Friday, August 24, 2007

Quotes From Around Yon Blogosphere

Not that they're worried or anything. But the White House evidently leaves little to chance when it comes to protests within eyesight of the president. As in, it doesn't want any.

A White House manual that came to light recently gives presidential advance staffers extensive instructions in the art of "deterring potential protestors" from President Bush's public appearances around the country.

Among other things, any event must be open only to those with tickets tightly controlled by organizers. Those entering must be screened in case they are hiding secret signs. Any anti-Bush demonstrators who manage to get in anyway should be shouted down by "rally squads" stationed in strategic locations. And if that does not work, they should be thrown out.

But that does not mean the White House is against dissent -- just so long as the president does not see it. In fact, the manual outlines a specific system for those who disagree with the president to voice their views. It directs the White House advance staff to ask local police "to designate a protest area where demonstrators can be placed, preferably not in the view of the event site or motorcade route."


I could feel it coming long before Bush said it. The Republicans are going to blame those that opposed the war, and forced its conclusion, for the bloodbath and the instability that ensue when we leave. They are going to say that we are the ones that didn't care about Iraqis.


Most Americans may well have taken it as an insult that George W. Bush, of all people, sought yesterday to lecture them about American history. It can be argued that the former C student, and current steward of one of America's signature foreign policy disasters, is ill-qualified to pose as an historian, but such trifles hardly deter the Decider.


In the middle of a crisis even more dangerous than Vietnam, President George W. Bush sits isolated in the White House, surrounded by a dwindling band of advisers, and continues to talk about winning in Iraq. His supporters in Congress and the media seize every short-term success, in Washington or Iraq, to flog their opponents as defeatists and lay the groundwork for a stab-in-the-back narrative. His critics in Congress and the media clamor for him to admit defeat and begin an immediate withdrawal. Over the course of 2007, the two sides haven’t begun to negotiate the possibility of a compromise; instead, they are driving each other to increasingly bitter resistance. The national tragedy in Iraq is taking place against a political culture personified by the departed Karl Rove: tactically brilliant, strategically blind, polarized into highly partisan bases and orthodoxies endlessly repeated through the mass media. You don't often hear it mentioned, but this might be one of the most important differences between Vietnam and Iraq.


If Mr. Bush, whose decision to inject Vietnam into the debate over Iraq was bizarre, took the time to study the real lessons of Vietnam, he would not be so eager to lead America still deeper into the 21st century quagmire he has created in Iraq. Following his path will not rectify the mistakes of Vietnam, it will simply repeat them.


Bush's comparison of the two conflicts rivals Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook" utterance during Watergate and Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky," in producing unintended consequences of a most damaging kind for a sitting president.


There is no "pace of progress" with regards to political reconciliation in Iraq. There is, quite simply, no progress at all. And it might be an arguable point that Iraq is, in any sense of the word, a democracy – not when 15% of the population is frozen out of power sharing and hunted down like animals to be slaughtered.


The number of Iraqis fleeing their homes has soared since the American troop increase began in February, according to data from two humanitarian groups, accelerating the partition of the country into sectarian enclaves.

Despite some evidence that the troop buildup has improved security in certain areas, sectarian violence continues and American-led operations have brought new fighting, driving fearful Iraqis from their homes at much higher rates than before the tens of thousands of additional troops arrived, the studies show.

The data track what are known as internally displaced Iraqis: those who have been driven from their neighborhoods and seek refuge elsewhere in the country rather than fleeing across the border. The effect of this vast migration is to drain religiously mixed areas in the center of Iraq, sending Shiite refugees toward the overwhelmingly Shiite areas to the south and Sunnis toward majority Sunni regions to the west and north.


There's no doubt that Bush is a very bad man and a very bad President, but this excuse to not lead will no longer fly. I think we're all tired of conservative Democratic politicians thinking that their goal in life is to get better parking spots than they did last cycle.

It was hoped that with the restoration of a liberal opposition party to power in both houses of Congress, that the Bush administration’s assault on our civil liberties would finally be put to rest.

But hope dies last.


The foreign policy community debate has led down some pretty interesting avenues, one of them being an interrogation of the idea that the United States has "vital interests". The short answer is no, and that policy arguments made on the basis of "vital interests" are almost always non-sensical, and are often destructive. There are two ways to take apart the "national interest"; the first is to challenge the national bit, and the second the interest bit. The national bit is easy enough to understand, as it should be apparent that on most foreign policy questions we aren't "all in it together". Different groups have different interests, and benefit unequally from various foreign policy acts.


Photo courtesy of Kvatch at Blognonymous

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