The Watch

The Watch is concerned about the increasing pressure towards feudalism in the United States from corporations, social regressives, warmongers, and the media. We also are concerned with future history concerning our current times, as non-truths which are “widely reported” become the basis for completely false narratives.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Slouching towards a Pyrric victory

I think that this will have to be my last Watch for a while. It has been fun for me, and therapeutic in some ways, but I think I am in danger of losing my proper emotional perspective, especially now that people are dying. Thanks to everyone for the articles and the notes of encouragement. After this last set is archived, I will probably continue to add resources. In the meantime, keep visiting,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and the- for news you can use. I will most likely try to find a different positive outlet for my energy, maybe signing on to help out a doomed but noble cause, like trying to help Dean get elected. I've got such a tremendous backlog of links to get to - regarding the details of how Florida was stolen in 2000, of the energy price gouging of California, about the Afghani oil pipeline, about Al Gore myths, about Whitewater, Bush nepotism, missile defense, media bias, etc. They will have to wait.

Some more random thoughts:

We will probably sooner rather than later "win" this war, and then our troubles will really begin. The people who actually know something about the middle east and policy agreed that we would win the war easily (how wrong they were), but that after that there would be real trouble. What exactly is our policy for re-structuring Iraq? Does anyone know? Now that we cannot count on the Iraqi populace to be happy we are there, we will have only two choices if we get rid of Saddam: to leave immediately, creating a power vacuum, civil war, and internal strife, or to stay as armed occupiers, suppressing the population. Obviously the second choice is more practical from the Bush administration's point of view, as they will not admit their error in getting us into this, and they wanted to occupy Iraq (as welcome or unwelcome conquerors) all along. So, we will occupy it. There will be horrible stories of our troops committing atrocities against the civilian population, because they will be frightened of the guerilla attacks which will continue there. Our troops will be acting as a police force, something they are not trained for and for which the armed forces have always been reluctant to do. And what will the good of it be? We might not have been able to afford to occupy Iraq even with a happy and complacent population (it is, as people never get tired of saying, as big as California or France), but with a hostile population it will be a big financial drain on us. We have painted ourselves into a horrible, Pyrric victory.

On a not-entirely-unrelated topic, this country relies heavily on foreign investment to keep our economy running. Since numbnuts has antagonized the entire rest of the world, foreign investment in the US has been dropping like a stone. Good job, Dim Son.

While I was out of town, I saw a couple minutes of a show on one of the cable news networks. It was a classic example of the wish-fulfillment philosophy which drives our self-delusional executive branch and media. The topic of the segment, which seemed to be a financial show, was "Will the War in Iraq Cure our Economy?" Why not? This war will bring peace to the Middle East, make us safe forever, and get rid of Saddam, leaving behind only a minty fresh taste. Why shouldn't it cure our economy, too? And in the end, isn't that a brilliant plan from our commander-in-chief? Making it look like he couldn't care less about our economic woes and driving us into a war he wouldn't even budget for, and then using that war to cure our economy? Brilliant, and unsuspected.

Finally, as we continue to see our fellow Americans harassing people who would work for peace (and shooting them, shouting at them, driving 18 wheelers at them, trying to get them fired, etc.) (not to mention the little petty dictators filling minor positions of power like local police officers and security guards, to whom the fascistic stench of this administration is a sweet call to hassle anyone they want), I'd like to ask why the concept of "supporting the troops" has been stolen and is now synonymous with "supporting the war". If I hear one more person tell me I have to "support the troops", my head will split in half and what is left of my brain will run away shrieking. Peace activists need to take this phrase back by adding it to their signs. Things like "I support the troops - bring them home NOW!" or "We want our troops alive". Pro-war advocates need to be pushed into changing their signs from "I support the troops" to "I support the war", which is really more honest, and keeps everyone from attacking the peace protestors - at least it ramps down the rhetoric. The rightwing hate- talk radio shows are going to have a lot of American blood on their hands before this is all over. Good luck and stay safe everybody!

Operation False Pretense Watch

A Buzzflash editorial on this "perfect war".

If At First You Don't Succeed, Rig the Game (Kobiashi Maru) Watch

Last summer, the pentagon played some war games out against a simulated Saddam. It turns out that the play commander of the Iraqi forces used cunning and creativity to create problems for the US forces in the war game. At one point, he sank their ships with suicide bombs. No problem, said the commanders, who stopped the simulation and "re- floated" the blue ships. No wonder we thought Iraq would be a cakewalk. So much for not underestimating your foe.

The Road to Baghdad Watch

As we face the growing horrors of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and more Iraqis are "freed" from the burden of breathing, it looks as if we may never have really had a plan for sacking Baghdad. We thought the game would be up by the time we got there. And now we may face conquering that city without a plan. Let's hope the reports of our hubris have been greatly exaggerated . . .

Mark Morford on collateral damage.

Thugs Watch

William Rivers Pitt
on "Our Flag, Too".

Propaganda Watch

This is one of the most worthwhile little essays ever written. Print it out and keep it handy as you sift through the "news". A must for every moron that ever picked up a paper:

1984 Watch

It turns out we are actually fighting WWIV, which will last for years and years, against Iran, Iraq, Syria, Al Qaeda, and others to be named later. Oh. Well, I guess it must be true then. We have always been at war with Eurasia . . .

Voice of Reason Watch

Here is an amazing article, covering many facets of the world's reaction to the US through the lens of our invasion.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Who really lost WWII?

Not to keep harping on the parallels between the current US and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, but I can't seem to stop coming back to them. There must have been a lot of hate for the German people in this country in the 1940s. After all, they had let Hitler come to power. They let him eviscerate the power of their legislative institutions, and concentrate power in the executive. They let their airwaves and newspapers to be filled with propaganda about their glorious leader. They let him use fear and scapegoating and propaganda to drive them to invade neighboring countries, because "they might attack us first". He took away the civil rights of their fellow citizens, arresting them and eventually murdering them. And Hitler eventually forced the US into a war for our own existence.

And yet, in the final analysis, I don't think we can really blame the Germans - not after what we have allowed to happen in this country. After all, the Germans didn't have the advantage of having the example of Nazi Germany to learn from. And they had suffered through almost two decades of crushing economic stagnation. (And, I might add, Hitler was elected). What is our excuse? Haven't we all seen documentary after documentary about how Hitler did it? Didn't we read "1984"? Didn't we see "The Wave"? Didn't we read "Animal Farm"? Don't we all know the danger of blindly following our government, right or wrong? When Congress handed its war-making power over to Bush this fall (a move I think was unconstitutional - how can a branch of government legislate away its constitutional responsibility?), was I the only one who thought of Hitler weakening the Reichstag, of the Roman Emperors declaring the Senate irrelevant, of Grand Moff Tarken announcing the dissolution of the Imperial Senate to Darth Vader?

If the tragedies in our history have to be repeated as farce, do we have to suffer the additional indignity of everyone standing around, acting like we've never seen this kind of thing before, but they are sure it will all work out all right in the end, nothing to see here, surely Dubya has everyone's best interest at heart, move along like good little citizens. After all, Dubya said Baby Jesus was his favorite political philosopher, so we should all stop questioning this war of his where people are being slaughtered.

It has become so blindingly clear that the strength of our country, where it had any claim to being a beacon of freedom before, lay not in our people, but in our leaders, and their willingness to be constrained by the Constitution and not use fear and xenophobia and propaganda. Sure, there have been elements of those things in the past. There was "Remember the Maine!". FDR pulled some moves that were pretty coercive. Johnson pulled the Gulf of Tonkin. Don't even get me started on Nixon. But by and large, at least those guys had a press that would present more than one view (more than the official view, at least). Today, we have none of that, and our leaders have decided to use our fear to push us around like the frightened cattle we are. We cannot see through the rhetoric because we are undereducated. We cannot see through the rhetoric because we are swimming in official republican party propaganda.

When I visited Germany in January of 1991, I was fortunate to stay with a very sweet old lady, who was kind enough to host me and another guy from my college for five weeks. She was very hospitable, didn't speak a word of english, and from the vibe I was picking up from her, was a rather unrepentant former Nazi. Based on the fact that there were still a bunch of people running around Germany (at that time, they were more likely walking around Germany, but you get the picture) who were not convinced that Hitler had been wrong, I don't think we will ever convince the people in our country who have been propagandized that Dim Son is perhaps less wonderful than the Second Coming. Our only hope is to outvote them. I close today with the fervent hope that we will remember the lessons of the past, as every petty thug in this country comes out to suppress and do violence against peace advocates. And finally, here is a quote which is overused but should never be forgotten.

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." - Hermann Goering, NAZI Luftwaffa chief of staff, sentenced to death at Nuremburg warcrimes trials

Sign of the Times Watch

Watch what you say. Some people are allowed to offend, others are not. Those who are not allowed to offend will be suppressed and intimidated. You know who you are.

Finally, An Explanation Watch

Finally, a cogent explanation on why we have to be in Iraq.

Mission Creep Watch

In this article, we find that the rest of the world can see right through this cretin's motivations. Why can't we?

Turk Watch

The triumph of arrogance over diplomacy.

Good News Watch

MWO is back, with a vengeance, after a short hiatus.

Blog Watch

See The Talking Dog

Humor Watch

Bush issues another ultimatum.

See also The Temple of GW Bush

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

The "Red Dawn" Effect

What is our goal in Iraq? Bush has mentioned a lot of things which we are trying to accomplish there, including getting rid of Saddam, forcing democracy on the Iraqis, getting rid of the biological and chemical weapons he might have, etc. All of this is supposed to make us safer, to prevent the kinds of attacks that occurred on September 11th. Bush says that preventing that kind of attack is his top priority.

And that is clearly bull. This is a case of having to separate Bush's words from Bush's actions, something the press seems congenitally unable to accomplish. Just like "Compassionate Conservative" and "uniter, not divider", they seem under the spell of Bush's words and are unable to peer through to his actions to see what he is really about.

Let's pick through Bush's actions to see how they stack up against his claim that he wants to prevent another September 11th. Imagine that you are the leader of a large, populous, rich, free society, which has just been attacked by a group of criminals using low-technology methods. What do you do?

Well, first I think you would look for the causes of the attack, I mean the real causes, not the "They hate us for our freedoms" shinola. What Bin Laden and Al Qaeda object to is our foreign policy, specifically the presence of troops in Saudi Arabia, but let's say it is our foreign policy in general. The first thing you might do if you wanted to prevent attack from that same quarter is to evaluate your policies and decide which of them were inflammatory, and then decide which of them you could afford to alter in a mitigating way, and which you had to keep because they were too valuable. So let's give Bush the benefit of the doubt and assume he did that and found that he couldn't alter anything (that's being pretty generous to Bush, but ok, let's be generous. And by "Bush" here, I'm talking about the evil hive-mind of people who are actually running the show, of course).

Second, the attacks were a result of a real breakdown in intelligence and coordinated law enforcement activity. Clearly, more diligence on the part of the executive branch is required. Have they been more diligent? First, we all know of their failure before the attacks. Sandy Berger warned Condoleeza Rice about having to spend most of her time chasing Bin Laden (she didn't). Cheney shelved the Hart-Rudmann report on terrorism and its threats, saying he was going to start his own commission (he didn't call one meeting). People like John O'Neill and Colleen Rowley were not supported in their efforts to fight terrorism. O'Neill, tragically, resigned in disgust over the administration's efforts to get him to back off of Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, only to be killed in his first day on the job as head of security for the WTC. So, before the attack, the Bush administration did not seem to care very much about preventing these kinds of attacks. Since then, who knows? Bush at first blocked the establishment of Homeland Security, then the Republicans tried to block it because its workers would have been protected as civil servants in unions. Union-busting was more important than preventing another attack. Hopefully, there is more coordinated information sharing by the intelligence agencies involved. Certainly, our civil rights are being curtailed at an alarming rate. Do we feel safer? So, we'll call this a wash. This administration may have created a bureaucratic response of some kind to the attack, which I hope is better than no response at all.

How about actual physical security? By all accounts, our harbors and ports, our airports, our water supply, our public spaces, are all vulnerable to more terrorist attacks. And the Bush administration has been pushing in words for more security at these critical points. But they have not provided the money to make a difference. They have submitted two budgets since the attack, and in neither have they committed nearly enough money to help states and cities deal with their security needs. Tax cut priorities have trumped those needs. And NYC has been stiffed out of the money they were promised to help recover from the last attack. So by that measure, this administration has definitely only been playing lip service to increased safety.

Then you would probably want to go after the people who actually attacked us, so that they didn't do it again. Of course, on that score, we have a big zero. Osama Bin Forgotten is living happily in the west of Pakistan, as predicted, and our unfulfilled, ill-advised promise of "smokin' him out dead or alive" makes us look like fools. We did manage to topple the government of the country he was in, though (though, they too didn't so much lose as just creep into the woodwork), and install our own puppet government. Go USA!

Next, you would want to bolster our international relationships with our allies and even our enemies around the world so that we could count on the community of nations to help us find and bring to justice other murdering criminals. That would only make sense. Here we see the biggest defeat of trying to make us safe, and the tissue of lies behind Bush's claims of being interested in doing so just falls apart. Everything this administration has done on the foreign front has been a disaster for our international relations. We have torn up long-standing, stabilizing treaties. We have snubbed the UN and NATO (NATO!). We have antagonized everyone. This does not make us safer from attack. It encourages attack.

Finally, the attacks were carried out by a fundamentalist Muslim group, against a country which is officially atheist but which has a large Christian majority and happens to have a fundamentalist Christian leader, in no small part due to religious grievances (US forces on hallowed Saudi ground). The stabilizing move would have been to remove all religious aspects from our response. But our littlest dictator then had to go and call it a "crusade". Then he insisted on attacking another Muslim country against the advice of the entire world. And now, Franklin Graham is ready to storm on in to Iraq behind our soldiers, proselytizing, ministering, and winning converts over to Baby Jesus. That definitely doesn't make us safer.

Also, if you were going to invade said country, you might do it in a way that was swift, overwhelming, and led to as little loss of civilian life as possible. That opportunity was also missed, so now we see articles like this one, "Iraq War Boosts Militants' Recruiting" and "Once reviled, Hussein now winning many Arabs' support". Perhaps this was inevitable in a war of this kind (though not unpredicted, as opponents to the war have been pointing this out for literally years), but it seems no effort has been made to mitigate it.

Finally, (I keep using that word) you would want the circumstances surrounding 9/11 to be examined quickly, thoroughly, and fairly. Bush has been slow to appoint a commission, tried to get Kissinger himself appointed as the chair of he commission, has underfunded the commission, and has delayed the commission by not getting them the security access they need to do their job. These surely are not the actions of someone who is serious about protecting our country against further attacks.

So, in sum, we see by Bush's actions, if not his words, that he actually doesn't care a fig about our "safety" or whether we suffer similar attacks to September 11th. He has done nothing, except allow Ashcroft to abridge our civil liberties, which might help to prevent such attacks, and he has gone a long way to making matters worse. And in the end, why shouldn't he? September 11th was the best thing that ever happened to his presidency, and I'm sure that he thinks that more attacks would rally the people around him, as it did the last time. We certainly weren't rallying around a certain last-elected-ex-president that I can think of, when he was preventing such attacks, so I can't really fault Bush's logic.

However, that means that the war in Iraq is not being fought for our safety. There must be some other reason, and that is that it is a war of conquest. I weep for what America has become.

My PNAC buddies and I Know Better Than Any KKKlinton Army Generals Watch

Josh Marshall again on the fatal rift between Strangefeld and top Army brass.

Also this devastating article by Sy Hersch about Rumsfeld's poor planning.

Another one of those damned, peace-loving hippie generals denounces the war plan.

Chosen By God Watch

A Buzzflash editorial on the latest amazing piece of propaganda about Glorious Leader, this time from USA today.

Operation Keep Bombing Them Until they Love Us Watch

Why can't the people of Iraq see that we are good and pure and holy? Why don't they love us?

The "Red Dawn" Effect Watch

It seems that some Iraqis just aren't beside themselves with joy that their country is being invaded. Gee, who could have anticipated that? Some analysis of the situation in Basra from Liberal Oasis.

Help is on the Way Watch

Thanks to Marti for this long but fascinating article on our military resources and how they are stretched.

9-11 Watch

Read the part in this OpEd from the NYTimes where it says "Reasonable people might wonder . . . " They might, indeed.

Playwright's Watch

Tony Kushner on our Little King.

Our Fellow Thugs Watch

Americans are rushing at the chance to act like thugs towards their own neighbors. This is an opportunity many of them haven't had until now, and by god they really want to punish some people. If I were a psychologist, I might wonder what the source of all this misplaced anger was . . .

Humor Watch

Again from The Onion, "Bush bravely leads 3rd infantry into Battle". Enough said.

This picture at the top gives us a look at what happens when Christianity, jingoism, and QVC collide.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Shock? Awww.

Operation Halliburton Watch

If you are playing the game "Incompetent or Evil" at home about this war, it would seem like Incompetent would be a pretty good guess. Here is Josh Marshall, weighing in with an "Evil" vote.

Somerby on the shock our leaders feel that the Iraqis were not awed.

Jay Bookman on the same.

Our Fellow Americans Watch

It's nice to know we are united, rather than divided. Probably the work of our great MBA-CEO leader.

The 'It's Just Got to Work' theory of geopolitics Watch

Liberal Oasis has some quotes which illustrate what happens when wishful thinking meets up with reality.

Our Vanishing Rights Watch

Now we have US citizens with their rights being stripped from them.

Media Watch

Eric Boehlert finally got one conservative editorialist to admit that she was just making shit up. If only we could do the same with all of them.

"Humor" Watch

The Onion hits the nail on the head again with this astute take on the "debate".