Bring It On!

We Can’t Get Fooled Again

September 13th, 2008 | by Liberal Jarhead |

A lot of politics always consists of negativity – Monday-morning quarterbacking, dredging up past sins or mistakes, and general finger-pointing that can sound like kids whining, “I’m telling!” It would be more useful to focus on the future and on the positive – what do we want to change? How will we make things better? Despite our cultural preference for playing “gotcha”, problem-solving is more useful than blaming.

Blaming is often misleading as well, when it pins a repetitive problem solely on the latest offender. When different people keep doing the same bad thing, the situation is likelier to be the problem than a whole stream of bad people that have just coincidentally come along. To stop the pattern, change the situation – the system, in management or scientific terms. A genius who dedicated his life to systems theory and improvement, a man named Deming, researched this in factories and found that most people are competent and try to do a good job, and when things go wrong, it’s the system a full 95% of the time.

However, there are the 5% of times where someone really is incompetent, acting badly on purpose, or both. Because it matters to hold people accountable, we sometimes need to point fingers as well as changing the system.

We are now seeing some public figures and media working to justify war with Iran (and/or Russia.) A lot of what they’re saying sounds like what they, or others, were saying before the invasion of Iraq. It is our duty as citizens to check out everything being said on this subject, for three reasons: first, to avoid another disaster this time; second, to spotlight flaws in the system so they can be fixed; and third, to warn off anyone deliberately doing wrong.

With all the above in mind, everyone who cares about America should read an obscure paper written in October of 2003 by a retired Air Force colonel named Sam Gardiner. Gardiner is an expert on strategy and military operations who has taught at the National War College, the Air War College, and the Naval War College.

Colonel Gardiner watched the buildup to the war with Iraq. The more he saw the more it bothered him. After researching the subject in depth – independently and without support from or affiliation to any organization – he wrote a paper titled “Truth From These Podia,” which carefully traced the campaign of lies and propaganda that the Bush administration and its allies in the media used to persuade the Congress and the American people that it made sense to invade Iraq. He documented the deliberate lies, the cherry-picking of intel, the presentation of years-old info as current, the refusal to share info even with trustworthy Congressmembers, the tarring of questioning as disloyal.  His overwhelming conclusion was that the Bush team premeditatedly and systematically misled America into this war.

Big surprise. So why bring it up five years later?

One: to keep it from happening with Iran. That would be a bigger disaster than Iraq has been for a lot of reasons.

Two: to make it as hard to do it again, ever, as we can. The best way to keep it from being done again – by this or any future administration, Republican, Democratic, or other – is for as many people as possible to know how it was done, so that when (not if) someone tries it again, a chorus of “Oh, no you don’t!” will shut them down from the start. It is about fixing the system, our cultural immune system, by building as much resistance to that disease as we can.

Three: We need to serve notice that not only won’t it work, but anyone who tries it will be held accountable.

Accountability needs to be in proportion to both intent and damage done. In this case, these are people who lied to us deliberately and repeatedly, to create a war most Americans would not have supported if they’d told the truth. The results have included the deaths of over 4,000 American military men and women and over 30,000 wounded to date, dollar costs already over half a trillion that will far exceed a trillion before it’s over (if we left tomorrow, which we won’t, it would take years to replace the lost and worn-out equipment, and more importantly, we will be taking care of many of the wounded veterans for the rest of their lives.) The costs have also included hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians who have died, above and beyond the number who would have died during the same time if we hadn’t invaded.

The costs of this war, the way this administration has carried it out, also include things that can’t be directly calculated: weakening our military to the point that many enemies no longer consider it a credible deterrent; damaging our standing as a moral authority who could legitimately talk about human rights abuses; and the alienation of mainstream Islamic society and the attendant growth of support for our most dangerous enemies, Al Qaeda and other Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups that until 2003 had been isolated at the fringes even in Islamic cultures. The greatest intangible losses may be the other things that could have been done with the money – children immunized, infrastructure built or fixed, etc. – and most of all, the things the dead and disabled would otherwise have contributed to their communities, our society, and the world.

More than any other group, Bush, Cheney, and the rest of their executive branch may have permanently reduced the power and stature of the United States. They and their “Project for a New American Century” seem to have done more than anyone would have dreamed possible eight years ago to make the 21st century one in which America will be a has-been nation.

There is no statute of limitations that will magically kick in on January 20, 2009, for responsibility for these actions or their consequences. First and foremost, we need to protect ourselves from anyone else who might try to do the same thing; second, we need to provide a deterrent by making an example out of this bunch. No ex-president has ever been prosecuted for crimes committed in office. But that’s not to say that none could or should have been; and there’s never been an ex-president or group of former officials who have done this much harm.

Read the paper, study the ways they lied and manipulated, and be on guard against anyone else using their methods. If Americans see anyone using them, we need to raise six kinds of hell too loudly for anyone or anything to drown out. What these people have done is not in the interests of America, of humanity, or of either the Republican or Democratic parties.

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