Tuesday, October 24, 2006

War Talk: Mad Dogs and Generals and Iraq

It's embarrassing to realize how long the neoconservatives have been able to double talk their way around their falsehoods and fumbles in Iraq. We've heard daily changing rationales for invading the country, of corners turned, purple fingers raised, real progress and last throes. Any mention of quagmires, insurgencies and civil was has been dismissed as "Henny Penny sky is falling" talk. Critics of the war and its conduct are called "defeatists," "cowards" and worse.

Since the White House Information Group (WHIG) formed in summer of 2002 to sell the invasion, we've heard noting but untruths and denials about this woebegone war, and the deluge of bunker mentality bunk shows no sign of abating.

Praying the Course

The rhetoric of most of our senior-most active duty military officers has been delusional to date, but lately it's broken the threshold of bull-goose lunacy.

On October 19, Joint Chiefs chairman General Peter Pace told an audience in Florida that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "…leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country."

If Rumsfeld is doing what the Lord tells him to, the Lord has it in for the United States of America.

Pace's remarks came at a change of command ceremony at which Admiral James Stavridis took the helm of U.S. Southern Command. Stavridis, whose last job was serving as a senior aide to Rumsfeld, said of his boss that, "He comes to work everyday with a single-minded focus to make this country safe… We're lucky as a nation that he continues to serve with such passion and such integrity and such determination and such brilliance."

It's nice of Rumsfeld to come to work every day, and I'll buy the part about him being "single minded," but "brilliant?" As a charter member of the Project for the New American Century. Rumsfeld was a key player in formulating the Bush administration's Iraq policy, and as Secretary of State, he has been singularly responsible for the micro-mismanagement of it. Rumsfeld's the one who canned former Army chief Eric Shinseki for warning that it would take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure post-war Iraq and who threatened to "fire the next person" who talked about the need for a postwar plan.

And it's thanks to Rumsfeld's single-minded intransigence that more than three years after the fall of Baghdad, the Bush administration appears to have finally decided it's time for a new course in Iraq.

Straying the Course

Now that former Secretary of State James Baker says "stay the course" is not a viable strategy, young Mister Bush and his echo chamberlains are claiming that it was never the strategy at all.

Over the weekend, White House Counsel Dan Bartlett told CBS that the administration has never had a "stay the course" strategy for Iraq. Mister Bush himself told ABC's George Stephanopolus "We've never been stay the course."

This kind of horse feathering is so self-satirizing you can't come up with a punch line to top it.

And still it continues.

At a Monday press conference on October 23, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that Mister Bush had stopped using the "stay the course" mantra because it "gave the wrong impression about what was going on."

No one in the press corps bothered to ask what was new about Mister Bush giving the American public a wrong impression, but one reporter had the temerity to ask, "Is the President responsible for the fact people think it's stay the course since he's, in fact, described it that way himself?"

Snow's answer: "No."

Tuesday, during an MSNBC interview with Tim Russert, Wicked Witch of the West Wing and former WHIG member Mary Matalin gave a convoluted explanation of how the White House was both changing things in Iraq and keeping them the same. Her cockamamie explanation of how tactics were changing though the strategy wasn't showed she doesn’t know the difference between a tactic and a strategy and a broomstick other than the talking points she gets from Dick Cheney's office.

A change in tactics, no matter how good those tactics may be, is for naught if the fundamental strategy they serve is still profoundly flawed. You can win a thousand battles, etc.

And no amount of spin can make up for a failed strategy that our political and military leaders continue to cling to.

Rovewellian media choirboy Tucker Carlson recently gave one of the best defenses of the neoconservative noise machine I've heard in quite some time. Speaking of the Pat Tillman friendly fire death story cover up, he said, "Let me speak on behalf of everyone who's ever told a lie. Telling the truth is really hard."

To paraphrase Huey Lewis, "The old boy may be barely breathing, but the heart of irony is still beating."


Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword


  1. I love that end quote...may I steal it?

  2. Quote me any time--as long as you quote me! ;-)

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting.



  3. Telling the truth is easy -- just show a little backbone. And remember that the truth doesn't care who it hurts.

    Or as Mark Twain said, "Always tell the truth; that way you don't have to remember so many different stories."

    I'm looking for bumper stickers that say: "W: still flip-flopping!"
    "W: cutting and running from staying the course!"

  4. Jeff, I heard Rumsfeld on the radio yesterday palavering about how, at the dedication of the new AF Memorial, he encountered a wounded young soldier "with a tube in his nose" who said, 'O Sir, if only the American people would give us more time to win in Iraq.'" Now who was it fify-some years ago that asked Joseph McCarthy "at long last, sir, have you no decency?" Now would be a good time to ask that of a SECDEF who hides behind wounded young troops. Mike

  5. Jeff, "Praying the course"? "bull goose lunacy"? "Straying the course"?

    Ooohhh.... I'll bet those leave a mark.

    Bang! Pow! Zoom!

    Excellent commentary, my friend.

    And, Mike: Isn't it a bit outrageous for troops to be putting tubes in their noses around the SecDef and his security detail?

  6. Jeff,

    The Bush crowd doesn't even bother to remember its own stories. They know their base can't remember its way out of a paper bag.


    I must track down that AF memorial story. What a "Buy my war or I'll shoot this dog" pile of bull feathers.


    I dare say the tube in that soldier's nose was draining at attention.;-)

  7. Mike,

    Can you provide me with a link or a program that he said that on?

  8. Jeff, I have to confess that I was riding out to Fort Eustis on bidness w/ a co-worker who enjoys the witty repartee of Lord Rush and the Other Zany Vagabonds of Righteousness. This would have been about 1500L yesterday on whatever the Norfolk rant station is, AM790 I think. Don't know which Pious Conservative Commentator was wasting electrons on Br'er Rumsfeld.

  9. I think you can find transcripts here.

    Registration required.