Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I was not exactly a fan of George W. Bush and have no intention of buying his new book, and my friends know better than to give it to me for Christmas. Yesterday I became aware of a chapter in the former President’s book dealing with events of September 2006. The war in Iraq was bogged down; Americans were starting to really get sick of it; costs were spiraling out of control; Iraq was teetering on the brink of open civil war; and Mitch McConnell came to visit the President in the White House to talk about the war.

President Bush’s account of the meeting is that McConnell advised the Commander in Chief to begin pulling out of Iraq and to start ending the war.

Not because of the American lives (and treasure) being wasted there; not because it had nothing to do with capturing bin Laden; not because the American people were weary of another long, drawn-out and expensive war; not because it was becoming apparent that we were not making any progress; but because McConnell feared the Republicans would take it on the chin in the upcoming elections.

All this, while, as you may recall, McConnell was publicly railing against the Democrats who wanted withdrawal, calling them unpatriotic and echoing Cheney’s line (at least, that’s who I think originated it) that if we don’t kill them (the terrorists) “over there”, they’ll follow us home and kill us “over here.” I know President Bush uttered the trite phrase many times, but Cheney was really running the show. And McConnell repeated the line countless times.

As you also recall, President Bush, rather than beginning a draw-down of troops from Ira q, instead ordered an escalation (“The Surge”), which McConnell publicly supported.

It is this kind of duplicity that so erodes any remaining faith I have in our government’s ability to formulate effective foreign policy.


  1. McConnell is slime.

    You'll note that he took it on the chin twice recently: once when His Boy lost the KY primary to Rand Paul (and sub-once when Paul won); and next when he was forced to eat s*&^ on the earmarks question.

    He's been slime for a long time, and Conservatives know it. He's next on the target list.

  2. It is shameful that we can still be led this way. Will we never learn?

    Author George Orwell, having witnessed the ruinous effects of warfare on great cities, said the scenes gave rise to an actual doubt about the continuity of civilization.

    To Jeane Kirkpatrick, Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy adviser and the first woman to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the root cause of war is a simple equation. “We have war,” she said, “when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.”

    German novelist Thomas Mann saw the resort to warfare as “only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.”

    Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives, also saw war for the folly it is. “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake,” she said.

    Wars are oftentimes begun on lies, and once started, matters only get worse. Early 20th century U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson held that “The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

    Adolf Hitler scoffed at that sentiment. “The victor will never be asked if he told the truth,” he said.

    As Europe still smoldered from what came to be known as World War I, and the fire for the next great war was laid, Stanley Baldwin, a British prime minister in the early 1930s, lamented the hopelessness of it all. “War would end,” he said, “if the dead could return.”

    Flag-waving, wear-it-on-your-sleeve patriots probably will never listen to Ernest Hemingway, who saw war through the eyes of a critical observer and accurately summed it up with these words: “Never think that war, no matter how necessary or how justified, is not a crime.”

  3. “Never think that war, no matter how necessary or how justified, is not a crime.”

    Yah, well, Hemingway's children were not under attack from the Nazis, were they? Or the Japanese--in China, or Pearl Harbor?

    I'm not a fan of either excursion we're on today. Nor of attempting to maintain the Empire with troops-in-every-backwater.

    But then, I'm not inclined to yap about 'the morality of war' while fighting on behalf of the Communists, casting a gimlet eye while having zero personal investment.

    He shoulda stuck to fishing stories.

  4. Dad29 ... You are surely one of the most remarkable Wisconsin deposits of calcium since the discovery of Lannon Stone. Your ability to miss the point of even the simplest statement -- if it does not dovetail with your knee-jerk ideological presets -- is as fascinating as it is predictable.

    That you are unfamiliar with Hemingway’s "For whom the Bell Tolls," one of the 20th century's signature works of literature, is not surprising.

    That's not to say I would recommend you read it, because doing so might imperil your enthusiastic embrace of the anti-intellectual milieu so much in vogue among the political hillbillies these days. You could end up over your head in deep thinking, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for what might happen then.

    I considered rephrasing Hemingway's remark to make his meaning more obvious to you, perhaps by putting the "no matter how necessary or how justified" part first. But I won't, because rewriting a master to let a glimmer of his light through your simple filter would be not only a waste of time, but sheer hubris on my part.

    To anyone wondering what this is all about, or who may be interested in the role sheer duplicity (no small amount of it American) played in the Spanish Civil War, here's a good place to start: