Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bu$hCo loots: Everyone else gets hosed.

Paul Krugman remarks on the similarities between the Iraq War Fiasco and the Keating savings and loan scandal. I'd say he's on to something:
The parallel is actually quite exact. During the savings and loan scandal of the 1980s, people like Mr. Keating kept failed banks going by faking financial success. Mr. Bush has kept a failed war going by faking military success.

The "surge" is just another stalling tactic, designed to buy more time.

Oh, and one of the favorite techniques used by the owners of savings and loan associations to generate phony profits - it involved making high-interest loans to crooked or flaky real estate developers - came to be known as the "Texas strategy."

What was the point of the Texas strategy? Bank owners were certainly gambling - with other people's money, of course - in the hope of a miraculous recovery that would bail out their negative balance sheets.

But the real point of the racket was a form of looting: as long as they could keep reporting high paper profits, S.&L. owners could keep rewarding themselves with salaries, dividends and sweetheart business deals.

Mr. Keating paid himself a million dollars just weeks before his holding company collapsed.

Which brings us to Iraq. The administration has spent the last three years pretending that its splendid little war isn't a big disaster. There have been the bromides (we're making "good progress"); the promises (we have a "strategy for victory"); and, as always, attacks on the media for not reporting the good news from Iraq.


So it's still the Texas strategy: the war's architects are trying to keep their failed venture going as long as possible.

The Hail Mary aspect - the off chance that somehow, things really will turn out all right - is the least of their motivations. The real intent is a form of looting. I'm not talking mainly about old-fashioned war profiteering, although there is no question that profiteering is taking place on an epic scale. No, I'm saying that the hawks want to keep this war going because it's to their personal and political benefit.

True, Mr. Bush can't win another election with phony claims of success in Iraq, the way he did in 2004. But escalation buys him another year or two to claim that we're making progress - and it gives him another chance to prove that he's the Decider, beyond accountability.

And as for pundits who promoted the war and are now trying to sell the surge: for a little while longer they can be Very Important People who have the president's ear.
My emphasis added. Krugman offers some sage advice for dealing with the Iraq War scam: just like with a failed bank, when you have a failed war, shut the thing down! The rest of us have already been hosed one way or another - why make it worse.

To give one some idea of how bad things are, here's a few words by Dahr Jamail:
U.S. soldiers have been reacting wildly to attacks on them.

Several areas of Fallujah recently went without electricity for two weeks after U.S. soldiers attacked the power station following a sniper attack.

Thubbat, Muhandiseen, Muallimeen, Jughaifi and most western parts of the city were affected. “They are punishing civilians for their failure to protect themselves,” a resident of Thubbat quarter told IPS. “I defy them to capture a single sniper who kills their soldiers.”

Many of those killed in the ongoing violence are civilians. The biggest local complaint is that U.S. forces attack civilians at random in revenge for colleagues killed in attacks by the resistance.

More than 5,000 civilians killed by U.S. soldiers have been buried in Fallujah cemeteries and mass graves dug on the outskirts of the city, according to the Study Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, a non-governmental organisation based in Fallujah.

“At least half the deceased are women, children and elderly people,” group co-director Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji told IPS.

Overstretched U.S. soldiers appear to be punishing civilians while suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder. IPS reported Jan. 3 that new guidelines released by the Pentagon last month allow commanders now to re-deploy soldiers suffering from such disorders.

According to the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes, service members with “a psychiatric disorder in remission, or whose residual symptoms do not impair duty performance” may be considered for duty downrange. It lists post-traumatic stress disorder as a “treatable” problem.

Steve Robinson, director of Veterans Affairs for Veterans for America told IPS correspondent Aaron Glantz that “as a layman and a former soldier I think that’s ridiculous.”

“If I’ve got a soldier who’s on Ambien to go to sleep and Seroquel and Qanapin and all kinds of other psychotropic meds, I don’t want them to have a weapon in their hand and to be part of my team because they’re a risk to themselves and to others,” he said. “But apparently, the military has its own view of how well a soldier can function under those conditions, and is gambling that they can be successful.”
Ron Paul (who may well be the lone anti-war Republican in 2008's Presidential nomination race), observes that just like with Vietnam, there is no way to "win" the Iraq War. Not only are any soldiers going over there getting hosed, but so too are the Iraqis: they get to be the target of our elites' ire in the form of victim blame (them Ay-rabs is too dumb and lazy to defend themselves - a claim that Paul and others can readily refute), as well as another round of looting in the form of a "jobs program" for Iraq (while manufacturing jobs in the US go the way of the dinosaur) on the taxpayers' dime.

Then the question becomes, where are the Democrats? I know that some very smart and well-intentioned people in blogtopia and elsewhere are convinced that the Dems will have the gumption to end the War fiasco and the accompanying scamming & haul the perps to some semblance of justice. They'd be well advised to not get their hopes up too much:

We find ourselves, almost four years into the Iraq war, in a very strange situation. What do you do when it has become obvious that the leader of your country is — there is no kinder way to put this — a delusional fool? And that his weird fantasy war is hopelessly and irretrievably lost? Apparently, you just wait. The Democrats are raging and ranting, but they will not cut off funds.. . . It’s no mystery why the Democrats will not pull the plug. Cutting off funding for an ongoing war is a radical move, one that would expose the Democrats to familiar stab-in-the-back charges that they don’t “support the troops.” Now that the ugly end of Bush’s war is in sight, why on earth would the Democrats want to risk being blamed for losing it?

This makes a certain political sense, but it is deeply cynical. It implicitly accepts that more young Americans must die for a policy that has no chance of working. They must die so that a cowardly president can delay his day of reckoning a few more months. They must die so that Democrats can wash their hands of the whole mess.

The only thing that could move the Democrats to abandon this cold-blooded calculation and challenge Bush’s war directly is a clear message from the American people. Not just their disapproval of Bush and his handling of the war[.]. . . For that to happen, large numbers of Americans would have to actually protest the war. A real, broad-based antiwar movement would immediately put an end to the war — and put the Bush presidency out of its misery.

Again, my emphasis added. To those Dems who might be toying with the idea to stop funding for the war and demanding that the fiasco be stopped once and for all, I'd offer some encouragement and to suggest that it would be better to end the war now as a matter of principle and deal with war hawks invoking the Dolchstoßlegende, than to do nothing, and still deal with the war hawks invoking the Dolchstoßlegende. In the process, I also strongly suggest that those who are responsible not only for the many dead and injured US troops but also the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis were truly the ones who put the knife in the back of us all.

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