Thursday, March 29, 2007

Bush: Alone, Unafraid, Unhinged

Also at DKos.

Here's how well the "surge" strategy is going. From the New York Times :
BAGHDAD, March 28 — One of the bloodiest chapters in Iraq’s sectarian strife unfolded over the past two days in the northern city of Tal Afar where gunmen, some of them apparently police officers, participated in the revenge killings of scores of Sunnis in the aftermath of a huge double suicide bombing in a Shiite area.

Two hours after the explosion of truck bombs, which killed 83 people and wounded more than 185, the gunmen — some of whom witnesses recognized as police officers — went house to house in a Sunni neighborhood, dragged people into the street and shot them in the head, witnesses and local leaders said.

Tal Afar was once regarded as one of the few success stories of the American occupation.

More Corners Turned

The diplomatic piece of the "surge" is going great guns too. At the opening of an Arab League summit, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, our biggest, bestest buddy in the Middle East, condemned the U.S. occupation of Iraq. “In our dear Iraq, the blood is spilling between our brothers in light of an illegitimate foreign occupation,” he said.

Ain't that a kick in the head?

Saudi Abdullah also touched on the situations in Sudan, Lebanon and Palestine, and called on Arab states to increase their unity. It sounds to me like Abdullah is sending a clear message to the Bush administration: you've screwed up our whole part of the world. Take your cowboy hat and ride out of town. Sooner is better than later.

Arab leaders are queasy about America's naval buildup in the Persian Gulf aimed at intimidating Iran. It's not that they love Iran. They just don't want another war in their sphere of influence.

It's not just the Arabs who are looking to distance themselves from the U.S. Even our British bulldog is lifting its leg on us. The Brits have asked us in so many words to stay the hell out of the Shatt al-Arab waterway incident in which Iran grabbed 15 British sailors and marines.

How to Lose Friends and Alienate People

Thursday morning, the Senate passed a $122 billion war funding bill that requires Bush to begin to withdraw troops within 120 days and sets a non-binding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008. I'm guessing it will take weeks to resolve this bill with the House bill, but it looks like some sort of bill containing timelines for withdrawal will make it to Mr. Bush's desk.

Mr. Bush threatens to veto any bill that contains timelines, which means he'll veto his own war budget request. Then, of course, he'll blame Congress for not supporting the troops. What happens next is anybody's guess.

Mr. Bush has an uncanny knack for painting himself in a corner. Until recently, his supporters in politics and the media have always managed to pry him out of his jams. He may be running out of juice.

The U.S. Attorney firing affair is heating up, and might handcuff (virtually if not literally) a number of his chief advisers, most notably Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. My guess is that Attorney-gate is just the first in a series of devastating investigations the new Congress will slap on the administration.

If Mr. Bush finds himself in a corner he can't squirm out of, what might he do?

Another Fine Mess

In a worst-case scenario for Bush, congressional investigations could dig up enough dirt to justify impeachment proceedings against both him and Dick Cheney. Between the two of them, they have as many skeletons in their closets as they have bats in their belfries. I've been skeptical that an impeachment scenario could come to pass, but lately…

Last week, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) said on the House floor that "impeachment may well be the only remedy which remains to stop a war of aggression against Iran." That might well be true, and I like Dennis Kucinich but he isn't exactly the King of Clout in Washington.

But when Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) starts hinting around at the "I" word, one tends to sit up and listen.
Any president who says, I don’t care, or I will not respond to what the people of this country are saying about Iraq or anything else, or I don’t care what the Congress does, I am going to proceed--if a president really believes that, then there are--what I was pointing out, there are ways to deal with that.

Given young Mr. Bush's psychological profile, it seems that if he senses he's in an "inescapable" corner, he's more likely to act out than to compromise, and the most dramatic act he could commit would be a flimsily justified attack on Iran.

And he might just use the Iranian's hijacking of 15 British sailors and marines as the "next Pearl Harbor" he needs to launch another lunatic war.


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


  1. Anonymous1:53 PM

    On the other hand, based upon Bush the younger's recent performance at the press club, he might have a future in stand up. I do disagree with his statement that the only way he would be a lame duck president is for Cheney to shoot him in the leg. He does a pretty good job of shooting himself in the foot (at least the one that is not in his mouth).


  2. I'd rather see him sit down and shut up. ;-)

  3. Anonymous4:20 PM

    I agree completely with Hagel, and especially with Kucinich. He has been one of the very few who hav been able to see through Cheney/Bush intentions from the beginning.

    Even on the last day of his presidency I would like to see Bush impeached - if only to lay down some kind of a standard for future presidents.

    Jeff - this is a very good post you've written. With your permission I'd like to repost it at Edgeing with attribution and backlink. Ok with you?

  4. Edger,

    Please by my guest.



  5. Anonymous7:22 PM

    Thx, Jeff.

  6. Anonymous8:39 PM

    Done, Jeff - posted here. Thank you.

    BTW, a group of us started organizing an "Out Of Iraq Blogroll" over at TalkLeft awhile back, based on Big Tent Democrat's idea of the Out Of Iraq Bloggers Caucus.

    I'd like to invite you to join us if you like. Details are here.

  7. I heard somewhere that one of the benefits of impeachment is that (unlike a convition which can be pardoned later) these guys won't be back to bother us in a future administration.

  8. Anonymous11:22 AM


    Three things:

    First, the longer the detention of the British military personnel continues, the more puzzled I am. The simple fact that it has been allowed to continue this long indicates approval at the upper levels of the Iranian government and I just can't see what Iran possibly hopes to gain from this clear act of provocation. I begin with the assumption that the Iranians believe, at some level, thay are acting in their own best interests. Any additional thoughts on this?

    Second: As for Gonzoles, the inability of the Bush inner circle to deal with practical matters continues to amaze me. In any other administration, Democrat or Republican, Gonzoles would have been asked for his resignation weeks ago simply as a matter of damage control. Any other Atty General would have resigned out of respect for the office of AG as well as for the office of the President, if ONLY to avoid being a lightning rod for criticism in an administration already suffering the slings and arrows of unaccustomed sunshine.

    But the small inner circle that surrounds our president have isolated themselves and appear to listen only to each other. The president's inner circle is beginning to more and more resemble a cult. And any cult with that much power poses a clear and present danger.

    Finally, the Republican party have prided themselves with their outstanding ability to organize and march in lock-step, from the legislature to the media to the churches and the grassroots. And it is indeed an impressive machine. But at the end of the day, just exactly what has their impressive machine accomplished in the last 10 years? I'm beginning to see a few Republicans who are questioning this as well.

  9. Anonymous12:59 PM

    If you still cling to the idea that the Iranian government is rational and acting in its own best interest than it would seem that you have to interpret their view of the U.S. and British governments as being unable and perhaps unwilling to do much more than lodge diplomatic protests and hope that some sort of UN sanctions will cause the Iranians to ultimately release the British sailors and marines.

    However, I'm not at all convinced that the Iranian leadership is rational or that they have accurately judged what the ultimate response from either the U.S. or UK governments is likely to be. Moreover I think that if the Iranians take a view that they have been successful in humbling the Blair and Bush administrations that they will continue to push the envelope even more. If they persist in more hostile military actions it will not be too long before someone in one of their small fleet of patrol boats successfully fires a missile at one of our ships or aircraft. When that event occurs I think that public opinion will likely shift and that Bush and Blair will have no other choice but to launch an air campaign against an array of Iranian military targets. What would happen then is anybody's guess.

  10. Thanks once again for the great discussion, gang.


    What worries me is that they're starting to seem quite irrational. Something seems to be coming apart internally.



  11. Anonymous3:39 PM


    I'd hate to think you were right but.. if we dismiss the notion that the Iranians are acting rationally, then certainly, all bets are off. It then becomes a waiting game of who makes the bigger mistake first.

    I had one other thought... don't know if there's any validity to it. What if Iran is deliberately trying to prod the US into attacking, knowing that our resources are already very over-extended and that we're not likely to succeed at anything more than a few air attacks.

    After all, just how many simultaneous wars can we sustain? Doesn't seem like we're doing so good with just the 2 we're fighting right now...

    Also, I freely admit I'm no expert in these matters but I suspect that the US is much more susceptible and much more unprepared for a financial attack than for a physical attack. Maybe the Iranian thinking here is that a US led attack would result in disruption (oil) that would seriously damage us from a financial standpoint. This seems both far-fetched and self-defeating but I suppose it's not out of the question.