| By Tony Russell|
The Bush administration's propaganda curtain over Iraq is finally
lifting. Colorful metaphors are sprouting everywhere, like blossoms of
truth after a long winter of lies and deception.
Gen. Anthony Zinni said on "60 Minutes" that the problem with the
administration's "stay the course" plan for Iraq is that "the course is
General Joseph Hoar, a former commander in chief of US central command,
told the Senate foreign relations committee, "I believe we are
absolutely on the brink of failure. We are looking into the abyss."
Bob Herbert, writing in the New York Times, says, "…we all may be
passengers in a vehicle that has made a radically wrong turn and is
barreling along a dark road, with its headlights off and with someone
behind the wheel who may not know how to drive."
Byron Williams, a pastor in Oakland, California, uses a medical
metaphor: "What the president now has is an obstinate policy that is
allergic to self-reflection."
This administration came into office as the self-proclaimed "grown ups,"
the mature, competent managers who would give the rest of us a
demonstration of how things are supposed to be done. Instead, their
failures in Iraq exemplify their record across the board. In a mere
three and a half years, they have managed to screw up so many things so
badly that whoever follows them will have to work day and night just to
clean up their mess.
Interestingly, the most withering criticism of the administration isn't
coming from Democrats. It's coming from Republicans, from retired
military officers now free to speak their minds, even from former Bush
administration officials. Mark Helprin, for example, is a former
speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, now a contributing editor to the Wall
Street Journal (not exactly a bastion of liberalism). Helprin writes
that Abu Ghraib is "a symbol of the inescapable fact that the war has
been run incompetently, with an apparently deliberate contempt for
history, strategy, and thought." (Personally, I would add to that list
"an apparently deliberate contempt" for justice, respect for other
cultures and religions, and empathy for other human beings.)
Or take Gen. Zinni again, who collaborated with Tom Clancy, long a
darling of the militarists in the administration, on a forthcoming book,
Battle Ready. Zinni's judgment on the administration's handling of
Iraq? "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at
minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worst,
lying, incompetence and corruption."
Say 'Amen!' Who would have believed that in less than one term of
office, ANY administration could: Inherit a balanced budget, and turn it
into annual deficits approaching half a trillion dollars? Shed American
jobs in the millions? Replace well-paying, secure, rewarding work with
marginal, low-wage service jobs? Alienate traditional allies?
Undermine the United Nations? Withdraw from vial international
treaties? Sully America's reputation? Give the green light to torture
and abuse? Fuel a global religious conflict? Spur the growth of
terrorism? Make the strategically vital Middle East dangerously
unstable? Botch the aftermath of military conquest in Iraq? Assault
basic American rights with the wildly-misnamed "Patriot Act"? Shift the
tax burden more and more onto the shoulders of the middle class and the
And on and on. The Bush administration record is so thoroughly dismal,
its actions so offensive to America's core beliefs and values, that
supporting it takes denial to an extreme never seen before in our
country. Over and over, the same words have been used by Republicans
and Democrats alike to describe this crew—words like "arrogant,"
"obstinate," "stubborn," and "deceptive." Let's close with one more
metaphor, from a friend of mine, writing from Virginia: "Arrogance and
secrecy have spread through this administration like a cancer, and it's
eating out America's core."