Thursday, March 18, 2004

Rumsfeld shown to be evil; nation unsurprised

Here's a small serving of bullshit from Donald Rumsfeld, being interviewed by Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face The Nation and Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just ask you this. If they did not have these weapons of mass destruction, though, granted all of that is true, why then did they pose an immediate threat to us, to this country?

RUMSFELD: Well, you're the -- you and a few other critics are the only people I've heard use the phrase "immediate threat." I didn't. The president didn't. And it's become kind of folklore that that's -- that's what's happened. The president went...

SCHIEFFER: You're saying that nobody in the administration said that.

RUMSFELD: I -- I can't speak for nobody -- everybody in the administration and say nobody said that.

SCHIEFFER: The vice president didn't say that? The...

RUMSFELD: Not -- if -- if you have any citations, I'd like to see 'em.

FRIEDMAN: We have one here. It says "some have argued that the nu" -- this is you speaking -- "that the nuclear threat from Iraq is not imminent, that Saddam is at least five to seven years away from having nuclear weapons. I would not be so certain."

RUMSFELD: And -- and...

FRIEDMAN: It was close to imminent.

RUMSFELD: Well, I've -- I've tried to be precise, and I've tried to be accurate. I'm s -- suppose I've...

FRIEDMAN: "No terrorist state poses a greater or more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq."

RUMSFELD: Mm-hmm. It -- my view of -- of the situation was that he -- he had -- we -- we believe, the best intelligence that we had and other countries had and that -- that we believed and we still do not know -- we will know.

Way to go, Rummy. I especially like the way he plays the rhetorical gambit of accusing Schieffer and 'a few other critics' of misrepresenting him, then has his ass handed back to him by Friedman. Just think, if Friedman hadn't been there, the viewers who buy whatever politics are sold to them on the television would have seen the image Bush & Co are struggling so hard to create, that they are beset on all sides by a liberal media that twists their words and ignores their great deeds. Hopefully some viewers had a neuron or two fire when Rummy got caught in his own lies, and they will start paying more attention. I'm not holding out much hope for that, however... people seem to be pretty securely plugged in to the Matrix nowadays, and critical thinking has just about been bred right out of us.

The bit that worries me is that the point isn't whether or not they said any specific two-word phrase like 'immediate threat', which is a matter of historical record despite their continued denials, the point is that they waged a war by lying to keep the fear level high enough that nobody would challenge their self-serving actions... and that they were allowed to do this by a Congress that has been asleep at the fucking wheel, except for when they've been actively dishonorable.

That whole "system of checks and balances" myth they laid on us in our junior-high civics classes was sidestepped when Congress voted to violate Article I section 8 of the US Constitution (the part that quite clearly says 'only Congress has the authority to declare war') by giving the president a blank check for a 'war on terror' in Iraq (despite the fact that Iraq has never been connected to the terrorist attacks in the US). This was a win-win situation for our spineless politicians: they could visibly support the fight against 'terrorism', and if things worked out well they would be rewarded by Bush (and presumably by their constituency) for their loyalty, but at the same time if things went bad they could deflect the blame, since Bush was ultimately responsible. I remember when I was a kid, hearing stories about how the corrupt politicians in Russia would do stuff like this... and now nobody even blinks when it happens here.

The worst part of the whole thing, from my point of view, is that the majority of Americans bought it... I've never been more ashamed of my country's ignorance than I have been these last couple of years. It makes me wonder, now, what is going on in people's heads - if they are capable of believing outright lies, even after the lie is exposed and some unsophisticated attempts at spin control have taken place, it seems like they could believe in anything. If you take a look at history, you might notice that all of the truly atrocious bits have something in common: the people responsible have a belief in their moral superiority that persists despite any evidence to the contrary.

I know it's a bit idealistic of me, but: weren't we supposed to be the good guys? We've managed to convince ourselves that we are, but our actions do not reflect our beliefs. And uncounted (literally, by Pentagon orders) lives have been lost, including 571 Americans (plus another 3254 wounded US soldiers), for what? We're not 'safer'... the mujahedin are even more pissed at us than they were before, and old Osama bin Laden (remember him?) is still out in the wild, except now he's a folk-hero for standing up against the US and getting away with it. We've also pissed off most of the countries on the planet, and proved to the world that their worst stereotypes of us are fairly accurate. The only real 'progress' from this war is that Bush and Cheney and their campaign contributors got richer. Was it worth it?