In an interview with Terry Gross on last night’s “Fresh Air,” Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks, author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq said that the US Mid East policy now consciously promotes instability rather than stability.  He said that, after 9/11, the administration decided that the “policy of containment,” as described by Wolfowitz, would only cause more 9/11s and that there was a need to “roll the dice” or “drain the swamp.”  From my perspective, this means promoting conflicts (or fabricating evidence, as in Iraq) that justify the use of US and/or Israeli force, with the intention of annihilating or subduing the enemy.  We can define “enemy” as any Mid East forces that threaten US and Israeli interests, whether they be heads of secular, sovereign states such as Saddam Hussein, or militants that use terrorist or guerrilla tactics such as Hizballah, who are generally all lumped together as “terrorists.” This serves multiple and often unrelated interests: those of defense, reconstruction, and security contractors; those of the energy industry; those of idealist neo-cons who see US hegemony as the answer to the world’s ills; those of the Israeli lobby who view the US as their personal “capo di tutti capi,” and those of fundamentalist Christians who see the road to Armageddon as the road to salvation. 

So, what’s wrong with that picture?  First, it disregards the rights and interests of those that are perceived as the enemy; second, it leaves a lot of innocent victims in its wake; and third, it might not work and we just might actually get that Armageddon that is being used as a carrot for the extremists.   

In Gross’s prior, seemingly unrelated interview, Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten, authors of One Party Country:The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century, describe how Republicans have the edge over Democrats because they have perfected the art (as noted above) of marshaling diverse and unrelated interests behind a single cause.  As an example they describe how, in the 1990s, Grover Norquist of the famous “Wednesday Meetings,”  got “mom and apple pie” proponent Phyllis Schafly to rally against stricter fuel efficiency standards  by describing them as “de facto family planning”  and convincing her that downsizing automobiles was just another way of downsizing American families.  

And in the prolifically reproductive 1950s where did they put the kids—in the trunk?  Yes, I know that cars were pretty big and inefficient then, but they weren’t as big as SUVs.

Peter Wallsten, by the way, is the LA Times reporter that President Bush chided and teased at an outdoor  press conference for wearing sunglasses when asking his question.  Bush, perhaps trying to appear jovial and relaxed in front of the press a la Clinton or JFK, didn’t realize that Wallston is legally blind.  He has macular eye degeneration that causes not only impaired vision but sensitivity to glare.  But what would you expect from a guy who would “massage” the German Chancellor by pouncing on her from behind?

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