Saturday, May 26, 2007

An unfortunate confluence

The always readable Barbara O'Brien has this to say about the disgraceful (and now disgraced) Paul Wolfowitz:

As for Wolfie’s part, do read Sidney Blumenthal’s recent article, “Wolfowitz’s tomb.”

With the end of the Cold War the cold warrior without a mission fastened onto a new id´e fixe. As the undersecretary of defense for policy in the first Gulf War, serving under Secretary Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz had concurred in the decision not to pursue Saddam Hussein to Baghdad after expelling him from Kuwait. He had been present at the Feb. 21, 1991, meeting where that policy was approved and uttered not a skeptical or contrary word. But when the elder Bush was defeated, Wolfowitz in exile became the champion of regime change. He developed an elaborate utopian scheme based on the overthrow of Saddam — instant democracy in Iraq, inciting democratic revolutions throughout the Middle East, accompanied by the equally sudden quiescence of the Palestinians, creating peace for Israel while doing away with any negotiations involved in a peace process. And he imagined Saddam, a brutal enough tyrant, as an octopus, his tentacles manipulating nearly every horror. Even after every available piece of evidence and trials proved otherwise, he continued to insist that Saddam was behind the Oklahoma City and 1993 World Trade Center bombings. …

… [After becoming a deputy to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld] Wolfowitz set to work at once to implement his master plan. He brought up overthrowing Saddam in the first National Security Council meeting with the president, eight months before 9/11. In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attacks, Wolfowitz hammered on the idea of striking at Iraq.

Less than a month before the invasion, for which his intelligence operation had provided the justifications (later all disproved as sheer disinformation), Wolfowitz was approaching an ecstatic state of being. He could see the shape of things to come through the fog of war. On Feb. 19, 2003, in an interview with National Public Radio, he held forth on the new dawn: “But we’re not talking about the occupation of Iraq. We’re talking about the liberation of Iraq … Therefore, when that regime is removed we will find one of the most talented populations in the Arab world, perhaps complaining that it took us so long to get there. Perhaps a little unfriendly to the French for making it take so long. But basically welcoming us as liberators … There’s not going to be the hostility … There simply won’t be.”

Five months later, on July 23, 2003, after his trip to Iraq, Wolfowitz was still in an elevated state. “There is no humanitarian crisis,” he said. “There is no refugee crisis. There is no health crisis. There has been minimal damage to infrastructure — minimal war damage … So, fortunately, much of what … we planned for and budgeted for has not proved necessary.”

Historians often write about the founding of our country with a reverent wonder — isn’t it remarkable that so many giants among men could have been alive at the same place and the same time? We still defer to the Founders respectfully — Washington. Jefferson. Hamilton. Madison. Franklin. A fortunate confluence. But on 9/11 we had the unfortunate confluence of the worst pack of losers and idiots that ever ran a government — Bush. Cheney. Rumsfeld. Wolfowitz. Rice. Names which will in infamy.

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