HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

May 21, 2007
Harvard Square Observer

The President Obfuscates

Ernest Cassara


Editorial note: Ye Olde Observer is presently in London, the English London, enjoying the cultural activities - concerts, plays, etc. - of that great city.  Okay!  The cultural activities include sitting in his favorite pubs. But, be that as it may, while he is away, the HSC will be featuring columns from the past.  He likes to think of them as “golden oldies.”  Whether you agree, of course, is another matter!


From the HSC issue of 19 & 26 December 2004

It is difficult to keep up with the latest excuses for our invasion of Iraq.  Let’s see, it seems like a long time ago, but, were we not told that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that he could deliver them - we were not told by what means! - against us?  Tony Blair used the same excuse for the UK joining the US in a preemptive war.  Otherwise known as a war of choice.

The latest excuse is that we are “fighting terrorists in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here.”  Well, that sounds impressive.  I’ve heard the president say it, and, it must have been included in the daily sheet of Republican “talking points.”  Heard Scott McClellan, the president’s spokesman, use the same terminology at a daily briefing of the press.  The problem, of course, is that our presence in Iraq is creating more terrorists just dying to get even with us.

Actually, folks hearing this conflating by our leaders of the resisters in Iraq with terrorists, it is natural that they should believe it.  Just as Vice President Cheney claiming time after time that Saddam Hussein had a connection with the horrendous events of 9/11/2001 convinced many Americans that it was true.  Cheney’s was a bald faced lie, of course.  If you hear the confusion often enough, you begin to use the same terminology.  I noticed an anchor on the New England Cable News Network speaking of the Iraq war as the war on terror.  When I called this to the attention of the management, they agreed that this should not be done and assured me that they would call it to the attention of their various anchors.

President Bush has said on a number of occasions lately that he will not accept anything but “complete victory” in Iraq.  Sounds good, if you are a rah-rah gung ho pugnacious type.  But, to be practical about it, how will one define “complete victory” in Iraq?  When Howard Dean,  head of the national Democratic Party, said we could not win in Iraq, the usual loudmouthed suspects among the Republicans called him unpatriotic.  Thus proving once again the truth of Dr. Johnson’s statement that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels”!  Dean later moderated his stance - unfortunately.  What Dr. Dean has yet to learn is that one cannot be honest in national politics in the US today.  His disadvantage on the national scene is that he is from plain-speaking Vermont!

You will recall that Senator George Aiken, also the state of Vermont,  during the Vietnam war, said that the US should just declare victory and leave.  This, I predict will be what Mr. Bush does.  One caveat, however.  The war gung ho imperialistic crowd among us will want to hold onto the various military bases we have built in Iraq and in Afghanistan.  After all, we have ringed the globe with them.

The president has also said that intelligence was “defective,” thus his decision to go to war was - what?  Defective?  Oh, no, he would do the same if he had to do it over again, he says. So, it really does not matter whether the intelligence was “defective.”  Everyone in the world knows, of course, that he and the neocons were determined to invade Iraq and were seeking an excuse. I might add that I resided for a score of years not very far from the huge CIA complex in Langley, Virginia.  I’ve often wondered how they spend their time, if their product is so defective.  I’d like to believe that they do not spend the entire day in coffee breaks!

Of late, my mind has dredged up the figure of Robert A. Taft.  (Not the present Robert Taft, governor of Ohio, but his grandfather.)  In the 1940s, in the days of my idealism, I was opposed to Senator Taft’s isolationism, hoping that the United Nations would bring human beings from around the world together.  I was not happy with Taft’s anti-labor views, but, his desire to keep the U.S. on this side of the Atlantic, had he prevailed, may have stemmed the desire of American politicos to dominate the world.   Unfortunately, the US was sucked into the First World War by British propaganda, when it was none of our business, and, the inevitable result was that we were party to the Versailles Treaty that was one of the major causes of the Second World War.  Since then, although we had noble goals in helping to rebuild our opponents in Europe and the Far East, we have fallen into the imperial trap.

I’ve been reading Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror, by “Anonymous,” since revealed to be an ex-CIA man, Michael Scheuer.  A very sobering account it is of how the US is screwing up in the Middle East.  Scheuer demonstrates great understanding of Islam and the ideals of its followers, something that the U.S. neocons lack.  His analysis of the motivation of Osama bin Laden and the goals of al Qaeda you will not find in the news media.  Profound.

Seems to me that President Bush said some time or other that democracies do not attack other countries.  Well, what does that make us?


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