Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Best Band Name. Ever.

Wide Stance.

Tip of the hat to Idaho Senator Larry Craig:
...explaining to the police that his foot touched the undercover officer's foot in the next stall because he has "a wide stance when going to the bathroom."

Saturday, August 25, 2007


Moral Confusion, Part II

This video has received a lot of play recently, and I'm linking to it and summarizing it here for posterity because a lot of the quotes I've read are incomplete. It's from a 1994 ABC news interview of Dick Cheney where he explains the (first) Bush administration's decision not to go on to Baghdad and remove Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War. The points Cheney makes are:
1) If we had gone to Baghdad, none of our Arab allies would have gone in with us, so it would have been a US occupation of Iraq.

2) Once you take down Saddam's government, what do you put in its place? It's a volatile part of the world, and once you remove the central government, you could start to see pieces of Iraq fly off, with the western part going to Syria, the eastern part to Iran (which fought an eight year war with Iraq over that part) and the north aligning with Kurds in Turkey, possibly threatening the territorial integrity of Turkey, our NATO ally.

3) All of the above would make an invasion and occupation of Iraq a quagmire (he actually uses the word).

4) Casualties: we suffered relatively light casualties in the operation to expel Iraq from Kuwait, but for the families of the 146 Americans who lost their lives, it wasn't a cheap war. The question was, how many more casualties were we willing to take in an operation to remove Saddam, and our judgment was: not very many; and I think we got it right.
So we're supposed to believe that the terrorist attacks by non-Iraqi al Qaeda elements on 9/11 changed this entire calculus for Cheney. For me, it solidifies what was already well-known about Cheney - that he uses sophisticated, well-informed rational-sounding arguments to support whatever he happens to believe at the time. If the needs of power necessitate a change in beliefs, the arguments change. It's as simple as that.

Friday, August 24, 2007


A Recipe for Moral Confusion

1) Invade a country to "prevent a madman from giving terrorists weapons of mass destruction" that UN weapons inspectors say are not even there.
2) Post-invasion, confirm that there are no weapons of mass destruction.
3) Change rationale for invasion to freedom, democracy, liberty for occupied country.
4) Face complex anti-occupation insurgency and civil war with massive casualties to population of occupied country.
5) Tell country you can't withdraw occupying forces for fear of civil war with massive casualties.
6) Slander people who opposed invasion and continuing occupation as defeatists; hang the prospect of civil war and associated mayhem around the necks of opponents of continued occupation.
7) Ignore all lessons of previous wars/occupations except those that give you phony moral high ground to slander people who oppose the continued occupation.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Simple Lessons

There's been a wave of well-deserved ridicule of Bush's conclusion that the lesson to take from the US experience in Vietnam is "we left before the job was done, leading to millions of deaths". Far be it from me to pile on, but since the US war on Vietnam is an obsession of mine I can't resist. Here goes. Forgive my intemperance, but Bush's words are ringing in my ears and the only way to get them out of my head is to write him this plea.

Dear Mr. George Fucking Walker Bush:

I'm going to conclude that you didn't really mean (or even really understand) what you said in your speech yesterday because the resounding, ringing, clanging, utterly overwhelming, gut-wrenching, soul-shaking, mind-shattering, what-could-we-have-been-thinking, supremely inescapable and unspeakably unavoidable conclusion from the US experience in Vietnam is that WE NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE! GET THIS THROUGH YOUR FUCKING THICK HISTORICALLY IGNORANT DADDY-PLEASING KNOW-NOTHING SKULL!!!!!

Mr. Bush: have you ever heard of the Geneva Accords of 1954? These accords ended French involvement in Vietnam, endorsed the territorial integrity of the whole of Vietnam and non-intervention from outside forces. Ominously, it also called for a physical separation between the nationalist Vietnamese forces (to the North) and those supporting the French regime (to the South), but with the explicit proviso that this separation was temporary and the country would be unified by nationwide elections in 1956.

The US was a signatory to these accords, but it immediately set about violating them by helping to establish a phony "government" in South Vietnam to replace the French administration. This government would have been a joke without US support, but its puppet in Saigon gave the US a pretext for intervention against so-called "internal aggression" by nationalist forces, who had the misfortune to also be Communist. It didn't matter that they were Vietnamese nationalists first (as the Pentagon Papers concluded just a few years later) and Communists a distant second. Like Islamofascist terrorism now, godless international Communism was the fear- and war-mongers' bugbear of the day, justifying any conceivable intervention the US military and political elites wished to pursue. Thus, the temporary separation between North and South became reified and the elections of 1956 were canceled, leading to decades of bloody war and deprivation of the most unimaginable kind.

So, Mr. George Fucking Walker Bush, ask yourself what would have happened had the US stayed out of Vietnam and allowed the Vietnamese people to decide the future of their country for themselves through internationally supervised elections in 1956. Would millions of Cambodians (whose lives you invoked in your speech yesterday) have died at the hands of the Khmer Rouge? Was the fact that the US left Vietnam in 1975 the cause of these deaths as you suggested in your speech yesterday? Or was it the fact that the US was there in the first place? I know that thought experiments of this type are not your forte, but what conclusion would you draw? It's a pretty simple thought experiment, really. Can you do it for me please? Please? My soul hurts just thinking about it, and I won't be able to rest until I know your answer. Please? I beg you.



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