rule of Saddam Hussein and did not anticipate the horrific civil war that would ensue.

Then an al Qaeda faction settled in, intent on fighting the Americans wherever they could find them. Over the months, as American troop and Iraqi civilian deaths mounted, the media reported time and again that the troops were not properly equipped with adequate armor to prevent the increasingly effective ambushes.

As the Bush administration handed out contracts to favored companies instead of bidding them out, their corporate cronies began their mission of attempting to bring Iraqi oil exports online. War profiteering among FOBs (friends of Bush) began on a mass scale as billions of U.S. dollars were absorbed out of the country, out of sight of the IRS, by American businesses while American troops came home in coffins, missing limbs, or even suffering severe brain damage.

For the life of me, I will never understand why the majority of servicemen and women and veterans vote Republican.

Iraq’s infrastructure was seriously third world. What did work didn’t work most of the time and was easily damaged by various attacking factions. This meant American companies getting their hands on Iraqi oil production was, quite literally, a pipe dream. Promises by Rumsfeld and Cheney that the war would be short, cheap and paid for by Iraqi oil production turned to dust.

The Iraq War had quickly become an unsolvable quagmire, highlighting the sheer stupidity of a president intent on showing up his father, surrounded by profit-hungry supporters, who failed in his primary mission of empowering, to the best of his ability, the U.S. military to find and destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Next Up:

Even With the Iraq War Going SOOOOOOO Wrong, Bush Still Wins Election. So, Yes, This Could Happen Again. Quite Easily, In Fact.

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 1

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 2

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 4

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 2

In Truth, Convincing Americans Wasn’t Hard

Americans hated Saddam. Everybody hated Saddam. He unleashed chemical weapons on his own people in 1988. Uday, Saddam’s son, was in charge of the nation’s athletic programs and treated his flock as poorly as his father treated the rest of the country. Torture and murder by the regime was prolific and horrific. The accounts rendered by those who survived can keep you up at night. Most Americans had heard some of these accounts.

This was why, when Cheney and McCain proclaimed their belief that the U.S. would be greeted as liberators, most of us agreed. Who wouldn’t want their tyrannical dictator overthrown, killed or brought to justice?

This assumption goes to the very root of the ignorance of the majority of Americans regarding the war – which is fairly excusable. But it isn’t excusable for the administration not to have educated themselves on the culture, religion and politics of Iraq to delve deeper – beyond the atrocities of Saddam.

This should have been one of the main lessons from the Vietnam War. Understand your enemy, understand the field of war, understand anything and everything related to a military action that will certainly result in the loss of life. Vietnam introduced us to guerrilla warfare and the end of state-to-state conflict as we had known it across a millennium. One of the main reasons the U.S. failed so demonstrably in Vietnam was that they did not understand who their enemy was and how they operated. And tens of thousands of Americans perished or faced abysmal futures because of it.

But Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush and most of the neo-conservative hawks had never seen combat, many of them having gone to significant lengths to avoid the draft or stay out of the war. And men who have experienced military conflict firsthand are more reticent to engage, or send others to engage in warfare.

Had I been older, had I understood the lessons of our past, perhaps I would have been more dubious about going to war. But I wasn’t and I didn’t and I was just another ignoramus watching as the drums beat louder and louder.

So, we start with an ignorant American public and combine it with an ignorant presidential administration with ties to oil companies, a decade-old grudge and a commander-in-chief who would chew broken glass if it prevented him from appearing weak. All they needed was a catalyst.

September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda attacks the World Trade Center and the Pentagon successfully. An attempt on The White House is averted by a number of brave souls in the skies over Pennsylvania.

Now, the Bush administration had an entire country suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, ready for revenge. It could not have been more perfect.

Next Up:

The War Goes Bad Fast

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 1

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 3

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 4

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 1

MSNBC’s documentary, “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” based on Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s book of the same name was absolutely worth the watch. Not long enough, I say.

The documentary didn’t produce any revelation regarding the dubious case for the war in Iraq I had not seen previously. This is apparently the case for reading the book, which has many more examples of the lies perpetrated by the Bush administration in the run-up to the war. But the video footage alone easily brought me back to late 2002 and 2003 in the run up to the invasion.

I was glad we were going in. At the time, I was a twenty-something geopolitical analyst and actually conducting interviews with a number of higher-ups in the Iraqi opposition. Those men will spill it to a young, Western girl eager to get a scoop worthy to impress her former Russian military intelligence boss. All of us were anxious to see Saddam get what he had coming.

And He Had It Coming

The first Iraq War was my awakening to the world outside the United States. As a junior high kid living in Houston, my school bus would pass the railroad tracks upon which military equipment, tanks, etc. was shipped out. A good friend’s dad came back and let us all explore his gas mask and other camo gear. Video of scud missiles coated the television. And, while we were told the U.S. was coming to the rescue of an ally, it was clear at the time that our ally’s possession of oil was a major factor in our military participation.

The U.S. forces beat back the Iraqi invaders decisively, but Bush Sr. still lost the election. Americans have a short memory and an economic recession will trump war drums in every voting booth. Still, Saddam was now a figurehead of my youth. History, government, world affairs, international relations, development of civilization easily captured my academic attention. In other words, I was now plugged in, turned on to the goings on of our world.

The Soviet Union had collapsed, and American national politicians are forever in need of an international foe so they can scare up votes, donations, victory. And Saddam Hussein made a much easier political boogie man than North Korea’s Kim Il-Sung, his son Kim Jung-Il afterwards, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, and Iran’s Ayatollah.

It’s his own fault, really. Saddam wasn’t content with his decades-long dictatorship, wealth of palaces, iron grip on power, he also liked to fuck with everyone. If he thought he could get away with expanding the borders of his control, he would have – but a war with Iran and his failure in Kuwait taught him otherwise. So, instead, he spent the latter part his life screwing with global powers. Defying no-fly restrictions, throwing U.N. weapons inspectors out, keeping alive the question of the mortality of U.S. MIA soldier whose fighter had crashed during the war and much more.

And though genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia, as well as the Japanese economic implosion and the emerging Chinese economy, and the creation of the Euro zone demanded U.S. foreign policy precedence, Saddam was always, always on the periphery. Just being a goddamned asshole and doing everything he could to make everyone think he was a much bigger threat to our lives and countries than he actually was.

He was writing his own end long before he actually met it. So, when 2003 came, good. The motherfucker was asking for it.

An Unnecessary War?

The Vietnam War has had little bearing on my direct life. I have no close family who fought in Nam. An amazing history teacher at my high school who had seen the worst of the worst during the war was generous enough to share his history in detail with us; but that was it. The words “unnecessary war” meant nothing to me.

Furthermore, in college, I learned the origins of war. Desire for power is the leading cause for conflict. Whether it’s money, religion, territory, the male hunger for domination lies at the foundation of most hostility between nations, tribes, cultures, states.

An interesting development, however, has emerged in the last century. Democracies tend not to war with each other.

This has become a leading contention in neo-conservative Bush doctrinaire decision-making. Sure, we can spend long hours parsing the daddy issues George W. Bush brought to his administration that made him primed for the intentions of the draft-dodging hawks who surrounded him. But, for the rest of us, an offensive war in Iraq was justified not only because Saddam was a huge dick and would harm the U.S. given the chance, but because democracy in the Middle East meant peace in the Middle East. And the U.S. – under Bush II – could deliver that.

Next Up:

In Truth, Convincing the Public Wasn’t Hard

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 2

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 3

Hubris: I Was an American Idiot. Part 4

Why Such Hyperbole?

Conservatives have no shortage of hyperbolic expression when discussing the efficacy of President Obama. Cheney recently said Obama has been and “unmitigated disaster for the country.” My twitter response asked if he believes that, what could he possibly think of his tenure with Bush? That it was an unholy clusterfuck? (he’d be right)

Conservatives I know say Obama has been devastating for the country.  As I write this, one of them should be penning an explanation to me for this viewpoint. I’m sooooo eager to read it because I HAVE NO IDEA why reasonably intelligent people can be so far off their fucking rockers!

While liberals are not immune to using red-flag verbiage when describing a political opponent, the Right Wing always seem to be so over-the-top in their attempts to win the messaging wars.

Still, let’s run a quick tally:

Bush: 9/11; two wars and a prescription drug plan for seniors unpaid for (on the country’s credit card tab, so to speak); every U.S. economic indicator aside from corporate wealth spiraled dismally; Habeas Corpus out the window; torture; jobs & Dow Jones in the toilet; skyrocketing debt; extremely detrimental tax cuts for wealthy; tremendous decrease in respect for U.S. around the globe.

Obama: Fair Pay Act signed; auto industry saved; food stamp registrations declining; economic growth increasing; unemployment decreasing; Defense of Marriage Act no longer defended by DOJ; DADT bit the dust; Osama bin Laden feeding the fishes; Affordable Care Act rocking the kasbah.

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection an...

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, this is all just off the top of my head.

So, why again do Conservatives use such hyperbole when discussing Obama? Could it be that their policies suck for the country so bad that lying isn’t enough to scare/sway voters anymore and they must instead cast Obama as an insidious boogeyman so that old white people fill their Depends as they rush to the polls to oust this apocalyptic administration?

They are pathetic indeed. As their lots improve, along with those of the country, they demonize the very ones responsible for this reversal of fortune.

What You Get When You Vote Republican (this list will be updated accordingly)

This is only a quick minutiae of the results from Republican electoral victories. Wish I had time to flesh it out more, but, alas, my children need raising:

  • New, ridiculous, big government, anti-choice, anti-privacy regulations. Here in Texas, one must now obtain an ultrasound before having an abortion. I know someone this has affected personally. They were basically a nonvoter. I wonder if this will change. Bad evangelicals! Only care about the fetus in the womb. Once it’s born, mom and baby are on their own. And Repub men couldn’t care less about this issue personally. It’s a political football.
  • Only recently has a vote for a Republican actually meant a vote for lower taxes. These ideology-driven pols are hellbent on wrecking this economy with lower taxes, which increases the poverty class, shrinks the middle class, sends wealth upwards, leaving the wealthy to horde their funds and send them overseas. A weakened middle class means a weakened economy. When will the electorate start studying HISTORY and seeing the effects of lower taxes vs. smarter taxes?
  • Speaking of history, weakening regulations is also proving to do the economy harm. Of course the Right Media Messaging Machine has duped everyone into believing it is the nanny state that has cratered the U.S. economy. Yet, allowing banks to become investment firms has wrought potentially irreparable harm. We need smart regulation, not less. Won’t get that with a Republican vote.
  • Voter Suppression. While the proven cases of voter fraud are in the tens, possibly hundreds over the last few decades and have never threatened the outcome of serious elections, Republicans are on the attack of the Constitutional right to vote. The Republican ideology only allows for the preserving of the Constitution and the invoking of the founding fathers when it is in their self-interest. The Constitution does not require voting on Tuesdays, identification or SPECIFIC forms of identification. It does not prohibit early voting. Yet, across this great land, Republicans everywhere are instituting methods of voter suppression, including gerrymandering, to weaken the ability and efficacy of the minority and leftist electorate. The repugnance of these actions is without adequate description.
  • Anti-union legislation. The ability of workers to organize is a fundamental right in this country, without which we would still have sweat shops, robber barons, no weekends, no paid sick leave, no child labor laws, etc., etc., etc. Average wages are higher the stronger unions remain. Higher average wages strengthens the economy as a whole for everyone, including rich people. Jeez, people!
  • Legislative obstruction. You know, even when W was president, things got done. Why, you ask? Because Democrats compromised. It’s what you do when you’re in Congress. It’s what the founding fathers had to do and what they intended their successors to do. The business of the country must continue. In a Republican-controlled Congress, this does not happen if there is a black Democrat president. They are remiss and derelict in their duties. In this day and age, even the most liberal of Republicans in Congress is move conservative than the most conservative of Democrats. This makes for a toxic legislative atmosphere and weakens the country (and causes infantile ratings agencies to lower U.S. ratings). Thanks, Republican voters. Good job there.
  • Poor immigration policy. There is no actual proof that the millions of illegal immigrants inhabiting this land are actually causing harm to the U.S. Again, here we have a political football. Republicans like to pick on weak groups in order to rev up their voting bloc, whether it’s gays, Muslims, African-Americans. Wait til we atheists are a bigger threat. The undocumented workers who have always been a strong thread in the fabric of America, pay taxes and provide a very productive element to the U.S. workforce. This aside, the Republicans are even against the DREAM act, which some estimates say would increase the GDP an entire percentage point. Instead, we educate some of the most innovative minds and then send them to other competitive states. Ridiculous. But maybe that’s just my liberal education talking.
  • Fantastical economic ideology. Republicans want to keep our defense spending up, yet want the budget balanced. Um, the defense budget is 2/3 of the nation’s budget. Much of that goes to defense contractors and profiteers (think KBR and all the other Cheney corporate cronies). There can be no balancing of the budget without a cut in defense spending. None. Yet they want to go after helpful social and infrastructure programs that account for a small fraction of the budget. Again, we have a political football. Yet, their actions prove how unserious they actually are about the issue. A significant number of Republican congressman who voted against the stimulus package were only too eager to parade checks all over their districts when the stimulus money came their way, taking credit for the very monetary aide they railed against. Gov. Rick Perry talks about how he knows how to create jobs. A huge portion of those jobs were government jobs and half the jobs created were due to federal funds. Wouldn’t find that information available on FOX News, would you?

I must conclude this frustrating, yet necessary exercise at this time, though this list is unfinished (plutocracy, corporatocracy, and more). Last thoughts: the majority of people I know are Republican. Most of those will readily admit they don’t know much when it comes to the issues. I think that’s pretty obvious. People wouldn’t vote Republican if they understood the actual consequences of their vote. Bush took us into two wars and gave us a huge Medicare prescription drug program and put it all on the country’s credit card while cancelling taxes and regulations that helped to maintain a strong economy. What, I ask you, ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING???