Sunday, December 10, 2006

Policy of Deceit. What if Bush Won't Change?

The New York Times editorial today points out the the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG) report quietly points out that the Bush Administration has been deceiving the country about nature and cost of the war. The paper says the group is trying to help a disfunctional president and administration. I say, the ISG is pointing to ways that the Bush Administration has been lying to us all along, from the supposed reasons for going to war to how it's going and what it's costing us.

We can quibble about the implications of those lies, but here's how The NY Times sees them:
We were particularly drawn to Recommendations 46, 72 and 78. Under separate headings dealing with the military, the federal budget and the nation’s intelligence agencies, they share one basic idea: Government officials should not lie to the public or each other, especially in matters of war.

One should not need a blue ribbon commission to know that. But the fact that it had to be said, and so often, in the report goes a long way toward explaining how Mr. Bush got the country into the Iraq mess and why it is proving so hard to dig out of it.

Consider Recommendation 46, which calls on the new secretary of defense to create “an environment in which the senior military feel free to offer independent advice” to civilian leaders, including the president. That is their sworn duty. But the back story is the Pentagon’s prewar refusal to listen to the former Army chief of staff (and who knows how many other generals) who warned that it would take several hundred thousand troops to stabilize a post-invasion Iraq. The good news is that the new secretary of defense, Robert Gates, acknowledged as much in his confirmation hearings. The bad news is that Mr. Bush has not.

Recommendation 72 says that “costs for the war in Iraq should be included in the president’s annual budget request.” The report warns that the White House’s habit of using emergency funding for the war has eroded both “budget discipline” and Congressional oversight. And just in case you were worrying that you hadn’t been paying sufficient attention to the war’s price tag, the report says the White House presents its requests in such a “confusing manner” that only detailed analyses by budget experts can answer “what should be a simple question: How much money is the president requesting for the war in Iraq?”

And finally, Recommendation 78 calls on the Pentagon and the intelligence community to “institute immediate changes” in how they collect data on violence in Iraq “to provide a more accurate picture of events on the ground.” The report says that officials have used a standard for recording attacks (it notes that “a murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted”) that systematically underreports Iraq’s mayhem. It cites one day this past July when the government recorded 93 “attacks or significant acts of violence,” while the Iraq Study Group’s own analysis “brought to light 1,100 acts of violence.”

Sprinkled among the recommendations, the report also has some homespun advice on how Mr. Bush might fix America’s foreign relations. It suggests that the nature of diplomacy is to engage with adversaries as well as friends. And it warns that the United States does Israel “no favors” by refusing to try to broker peace in the Middle East, adding that it is “an axiom that when the political process breaks down there will be violence on the ground.”

It is mind-boggling that this commission felt compelled to deliver Governing 101 lessons to the president of the United States. But that fits with the implicit message of the entire exercise — a rebuke of the ideologically blinkered way Mr. Bush operates. The report shows that there have always been plenty of alternatives to Mr. Bush’s stubborn insistence on staying the course, and that if he were just willing to make an effort, it would be possible to forge a bipartisan consensus on the toughest issues.

It’s tragic that Mr. Bush could not figure that out for himself. It is far past time for him to heed this new advice.
The question we (Congress, citizens and the military) are going to have to grapple with is this: What is going to be when he ignores the advice?

1 comment:

Seven Star Hand said...

Hi Mike,

We are witnessing the last throes of so-called representative democracy...

Just how wise is it for billions of souls to to be at the mercy of a proven idiot just because those with the most money put him in power? GW Bush and the greedy scoundrels that surround him are stunning evidence of the utter folly and failures of government driven by money, religion, and politics.

It was clear to me that GHW (papa) Bush was crying recently because he's suffering from the stress of realizing that the debacles caused by his son are ultimately traced to the Bush family's aristocratic ambitions. In other words, the old man is as much to blame for Irag and other evils as the clueless son he foisted upon the world stage. That is why family consiglieri James Baker and smoking man Eagleburger were called in to set the stage for little W's demise.

Royalty, aristocracy, and plutocracy always were and always will be bad ideas and we have been forced to suffer through yet more proof of this. Do you think GW's feelings are more important than the wealth and power of the empire? We're now witnessing the praetorian guard fulfilling their most sacred duty; saving the empire from an insane emperor. Unfortunately for them, it's too little too late.

Here is Wisdom...