Lou Quacious

Unseen Outsider Insight....

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Hypocrisy Posse

Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson formally launched his campaign last week, throwing his hat into what is already a crowded and convoluted ring. As Thompson, a man who in the past has called for the implanting of computer chips into U.S. citizens for monitoring purposes, rolled out the same tired parade of clichéd rhetoric we’ve been hearing for years about “Blame America Firsters” ruining the country and the Republican’s “Culture of Life” being the only possible saving grace, it got me thinking about the heights to which the hypocrisy has reached and the extent to which it has permeated our culture.

“Culture of Life” and “Blame America Firsters” are really just code phrases. Republicans use them to let their base know they are a. pro life and thus on some sort of moral high ground and b. not treasonous pinko-commie’s intent on seeing the country and its traditions destroyed utterly and completely. These same people so fervently promoting a “Culture of Life” are usually just as passionate about the death penalty and the current war on terror, neither of which seem to align themselves too easily with any sort of “Culture of Life”.

This is the same bunch shouting “support the troops” as a mantra out of one side of their mouth while out of the other they are cutting funds for veterans and then letting them recover in deplorable conditions at Walter Reed. Supporting the troops does not entail sending them into battle ill-equipped in the first place and then extending tours past promised deadlines. It’s not using deceptive recruiting practices and lower admission standards to keep numbers up. It’s not placing an undue burden on the Reserves and National Guard stretching those forces to the breaking point. It’s not having little or no psychiatric care available to returning veterans or their families, who have already suffered an unnecessary amount with their loved ones being gone so long and in such peril. So who’s really supporting the troops? Almost everyone supports the actual troops, it’s the war they have been sent off to wage and the neocon agenda behind it that is lacking in support. It’s this policy of an indefinite “war on terror” with no tangible hope for “victory”, that fewer and fewer people are backing, not the brave men and women who have become mere political pawns in this whole mess.

But what’s to be expected from a President who one minute claims to be a uniter not a divider and the next declares you’re either with him or against him. A man who ran on a platform of no nation-building but then appoints a whole cadre of neocons whose sole intent it now appears was to drum up justification for a war with Iraq.

The “Blame America Firsters” rhetoric is even worse in my mind, it is reminiscent of the same jingoistic, nationalistic nonsense the Nazis were fond of spouting. Like somehow by caring about the direction your country is taking and questioning the logic and reason of those leading the way you are undermining the nation. What’s so hypocritical about this idea is that the Republican’s are admitting we have fundamental problems that need addressing; yet looking inwards at ourselves and our policies is somehow the wrong way to begin solving those problems. Even in AA one of the first steps is to “make a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves”, so why not in matters of policy that have gone horribly off track? It’s obvious this administration has become drunk on power; hopefully someone has a moment of clarity soon before it’s too late. Somehow though the Republicans have convinced themselves that it would be highly un-patriotic at this point to do any soul searching or self analysis about where they are taking us and why. I guess they feel looking outward and blaming others for the failure of their principles is more patriotic and productive then any sort of self examination.

The President in a recent speech to an American Legion group in Northern Virginia spoke quite boisterously of how we were “laying the foundations of peace” in the Middle East. What with a whole lot of killing? I don’t think a shock and awe campaign bent on completely destroying all the most significant infrastructure of a country and then allowing a festering religious conflict to erupt into all out civil war with your bungling are the cornerstones of any kind foundation worth building on. Bush however sees his course so far as some sort of Marshall Plan on which to boast. He even compared Iraq to Japan saying how in the span of a generation his Father went from fighting with them to respectfully vomiting on them in friendship and allowing them to buy out the country at wholesale prices and he was optimistic about a similar relationship developing with Iraq. But Iraq is not Japan, the people aren’t united, they are divided by thousands of years of ethnic and religious strife, and were really only brought together and held in check by an oppressive dictatorship which we don’t have the stomach to impose with the whole world watching. Japan was put back together with a coherent, realistic plan, carried out by competent officials with the support of a willing, motivated populace. Not some free for all, private contractor nightmare, with no kind of logical plan, leadership or consideration for consequences and historical context.

This whole idea of a war on terror smacks of hypocrisy to me, freedom and democracy through force and occupation? Bringing the fight to them since they brought it to us, but wasn’t it a western presence meddling in Middle Eastern affairs for the past century that riled the jihadist up so much in the first place? Do the Bushies really think shock and awe and allowing a situation such as Abu Ghraib to occur on their watch is anyway to import Democracy? We’ve only instilled in another generation, or few, the idea that America and the western world really are the evil imperial force the extremists have been preaching to them about for so long. By trying to become the world’s police we’ve only become bullies in the eyes of most, just cruising for our comeuppance. We are supposed to be about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness not war, oppression, and repression.

The Democrats on the other hand aren’t going to let the Republicans have a monopoly on the hypocrisy, they hard at work with their newly bestowed power and leverage speeding to catch up in the hypocrisy race. They run and get elected on an anti-war platform then what do they do once in office? First they pass some carefully worded “non-binding” resolutions, and then an emergency spending bill with some kind of withdrawal tacked on that has no chance of avoiding veto. And since they don’t have the votes for an override it has as little teeth as their earlier “non-binding” nonsense. Also in case you didn’t notice the bill was $20 billion more then even Bush requested, giving Democrats the right to say “look we supported the troops more” while still holding a hard-line against the war, apparently they’re trying to have it both ways.

We may not have managed to spread Democracy in Iraq just yet, but we have imported some good old-fashioned hypocrisy. Samir Sumaida’ie the Iraqi ambassador to the United States spoke recently about the problems his country is facing and how they got there. He spoke of how years of sanctions and corruption had left his country weak and barely functioning (seemingly a good reason for us not to have gone to war to begin with but anyway). He also talked about how the disbanding of the police and army in early days of war (our call) and Saddam’s emptying of the prisons led to the inevitable situation of mob rule that now exists. He went on to say how the United States’ war on terror had thrust Iraq into the middle of an international terrorist war drawing the most extreme elements from all over the world to his country. He did not seem optimistic about the situation resolving itself anytime soon either, “to those seeking simple solutions, forget it.” Despite all this and in nearly the same breath he said he was however still grateful for the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation and felt the only chance for peace is for us to stay. This despite the fact that all we’ve brought them so far is chaos, more corruption, and barely a hint at stability.

With all the major institutions of the country destroyed either by the years of sanctions we imposed, the bombs we dropped, or our inept handling of the post-war, pre-insurgency window, where there was a real opportunity for change. It seems we owe the Iraqi people at least a chance at normal lives. There’s an obligation to finish what we started even though it will be tough, it will be bloody, and it will take a long, long time. The Iraqis don’t want tens of thousands of U.S. troops there indefinitely anymore then we do, so we need to work with those that will cooperate and get this thing as quickly as possible to a point where some sanity and calm and normalcy prevail.

The biggest problem with this administration and the government in general isn’t the hypocrisy it’s the arrogance and incompetence, both dangerous traits for those in power, but especially so at this juncture in history. The president and his cronies will continue to run full bore with only the support of an ever more marginalized base and little to no oversight from a Congress that acts virtually impotent at this point. The Democrats on the other hand are too distracted holding their popularity contest to do anything substantial and so far seem downright unable or unwilling to hold anyone accountable or to check the powers of the increasingly unilateral executive branch. It really isn’t in their best interest at this point to try and do anything anyway. That would only make it so they owned a little bit of this mess that they for so many obvious reasons want nothing to do with. The Democrats are probably better off letting Bush have his way, because they don’t have any good alternatives yet and there really isn’t any popular, easy way off the perilous road we are already on.

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