HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

September 17, 2007
More Garbage About Iraq From The Pols And The Media,
Plus Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Dean Lawrence R. Velvel
VelvelOnNationalAffairs.com


Life unflaggingly beckons. So I shall turn now from something that is fun to write about, Michigan football, to something that is dreadful to write about, the war in Iraq.

A lot of ink was recently spilled, and hot air blown, over whether Petraeus’ testimony had been cleared, even written, by the White House. (Petraeus denied this.) What is the matter with the MSM and politically oriented organizations? How simple minded are they? Do they seriously think it is necessary for the White House to vet, or approve, or write Petraeus’ testimony in order to be sure he does not get out of line? Do they seriously think Bush would have put somebody in Petraeus’ position in the first place if he wasn’t known to agree with the White House’s views?

The whole thing is an absurd tempest in a teapot, with opponents of the war thinking they must show White House vetting or approval in order to discredit Petraeus, and really obnoxious Republicans like Duncan Hunter, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Norm Coleman playing the sycophant to Petraeus and viciously attacking opponents. Pols like these three Republican hacks make you want to puke.

Then there is the question of what will now happen. Again, Washington politics, and pundits, act in ways that defy common sense and years of observation. (They ignore Yogi Berra’s wise admonition that you can observe a lot if you look.) Anybody with any sense knows that Bush isn’t going to take us out of Iraq. That would defy his long observed obstinacy, refusal to change his mind, refusal to admit mistakes. It is entirely obvious that, as Petraeus’ testimony indicated, Bush intends to keep us in Iraq. He intends to pass the problem on to the next President, who may well be a Democrat. Bush no doubt feels that, if the Democrat brings home our men, then Republicans can say that the Democrats lost Iraq, just as they said the Democrats lost China. The idea will also be that Bush’s historical reputation will look better because he and the other right wing wingnuts can say all would have been fine if only the next president had continued doing what George had been doing. All this is so obvious as a logical matter that it is painful.

It is also obvious that Bush is going to leave to his successor the awful question of what to do with terrorists whom we’ve tortured, held incommunicado, detained indefinitely. These people can’t be convicted in civilian courts: The Bush/Cheney gang saw to that by using interrogation methods that would cause the evidence to be thrown out of court. Unless Bush’s absurd military tribunals are upheld, with their rules that allow evidence to be used no matter how horribly it was obtained, the next president is going to have to deal with the impossible conundrum of what to do with the people who cannot be convicted yet ought not be set free. If they ultimately have to be set free because there is no lawful way to hold them any longer, once again Bush will say “Hey, it wasn’t me that let them out. Blame the courts and my successor.”

Then too it is again obvious that the Democrats aren’t going to force Bush to bring home the troops by cutting off funds for the war. They have neither the brains nor the guts to cut our losses (the way a smart business cuts its losses). Nor do they operate on the basis of any long run principle, such as the unhappy truth that war is always and everywhere a disaster -- and an unpredictable one at that -- which should be studiously avoided except in case of direst necessity and, when unavoidable, should be kept as short as possible. (Jefferson Davis, the Kaiser, Hitler, Johnson and Nixon, and Bush the Second are only some of the persons who have had to learn this to their sorrow.)

Nor do the Democrats even operate on the basis of truth. They beg off by saying they haven’t the votes to overcome a veto of a bill cutting off funds for the war. What weakneed unprincipled bovine defecation this is. They have more than enough votes, in each house, to refuse to pass any military or military funding bill that does not contain a provision cutting off all funds for the war (except for funds needed to safeguard troops while quickly bringing them home). Refuse to pass any bill that does not cut off funds, and our participation in the war will end soon enough. But neither the politicians nor the mass media want anyone to realize that this could be done.

There is, finally, the notion now being banded about, because of Robert Draper, that Bush isn’t as stupid as one thinks, since his acumen is far higher than one believes and the problem is not stupidity but obstinacy, refusal to admit mistakes, true belief, etc. Forgive me, but stupid is as stupid does. What would be the difference if Bush’s IQ were 160 -- in the genius range. What he has done and is doing is stupid, and that makes him stupid. The Draper argument is like the argument in favor of people who have gotten bad grades but, because of claimed potential shown by high SAT, GMAT OR LSAT scores, gain admission to universities or graduate schools and then get bad grades again despite their supposed potential. Such people are bad students regardless of their high aptitude test scores. Likewise, Bush’s actions make him stupid regardless of his claimed acumen.


This posting represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.  If you wish to respond to this email/blog, please email your response to me at velvel@mslaw.edu.  Your response may be posted on the blog if you have no objection; please tell me if you do object.


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