it’s a long, long way to tucumcari

Time to beat the dead horse again. And frankly, if Iraq were a horse, that glue pot would have been used up long ago.

But here we are nearly three years after the Mission Accomplished photo-op, and still there is no end in sight. Not that this is at all surprising to informed observers. Way back then when I used the word “decades” to describe what it would take to change Iraq, I was treated as something akin to Benedict Arnold. Three years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, I have seen nothing to change my opinion on what is required to fundamentally alter the social calculus Over There.

Then again, when I suggest that it will take decades, I am assuming we are talking about competent governance of Iraq. That is looking like an unjustified assumption as well.

Yet Iraq-nam has worked out so well, it looks like serious consideration is being given to liberating Iran too. You should not buy the liberation thing this time either. Perhaps it could be adequately explained by jealousy on the part of Emperor W who wants to plant the American flag on more Arab soil than did Britannia at her apex. Covetousness can be such an ugly thing you know.

Unlike many Americans, Rule Uncle Sam simply doesn’t work for me.

The irony here is that I will probably end up opposing the impending intervention in Iran when in fact I have been and remain a strong advocate of containing the Iranian nuclear threat. Unlike the case in Iraq, the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is real and of ominous portent. The West must act, and ideally act in a unified fashion.

But what I can not support is continued ham-handed and unilateral actions under false pretenses. Let us name these coming military actions plainly for what they are-legitimate defensive moves against hostile threats and behave in accordance with honest agendas. The bad news is that we haven’t seen a shred of honesty out of the imperial court since…well, I’m sure there was something they were honest about.

The good news is that limited military action is likely to be effective against the Iranian nuclear infrastructure. The facilities that process uranium hexafluoride are relatively large and immobile. This is perhaps a tailor made opportunity for the military to unveil their “rods from god” system that does not exist. Wink.

An Iraq style invasion of Iran is simply unthinkable now as our reach has already well exceeded our grasp. The panic on world oil markets alone could bring down Western civilization. Something more narrow in time and scope is in order. To pull it off politically, action must be sudden and swift. Done well, such an action could in fact be stabilizing.

The larger problem here is that it is hard to find a soul in this world outside of the American Republican Party Faithful that trust our President to lead such an endeavor. The price of squandering our legacy of international good-will is going to be paid sooner rather than later I fear. We may in fact be in a position where unilateral action is the only viable action because of our recent forfeit of leadership ability.

And if we do not act, be even more afraid of unilateral action by Israel.

Whatever the facts may be or what is actually in the best interests of Americans and the World in general, we do know one thing for certain: this administration will pursue that which is in the best interests of the Republican party first and the rest only if it fits the party agenda. The administration is keeping up the misinformation campaign and doing so with increasing enthusiasm. War is Peace they tell us. Undoubtedly the focus groups are telling them that patriotic platitudes continue to sell well.

Thus the drums of war continue to beat loudly. The martial rhetoric and hubris are getting more deeply infused in our social consciousness with each passing day. Truly, we have become the heirs of Britannia in all the wrong ways. As this mindset deepens, I fear our culture will end up more like Sparta than the Shining City on the Hill and our legacy more like that of Alexander the Great than the America which liberated the world from the yoke of fascism.

We would do well to remember that we indeed follow in Alexander’s footsteps in undertaking to conquer Persia. Unlike Alexander, there is little doubt that militarily, we can do so. With a little luck, perhaps Emperor W’s name will not be cursed in Persia two-thousand years hence as is Alexander’s to this day.

But, I doubt it.

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impressionist pantings

If one stands closely to a Pissaro or Monet, it is often difficult to discern whether one is looking at a water lily, bridge or parasol. The individual brush strokes are bold and coarse; the subject resolves more clearly as one moves farther away. Up until the impressionist school changed Western art forever, realism was the order of the day.

The Bush administration foreign policy is radical in much the same way as was impressionism.

Looking at the brush strokes of the administration’s foreign policy endeavors, it is impossible to grasp the whole. It is often tempting to consider the elements independently and assess hubris or incompetence as being representative. But statements by this administration have trickled out over the last few days that are giving us more perspective and we can more confidently conclude what has been and continues to be the subject of 43’s magnum opus.

Unlike approaching a Van Gogh, however, let us first consider some of the details. Anyone who today doubts that Syria and Iran are directly in the crosshairs of the Bush doctrine scope were not paying close attention during the prelude to the war in Iraq. The casually dropped comments by senior officials and leaked words of senior advisors are more than just a little bit reminiscent of the early rumblings about Iraq. The tempo of events is already picking up speed.

If you care to listen, recent history is speaking to us and to the world with a roar that is as deafening as the administration’s feigned concern is shrill. In the media you can already hear the daily breathless panting of the officially distressed .

There is one significant difference: this time there are real weapons of mass destruction.

To point it out may in part be to say “I told you so”, but that it did not have to be this way is still so. The rapidly growing threat of Iran and North Korea were news well before we invaded Iraq. This Curmudgeon was advocating then the need for an aggressive policy to contain these real risks. Instead, we tilted at windmills while the real “giants” went unopposed in any meaningful way. Indeed, there is little doubt that the contrast of the alarmingly speedy regime change in Iraq with the more circumspect treatment of North Korea, which at that time already possessed nuclear weapons, gave new urgency to the need for WMDs for the very despots 43 would seek to depose. Like other humans, despots are rational actors.

Here on the other side of the chasm which is the Bush Doctrine, our options to deal with despots are increasingly limited. In the immediate post 9-11 groundswell of support, it might well have been possible to garner Western support for and perhaps even assistance in mounting targeted military strikes aimed at weapons of mass destruction infrastructure. What a shame that we forfeited the tactical advantage in favor of an attempt at strategic hegemony: given the capabilities of modern weapons and delivery systems there will often be little to gain militarily by taking and holding territory when weapons of mass destruction are at issue.

The great irony here is that preemption in the cause of nuclear and biological weapon containment can be easily defended. Indeed, I have done so in the past when I proposed a legal framework based on the International Law doctrine of Universal Jurisdiction as support for asserting United States jurisdiction over certain criminals in foreign territories. It is clear that it is the whole nation building and cultural export agenda of this presidential administration which calls our sensibilities into question. A botched invasion plan that left Iraqi lives shattered and Iraqi oil wells in production calls our motives into question as well.

But All the President’s Men do not seem to be questioning anything regarding the pursuit of the neo-con vision of a New World Order and it is looking increasingly unlikely that work on rebuilding old bridges will begin before the demolition of yet others. I fear that 43 will be entirely comfortable assembling another “coalition of the willing” which next time will likely consist of the United States and the Grand Duchy of Outer Kumquat.

The apparent lack of concern over the disintegration of the Western Alliance is clear evidence of a desire by the neo-cons for the United States to trod a new path and to do so essentially alone. I suspect 43’s upcoming trip to Europe will unveil a few more bold brushstrokes as a weak attempt is made to reassert American leadership in the face of the growing power of the European Union.

My sense, however, is that Europe is now set on a new path and understands that its’ future interests will often diverge from those of the United States. They understand that American leadership is not painting the natural scenes of the impressionists, but rather the egocentric themes of the expressionist school. Expressions of introspection rather than impressions of observation. Expressions of empire; not impressions of commonwealth.

The bold brush strokes thus have become more coherent and the imperious motives can be seen to unify the whole. Europe sees clearly that this “great work” is in fact a self-portrait.

One can only hope that old-fashioned realism will creep back into the technical repertoire of the foreign policy artists in the White House. One can hope that these students of the great masters will step back from their dabbling in radical expressions because while radical thought is to be lauded in the arts, it is to be mightily feared in the affairs of nations.

In this arena, where lives and livelihood hang in the balance, radical thought is the stuff of Armageddon.