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Monday, May 19, 2008

Appeasing the Neocons

Bush addresses the Knesset

It's typical of George W. Bush. He goes to Saudi Arabia to get their help in our energy mess and it doesn't go so well. In fact, the headline in the Telegraph was "Oil leaps after Bush's Saudi trip." Bush's mission did not achieve its desired effect. The Saudis agreed to produce 300,000 extra barrels -- a number the report calls "token." And it's only a token if you believe that Bush had any success at all. The Saudis say that decision had already been made and that Bush's visit had no impact.

Associated Press has a telling paragraph:

When Bush first ran for president in 2000, he criticized the Clinton administration for high fuel prices and said the president must "jawbone" oil producing nations and persuade them to drop rates. At that time, oil was nearing $28 a barrel — less than a quarter what it is now.

The Telegraph piece tells us that "investment bank Goldman Sachs [is] predicting an average price per barrel of $141 in the latter half of the year." The price per barrel is now $127.

No wonder Republicans don't see the value of diplomacy -- their guy sucks at it. Which kind of makes Bush's decision to take a slap at Barack Obama's foreign policy ideas a brand-new kind of ridiculousness. In fact, there are a lot of ridiculous bits to Bush's appearance before the Israeli Knesset. Not the least of which is going to the Israeli parliament to talk about Hitler. Doesn't really seem extremely appropriate to me.

For his part, Bush seems to realize that this election cycle is going to be about him and how much he sucks. So Bush has, apparently, decided that if Barack Obama is going to run against Bush, then John McCain should run against Hamas and Iran. McCain has no reason to thank the president for his help. As this campaign unfolds, the White House and Team McCain are going to find out that there are many things more popular Bush -- and that one of those things are Hamas and Iran. The average person is much more concerned with those who would appease Bush.

After all, it's not Hamas or Iran who are screwing up this country -- a vast majority of Americans agree that Bush is doing that. I don't think anyone's taken a poll on the subject, but I'd be willing to bet good money that if you asked people who they were most worried about, Bush would kick Iran's and Hamas' collective asses. So, if George W. Bush believes he has a role to play in this election, Barack Obama should applaud him, while John McCain should curse him.

McCain's problem is that he isn't cursing Bush and chasing him off the campaign trail. John McCain's joining in. The stupidity of this is hard to express in english. There just isn't a word for that mixture of insanity, stupidity, and contempt for your intelligence. McCain seems to believe that agreeing with Bush on foreign policy is a winner. It's hard to imagine how he could be more wrong.

Former dem prez candidate Sen. Joe Biden pointed out the hypocrisy of Bush's big "appeasers" speech.

ABC News:

Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, backed Obama's plan to engage in unconditional talks with the Iranians. "You either talk, you go to war, or you maintain the status quo," he explained. "What's the alternative to talking with a country that's building a nuclear weapon, attempting to, that, in fact, is helping kill Americans by supporting elements in Iraq that are killing Americans?"

Biden also said that Bush should fire Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for being so-called "appeasers." "They both -- Gates, as recently as a week ago -- said, we've got to sit down and talk with the Iranians directly," Biden said.

When asked if the president's comments were hypocritical, Biden explained he was "trying to be more polite, but I shouldn't be. It was ridiculous."

Of course, Bush's "appeasement" argument only works if you allow for a horrific abuse of the english language and a complete ignorance of history. Barack Obama has not, after all, suggested we let Iran annex Czechoslovakia. In fact, he hasn't suggested we give them anything at all. "Appeasement" requires some demand to be appeased. Something on the level of leaving Lebanon because terrorists demanded it. Kind of like what Reagan did.

Of course, I've always defined war as a three step process. First, there's a failure of diplomacy. Then, there's a period of irrational human sacrifice. Finally, there's a return to diplomacy and a diplomatic solution. Any sane person can see that there's a pointless and stupid step in there -- Bush and McCain think it's the first one. After all, you can't count on the diplomacy to fail and if it doesn't, then where are you? Up the creek without a war, that's where.

In the Bush/McCain universe, foreign policy consists entirely of being bullies and dicks. Talk is for weaklings and cowards, leaders get right to the fighting. Diplomacy is war's weak sister. "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face -- forever," could just as easily have been said by the neocons. George Orwell's party loyalist only beat them to it. Stupid and brutal people only understand force and violence and, sadly, they also believe everyone is just as stupid and brutal as they are. They use themselves as their models and conclude that diplomacy is guaranteed to fail.

What McCain, who called Bush's "appeasement" speech "exactly right," is saying is that he'd approach the world in the same way Bush has -- with a bomb in one hand and a flag in the other. Baghdad Johnny is telling everyone that he'd be four more years of George W. Bush.

It's hard to see how that'll be a winning argument.


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