Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Shadow Dance

So General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker are hauled up before the House and Senate and the predictable little dance ensues. It's like a Broadway theatre outing: nothing is quite what it appears; nothing can be taken at face value. On either side. It's all part of The Big Show. The General and Ambassador are trying to put the best possible face on the situation to keep their betters happy; the politicians who appear to grill the officials have their electors in mind, with lots of jobs up for grabs next year and public disaffection at near-record levels.

That's politics as usual, I know--governing by committee is naturally a scattershot endeavor, with the way forward (when we can even agree on a way forward) defined by the approximate center of the blast. It's like a moth flying from point A to point B by way of a meandering path that covers 10 times the distance. And it's why I can't get excited by any politician of any stripe. The best I can do is muster outrage at what clearly ISN'T working. As it happens, these are tough times to try and be apathetic.

But the hearings. The General and the Ambassador get to stand up and take the nation's heat for our country's worst policy, and the outcome is... more of the same. Stay the course.

My problem is not their conclusions, exactly. Colin Powell said at the outset that intervention in the Middle East is a you-break-it-you-buy-it proposition, and that's exactly what we find. A too-hasty or unconsidered pulling out of the troops will not only be disastrous for those troops (who are, after all, putting their necks on the line for us), but the issue will follow us; there's no leaving it over there. So their urging that we "give it more time" is no more than what one might expect. It's also what our boy-idiot president wants, which is no endorsement.

But this whole circus just pisses me off further, since this was all known and foreseen by many people before the war was commenced.

And that leads me back to this point that Republicans, no doubt, want to move on from--but I can't: how does one man have the power and ability to commit the nation to so disastrous an undertaking without any meaningful checks and balances? Cheney et. al. have been busy arguing for pretty much unrestricted presidential power in foreign affairs and warmaking, but the potential--and now realized--consequences of that policy are shackling every citizen of this country for a generation and beyond--financially and morally. And that doesn't even touch on the consequences to Iraq and the Middle East of this course of action (which I'm certainly not able to speak intellingently toward, but I cannot imagine anyone giving the region a better bill of health now in the aftermath). Whatever weaknesses attach to giving the legislature its bite at this apple prior to our launching hostilities, the negative consequences for us of another three month delay are infinitesimal compared to the bubbling cauldron of shit we find ourselves in now.

I cannot but think that there is no candidate on earth whose election, even by a 100% vote, could bring relief from this reign of malevolent incompetence (though it would be a huge step forward to just stanch the bleeding). I don't even think a trial and impeachment and forcible removal from office would do it. This seems a monstrous policy which will not begin to be erased by this president's being whisked off to retirement on his ranch.

Maybe the lesson from that scattershot model of governance is to take your pleasure in the little triumphs, and to acknowledge forward progress when it is made.

But I'm a slow learner.


Jeffy said...

I am sad to say that I think that the checks and balances DID get exercised properly in this case, but unfortunately all of the 'checkers' were as snowed by the BS as the rest of us. Congress voted by a pretty wide margin to follow W down this path. Maybe that is all the more reason to not care for any politicians of any sort.

I am not saying the W and his team didn't lie, cheat and scheme to get congress to agree to this war, but it shouldn't be that easy to steer our country into such a fiasco.

wunelle said...

True enough. At the outset of this, I felt the case hadn't been properly made to go to war, but I also thought there MUST be information that we don't have--information that gave those in power some special insight. So my opposition grew over time when I realized that my most cynical fears were in fact realized.

In the end, I don't know how to get around this vulnerability. It's like we're all held hostage by our tendency to believe in the good intentions of others. Maybe more checks in lieu of trust--since the trust thing has been a debacle.