Morning Report 12/15/05
Bush Forges Early Lead in Iraq Polling
Continuing an astounding string of luck that started with his being born into a patrician oil family in the U.S. instead of a tribe of starving villagers someplace else on the globe, George W. Bush declared victory in Iraq before the polls opened and held onto an early lead as voting took place today.
Yes, the emperor's new clothes looked fine yesterday on the sixth day of Human Rights Week, didn't they? In spite of the fact that yet another document has surfaced from the Pentagon that frankly acknowledges a state of civil war in Iraq.
Hey, which war is important? Clearly, the propaganda war. And if Bush wins this round of it, our eventual pullout from Iraq will be even more painful than it's going to be. Only if Bush loses the propaganda war will the neocons lose power and more realistic pols take their place to start working on a solution. The barometer for this is John Bolton. As long as he's our ambassador to the U.N., we have no hope of putting together an international or regional peacemaking effort in Iraq.
Somehow, people think it's news that Bush, in his speech yesterday, took responsibility. He didn't say anything much different from what he's said before. Reading the stories about the speech, however, makes you think as if you're listening to elderly relatives, recalling their slow nephew's disastrous past performances in public readings, charitably cut him some slack for his latest attempt.
And then the public wind up arguing among themselves: "I think he convinced us!" "Well, I'm not so sure. Do you really think he sounded convincing? I'm not convinced that he convinced us."
As to the substance of Bush's recent agitprop campaign, the Washington Post's Peter Baker does a nice job this morning of breaking down the recent series of four pre-vote speeches on the war.
But an even more realistic look at Iraq is readily available from the Pentagon itself — not on its home page but buried in the latest issue of Strategic Insights, the invaluable e-journal produced by the military's own Naval Postgrad School's Center for Contemporary Conflict. (And I was going to steal the center's name for the White House. Too late.)
For a hearty breakfast, start with Aurel Croissant's introduction to the mag's December 2005 issue, which is devoted to the Bertelsmann Transformation Index 2006, a sophisticated, blunt, and seriously exhaustive study of political extremism and violence in 119 countries.
Any election held under these circumstances — especially while a foreign power tries frantically to get everybody and their cars off the streets so they can go back out on foot and vote and thus participate in "democracy" — is a sham. You thought Ohio and Florida were bad in 2000 and 2004. Oh, brother.
- The transformation process in Iraq is a result of recent military defeat and occupation. Its outcome is far from certain. The transformation process was dominated by the occupation authorities and their allies — mainly brought in from the Iraqi diaspora community — and characterized by a lack of sufficient resources, poor planning and insufficient understanding of Iraqi society. The United States and its allies failed to secure sufficient legitimacy for the process, on both the international and the domestic level.
Now, that is the kind of responsibility that Bush will not take. Somebody or some investigative body in the future will have to try to make him take it.
Meanwhile, everybody in the U.S. seems to think that just the act of voting is significant. It is nice that Iraqis are going to the polls. But the significance of it is more than uncertain, considering the civil war.
The headline on the Washington Post's main election piece notes that Iraqis are "undeterred by violence." Never mind that the ballyhooed election is taking place in a country under that severe lockdown engineered by nearly 200,000 foreign troops.
Did I mention that the voting took place during a nationwide vehicle ban?
You can read about other extreme measures on Australia's excellent News24 site, which notes that the Green Zone still experienced a big blast this morning:
- Despite blanket security, a huge blast was heard just after voting began, with a security source reporting it occurred inside Baghdad's heavily-protected Green Zone that houses the Iraqi government and the US embassy. …
The stringent security measures have brought Iraq to a virtual standstill as about 15.5 million Iraqis are called to vote for a new government.
Back to Bush and "responsibility": The campaign by Bush's handlers to declare this a victory for "democracy" will probably work. Just look at the lead paragraph of CNN's story yesterday:
- On the eve of Iraq's historic election, President Bush took responsibility Wednesday for "wrong" intelligence that led to the war, but he said removing Saddam Hussein was still necessary.
Gee, where have I read that Bush "took responsibility for going to war"? About a million other times, that's where. Like in this July 30, 2003, USA Today story:
- President Bush took responsibility Wednesday for using faulty intelligence about Iraq's quest for nuclear arms to justify going to war. But he said his claim that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons will prove true.
Let's return to yesterday's speech. No, Bush did not take responsibility. This is what his handlers had him say:
- When we made the decision to go into Iraq, many intelligence agencies around the world judged that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. This judgment was shared by the intelligence agencies of governments who did not support my decision to remove Saddam. And it is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong. As President, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq — and I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that.
It's not news that he says he's responsible for the decision to invade Iraq. His speechwriters were more careful than the press analyzing the speech. Besides, we fixed the pre-war intelligence, as the Downing Street Memo and other documents show.
Bush also said this yesterday:
- The United States did not choose war — the choice was Saddam Hussein's.
Yeah. And Bush said this:
- We removed Saddam Hussein from power because he was a threat to our security.
These are things you say that win plaudits?
We're the ones who have to take responsibility for Bush's faulty intelligence. We elected the guy twice.