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Robert Scheer: Bush Can’t Kick the Habit

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Posted on Dec 19, 2006
Bush and Gates
AP Photo / Ron Edmonds

President Bush, left, congratulates Defense Secretary Robert Gates after swearing-in ceremony for Gates at the Pentagon, Monday, Dec. 18, 2006.

By Robert Scheer

Here we go again: A new secretary of defense and yet another call for ending the war in Iraq by escalating it. What are they smoking in the Bush White House?

Even as government statistics now show marijuana is America’s No. 1 cash crop, it is important to remember that militarism is the most dangerous drug threatening our sanity. Yet even formerly sober folks—first Colin Powell and now new Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—get a contact high from cozying up to the walking hallucinogen that is our president.

Succumbing to the Bush fantasy that freedom is fertilized by firepower, a vision that has mucked up Iraq beyond recognition, Gates told CBS that “as the president has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for generations to come.”

This from a man who recently made sense, during his confirmation hearings, when he told members of Congress that we are not winning this war, despite having committed, proportionally, as many troops as we did in Vietnam. But now, as a rising chorus of obsessed hawks calls for a “surge” in U.S. troop deployment in Iraq—a call echoed even by some prominent Democrats—Gates endorses the staying-the-course strategy for compounding the Iraq failure rejected by the voters. A member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG) who had apparently supported its unanimous findings that the military strategy was bankrupt is suddenly blinded by Bush’s Iraq victory myopia.

In a sign of just how out there Bush is on Iraq, The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff are in “unanimous disagreement” with “White House officials aggressively promoting the concept ... . [T]he Joint Chiefs think the White House, after a month of talks, still does not have a defined mission [in Iraq].”

All this despite the fact that the ISG report correctly underscored that the real failures in the Mideast have clearly been political, not military. The accurate subtext of the report is that the continued U.S. military presence in Iraq is the key source of chaos in the region—inflaming religious fanaticism from Beirut to Baghdad and leaving the United States dependent on the tyrants in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia to now bail us out.

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So with Bush rejecting the sage advice of a commission headed by his father’s secretary of state to cut our losses is there any hope the Democrats who now control Congress will stop playing the role of enabler to these war junkies? After all, it was the Democratic congressional leadership that provided Bush with bipartisan cover for his irrational “anti-terrorism” invasion of a country that had nothing to do with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Some, like John Kerry, now recognize that folly, and even Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, in her appearance on NBC’s “Today” show Monday, finally expressed her regrets for supporting the war and opposed a “surge” in U.S. troops for Iraq.

But other Democrats continue to play the dangerous game of supporting Bush’s escalation. Particularly alarming were the remarks on Sunday of incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsing a buildup as long as it aims at getting the troops home by 2008: “If the commanders on the ground said this is just for a short period of time, we’ll go along with that.”

Reid’s strategy is as obvious as it is opportunistic: This is a Republican war, goes the thinking, and the Dems will give the Republicans all the rope they need to hang themselves in ‘08. This seems a deeply cynical position, when you consider that the Pentagon just announced that attacks on American and Iraqi targets are at their highest levels, with a 22 percent leap from just this summer. The difference between taking a position and positioning oneself is what determines leadership; if the Dems fail to provide real leadership on ending this war, they will deservedly lose the next election.

The convenient lie behind all of this is that U.S. military occupation is the indispensable agent of Mideast enlightenment. No, we have become the enablers of Iraqi madness, be it in the form of torture or the ascendancy of religious tyranny in Iraq, where daily life has been reduced to an unmitigated horror.

Yet, like a junkie who needs one more hit to get his life in order, Bush is hooked on the drug of military might. If the Democrats continue to feed his dangerous habit they will only help Bush visit greater mayhem upon Iraq while undermining the core values of our own country.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”


Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at www.truthdig.com/robert_scheer.



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By Blueboy1938, December 20, 2006 at 11:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Conceptually, Mr. Van den Berg has it right.  However, we are actually engaged in World War IV.  The Cold War, with its Korean “police action” and Viet Nam’s “domino theory” rationale, was WW III, and 9/11 was the “Pearl Harbor” of WW IV:  the terrorist wars.  Unfortunately, the vendetta of President Bush, who was out to get “the guy that tried t’kill mah dad!” led him to go along with the neocons who were frustrated by his dad’s abiding by the UN mandate and refraining from entering Baghdad.  Now he wants to salvage the shambles he created in Iraq by tossing more young people into harm’s way.  If that is tried and fails, we will have a Viet Nam debacle on our hands.  It’s a lot easier to get 140,000 troops out in an orderly disengagement than 200,000 in a route.  Furthermore, it will enflame the insurgency by appearing to be a reinforcement of the occupation, and might even trigger Iran and Syria to more overt involvement.  Now it appears that the last obstacle to this folly, General Abezaid, is being hustled out of the way, announcing his retirement effective March 2007.  He has consistently opposed such a “surge,” but with him gone and the Dems abetting, it could happen.

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By johnnyfarout, December 20, 2006 at 11:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I suppose what they’re smoking up is “crack”, and that this’ll be referred to as “Crack-Gate” someday. The “Iraqi War Crack-Gates” offensive. Tao Walker makes some good and interesting points and has me thinking again about the coup that took place on 9/11. Whatever faction of the Ruling Elite that won the day in September, the “Cowboys”, the Yankees”, let’s call them the “ 11- Septembrists”, they have their groomed fall guy, indeed. If ever the world saw the strings, they are shining and glistening now.  All that crack they’ve been smoking has led these ‘evil-doers’ to think they can do anything and have Bush#43-44 say anything and he will take all the heat. It was all there that morning while he was staring into space over “My Little Scapegoat” in that classroom in Florida. Maybe even he saw the writing up on the wall. That’s why he thought God/Jehovah picked him out of the ruling elitists to be there then. He thought he had a free ride in “the emperor’s clothes”, but he was always going to be the sacrifice of the unworthy. Now he’s still there talking “crack” like the puppet head he truly is. It’s not his pains or ruin we need concern ourselves with, like Pelosi and those revisionists want, but our own and the planet’s. This oil they have us all dependent on and warring over is the juicy result of the death of eons of life on our planet. It’s time we moved on to energy sources based on the life cycle of planet Earth, wind and light and electromagnetic wonders, and stop throwing this black death into the skies. It’s as if the ruling elite have determined that it’s okay for Planet earth to die, because when we finally exhaust our life energy, at least some of us will be rich when we all die off. The rich have been running the country from the very beginning, and this is where they have led us. We can see the clouds of doomsday on the horizon and smell the blood in the sulfurous haze. It makes me wonder if the aliens have not indeed been practicing mind control for their own nefarious off-world ends, and we are like herds of animals panicking when the barn door swings open and we know it’s not feeding time for us, and we stand stock still, eyes straight ahead, troops of human fodder full of shock and awe. “Give us this day our daily bread”. Best start prayin’, that trouble comin’ everyday.

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By John Earl, December 20, 2006 at 11:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Particularly alarming were the remarks on Sunday of incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsing a buildup as long as it aims at getting the troops home by 2008: “If the commanders on the ground said this is just for a short period of time, we’ll go along with that.”

Go To Hell, Harry!

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By loubranch4, December 20, 2006 at 10:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No more debate, no more slogans, no more fact
finding junkets that don’t solve anything. If a bipartisan
group’s work of 9 months is summarily dismissed by
the nitwit in the White House what good will come out
of anything short of our complete withdrawal? He can
take those purple fingers he always talks about and
put them where the sun doesn’t shine.

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By GDAEman, December 20, 2006 at 10:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Democrats can’t lead for fear of unpredictable corporate media frenzy potential.

We are in a time of need for ordinary people to lead. To this end, I add my voice:

The ISG Report: Plutocratic Damage Control”>

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By rabblerowzer, December 20, 2006 at 10:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Don’t be led down the garden path, again.


A word of warning to my fellow democrats. Please be aware of who the Mass Media chooses to spotlight and whom they ignore. Right now they heap attention on Hillary and Obama and ignore Gore, Edwards and Kucinich. Who chooses which candidates get attention and who gets ignored?

We are all aware of the awesome power of the Mass Media to influence and manipulate the outcome of our elections. They can make or break candidates, just as they did with McGovern, Goldwater and with Dean and his exuberant scream. But the Mass Media is not a neutral force, they represent the interests of their masters. Their masters are not a bunch of altruistic liberals, they are tightly knit group of extremely powerful corporations owned by the richest two percent of our population. They have an axe to grind and our heads are on the chopping block.

The Mass Media emphasizes the negatives and ignores the positives, and vice versa. Be aware of what they are doing.

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By james j, December 20, 2006 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Write all your congress people and senators and demand Impeachment. Is the only way out respectfully and with honor.

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By chuck, December 20, 2006 at 10:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush does not see the war in Iraq as the majority of Americans see it. He is going in the wrong direction! The Democrats need to stop him in his tracks. Stop the money & troops going to Iraq for more DAILY BLOODSHED. We are losing the war & losing so many lives. It makes no sence to send more troops to Iraq. STOP IT NOW!! We, the citizens of the USA, have to speak up like they did in the Viet Nam era.

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By Gonnuts, December 20, 2006 at 10:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

First he didn’t hear the will of the people when we spoke clearly with our votes that we wanted out of Iraq.

Heavy-weights within his own party and his former Secretary of State are stating that “staying the course” is the wrong thing to do and that a major change of policy is needed.

Bush has said repeatedly that he listens to his Generals and now that his Generals are speaking in unison against any increase in troops their Commander in Chief seems to be doing the opposite of what his Generals propose.

One has to come to the conclusion that the leader of this nation is either insane or ... well, I can’t think of anything else he may be.

The question now is what are we going to do about it?

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By Chabuka, December 20, 2006 at 10:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When will the people of this country admit that they have put an insane man in the White House…TWICE…Bush is the very description of pure insanity…and yet no one will call a “spade a spade” do we see it as a bad reflection upon ourselves…?

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By Nancy Neberry, December 20, 2006 at 10:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It seems to me that there is no way we can ‘win’ this war, let alone get out of it gracefully.  So sooner or later we are going to withdraw completely and sneak out in the dark of night (Vietnam’s exit).  The real question is how many American soldiers will have been killed or maimed before it happens, and how many Iraqis will also have been put in harm’s way by us.  Once we leave, we are told chaos will ensue.  As far as I can see, chaos is already there and will become a religious sect war as soon as we go.  The only difference is that we won’t have our military personnel there to be sitting ducks and drawing increasing hatred from the Muslim world. Bush needs to be impeached and the money stopped that supports the war so that we can save American lives.  I do not know how Bush, Cheney, Runsfeld, Rice and Company can sleep at night for all the death, destruction, injury for which they are responsible.

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By ljotwell@comcast.net, December 20, 2006 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whatever Bush is putting in that White House koolaid is really working on Gates.  Of course, we should have seen it coming since he is only going to call in retreads whom he already knows will swallow whatever he gives them.  The American people and 9/10s of the world be damned, it’s full speed ahead, stay the course, we must have the oil and support the military/industrial complex so his buddies can keep getting richer at our grandchildren’s expense.  Is it any surprise that the acronymn for the invasion of Iraq was OIL?  (Operation Iraqi Liberation).

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By buffalo kaplinski, December 20, 2006 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

THIS whole iraq policy has got to be to get and keep control of OIL - BUSH is in control of this and is doing the “DIRTY WORK ” of” THE MILITARY - INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX ” the MIDDLE EAST wants a THEOCRACY, who do we think we are to impose our culture and government on them !in the mean time our young people are dying for a LOST CAUSE ; unless you think its a fair tradeoff : LIVES for OIL FUTURES . the BUSH MANTRA is “GOD BLESS AMERICA ” it should be “PLEASE GOD SAVE AMERICA , from this madman ” HITLER said “GOD is on our side ” REVIEW NAZI PROPANGANDA and the INSANE TIMES / DITTO AMERICA

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By Jean Tracy, December 20, 2006 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The American people have spoken.  They want us out of Bush’s illegal war in Iraq.

It is, therefore, imperative that Congress cut off funds for the war to end the slaughter of innocent Americans and Iraqis.

Jean Tracy

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By Hondo, December 20, 2006 at 8:38 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What are they smoking? It’s called a “victory pipe.” Pres. Bush, unlike the modern liberal appeasers of our time, understands that the only way to achieve victory in Iraq, and the war on terror, is to eliminate Islamofascism. He understands that liberal demands to “negotiate” and “dialogue” are a roadmap to disaster and another, larger 9/11. He understands that, ultimately, history will judge him on how good a job he did in fighting Islamofascism. History won’t give two hoots about whether or not he was liked by liberals, most of whom are Hate-America lunatics.

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By DennisD, December 20, 2006 at 8:22 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Each branch of government independent and holding specific powers to keep the other branches in check. A great concept by our country’s founding fathers, if they could only see us now. The Executive branch - a dictatorship, the Legislative branch owned by special interests, and of course the Judicial branch that “elected” George the first time.
Creating a democratic United States should become the focus of the citizens of this once great country. We are now an example of what NOT to become to the rest of the world. We have reached a tipping point in our history. Which way we go is up to US.

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By Hank Van den Berg, December 20, 2006 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush’ obstinance is more than an addiction to military power; he is addicted to crusades.  Most disturbing about his interview yesterday is his continued reference to “a long war on Islamic terrorism.”  This statement coincides with the news that we are sending an aircraft carrier and more troops to “warn” Iran just days after Iranian voters showed they do not agree with their ultra-conservative leadership.  There is also the op ed piece by the CIA dissident revealing that the administration repeatedly shunned overtures by Iran, not to mention our open and very clear support of Israel’s aggression and oppression in Palestine, Gaza, and Lebanon.  Bush is clearly trying to foment a fight with Islam.  When are Democrats going get over their fear of appearing unpatriotic and just call Bush on his medeival sentiments?  We don’t really need World War III, do we?

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By weezilgirlchurch@sbcglobal.net, December 20, 2006 at 7:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I could not BELIEVE Reid!! I feel betrayed by the Democrats and I worked my—- on this election…........sacrificing more soldiers by “giving the Republicans enough rope” isn’t my idea of doing what is morally correct.

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By Jay Daher, December 20, 2006 at 7:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Oh boy! Another left-wing liberal rag. Wake up!

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By tritone, December 20, 2006 at 6:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“What are they smoking in the Bush White House?”—RS

Scheer’s sentence misses the point and, further, sullies the name of one of the most useful plants on the planet—medicinal purposes being only one of hundreds don’tchyaknow!

Mr. Scheer, let me ask you: in the course of your profession—one which knows a thing or two about alcohol culture, bars, drunken brawls and the like—how many drunken violent people have you observed as opposed to violent pot-smokers (only pot) through the many decades?

Spare us in future these useless idiotic humorless cliches.

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By Roy, December 20, 2006 at 6:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bush has gambled his way into deep debt, and now he wants to double down. Obviously, he needs to have his credit cut off.

The Democrats have the majority in both houses. They can vote down each and every spending bill with as much as a dime for Iraq.

Bush cannot veto a bill they didn’t pass. And his ‘signing statements’ are not going to be accepted as a Congressional override, not when it comes to big money.

(We also need legbreakers to go after Bush for the vigorish. Any volunteers?)

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By Jon Beiler, December 20, 2006 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This commentary is very much to the point, except that it gives marijuana a bad name.  Pot makes people more mellow and less aggressive, including presidents like Clinton, who tried it but didn’t inhale.  I would suspect that some other drugs are involved, along with massive injections of testosterone.

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By SamSnedegar, December 20, 2006 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Has nothing to do with “liberty” unless you consider the “liberation” of Iraqi oil as our primary purpose in being there, which it is now, was then, and ever shall be.

The reason we can’t afford to fail is because if we should lose the oil in Iraq, we have to go elsewhere to steal it, and we have already sunk a lot into military bases in Iraq from which to protect our oil.

As I have said time and again, we need to discuss WHY we have to steal oil rather than getting into useless maundering over HOW we pilfer. But of course all the rich people are afraid to talk about it for fear it will trigger a “run on the bank” or Enron syndrome which would sink the US economy and make the rich people poor and the poor people die of starvation or exposure.

Amazing how you can covet, lie, murder, and steal when your cushy life style requires it.

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By Joe, December 20, 2006 at 5:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What’s the point of protesting this megalomania one more time - let it run its course to the destruction of its perpetrator, but, hopefully, not to our nation.  What a dilemma - generals vs. president! Has this every happened before in our country? Do we really want a military coup in our country? Then who will lead?

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By lotusman, December 20, 2006 at 5:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only way we are going to get a change in direction in the war on Iraq is to IMPEACH the man who lied us into it!  He cares not that the people of America have spoken and rejected his war, all he cares about is his lame, idiotic agenda.  When the congress steps up and does it’s duty, which is to impeach a president when he has crossed the line and broken the law, then we have a chance at ending this war or we’ll have wait until 2008.

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By oneyedjack, December 20, 2006 at 4:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And the multitudes cheered as the democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  Are there still any thinking individuals out there who truly believe that there is a difference between repugs and demmies?
War is good for politicians and corporations, war is not good for human beings.  (Politicians and corporations of course don’t count as being human beings).

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By Jennifer, December 20, 2006 at 3:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Utter nonsense.  Walking hallucinogen?  I don’t even like Bush, but that doesn’t even make sense.

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By TAO Walker, December 20, 2006 at 2:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Might as well face it, Robert.  America kissed its “core values” goodbye a long time ago.  It’s only that until recently the most devastating consequences of that betrayal have fallen the hardest upon other peoples in other places (that is, once the criminal enterprise moved the bulk of its bloodier business offshore, following the occupation of “the homeland”).  So now, as they must, those chickens are coming home to roost among the slaphappy heirs of the failing American empire.                            It has been a short, if spectacular run, as empires go.  And it seems only fitting that the individual ‘chosen’ to preside over its seemingly sudden fall should be such a quintessential embodiment of “the real America” as it has been experienced by so many of the world’s “less developed” countries…..feckless, self-righteous, oblivious to its own character flaws, and absolutely convinced of its inherent right to the lion’s share of all the world’s good things.
There will probably be a great temptation in the land-o’-the-freebooters to rid itself of the onus of all that, and much more of similar ilk, by simply scapegoating the misbegotten fool who has so witlessly exemplified it for everyone, and driving G.W. Bush into the wasteland of failure and disgrace.  It’s hard to imagine a better qualified candidate for such a thankless task…..or one more deserving of and carefully groomed for the “honor.”
It’s way too late in Talleyrand’s “Great Game” for that kind of easy out, though, don’t you think?  No, Americans are just going to have to suck it up and take their medicine, as bitter a pill as it is certain to be.  No doubt individual doses will be sized according to one’s share of the spoils, so the higher one is in the pyramid scheme the more of the ‘cure’ one will have to choke-down.  Some of your billionaires must’ve seen this coming, as they’ve lately been divesting and downsizing with a kind of manic dedication….good for them.
The Bush syndicate will be eating its full and fair share of it, as well, so what’s the use, really, of singling them out for any special opprobrium here on the eve of the reckoning.  After all, they too have only been chasing “theamericandream,” and probably thought they were doing a pretty bang-up job of it, too.
So what they’re smoking in the White House these days is only what the whole nation has been smoking for most of its history.  The thing to consider, though, is just where you’ve been blowing all that smoke all these years.

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By Jackie T. Gabel, December 20, 2006 at 1:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

RE:  “...militarism is the most dangerous drug threatening our sanity.”

>>>>try FALSE FLAG TERROR

As Seneca, counselor to Roman Emperor Nero, warned. “Fabricated terror is like a drug. It always takes a bigger dose to get the same result.”

If WMD go off anywhere in the world, don’t look to the cave, bin Laden, the laptop; don’t look to the Axis of Evil. Look to Cheney and Cheney’s handlers.

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By jon eden, December 19, 2006 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many of us both in and out of government did learn from Viet Nam, and that is why the widespread angst over the incrementalism.

Unfortunately Bush may be a victim of the ... I’m not going to be the first American president to lose a war. ...syndrome. Wouldn’t he (and just about any other president) find it preferable to just pass this baton of failure along to the next President and call it a continuation of the long war on terrorism.

Neither this president nor most of those on Capital Hill want to be associated with the fall out of this looming humanitarian, financial, and strategic disaster. So these politicians—for the sake of their personal futures—will just let the bodies pile up. And when some subsequent president has to fly the last troops off of the roof of our new embassy, the Bush apologists can come off the Bush ranch screeching about how the war could have been won if we had just “stayed the course.”

StudentsforTheEarth.org

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By suzannetrammell, December 19, 2006 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I can not believe what I am reading, I have no tv and have not for 21 years, what is going on with the minds of mr. gates and mr. bush, my father was a pow /slave in germany for 4 years, in ww2 I have been thru the koren war the nam war, has no one learned that death is not the answer. Please someone tell me what they are thinking????? sincerely, suzanne trammell

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By Fadel Abdallah, December 19, 2006 at 10:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Okay! Let this slow-learner, evil warmonger have his desired military ‘surge’ provided he will include himself, his evil partner Cheney and their wives and daughters in this surge. Only then this son-of-a-bitch will prove that he has an iota of crude patriotism in his evil character.

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By Ron Ranft, December 19, 2006 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Why would anyone be surprised at what Gates would say? Everyone who voted to confirm him stuck their pointy little heads in the sand knowing all along that Gates was a criminal. He violated the law forbidding the sending of arms to Iran and South America. Then he lied about it. Knowledgeable people pointed out that he was being appointed to do the same thing for Bush that he did for Reagan. And it did not take very long to prove them right.

The longer we stay the more lives will be lost both American and Iraqi and here at home the same wind that fans the flames of the Iraq/US and Isreali/Palestinian conflicts will bring embers that will set us ablaze too.

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By jon eden, December 19, 2006 at 10:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Without the cowardly enablers on Capitol Hill there would be no so called “surge”. We have really become quite MAD people.

StudentsForTheEarth.org

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By Eleanore Kjellberg, December 19, 2006 at 10:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“This from a man who recently made sense, during his confirmation hearings, when he told members of Congress that we are not winning this war, despite having committed, proportionally, as many troops as we did in Vietnam”

What did you expect—Gates, didn’t crawl up that creepy food chain by being an independent thinker.

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