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Posts tagged Hordak

It’s Official

Just in case you were wondering, it’s official. George W. Bush looked us in the eye and he told us a bunch of damned lies. Colin Powell stood up in front of the United Nations and told a bunch of damned lies. Dick Cheney has told lie after lie in front of everyone.

Charles Duelfer, the chief U.S. weapons investigator in Iraq, told Congress today that Saddam Hussein destroyed his stocks of chemical and biological weapons and agents in 1991 and 1992 and that his nuclear weapons program had decayed to almost nothing by 2003.

Duelfer, a former U.N. inspector and the personal representative of the CIA director, said the former Iraqi dictator had intentions to restart his program, but after weapons inspectors left Iraq in 1998, Hussein instead focused his attention on ending the sanctions imposed by Western governments following his incursion into Kuwait and the Persian Gulf war of 1991.

— Washington Post 2004/10/06: Iraqi Arms Threat Was Waning, Inspector Says

Thanks to the lie, more than 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been murdered, and more than 1,000 American soldiers have been sent to their deaths in order to conquer a foreign country that posed no threat whatsoever to people in the United States. Messrs. Bush and Cheney have responded by saying, Well, it’s the thought that counts:

The White House has responded that the Iraqi leader had an intent to restart his programs, some of which he could do quickly, and that he was working on developing prohibited missiles that, if armed with chemical or biological agents, would threaten the region.

— Washington Post 2004/10/06: Iraqi Arms Threat Was Waning, Inspector Says

So Saddam Hussein didn’t pose a threat, but hey, he thought that maybe some day he might want to start working towards pose a threat… to somebody or another in the region.

Mr. Bush also likes to point out that the intelligence he had before the war looked like a good reason for invading at the time. Now, that’s a damned lie, but set that aside for the moment. Suppose you did make such a monstrous mistake and killed so many people over something that turned out not to be true, after all? Would you have a good laugh about it at press events? Would you keep on stumping for re-election on your choice to invade a country over claims that turned out to be completely false?

What kind of man can look at the more than 11,000 deaths, with more casualties coming in every goddamned day, find out that the reasons he gave to justify the war were completely specious, and then just say Oops, my bad?

Tangential Remarks and Partners for Peace

The best news about the Vice Presidential debate tonight is that it will almost surely be the least significant of any of the debates held. Last week we got a serious, substantive debate between John Kerry and George W. Bush, and (to my wildly partisan eyes, at least) a confident and thorough stomping by Kerry all over Little Lord Bush. (I still would much rather that I could vote for John Kerry in 1971, but it’s a fallen world and you’ve got to take what you can get.) Tonight, what we got was a series of weak and poorly-connected attacks between two non-respsonsive soundbite machines, a vituperative bull session without any clear upshot for anyone. Dick Hordak Cheney was appalling as always; John Edwards surprised no-one (I hope) by turning out to be a smiley face atop an empty suit.

That’s not the main topic for this post, though; the Veep debate was way too lame to justify a post about it. Rather, I want to follow the candidates’ own procedure and talk for a while about some tangential point that happened to be raised along the way even though it has nothing to do with the question. During one of his most meandering answers, Edwards tried to run to the right of the Bush Administration on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Along the way he offered the following nugget of conventional wisdom about the predicament of the Sharon government:

They don’t have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don’t have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.

But why in God’s name do they need that?

Israel did not look for a partner for peace in South Lebanon. They are not looking for a partner for peace in Gaza.

We need to think carefully about what trying to find a partner for peace means in this context. You might, of course, wonder whether the Palestinians have a legitimate partner for peace in the government of Ariel Sharon; you might well, on the other hand, agree that Arafat is a crook and a thug, that he has failed ordinary Palestinians countless times, and that there is little hope for any substantial progress of any sort with him. But how did Arafat come to hold the position of power that he holds now? What process legitimated his Fatah cops and his authoritarian regime? Oh yes, it was the negotiated peace process. When American or Israeli politicians talk about trying to find a partner for peace what that means is hand-picking someone who will be reliably agreeable in negotiating on behalf of all Palestinians. What it means is that the occupation has to keep on its long, bloody, deadly grind until politicians from Israel and from the U.S. have effectively handed over the reins of power in the Palestinian community to someone based on their negotiating priorities. What that means is giving tremendous power and resources to a select few and expecting this elite–created from the coercive pressure of the occupation, with no authorization from the Palestinians that the partner for peace claims to speak on behalf of. That’s what they did for Arafat and Fatah, and that’s what they are trying to do now for Fatah officials seen as more moderate or more reliable; but the whole history of the colonial and postcolonial world should tell you that hand-picked elites cannot be trusted not to abuse the power and resources they are given–least of all hand-picked elites whose claim to legitimacy derives from the occupying power. The record is as clear in the occupied territories as anywhere else: an Oslo-style negotiated process, and the requisite partner for peace propped up Yasser Arafat as the stand-in for the Palestinian people as a whole, and hand-picked Fatah as the government for the Palestinian Authority. It has not moved the peace process forward; it handed tremendous power and resources within the Palestinian community to bandits and street thugs. It has made a terrible situation worse, with every passing day, for ordinary Palestinians and ordinary Israelis.

Sooner or later Edwards and Cheney and Sharon and Barak and the rest of them are going to have to realize that peace through hand-picked partners for peace doesn’t work. It provides only the illusion of a peace process. There’s a moral here, for both the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for Israel in Gaza and the West Bank. The answer is not negotiating (which legitimates and empowers any gangster who happens to attach himself to the peace-process teat). If you think that you can handpick a good government for the people underneath the boots of your military, and if you think that refusing to lift those boots from off their necks until you have found the right one for them, is a good way to promote peace, freedom and human flourishing, then you are on the wrong side of history. But continuing an indefinite occupation is intolerable (as the majority of Israelis already realize, and as most Americans are swiftly learning). So what is to be done?

Isn’t it obvious? Quit trying to negotiate and quit trying to stay; unilaterally withdraw, and let the once-occupied people decide their own fate rather than trying to hand-pick a new State for them before you leave. In Gaza, in the West Bank, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, what we all need to do is: quit trying to find a partner for peace, quit trying to win, and just get the hell out.

Getting the hell out and leaving people alone. Now that would be a nice model for that broader Middle East.

Further reading

In Their Own Words

(Scharzenegger quote pointed out by Ghost in the Machine 2004-09-01.)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, speech to the Republican National Convention, 2004-08-31:

My fellow immigrants, my fellow Americans, how do you know if you are a Republican? Well, I tell you how. If you believe that government should be accountable to the people, not the people to the government, then you are a Republican.

Zell Miller, speech to the Republican National Convention supporting George W. Bush, 2004-09-01 (emphasis added):

In the summer of 1940, I was an 8-year-old boy living in a remote little Appalachian valley. Our country was not yet at war, but even we children knew that there were some crazy man across the ocean who would kill us if they could.

President Roosevelt, in a speech that summer, told America, All private plans, all private lives, have been in a sense repealed by an overriding public danger.

In 1940, Wendell Wilkie was the Republican nominee. And there is no better example of someone repealing their “private plans” than this good man.

He gave Roosevelt the critical support he needed for a peacetime draft, an unpopular idea at the time.

And he made it clear that he would rather lose the election than make national security a partisan campaign issue.

(This passage got loud applause and vocal cheers from the Republican audience.)

Hiding the Truth? President Bush’s Need-to-Know Democracy by Stephen Pizzo:

It’s been said that the first casualty of war is always truth. But with the Bush administration’s war on terrorism, it’s hard to know, because even before 9/11 the administration had begun hermetically sealing formerly public sources of government information.

It began when Vice President Dick Cheney refused to provide details of his energy task force meetings with energy companies, particularly top Enron officials. Then, came President George Bush’s November 2001 executive order allowing the administration or former presidents to order executive branch documents withheld from the public. At the time, the administration said the new restriction on presidential papers was to protect the privacy of former presidents and those they dealt with while in office.

But, the order also shields from public view documents from President Bush’s father’s term in office that could be awkward now. The suspicion was that the executive order was designed to protect several current White House officials who served in the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations from embarrassment –specifically, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and former Budget Director Mitch Daniels, Jr.

Each official had brushes with controversial policies in earlier administrations — not the least of which was the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration. The elder Bush, then-Vice President, maintained he was out of the loop. Documents in the Reagan archives might contradict that version of history.

Both Cheney’s refusal to hand over his energy task force documents, and the presidential order shielding past administrations’ archived documents caused uproars among open-government advocates, historians and members of Congress.

. . .

Effectively, keeping secrets means never having to say you’re sorry. It also means never having to admit you made a terrible mistake, or even lied.

White House press flack Ari Fleischer:

They’re reminders to all Americans that they need to, to watch what they say, watch what they do, and this is not a time for remarks like that. It never is!

John Ashcroft, Attorney General of the United States of America, 2001:

To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberties, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists — for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve.

The Spitting Image

One of the great unintended consequences of the Internet is that it makes it easier than it ever has been to make fun of politicians. Thanks to the vast numbers of press photographs put online every day, and especially with the aid of Google Image Search, I have at my fingertips a nearly endless supply of photographs of prominent public figures looking like complete doofuses.

Consider one of my recent favorites. Is it just me, or does Donald Rumsfeld bear an uncanny resemblence to Evil Lord Skeletor?

photo: Donald Rumsfeld photo: Evil Lord Skeletor

Bonus points: Dick Cheney as Hordak, the ruthless leader of the Evil Horde:

photo: Dick Cheney photo: Hordak

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Joe Lieberman / Palpatine connection (as pointed out by Roderick Long):

photo: Palpatine photo: Joe Lieberman

Of course, for some people, you don’t need any snarky look-alike comparisons; it just comes naturally:

photo: George W. Bush ... photo: George W. Bush again ... photo: More George Bush photo: More of the same ... photo: Well, you know...

P.S.: Bill Clinton really shouldn’t have Rush Limbaugh pose his press shots for him:

photo: Bill Clinton stands in front of a giant statue of Ho Chi Minh

P.P.S.: Donald Rumsfeld actually just shouldn’t ever consent to be photographed at all:

photo: Donald Rumsfeld looks shifty photo: Donald Rumsfeld clutches his head photo: Donald Rumsfeld looks like the Devil himself.

What you mean “We”?

Here are the facts as we know them.

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, Donald Rumsfeld, and several other senior government officials in the U.S. and U.K. told us that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq had large stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. They told us that they were actively trying to find nuclear weapons. They told us that they had connections with the al-Qaeda terrorist network, and that therefore Iraq posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States. Therefore pre-emptive war was necessary, and nothing short of regime change would do.

photo: Dick Cheney

They lied. When Ambassador Joe Wilson told them that their evidence for claiming that Saddam Hussein was trying to acquire nuclear weapons was a forgery, they kept citing that completely spurious, forged evidence in public statements. When the U.S. intelligence apparatus was not giving the answers that they needed to justify their policy, they didn’t change the policy; they set up a new intelligence office to give them the answers they wanted [The Guardian]. Intelligence was cherry-picked and sexed-up and those who offered qualified or dissenting views were marginalized and went completely unmentioned in public statements [The Observer]. They had a goal, they looked for evidence to support that goal, and when they did not find good evidence they repeated evidence that they were informed repeatedly ahead of time was questionable or completely spurious evidence. And it turns out that what they claimed on nearly every point was false.

photo: Donald Rumsfeld

Iraq had no stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

Iraq had no connections with al-Qaeda.

Iraq was not any threat to the United States whatsoever.

Or, to put it another way: they are a bunch of big fat fucking liars and as a result some 600 British and American troops, and somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians are dead.

photo: George W. Bush

The administration’s line now is that in spite of all of this, it was really no-one’s fault that the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom went off to war on a lie. We got it all wrong, the story goes, but from the evidence that we had in front of us, it looked pretty reasonable to us at the time. To which the obvious response is: What you mean we, paleface? As Scott Ritter points out, IHT: Not everyone got it wrong on Iraq’s weapons [IHT].

In case you have forgotten, there were lots of people—gosh, maybe even a whole movement of people—who said that Iraq posed no imminent threat.

We showed that the administration’s case for war was based on shaky evidence, leaky-bucket arguments, politicized manipulation of data, and constantly shifting rationalizations.

We argued that there was no good reason at all to believe that there were links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

We also said, by the way, that the assault on Iraq would kill thousands of civilians and that it would result in a nasty, rudderless, destructive, costly, and hopeless occupation.

I am all for careful examination of the data on the table. But when the data on the table is this clear there are certain sorts of politically expedient mincing—much loved by blowhard teevee experts and newspaper columnists—that common decency demands we put to one side.

We didn’t get it wrong, Messrs. Bush and Blair and Cheney and Rumsfeld. You did. The facts are: the anti-war movment was right, and you were wrong. We told the truth, and you lied. But because you had the guns and the tanks and the bombs to do it, you unleashed this dirty war anyway. There’s no way to fudge that or qualify that or get around that, and the blood of the dead and maimed is on your hands. There is no we about it. There’s some moral clarity for you; stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

For further reading:

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