Thursday, April 01, 2004

Dick Clarke, Surrealism, And Why I Just Don't Care 

I tried to stay away from blogging about Richard Clarke as much as possible, because I felt that this was an unfolding story that can only be commented on after enough of it has revealed itself. Now is the time.

My question: why the heck does anyone still listen to this guy?"
Gorton: Now, since my yellow light is on, at this point my final question will be this: Assuming that the recommendations that you made on January 25th of 2001, based on Delenda, based on Blue Sky, including aid to the Northern Alliance, which had been an agenda item at this point for two and a half years without any action, assuming that there had been more Predator reconnaissance missions, assuming that that had all been adopted say on January 26th, year 2001, is there the remotest chance that it would have prevented 9/11?

That was Mr. Clarke on Wednesday last week in the 9/11 Commission.
"The people in the FBI and CIA dropped the ball or we would have known those facts," said Clarke, adding, "If that information had bubbled up — if the system had worked in FBI, if the system had worked in CIA — I think we probably could have” made a difference.

Acknowledging that he was indulging in "20/20 hindsight," Clarke said, "I would like to think I would have gone on battle stations."
That was Mr. Clarke a week later on Hardball.

And I thought John Kerry flip-flopped. Of course, this isn't his first time having a debate with himself, so I'm not surprised. But the fact that people are still giving him the attention he so obviously craves is beyond me. My excuse is that I've been saving this for a while, but I hope I never have to discuss him again. No point feeding this fire.

I'm finding that the entire debate over Iraq, 9-11, terrorism in general, etc., have taken on a surreal air. Both sides seem to be debating over issues and points that have little basis in reality.

First off, the side that I'm on. The point has been made before, but why do the Bush adminstration keep trying to insist that terrorism was its biggest focus before 9-11, and why do everyone else give a damn when they find evidence to the contrary? 9-11 was a paradigm shift, and to have one of those, one has to have a different paradigm before the shift. Doesn't anyone remember that the biggest international affairs crisis for the Bush administration before 9-11 was a mid-air collision between a US surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet? The whole concept of 9-11 was, for the vast majority of Americans, what Rumsfeld would call an "unknown unknown," a concept so beyond comprehension that no one could've imagined it before, except for government employees paid to think up doomsday scenarios (I'm not belittling their jobs, since obviously they were right, but I bet even they didn't exactly expect this to happen). Now we toss around blame like it was blindingly obvious that 19 people were going to slam planes into buildings. The point of the debate isn't who could've prevented 9-11, but who's the one that learned from it and would be better at preventing it from happening again. Bush or Kerry? I'll put my money on GWB, thank you very much.

Another point that is starting to annoy me is the shift of the justification of the war in Iraq on humanitarian grounds. Now I'm not above feeling good about the liberation of the Iraqi people, but it wasn't the fundamental reason why I supported going to Baghdad. It was always about the national security threat, the ominous cloud of WMDs and support for terrorism. And guess what: I had my doubts whether WMD stockpiles would be found in Iraq even over a year ago. And the truth is that it didn't change damn squat. George Shultz recently gave an excellent speech on the issue of why the Iraq War was justified, and it sums up my point nicely (thus saving me the tedium of typing it out). It didn't dawdle into the liberation of the Iraqi people (I can't find the words "liberate," "human rights," or "humanitarian" anywhere in the article). I must emphasize: I am not belittling the humanitarian accomplishments, but we need to make our arguments on the grounds made by Shultz more often. National security was the primary reason that the vast majority of us supported the war: we weren't wrong then, and we aren't wrong now.

Meanwhile, those I'm arguing against seem to have even more of their collective heads in the clouds. At the last anti-war demonstrations, they were shouting for the end of the "occupation" of Afghanistan. Calls for the end of the occupation of Iraq were being made a mere three months before the transfer of sovereignty in that country. These people cheer for Richard Clarke, a man who advocated the very policies the Bush administration currently uses. These people don't have positions. They just do whatever they think GWB is against.

Recently, I haven't really discussed the pressing issues of the day (9-11 Commission stuff, what's happening in Iraq, etc.). I suppose this post explains why. Call me back when everything makes a bit more sense.
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