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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, May 5, 2006

A pitiful, helpless giant.

Why can't Dubya's administration extricate the US from the Iraq quagmire? Why does it continue to think that making tweaks to a strategy that's proved itself disastrous will somehow turn things around. According to Tom Engelhardt, it's because of a fascination with the supposed 'preponderance' of US power in the world, and all it has to do to win in Iraq (or anywhere else) is to just exercise that preponderant power intelligently.

Talk about power and preponderance, then [early 2002] and now. When administration officials peered out from the capital of the globe's only "hyperpower" at desperate, starveling, grim-faced North Korea with its possible nuclear weapon or two, riven, fundamentalist Iran with all that oil but a per-capita income level of something like $2,000 a year, and, of course, war-ravaged, sanctions-weakened, pitiful Iraq, held together by engineering ingenuity, mad dictatorial power, and baling wire, how could they not have been dazzled by the preponderance of possibility that seemed to lie before them?

Still -- and it's a big still -- when they struck, they chose by far the weakest of the three evil lands, the one least likely to be able to whack back. They decided to send the cavalry against Saddam's by-then hopelessly fifth-rate military. They were going to stomp his forces, take him down, locate themselves in the non-Saudi part of the Middle East, and then turn around and intimidate the rest of the "axis" (as well as Syria, and anyone else in sight). It would be, in neocon Kenneth Adelman's famous prewar word, a "cakewalk."

Okay, we all know now that these oh-so-practical plans were part and parcel of a set of fantasies meant for the consumption of the American public, but no less believed in by them for all that. In fact, although just about everyone on the planet then believed, to one degree or another, in American preponderance, no one believed in it more firmly or deeply than the top officials of the Bush administration. And what glorious, theocratic dreams they had based on that belief. Best of all, they could dream on the cheap, so sure were they that their foes would be as dazzled by our preponderance as they were. As Paul Wolfowitz put it, Iraq was a country that "floats on a sea of oil" and we, of course, were going to be floating atop it. We would have, in the phrase of that moment, "permanent access" to Iraq for all time to come. Now, a cool $300-400 billion later with only perhaps another trillion dollars to go...)

As it happened, a bunch of Sunni "bitter-enders" weren't as impressed with us as we were and the rest of the unraveling you know; and now, it seems, nobody's all that impressed. Not the North Koreans. Not, certainly, the Iranians, who are, if anything, too radically unimpressed with the preponderance of American power for their own good.

Anyway, you would think, under such circumstances, that someone up there might perhaps ponder a bit. But, by the evidence, no such luck -- despite the revolt of the retired generals (seven or eight of them standing in for a bevy of disgruntled, angry non-retirees). What rethinking there has been seems just so completely retro-imperial, so-Vietnam, that it's hard to even find words to sum it up.

And, as if to prove that their thinking is 'so-Vietnam,' the big thinkers in Dubya's administration are ready to widen the current war in Iraq by attacking Cambodia Iran. Engelhardt sums up the intelligence of such an attack concisely:

Question: What's the difference between the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and a future massive air assault on Iran?

Answer: When it comes to Iran, the nature of the catastrophe will be evident on day one.

There's a whole lot more to chew on in Engelhardt's piece, which you can read here. You'll be sorry if you pass it up.

Via TomDispatch.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:01 AM | Get permalink




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