As of yesterday the Bush administration has definitively moved from the phase of “let’s pretend to explore all our options honestly, given how badly things have gone” to the phase of “let’s do everything we can to change the game with reckless expansion of the war that we now realize we’ve pretty much lost, so we don’t have to admit that we’ve lost it.”
This phase is deeply and painfully familiar to those of us who remember the arc of Vietnam. Richard Nixon and his henchman Henry Kissinger arrived at it in 1970, when they decided to invade Cambodia. It was a slap in the face to Americans who’d elected Nixon because he promised he had a secret plan to end the war; instead of peace, they got escalation. Protests erupted across the United States; during them, unarmed American students were fired upon and died at Kent State.
Today’s talk of a “surge” now looks like only a small part of a larger picture that involves expanding American operations in the Middle East with moves against Syria and Iran. As William Arkin puts it in the Washington Post, “Clearly the Vice President’s office and the hardliners scored a major victory.” Or, as Josh Marshall puts it, “The Veep’s office and the nutjobs are still running the show.”
With Kissinger whispering in the president’s ear today, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at this nightmarish historical loop. The theory, then and now, was that the problems inside the country (South Vietnam or Iraq) stemmed from the influx of supplies and troublemakers from neighboring countries; cut those supply lines and the insurgency will dry up. It was a disastrous failure in Southeast Asia, and there isn’t the slightest indication that it will be any different in Iraq.
Things look like they’ll get a lot worse before they get any better. And this administration seems to be positively eager to wash its hands in more blood.
There are no revisions for this post.
It terrifies me, but I think that’s exactly what the Bush Administration is dead-on aiming at. Just blow the whole thing up into a wider confict involving Iran, but more importantly, Saudi Arabia; this in turn will drive oil prices way, way down. Bingo! Rev up our economy (the Chinese will like the cheap oil too).
The Bushies are all really evil cynical people.