Thursday, 15 December 2011

Rewriting Rambling John Bolton

I was reading 'Mad Dog' John Bolton's piece in the Guardian today ( and it occurred to me that if he were to say the exact opposite of what he was saying, the article would be intelligent, informed and sober. Instead of being crazy, deluded and apparently genocidal.

So I took inspiration from the incomparable Lawrence O'Donnell and rewrote it for him. One challenge this presented was that it seems John Bolton wants to have it both ways: he wants to say that 1) withdrawing from Iraq will lead to conflict and an empowered Iran and instability because there will be a power vacuum. But he also wants to say that 2) invading Iraq in the first place was not going to lead to an empowered Iran and instability in the region.

His position appears logically untenable, until you realise that what he is really saying is that the US should have made war in Iran, Syria and Lebanon (to name but a few) in order to avoid this situation. The true horror of his position is just unimaginable to rational, civilised human beings.

*All edits are made in caps.
*apologies: he does go on.

PARTY TIME, America's withdrawal from Iraq heralds FREEDOM FOR IRAQ | NOT John Bolton

America's complete withdrawal of its troops from Iraq is an AWESOME SUCCESS. It ENDS the SHITSTORM made by President Bush's (and Tony Blair's) eminently IDIOTIC 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein, WHICH RISKED the broader Middle East falling into chaos. HAPPILY, Bush himself initiated this SUCCESS by agreeing to this end point in our status-of-forces agreement with Iraq, but it was consummated by Barack Obama, who never wanted to be in Iraq, and who is now OBLIGATED to pull the plug.

But those, like Obama, who welcome US withdrawal as vindicating their opposition to the Iraq war are profoundly VICTORIOUS, AS IT SERVES TO PROTECT the international coalition's real successes in Iraq WITH the COURAGEOUS DECLARATION of their McGovernite "come home, America" strategy.

First, the world is MORE DANGEROUS with Saddam dead and his regime on history's ash heap. He was a military aggressor, a tyrant BUT NOT a terrorist supporter. His record of developing and using weapons of mass destruction is HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE, and his future course, had he succeeded in ending UN economic sanctions and freeing Iraq of weapons inspectors, WAS PROBABLY A DEMISE AT THE HANDS OF HIS OWN PEOPLE. Now, no longer will Saddam invade his neighbours and MAKE EMPTY THREATS OF the use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against either his fellow citizens or foreign adversaries, AND WE CAN TAKE OUR thumb OFF the world's economic windpipe. With 20-20 hindsight, we now see we should have LEFT HIM TO THE WRATH OF HIS OWN PEOPLE, LIKE GADDAFFI.

Second, Iraq is a better place without THE US and THEIR OCCUPATION. Anyone who believes differently has to argue that tyranny is better than representative government and rebut Benjamin Franklin's penetrating observation, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty not safety." Good luck with that.

Undeniably, the period between Saddam's overthrow and today was grim, and deadly for too many. Post-Saddam, we should have rapidly handed over civil authority to Iraqis rather than establishing the Coalition Provisional Authority. BECAUSE OF the CPA's LAZY, HAM-FISTED efforts, al-Qaida and Iran were BOOSTED BY its highly visible role, thus creating steadily deteriorating security conditions, even as the Iraqi people WERE DENIED the institutions of a free society. President Bush's 2006-07 surge overcame many, but far from all, of the security threats that existed, again setting Iraq on the WAR path. It is thus particularly KIND to Iraqis that Obama is withdrawing according to a SOBER, essentially RATIONAL timetable, rather than one based on THE OPINIONS OF IDIOTS LIKE JOHN BOLTON.

Third, and JOHN BOLTON DOESN'T KNOW THE MEANING OF irony, US withdrawal from Iraq will CONSTRICT Iran's influence there and throughout the region, STYMYING Tehran's progress toward achieving ANY OF WHAT THE DELUDED JOHN BOLTON IMAGINES ARE its goals. A TINY PORTION OF THE criticism of our overthrowing Saddam rested on the argument that terminating his regime eliminated a strong Arab-Sunni barrier to expanding Iranian-Shia influence. That view was always simplistic, given the region's vastly complex religious and ethnic politics. We had NO threats to combat, and eliminating THE IRAQI REGIME inevitably CREATED THE EXCUSE TO CONFRONT IRAN in due course. FORTUNATELY, under both Bush and Obama, we ARE DEALING adequately with Iran's nuclear-weapons programme and its support for terrorism. That Iran is now more of a danger stems far more from JOHN BOLTON'S failure AND overthrowing Saddam THAN IT DOES FROM ANYTHING OBAMA HAS DONE.

IT IS THE FAULT OF BUSH AND BOLTON THAT Iran has already substantially increased its meddling inside Iraq, both influencing the regime of Nouri al-Maliki and enhancing the capabilities of terrorist thugs like Muqtada al-Sadr. It is challenging its Arab neighbours across the Gulf, threatening to close the Straits of Hormuz and target the US bases and facilities there (as well as Nato forces in Turkey). Tehran is obviously willing to shed considerable Syrian blood to keep Assad's dictatorship in power, and Hezbollah effectively in control in Lebanon. And Iran moves inexorably closer to its long-sought objective of nuclear weapons deliverable by intercontinental ballistic missiles.

IT IS QUESTIONABLE WHETHER the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq will increase Iran's relative regional power. America's Arab allies in the Gulf Co-operation Council are extraordinarily nervous about THEIR OWN PEOPLE DEMANDING REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENTS, especially under the STRONG, PRINCIPLED AND DECISIVE Obama presidency. Containing and ultimately overthrowing the regimes in Iran and Syria could have been A CATASTROPHIC MISTAKE ON A PAR WITH the US military presence in Iraq, and will clearly be much EASIER after our withdrawal. Those who say they want Iran contained should have supported WITHDRAWAL FROM Iraq A LONG TIME AGO OR, BETTER, SHOULD HAVE STOOD AGAINST GOING IN 9 YEARS AGO.

In short, our withdrawal from Iraq presages a world where Obama-style policies of American DECENCY and UNDERSTANDING have prevailed. Be warned: you'll miss OBAMA when HE'S gone. By then, of course, it will be too late.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Gingrich Surge/Car Crash

It is a seriously flogged horse to say that the Presidential politics of the US is the most ugly, crazy, un-inspiring rubbish available on basic cable. I can feel my soul eroding just watching these characters compete to be the craziest idiot at the gun fair.

I seriously need to get away from this bull, but it's like watching a car crash in slow motion.

Everyday you can see other pieces of the bumper bend and break, the engine crumpling, -will the airbags fail to open? - the faces of the people in the car widening their eyes and bracing for impact as the seat-belts stretch under the strain.

Newt Gingrich is a long-odds front-runner for the Republican nomination, but one with a 20 point lead in the polls over Mitt Romney. Barney Frank (Democrat of Massachusetts) says he doesn't feel that he's lived a good enough life to be able to run against a Republican party that nominates Newt Gingrich for president.

I happen to agree: Gingrich will fall away and the nominee will be Mitt Romney and he and Obama will have a nice little bloodless campaign in which Obama will win with 50.0000001% of the vote.

That is my prediction, and since I've made one, I now have to follow it to the end. The airbags (Mitt Romney) will open and the wide-eyed faces of those people in the car will be covered and saved by their soft embrace. Then those airbags will slowly deflate and the car-wreck will be left, still and silent, on the side of the road.

But the longer it takes for those airbags to open, the longer it goes that Romney sits on 22% in Republican polls, the more tension those watching will feel, the more and more likely it seems that this car wreck is going to be ugly, with faces splayed across the dashboard.

What happens if the airbags refuse to open?

Gingrich has a litany of sleaze, fraud, flip-flops, affairs and convictions on his record that no other politician can boast.

This is a man who left two wives, both of whom were hospitalised with potentially terminal illnesses at the time he served them with divorce papers.

This is the man who was in the third year of an affair when condemning, moralising over and impeaching President Clinton for doing exactly the same thing with Monica Lewinsky.

He is the Speaker of the House with the largest ever fine ($300,000) for ethics violations relating to campaign finance fraud, and the only Speaker to be convicted of ethics violations by a house committee. The House voted 395-28 to convict him - including 198 Republicans - making his recent claims that it was a 'partisan witch hunt' patently false.

And that's just for starters. But right now he's on about 40% in national polls of Republican voters with less than a month until the votes start getting counted. Everything this guy says is tainted by his repugnant persona, his hypocrisy, his life being the lie he accuses his opponent of.

His presence has made the dialogue horrifying. Take his comments about 'helping' children from poor backgrounds:

He also suggests that poor children should be assistant janitors in schools "to sweep the floor and clean the bathrooms" and that child labour laws should be repealed.

It is like he doesn't remember what school was like. He doesn't realise that those kids would immediately become a second class within the student body, attacked and bullied by their peers. I worked after school, as did my wife, doing service stuff (I set-up for the archery club and put up the tennis nets) but it wasn't part of a program to 'help poor kids' so there was no stigma. As soon as the category is created there would be an underclass of poor students whose job it would be to serve and clean up the mess left by the others - it's repugnant.

That's before we even address how condescending and vilifying these statements are, saying that simply because one is from a poor background, one has no idea what work is. In many cases it is quite the opposite.

Or, indeed, mention that this proposal is, in essence, a green light for children to be pressed into work for a pittance at whatever age they are able - be it by their parents or by the state.

Watching the Republican party rally to these sorts of proposals chills the blood and marks out why elections matter.

Funnily enough, they matter in the same way that airbags matter: if you're doing fine, making money, got yourself a nice business or a great job in a robust sector, then elections don't matter too much - you'll be taxed either 35% or 38% depending on who wins, the trains will be more or less often delayed, the roads better paved or not - that sort of thing.

But if you crash - if you are doing badly, if something goes wrong for you, then elections start to matter a hell of a lot more, as then you'll want some kind of way out of your situation and you might not find it in the private sector. You want incentives for hiring, or you want decent healthcare, or you want adequate public transport, or a fire engine, or a policeman at your door within five minutes. Then you want that airbag, though you may never use it.

The Republicans need Romney now to save face, but will they realise it in time? He has shown no signs of flourishing. Maybe he never will.

This could get SO ugly.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Requiem for Herman Cain

Herman Cain is gone. He's also a narcissist, as is plain from his rambling, incoherent, at times disturbingly meaningless suspension speech. I may be rather a stickler for the comprehensible use of language, but there is no way that calling off your campaign because you are a hopelessly unqualified, sleazy self-promoter who's about to file for divorce (most likely) isn't the very definition of 'quitting'.

This imbecile, completely ignorant of the world around him, was not able to grasp the first precepts of cultivating a serious public persona.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.