Saturday, June 16, 2007

"A Perpetual State of War"

Of the issues on which I agree and disagree with former Vice President Al Gore in his new book The Assault on Reason, one to which I highly subscribe is the unhealthiness of being in "a perpetual state of war" with terrorism.

Sometime in late 2002 I remember hearing a radio news report wherein it was suggested that if we attacked Iraq, it would be likely that we would have to occupy it for up to 12 years. How strange, then, that it turns out that the Bush Administration did not have a post-invasion plan to undergo a successful occupation of the country.

Several members of Congress asked the Bush administration what its occupation plan was for Iraq.

...Secretary Rumsfeld said that he wasn't certain we would have any responsibility at all. "That's for the Iraqis to come together and decide," Rumsfeld said. At that very moment, we now know, he was attempting to shut down the program at the U.S. Army War College that was focused on post-invasion stabilization. (Gore, p. 190)

Others in the Bush administration said that the Iraq invasion and regime change would be a cakewalk. Surely, they knew better.

In The Assault on Reason, Al Gore makes this statement:

[If we subscribe to] the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of war, the implications of this theory stretch as far into the future as we can imagine. These claims must be rejected, and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation. (p. 226)

If for no other reason than that Gore's statement is a challenge to all future presidential administrations, I find his statement very enlightening and profound. But it's more than that. It teaches (reminds?) us that we can't afford to elect establishmentarians to office. The perpetual state of increasing government--choreographed by background shadow puppeteers--in the United States makes me wonder how much differently Al Gore would have acted had he been president on 9/11. The fact that Al Gore was Vice President in an administration that gave a great deal of military and other concessions to the Chinese adds to my hypothesis, but for my current purposes, I will simply say that I agree completely with the above-quoted statement.

The fact that I opposed the Iraq invasion in the first place has been detailed in these pages. The negative ramifications of the invasion are becoming all the more apparent as the days and months go by. But regardless of whether we supported the invasion or not, the main focus of our criticism--now that we are there--is why we haven't done of better job of achieving our goals. (Sort of reminds me of a border fence that hasn't been built yet...)

Most negative ramifications of our Iraq invasion and occupation accrue due to the inelegant way the Bush administration 'planned' for the post-invasion. If plans had been made, my opinion is that the country would have been stabilized by now. But I am subscribing ever more readily now to a personal theory that 'no plan' was the plan.

How do we square the statements that we would be in Iraq for 12 years with administration statements that it will be a cakewalk, and that we don't need to plan for occupation? It can only be squared in the desire for the Bush administration to be in a perpetual state of war.

All of you who voted for president Bush were stupid. If you did it twice, you're really stupid (unless you've repented, as I know some of you have). Let's hope that the next administration turns back the tidal wave of
executive branch power accretions. Incidentally, there are several candidates for president in both major parties whom we cannot hope to expect will turn back that tide. Perhaps not surprisingly, those candidates are indicated in national polls as being the most popular candidates for their political parties. Who makes these polls? Are they accurate? Are we really still that stupid?

How perpetually unfortunate.

1 comment:

rmwarnick said...

We have a big problem, and that's how are we going to keep executive power in check. In the Nixon era, it was dubbed the "imperial presidency." Watergate and Nixon's resignation in the face of certain impeachment was a setback that proved temporary.

Bush has brought back the imperial presidency, and it's probably going to outlast his administration. The test: will a Democratic president (possibly Al Gore himself) act to roll back the extraordinary powers the GOP-controlled Congress gave to the commander in chief in an endless, undeclared "war on terrorism"?