Thursday, March 08, 2007

Quotes du Jour on the War


It is impossible not to feel fury at the shameful neglect of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed’s outpatient facilities, just a few miles from an oblivious and neglectful White House. . . .

There is plenty of blame to go around. Officials at Walter Reed were egregiously negligent. The Army’s high command, and the Joint Chiefs above them, were too weak-kneed or obtuse to demand adequate resources for medical care — just as they were too fearful for their own careers to demand adequate troops to fight the Iraq war to begin with.

But the fundamental responsibility rests with the president and his former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who stubbornly insisted on going to war without sufficient resources — and then sought to hide the costs of their disastrous mistakes from the American public.

Is it any surprise that the war’s wounded have been hidden away in the shadows of moldy buildings by an administration that refused to let photographers take pictures of returning coffins? Or a White House that keeps claiming that victory in this failed and ever more costly war is always just a few more months away?


I participated for the first time at a roundtable telephone conference with Maj Gen William Caldwell . . . attended by approximately half a dozen bloggers. The major message was that the security plan in Iraq is working, but needed time -- months at least -- to fully achieve its goals, a fact the nation needed to understand if it were to have the patience to allow the plan to succeed. Patience needs a reason and there are now only indicators the security plan is working. They are encouraging indicators and I felt (and this is subjective opinion) that Caldwell did not want to make too much of them in order to avoid prematurely raising expectations. One blogger participating detected even in recent press coverage a note of guarded optimism (except in publications like the NYT) in the recent coverage that was surprising, to say the least. Whether this is just the bloom on the rose or whether the media are picking up collateral confirmation of real progress remains to be seen.


The Scooter Libby perjury conviction, by itself, is not a major story to average Americans living their lives outside the Washington Beltway. I would bet that there aren't more than a relative handful of citizens who can recite exactly who Libby spoke to and when, and what it was that he conveniently misremembered. But the details don't matter. What counts is the shorthand: that the vice president's top guy got nailed in court for a scheme to discredit a critic of the unpopular Iraq war. What counts is the war, and, for a lot of Americans, this court conviction is merely further evidence of how - from inception to execution - it has gone wrong.

[A]t bottom, Mr Libby's lies concerned Iraq. The administration wanted to invade Iraq. Mr Cheney, and through him Mr Libby, was not particular about how to do it. When Mr Wilson publicly questioned the weapons of mass destruction case for war he therefore made himself a Cheney enemy. As a consequence, the White House took its revenge on him through his wife. Mr Libby lied to protect not just his boss but his boss's unjust war. That's why yesterday's verdict matters. This affair is not over yet - not by a long chalk.


Add them up. We witness another horrifying suicide bombing in Iraq, murdering dozens of Shiite pilgrims. There is damning evidence that U.S. attorneys were leaned on by Republicans before the elections to bring cases against some Democrats - and the ones who refused were then fired. The vice-president's closest aide has been found guilty of perjury over whether he and his boss tried to discredit a critic in the summer of 2003 with respect to pre-war WMD intelligence. The guiltier parties - Rove and Armitage and Cheney - are still in power. We now see shameful neglect of injured veterans under the very noses of the defense secretary. On the intellectual front, we have now seen a conservative icon reveling in bigotry in full view of the national media and at the same podium and on the same day as Giuliani and Romney. Any one of these stories individually is damaging. Together, they exert a hurricane-strength storm on the Bush administration and the conservative movement.


Hat tip to The Reaction for juxtaposed images

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