Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rami Khouri on Obama's "300"

As ever, Rami Khouri tells it like it is - in this instance, reminding us that it was Mr. Bush's Iraq escapade, and its enforcers, that lit the fire that threatens to consume Iraq altogether.  He also spotlights the hypocrisy of Obama's warning Iran that it must play a constructive role:

Obama’s comments on Iran are truly offensive. He resorts to his hallmark “audacity” in saying that Iran can be part of the regional diplomatic action needed to bring calm to Iraq if Iran plays a constructive role in Iraq. There is zero credibility in such statements coming from the president of a country whose war on Iraq probably created the most destruction there since the Mongol invasion and sacking of Baghdad in 1258. If there were a global award for willful and criminal destruction of a sovereign state by a foreign power, the U.S. and the United Kingdom would have to share that prize for their policies in Iraq.

Obama’s disdainful treatment of Iran reflects, however, a pattern of American attitudes that the U.S. can do anything around the world and not be held accountable for the death and destruction it causes, while smaller and darker states in the South must conform to behavioral norms set in Washington (and sometimes in Tel Aviv, though Israel usually is exempt from adhering to the same norms, as we witness today in the mass arrests, collective punishments and continued arrest and killing of children in Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands).

Indeed.  Well said.




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Friday, June 20, 2014

The Pathetic Figure that is Dick Cheney

Amy Davidson's New Yorker post spotlights the recent column by the Cheneys (Dick and Elizabeth) calling out Mr. Obama for not manning up and reinserting US forces into Iraq.  As Davidson puts it:

On Tuesday, Dick and Liz Cheney published a column in the Wall Street Journal suggesting that it was a shame and a failure that the American war—which the elder Cheney had helped start—had not gone on and on. American soldiers, they suggested, should be there right now. “It is time the president and his allies faced some hard truths: America remains at war, and withdrawing troops from the field of battle while our enemies stay in the fight does not ‘end’ wars. Weakness and retreat are provocative.”


In the Cheneys’ contorted diagram of history, going to war is itself a victory. They seem to see Iraq’s wreckage as a vindication of that war, not an indictment of it. It is difficult, otherwise, to explain their contempt for Obama’s withdrawal of troops. (“President Obama seems determined to leave office ensuring he has taken America down a notch.”) On this question, the Cheneys appear to be out of touch even with many in their own party. When Megyn Kelly, interviewing the Cheneys on Fox News, told Cheney that he had made a historic mistake in Iraq, he seemed startled enough to address her as “Reagan.” Perhaps the Cheneys and other conservatives do realize that the American public has come to view the Iraq War as a disaster, and have simply persuaded themselves that the only way to void that judgment is to get the war going again.

Sad, isn't it, that such a once-powerful public figure is utterly unable to imagine a world stage without American full-spectrum dominance.  Nor can he imagine - much less accept - that the actions he encouraged, and policies he advocated (torture, anyone?), merit his own disgrace and banishment from the cohorts of serious discussion.  (One might consider Tony Blair as a similar case in point.)

Watching CNN's broadcast special on the Vietnam War last night, I couldn't help noticing its serendipitous timing with a new  insertion (in this instance, re-insertion) of American military forces into a region whose cultural dynamics they and their leaders cannot comprehend, and into a conflict in which (contra Dick Cheney and John McCain) they cannot "prevail" (to borrow General Westmoreland's promise of almost 50 years ago). 


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