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Accidental Patriots
Observations on the anniversary of the WTC attacks, By RMcG
When I lived in Massachusetts, we observed an annual "Patriots Day.” The holiday was intended to honor the Minutemen militias and colonial Patriots who battled with the British to gain our independence as a nation. In latter years, the celebration no doubt focused more on the fact that Patriot’s Day usually fell, appropriately enough, on tax day. This meant federal and state offices in the state were closed, and those of us filing in Andover, MA, had at least one extra day to postmark our returns.

If I remember correctly, we celebrated Patriot’s Day during my childhood, too, growing up in Florida. My home town of Cocoa Beach was little more than a tropical dormitory for the many engineers and scientists imported to implement JFK’s vision of a man on the moon, and so tended to be more outwardly “patriotic” anyway. Our collective pride in the space effort permeated every corner of our lives; from my grade school alma mater, Freedom Seven Elementary, to the local Moon Hut burger joint, to the massively gargantuan American flag adorning the side of NASA’s Vehicle Assembly Building, so large it could literally be seen 15-20 miles up the Mosquito Lagoon -- we lived a patriotism based upon a common purpose rooted in proud accomplishment, not cowering fear.

Thus, it seemed almost natural to stop and honor the brave Patriots who stood up to the Red Coats and fought to secure the liberties we have enjoyed for over 200 years, right up until the Bushcroft administration. (CONT.)


Bush's imagination?
"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
-H. L. Mencken

Compare Howard Dean's record as governor of Vermont to that of George Bush's record as governor of Texas. Then compare the Bush record to any of the other candidates. Why was this man elected, again? (FYI -- this is not an endorsement of Dean for president!)




An educated electorate is the right-wing's worst nightmare! Learn their tricks and tactics-- click this link...
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Because Clear Channel sucks.
Have we been here before?
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship ... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger."
- Hermann Goering
USA Patriots
"Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism.... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all others."
- Socialist and feminist Emma Goldman

"Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment."
- GW Bush, Jan. 14, 2001


Newest Cartoon - Posted: 9-18-03
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Restore foreign-policy power to mainstream practitioners -- and let the radical hawks find other employment.

POSTED: 09-18-03
Copr. By Robert Kuttner, Copr. 2003 The American Prospect, Inc.
The Council on Foreign Relations is the epicenter of the American establishment. Its top three officers are Republicans -- Peter G. Peterson (chair), the former commerce secretary under Nixon, leading investment banker and opponent of social outlay who must chair half the boards in America; Carla Hills (vice-chair), a corporate power-lawyer who was U.S. trade ambassador for Bush I; and Richard Haass (president), who recently stepped down as one of President Bush's sub-cabinet appointees at the State Department.

The council is best known for its journal, Foreign Affairs , ordinarily a fairly cautious and moderate publication. So it was startling to pick up the September-October issue and read article after article expressing well-documented alarm at the hijacking of American foreign policy. This is not how the council ordinarily speaks.

Republican and Democratic ex-public officials, former ambassadors, military and intelligence people, academic experts -- consider Bush's whole approach a disaster. In fairness, it isn't really Bush's approach. Foreign policy is not something Bush closely follows. Mainly, he fell in with the wrong crowd.

The must-read piece is "Stumbling into War" by former Assistant Secretary of State James P. Rubin. It documents that Bush's feint to the United Nations was a charade; that even as the administration was going through the motions of diplomacy, war had been already decided upon.

More important, Rubin documents that another path to ousting Saddam Hussein was possible, had the administration been more patient. Other nations, even France, were in fact prepared to use force against Saddam, but insisted on letting the inspections process work first. Rubin demonstrates that every major European nation "would have been prepared to support or at least sanction force against Iraq if it had not fully disarmed by [fall 2003.]" The administration repeatedly rebuffed British entreaties to pursue this other course, which would have preserved a much broader coalition and shared responsibility for reconstruction.

So America's lonely quagmire in Iraq was entirely gratuitous. But it's still a well-kept secret that the vast foreign-policy mainstream -- Republican and Democratic ex-public officials, former ambassadors, military and intelligence people, academic experts -- consider Bush's whole approach a disaster. In fairness, it isn't really Bush's approach. Foreign policy is not something Bush closely follows. Mainly, he fell in with the wrong crowd. A determined band of neoconservatives far outside the foreign-policy mainstream persuaded the president that invading Iraq would demonstrate American power to tens of millions shocked and awed Arabs. Instead, it has demonstrated the limits of American power (but limitless arrogance), and stimulated a new round of fundamentalism, nationalism and terrorism.

The neocons also contended that "the road to Jerusalem goes through Baghdad." In other words, get rid of Saddam and the Mideast balance of power would shift; Israel's enemies would be softened up for a peace settlement on Israel's terms. But much of the violence between Israel and Palestine is home grown, and any durable settlement must also be home grown. The sacking of Iraq has only made both Israel's Ariel Sharon and the Palestinians more intransigent.

The same neocons persuaded Bush that nation-building and collaboration with bodies like the UN were for sissies. But now, Bush has blundered into nation-building in the worst possible circumstances, in which Americans are viewed as inept invaders rather than liberators. And he is begging for aid from the UN and the very nations he scorned.

Does Bush know that he's been had? Increasingly, Iraq looks like Bush's Vietnam -- a long-term occupation of unfriendly territory in which Americans are targets; an adventure based on misperceptions and misrepresentations, where the benefits fail to justify the costs.

U.S. Representative David Obey, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, recently sent the president a letter which is worth quoting. "First," Obey wrote, in eloquent understatement, "I recommend that you allow the secretary and deputy secretary of defense to return to the private sector.

"Second, I recommend that the responsibilities for developing and implementing foreign policy that have traditionally resided in the Department of State be fully restored to that department."

Obey goes on to recommend that the military be restored to its proper role of military planning and that government-wide coordination of intelligence be resumed.

All of this is by way of pointing out that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, with little knowledge of the region, arrogated to themselves diplomatic, intelligence and operational functions, and made a mess of them all. Now Bush is trying to reverse course without admitting it. Nothing would make that prudent reversal clearer than firing this duo, who have ill served their president and country.

As the Foreign Affairs issue makes clear, there's a large, competent and mainstream body of foreign-policy experts ready to step in. Then, the American people can decide whether to fire Bush.

Robert Kuttner is co-editor of the Prospect.
This column originally appeared in the Boston Globe, 9-10-03

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Mistakes of Viet Nam repeated with Iraq
By Max Cleland
Former United States Senator, Viet Nam veteran.
Posted:September 18, 2003
The president of the United States decides to go to war against a nation led by a brutal dictator supported by one-party rule. That dictator has made war on his neighbors. The president decides this is a threat to the United States.

In his campaign for president he gives no indication of wanting to go to war. In fact, he decries the overextension of American military might and says other nations must do more. However, unbeknownst to the American public, the president's own Pentagon advisers have already cooked up a plan to go to war. All they are looking for is an excuse.

There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.

Based on faulty intelligence, cherry-picked information is fed to Congress and the American people. The president goes on national television to make the case for war, using as part of the rationale an incident that never happened. Congress buys the bait -- hook, line and sinker -- and passes a resolution giving the president the authority to use "all necessary means" to prosecute the war.

The war is started with an air and ground attack. Initially there is optimism. The president says we are winning. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense says we are winning. As a matter of fact, the secretary of defense promises the troops will be home soon.

However, the truth on the ground that the soldiers face in the war is different than the political policy that sent them there. They face increased opposition from a determined enemy. They are surprised by terrorist attacks, village assassinations, increasing casualties and growing anti-American sentiment. They find themselves bogged down in a guerrilla land war, unable to move forward and unable to disengage because there are no allies to turn the war over to.

There is no plan B. There is no exit strategy. Military morale declines. The president's popularity sinks and the American people are increasingly frustrated by the cost of blood and treasure poured into a never-ending war.

Sound familiar? It does to me.

The president was Lyndon Johnson. The cocky, self-assured secretary of defense was Robert McNamara. The congressional resolution was the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The war was the war that I, U.S. Sens. John Kerry, Chuck Hagel and John McCain and 3 1/2 million other Americans of our generation were caught up in. It was the scene of America's longest war. It was also the locale of the most frustrating outcome of any war this nation has ever fought.

Unfortunately, the people who drove the engine to get into the war in Iraq never served in Vietnam. Not the president. Not the vice president. Not the secretary of defense. Not the deputy secretary of defense. Too bad. They could have learned some lessons:

• Don't underestimate the enemy. The enemy always has one option you cannot control. He always has the option to die. This is especially true if you are dealing with true believers and guerillas fighting for their version of reality, whether political or religious. They are what Tom Friedman of The New York Times calls the "non-deterrables." If those non-deterrables are already in their country, they will be able to wait you out until you go home.

• If the enemy adopts a "hit-and-run" strategy designed to inflict maximum casualties on you, you may win every battle, but (as Walter Lippman once said about Vietnam) you can't win the war.

• If you adopt a strategy of not just pre-emptive strike but also pre-emptive war, you own the aftermath. You better plan for it. You better have an exit strategy because you cannot stay there indefinitely unless you make it the 51st state.

If you do stay an extended period of time, you then become an occupier, not a liberator. That feeds the enemy against you.

• If you adopt the strategy of pre-emptive war, your intelligence must be not just "darn good," as the president has said; it must be "bulletproof," as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed the administration's was against Saddam Hussein. Anything short of that saps credibility.

• If you want to know what is really going on in the war, ask the troops on the ground, not the policy-makers in Washington.

• In a democracy, instead of truth being the first casualty in war, it should be the first cause of war. It is the only way the Congress and the American people can cope with getting through it. As credibility is strained, support for the war and support for the troops go downhill. Continued loss of credibility drains troop morale, the media become more suspicious, the public becomes more incredulous and Congress is reduced to hearings and investigations.

Instead of learning the lessons of Vietnam, where all of the above happened, the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense and the deputy secretary of defense have gotten this country into a disaster in the desert.

They attacked a country that had not attacked us. They did so on intelligence that was faulty, misrepresented and highly questionable.

A key piece of that intelligence was an outright lie that the White House put into the president's State of the Union speech. These officials have overextended the American military, including the National Guard and the Reserve, and have expanded the U.S. Army to the breaking point.

A quarter of a million troops are committed to the Iraq war theater, most of them bogged down in Baghdad. Morale is declining and casualties continue to increase.

In addition to the human cost, the war in dollars costs $1 billion a week, adding to the additional burden of an already depressed economy.

The president has declared "major combat over" and sent a message to every terrorist, "Bring them on." As a result, he has lost more people in his war than his father did in his and there is no end in sight.

Military commanders are left with extended tours of duty for servicemen and women who were told long ago they were going home. We are keeping American forces on the ground, where they have become sitting ducks in a shooting gallery for every terrorist in the Middle East.

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President. Sorry you didn't go when you had the chance.

--Max Cleland, former U.S. senator, was head of the Veterans Administration in the Carter administration. He teaches at American University in Washington. Click for Original Link.

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09-15-03 Genetically Modified Crops Defend Bush
09-11-03 SPECIAL - 9/11 Commemorative Cartoon and Rant
09-02-03 The Book Is Better
08-28-03 God, I'm Confused
08-20-03 Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain
08-11-03 The Saudi Trifecta
07-21-03 Republican Test
06-11-03 Divided We Stand
06-09-03 Desperate Explanations
04-11-03 Protecting The Wal Mart Nation
04-05-03 The Cynic Pool; Jessica Lynch
03-17-03 Streets of Baghdad - Iraqis celebrate liberation, Dubya style
01-17-03 Open mic - Its an old Texas saying...you dance with them that brung ya.
12-31-02 Don't wanna go - New years cartoon


09-02-03 Facing the Truth About Iraq (by James Carroll, Boston Globe)
08-28-03 The Mother of all Nation Builders (By Dicke Meyers, CBS)
08-12-03 A "Liberal" Decries The New Imperialism (by Pat Buchanan)
08-11-03 Safety First (ICD)
07-21-03 Teach Me About Right and Wrong, Daddy (unknown)
06-09-03 Bush's Ass Backward Game Plan (by Underground Comic)
04-24-03 Cry About The Budget But... (by Iconoclast555)
04-17-03 A Kinder, Gentler Patriotism? (reprinted from Newsday)
04-13-03 What Is Real, In a Nutshell (reprinted from Boston Globe)
04-09-03 What's The Deal? (by Timbuk3)
04-07-03 An Attack on Modern Conservatism (by Iconoclast555)
03-28-03 Dixie Chicks Can Speak for Themselves (by RMcG)
03-26-03 That Was Then, This is Now - ("Desert Storm Support Kit") by RMcG

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