Monday, September 18, 2006

White Rabbits, Red Queens and Neocons

Like many, for years I've likened the neoconservative Bush administration to the Big Brother government of George Orwell's 1984. Lately, however, the denizens of Neocon Land remind me more of the works of Lewis Carroll.

A 19th century author, mathematician and logician, Carroll is best remembered for his wonderful novels Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. His last major work was The Hunting of the Snark. Carroll's particular brand of "snarkiness" consisted of portraying absurd characters whose behavior and speech were patently illogical and contradictory.

Here are a few of my favorite absurdities ground out by the Bush Mill over the past week.

Another Bag of Krauthammers

Columnist Charles Krauthammer, darling of the neoconservative and Zionist intelligentsia, wrote a piece for the Washington Post that outlined the gruesome consequences of conducting air strikes against Iran.

Iran would close the Straits of Hormuz, through which 40 percent of the world's oil passes. Oil prices could climb to $150 per barrel, causing a global recession. The U.S. Navy would suffer significant casualties trying to re-open the Straits and America would be even more diplomatically isolated that it is now (if such a thing is possible.)

But guess what? Krauthammer says that's preferable to the consequences of "doing nothing."

That's the very same illogic he used to help convince America to invade Iraq. Between bombing Iran and doing nothing exists a broad spectrum of options, all of which would produce superior results to the two options Krauthammer frames. And even if there weren't a broad range of option, doing nothing is usually better than doing something stupid.

In a worst-case scenario, Iran might have a handful of big Cahunas in five to 10 years. We deterred the Soviet Union from using its robust nuclear arsenal for a half century. We can deter Iran forever.

Compare that worst-case scenario with Krauthammer's preferred version of things: the mighty U.S. navy limps its way out of the Gulf after a duke-em-out with a third rate nation's coast guard and everybody starts riding horses to work.

Still Smoking Crack About Iraq

Thomas E. Ricks of the Washington Post was among mainstream media reporters who filed stories on a classified intelligence report that gives a grim prediction on Iraq's Sunni populated Anbar province. Local governments have collapsed, the area is under control of al Qaeda, and the U.S. military is unable to bring the area under control because of insufficient troop levels.

Marine Major General Richard C. Zilmer, commander of U.S. forces in Anbar, said he agreed with the report, calling it "frank and candid." But then he said, no, he has plenty of troops to complete his mission.

The problem is that his mission isn't to bring Anbar province under control. His mission is to train Iraqi police to bring the province under control. These would be the same Iraqi police who are said to be infiltrated throughout by Shiite militiamen and criminals. Yeah, they'll get things under control, all right.

According to the New York Times, tribal leaders in Anbar have now agreed to join forces to fight al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists in their region. A senior al Qaeda leader has swron to "kill tribal leaders who are helping the Americans."

What's General Zilmer's overall assessment of the situation? "I think we're winning this war."

Kink Kong versus Kongress

In November 2005, after the discovery that the CIA was running secret prisons in Europe, young Mister Bush told the world that "We do not torture."

Now he's pressuring Congress to pass legislation to make the torture he's been conducting legal, and that will grant amnesty to everyone who's been doing his torturing for him.

He also wants Congress to re-write international treaties that will, among other things, allow him to try so-called "enemy combatants" by military tribunals that are prohibited by international treaties.

How does he justify this desire? Well, shoot, the combatants were conducting war in violation of, uh, international treaties.

So… Who's got to face military tribunals again?

The Other Gorgeous George

Republican Senator George Allen of Virginia has been among the most loyal of Mister Bush's liegemen, backing nearly every initiative the administration has pushed. Sunday, during a debate with Democratic challenge Jim Webb on Meet the Press, Allen described himself as "rebellious" and "anti-establishment."

Yeah. He really said that. On national television. And I think he was being dead serious.

Talk about March Hare madness.


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


  1. Jeff, among Allen's palavering yesterday, the comment that struck a chord with me was to the effect of "...not abandoning my president" on the issue of invading Iraq. I find the idea of a member of the legislative branch referring to "my" president as damn near an affront to the Constitution. But when I consider the source... Mike

  2. Yeah, me too. The guy's totally lip locked on ymb.

  3. Yeah nav130, that's the trouble when you have the same party running the whole thing. I like to see the opposite party in control of Congress. Heck, I'd like to go back to the days when the President and VP were the number 1 and 2 choices, though I suppose the advent of political parties made short work of that (early 1800s is when they got rid of it).

  4. Anonymous5:59 PM

    What's wrong with being a Zionist? Your crack about Krautheimer being the Zionist darling was insulting to all who support Israel against the hordes surrounding it. One can be an ardent Democrat, oppose George Bush, oppose the war, and still be very pro-Israel, as are the overwhelming majority of American Jews, a bloc of voters Democrats can't do without. Has Israel made mistakes? Yes. But if it comes down to Hamas, Hezbollah, and/or Iran vs. Israel, which one comes closest to representing American interests and closest to the American ideal?

  5. Anonymous6:47 PM

    Jeff ~ You have every right to be concerned about the Zionist movement. Terry Gross had a show today on Christian Zionism that was very illuminating. Well worth a listen.

  6. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Gershom Gorenberg's comments, in particular, hit at the essential problem Christian Zionism poses for Judaism:

    "Part of the end of days vision is that Jews will die or convert to Christianity. They don't see Judaism as a legitimate religion. It is strange for Jewish groups to align themselves with people who have a ... theological hostility for Judaism."

    It has always seemed to me that the alliance between Jews and Christian Zionists is cynical at best. They are both using each other: Jews for political gain, Christian Zionists for salvation.

    It cannot end well, I'm afraid.

  7. What's wrong about Zionism is when it leads to a fanaticism that allows the likes of Krauthammer to lead the US into foolish policies and straegies.

  8. The most dangerous aspect of Zionism as practiced by Israel is its aggessiveness. Israeli Zionism is a form of exceptionalism coupled with the concept of racial superiority that closely resembles the worst features of post-Weimar Germany's expansionist impulses.

  9. Anonymous1:05 PM

    When did this become a forum for ignorant bigots?

  10. Anonymous,

    I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that you're referring to Lurch's remarks.

    Lurch has been a contributor to this forum for some time, and I'm quite sure that he's not a bigot.

    He is, in fact, not only a miitary veteran but a long time student of warfare, and knows well the extent to which racial issues have dominated the history of armed human conflict.

    Keep in mind that the well document centuries of war among European powers were, by and large, matters of racial dominance and survival. The English, French, and Germans--whom much of the rest of the world clumps into a single ethnic group--have a long tradition of considering themselves separate races.

    Lurch understands this, and that, I'm sure, is why he brought the "race" card up in his comment. Please don't judge his personal biases by his realistic assessment of the underpinnings of warfare.


    Jeff Huber, a white German-American guy

  11. Anonymous7:58 PM

    If it looks like a duck... I'm the same "anonymous" who posted the comment about ignorant bigots. I know who Lurch is. I read his blog from time to time. He may be as astute as you say he is in other matters, but only an idiot wouldn't understand that "post-Weimar" means Nazi Germany, and therefore Israelis are morally equivalent to Nazis. Shame on him and shame on anyone defending such a remark.

    Jeff, I too am a former Naval Officer (USNA grad), and I've always found your political views refreshing and on-point, especially when it comes to Bush and his band. You know as well as I how scarce it is to find that viewpoint among active and retired military. But this Israel-bashing and equating Zionism with Nazism has been part of the Arab rhetoric for years. Hearing the same BS from those whom I thought were liberals is disappointing and makes me wonder what is happpening to American liberalism.

  12. Very good, Anonymous. "Post-Weimar" does in fact mean "Nazi." Now, conscious as we both are of Godwin's Law, I chose to couch the phrase as I did so as to avoid running afoul of that time-honored internet tradition. Secondly, a fact you might not be aware of is that I am a Mosaic Jew. In fact, my mother was a Cohain, if you understand the significance. I think I'm qualified to discuss the negative aspects of Zionism without false charges of "anti-semite" being thrown at me.

    I was very specific in my earlier comment about the aggressive aspects of Israeli Zionism and the sense of racial superiority. You really ought to get out sometime and talk with some Israelis, Anonymous. I'd suggest talking with some yordim sometime, although avoid discussions with Russian-born emigrants, since for them Israel is just a place to get a passport and visa on the way to Brighton Beach.

    When your country thinks you're remarkable because of a 4,000 year old oral tradition, and because your forefathers' desperation, education and hard work tore a nation out of sand and rock, and you think your neighbors are scum because they prefer the old ways of nomadic life and goat herding, what you've got is exceptionalism and racial superiority.

    And that, my friend, is how jewish ducks quack.

  13. Anonymous12:55 AM

    Lurch, I didn't call you an anti-Semite, I referred to you as an ignorant bigot. I stand by that characterization. I, too, am Jewish, and a large part of my extended family is Israeli. None that I know of think of their neighbors as scum and goat herders, but they do view with scorn Arab whining and failure to make anything of themselves other than develop suicide bombing as a growth industry. To compare Israelis to Nazis is shameful. I wish you would have concetratied your public pronouncements to matters concerning U.S. politics where you may have something of valueto contribute, instead of pontificating about the Middle East, something you apparently know nothing about.

  14. Anonymous, thanks for the response. Words have meanings, as the poet said, and the impression I took away from your earlier comment was that you considered me an anti-semite, which you state is wrong. Fair enough, I'll go with the thought that I misinterpreted what you said, but you should allow me the courtesy of carefully considering my words. When I compared Israeli exceptionalism to German exceptionalism you took great offense, although historical records do support my position. There have been quite a newspaper articles and editorials in Ha'aretz, Jerusalem Post, Our Jerusalem and even Raanana and DebkaFile that have reported an unseemly strong nationalist theme. In fact, reading some of these publications reminds one of the unquestioning acceptance of government misinformation posted by Washington Post and NY Times in the aftermath of 9/11 and during the runup to the Iraq invasion and occupation.

    There are just too many incidents of Palestinian civilians molested, tormented, and even killed by the IDF in its administration of the captive territories for them all to be false, as I'm sure you will agree.

    Like the American Republican Party, the Likud Party has only hammers in its toolbox, and while we had to travel 8,000 to pound some nails, Israel has Gaza and the West Bank near to hand.

    While accepting Israel's right to live unmolested, I cannot help but regret that nation has never been able to achieve an accord with its neighbors, other than for Egypt, which has borne the brunt of Israeli military prowess. Part of the problem, of course, stems from words. Beispiel: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad is often quoted in the western press as having said "Israel must be wiped off the map." Apparently that never happened. While I don't speak Arabic, Farsi, Pushtu, I can accept Dr Juan Cole, a polymath who does have these language skills, who wrote a column on May 20th, 2006, explaining what was actually said.

    The political danger to Israel is real, but political dangers are solved by political solutions, and not by military actions.

    I think one of the major reasons for today's antipathy for Israel in the Arabic-speaking world stems directly from the territorial gains of the 1967 war, and Israel's inability to treat the residents of those territories with even-handed charitable governance. (Just this moment I realized the occupation has lasted far too long, just like the American occupation of Iraq.) While my country's occupation is caused by the mineral riches of Iraq, Israel desires only the land of the Occupied Territories for residential and farming purposes. (I guess you'll get offended all over again if I use the word "Lebensraum.")

  15. "None that I know of think of their neighbors as scum and goat herders, but they do view with scorn Arab whining and failure to make anything of themselves other than develop suicide bombing as a growth industry."

    Didn't Carroll O'Connor have a line similar to this in the old "All in the Family" series?