Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Colin Powell - Bitch Punk of the Year

Oh yeah, I'm being harsh on Colin Powell, because he should have known better. He allowed himself to be used twice to elect Bush -- remember all that talk back in 2000 about how Bush was going to be OK, because he was a moderate who would surround himself with good people like Powell? Now he finds himself forced out of State just weeks after the election.

The tragedy of Powell is that he completely betrayed the doctrine that bears his name. It's debatable on its merits, but it was a completely coherent defense to the Wilsonian-Kennedy "pay any price, bear any burden" attitude towards pro-active involvement of our military force in "democratization". It was against the concept of "nation building" and in favor of reserving our military options for our purely national interest. Let's recap the principles -- the litmus tests -- in the Powell doctrine:

Is a vital US interest at stake?

Will we commit sufficient resources to win?

Are the objectives clearly defined?

Will we sustain the commitment?

Is there reasonable expectation that the public and Congress will support the operation?

Have we exhausted our other options?

And finally, when force is committed, it is to be used in overwhelming quantity -- not in proportional response.

These lessons might be summarized as "what we should have learned from Vietnam". But Vietnam did have a context -- the Cold War -- that at least made the initial intervention arguable at the time. The evolution here was that in the post Cold War era, each individual potential use of force did not have such a coherent context. That's why Powell himself opposed our interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo (and Rwanda never came up), and Haiti and Somalia. These were a mixed bag, but the "vital US interest" was harder to pin down when the only real specific goal was saving millions of lives or "stability", whatever that is.

But Powell, of course, not only did not apply any of his tests to the Iraq conflict, he either lied or allowed himself to be manipulated into presenting false evidence to the world community on our behalf to justify the Iraq war. One can only speculate on his role in the current administration, but clearly his efforts at a centrist, moderate, and realistic/pragmatic foreign policy have been rejected.

He may have been a "good soldier" but he seriously misunderstood that as a cabinet secretary, he was part of the political process whether he liked it or not. Those are political positions, in that the statesman must also realize he is a political appointee. Soldiers cannot resign under the pressure of combat. Political appointees must, by obligation of morality, resign when their moral and ethcial principles are compromised. Powell should have done this before the election, because that's when the moral weight of the resignation might have an effect. Good soldiers wait until they're told to resign their commissions; good public servants do so when the act might have an effect on changing policy.

Powell's legacy is going to be one of weakness and incompetency, which is too bad, considering the strong service to the country he had provided before becoming Secretary of State. But that's what he deserves. He was a failure, because he failed to protect the nation's vital interests abroad according to his own political and diplomatic philosophy.

Powell and John McCain deserve special remonstrance. They allowed themselves to be used by people who despise them personally, who would undo their work, and did so knowingly. Perhaps they felt the alternative would have been worse, but Kerry's foreign policy was certainly far closer to Powell and McCain's than Bush's. But they didn't have to support Kerry to withdraw their support from Bush.

The two of them are, in a way, a special form of traitor, because they have betrayed their own principles. And it's nearly certain that had either of Powell or McCain publically broken with the administration on its Iraq policy prior to the election, it would've swayed the electoral balance; they both have very high personal approval ratiings.

And I admit, I was one of those people who admired both Colin Powell and John McCain before this past year and a half. Now I don't. I think they know better, and I'm ashamed they did not have the moral courage to make the right decisions. That's why Powell is a punk. He accomplished nothing and lost his soul in the process, and now he's being tossed out like a used kleenex.

Monday, November 15, 2004

New Blog - Pitchplay

I've started a new blog for movie-related short fiction, called Pitchplay, where I've posted my first in what will be an endless series of unproduceable film pitches.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


John Ashcroft, ever the self-sacrificing soldier, wrote this to President Bush in his resignation letter today:
"The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved."
Whew! Thank God!!

Friday, November 05, 2004


Ah, well, better to be beaten than to be robbed. Although there was a lot of robbery going on, at least it was wholesale enough this time not to be contestable. Just ask Boss Jim Gettys. What were we thinking, that we'd be able to take Florida and Ohio with highly partisan Secretaries of State and Governors controlling the electoral machinery? Good grief. It's only going to get worse, in the sense that with a truly shrinking minority of voters, the Reds will be forced to continue what they started in the mid-1990s -- manipulating the US Census and official data and gerrymandering districts to move electoral votes and congressional seats into their column. No, democracy isn't dead, but it sure is taking a royal beating right now. Let's just hope it turns out like Fight Club.

Bush made his attitude of contempt for the losing side manifest at his press conference yesterday, when, refusing to answer a follow-up question from a reporter, he cracked "Didn't you hear the will of the people?" Don't expect anything in the way of truth-telling for the next four years, although it's clear a big portion of the people want to hide under their covers and pretend everything's going to be alright. Speaking of which, our Governor, the Arnoldator, called the Democrats in California a bunch of "losers", even though they didn't lose any seats and remain the majority party in this state. Not coincidentally, there was a letter to the editor in the local paper today, extolling glee at the prospect of running against that hag Hillary Clinton in 2008 and forecasting it as an Arnold-Hillary showdown. Funny, there's the little problem of amending the constitution first to make Arnold eligible. But that thin grasp on reality seems to be par for the course, because discourse has become nothing but name-calling. The resemblance of electoral victors to school yard bullies is astonishing. When one side calls "uncle", claim the whole yard was pulling for you all the time.

I take no joy in this prospect, but it will at least be more difficult in 2008 for the Reds to complain that everything is somebody else's fault. It's bemusing that so much of the Bush cabinet is leaving in a hurry -- rats leaving a sinking ship, etc., or at least eager to get back to their private sector jobs and reap the financial rewards. I doubt there will be a shot at individual accountability, but it will be impossible to escape the wrath of the next generation. The only question is how much damage the morons -- oops, there I go, name-calling -- will do to the country in the meantime.

There's an interesting question to be asked in the historical realm -- Bush has a shot at not having the worst term of a President, but the worst two terms. Maybe US Grant had a worse pair of terms, considering the corruption that ran through his government, but we'll see. All of our other disasters have been one-termers, from Martin van Buren and James Buchanan to Herbert Hoover and Bush I.