Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 04, 2006

WB: The War Party


Events -- from 9/11 on -- have moved too fast and pushed us too far towards the clash of civilizations that most sane people dread but the neocons desperately want. The Dems are now just the cadet branch of the War Party. While the party nomenklatura is finally, after three blood years, making dovish noises about the Iraq fiasco, I think their loyalty to Israel will almost certainly snap them back into line during the coming "debate" over war with Iran.

I hope like hell I'm wrong about this, but I don't think I am. So I guess I'll just have to accept being labeled a traitor to the cause -- or whatever the hardcore partisans are calling it. Sure, why not. They're certainly free to follow their party over the cliff (we're all going over it anyway) but I'd at least prefer to do it with my eyes open.

The War Party

Posted by b on August 4, 2006 at 02:46 AM | Permalink

next page »

I, for one, have been saying pretty much the same, though not as well articulated, for a while, even before the current Israel mess.

My analogy has been to the Al Smith democrats of 1929, who became totally irrelevant (and in fact counterproductive) once the Great Depression held sway and FDR was propelled into power.

The current Dems will be footnotes in history, and won't in any event be either able or willing to stop the decline and fall of the American Empire.

Posted by: Lupin | Aug 4, 2006 2:59:23 AM | 1

before this gets chewed apart in left blogland let's get a few things straight...

he's a defeatist, bipolar, drinks to much whiskey (you've seen the name of his blog, right?), depressed , did i miss anything???

billmon, you took the words right out of my mouth ))) sometimes i have to bolt out of my chair and jump up and down. you aced it, again

Posted by: annie | Aug 4, 2006 3:07:14 AM | 2

How much do you want to bet me that the whole reason the neocons decided to tack Iran onto their enemies list is because Chalabi never delivered that pipeline to Haifa?

Typical of the way things have been done in that region for 30 years. When Bush Sr. was part of the picture.

Posted by: 2nd anonymous | Aug 4, 2006 3:07:51 AM | 3

Will the Democrats be meekly standing by as the Middle East leads us into World War III, or will they be the ones who lead us there? Humanitarian interventions in Lebanon and Sudan. Defending our troops there against terrorists. Defending Israel. This could be like Japan kicking off World War II early in Manchuria and China, or the Spanish Civil War. The Great Game keeps on going in Central Asia - we need the Russians to make it a real World War. Who knows, maybe we can have Wes Clark give it another go?

Posted by: Rowan | Aug 4, 2006 3:09:18 AM | 4

I'm not going to say this nightmare is wrong. But surely China, Russia, and Europe will react - perhaps in some unforseen and very unpleasant way if the US attacks Iran.

For an attack on Iran, the US has to first clear out of Iraq completely - anybody left in Iraq will be a hostage to Iranian missiles.

Posted by: Owl | Aug 4, 2006 3:44:45 AM | 5

So many Dems today remind me of Friedrich Ebert and the "mainstream" Social Democrats in 1914. Of course, four or five years later (depending on how you count), as Chancellor (and soon afterwards, the President) of Germany, Ebert did some rather nasty things to his former party colleagues in Berlin....

Posted by: kao_hsien_chih | Aug 4, 2006 3:50:10 AM | 6

So, help me out here guys and gals, we give Israel, what was it?, 90 MILLION or was it 90 BILLION --that kind of money makes my eyes glaze over-- a year. The Israeli Lobby turns around and gives generously to our coin operated congress and senate, isn't this just a shell game? Much like U.S. tax payers paying for their own serfage with regards to Bush's billion dollar PR campaign. Therefore shouldn't we just call it what it is, 'conjugal services', cause someone is getting fucked, and you can bet it's not them. They fuck ,not get fucked

What sweet deal they got going over there in the beltway, set up the system so as to have us pay them for our own debasement. No wonder they have contempt for us. The famous showman/snake oil salesman P. T. Barnum never had it so good.

George Carlin tells us what time it is, dig?

George Carlin: Dumb Americans(mp3)

George calls it as he sees it, and it hits really close to home. Is it funny? Yes! Is it painful and hard to hear? You bet! Is it truth disguised as bitter sarcasm and humor. Yep. Right Click the Post Title and Listen Now.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 4, 2006 3:52:28 AM | 7

Am new at this so I'm unsure of protocol. I'd like to repost two from this afternoon cuz they seem germaine; so if I may plagerize self:
Have been reading the good blogs for days and have yet to see an analysis of the rovian election strategy at play in the attack on Lebanon.
Israel is obviously the giant wedge between the Democratic Party leadership and pundits (totally cowed by AIPAC) and the Democratic base (naturally repelled by jingoistic militarism). With one deft blow of the IDF mallet Karl has driven this wedge deep into what was barely starting to resemble a challenge to his 4th Reich. Even Howard Dean has felt compelled to made a total ass of himself over the Maliki comments. I would guess that those remarks were penned in the WH, giving a tiny bone to Maliki for his relatively non-existent base while advancing Karl's agenda of demonizing the Shia (the next puppet's probably supposed to be a Sunni anyway) at the same time he slips the Dems a poisoned red herring.
I wish one of the big blog brains would tackle this soon; as usual Karl has a two week lead and appears to be pulling away fast.

The good news is that "WWIII" is probably on hold for the '08 election because the surprise for '06 is already in.
And it's a rovian surprise; Traditionally anti-semitic xian fundamentalists and AIPAC combine to paralize Dem candidates; CNN and FOX select Lamont v. Lieberman as the poster race for the rest of the season; Lieberman retains his customary lack of appeal, and Lamont makes wierd buggy expressions which are replayed endlessly.
The Ripoffagains don't care who wins Ct. as long as the Dems look bad enough. Candidates in the rest of the country, at the urging of the DLC try to outdo one another in their support for Israel doing whatever awful thing it wants; and half the Dem base stays home because they don't seem to have a horse in the race.

Posted by: nationofbloodthirstysheep | Aug 4, 2006 3:57:08 AM | 8

Of course BIllmon is right about the uselessness of the Democratic party. But probably more of the sane people consider themselves Democrats and even a few in congress might help with a few more votes. One thing to consider is that what the radical right, both ours and Israel's wants is not what is actually best for the state or people of Israel, and this is well understood by many in both countries

Posted by: nationofbloodthirstysheep | Aug 4, 2006 4:15:05 AM | 9

The ultimate smack down for Steve Gilliard's post.
I love Steve.
And the comments to that thread I linked are quite interesting.

However, William puts the finger deep into the sore.
Cauterizing or gangrene, these are in fact the choices.
What is Cassandra supposed to do?

Posted by: Werner Dieter Thomas | Aug 4, 2006 4:22:06 AM | 10

ohkayyy, nationofbloodythirstysheep, welcome and pull up a chair. protocol is dandy. fyi on the homepage top left is always available thread for any OT thoughts for anyol' time and other than that there's nothing you need to know about protocol.i think you may have landed at the right(left) bar.

i no longer consider it a separate nation. i imagine there was a deal made, way back in 1/01 or prior "ok, we'll flip iraq but when the heavy lifting comes in (iran) you gotta play your part". so israel's paying its dues. time to hit lebanon (me: lebanon? they aren't on the axis of evil) kick the anthill, times a wastin'. obviously we can't just go in there and blow the hell out of iran. we have to contain, pacify, or otherwise engage the lessor pons first. knock out a rook or two. surround the queen.

iraq, screw iraq. it's already a clusterfuck, just the way we like it. those pesky little syrians are holdin up the show. 'issy, get the hell in there pronto!'. we got a few months to really stir things up, steal the election. there'll be so much distraction everyone will of course understand how the rethugs could win at a time when we need the war party. next on the agenda , similar to the grand slam on fallujah after nov04, we go for the kill. by then it won't even matter what bs reasoning/justification, it's all systems go, 2 yrs of freestyle. the firecrackers are really gonna go off after the election. 07's the real war year, then the have to prepare for election 08. la di da bend over

uncle, excellent carlin

Posted by: annie | Aug 4, 2006 4:25:57 AM | 11

Uncle $cam, thanks for the Carlin. Reminds me of what my mother said about Gregory Corso: "That Gregory's such a nice boy, but why does he have to use such foul language?".

Posted by: nationofbloodthirstysheep | Aug 4, 2006 4:39:55 AM | 12

Werner Dieter,

I checked out Steves blog & the comments -- this one, one of the shortest, summed it up:

Billmon hasn't taken this much flack since he predicted a Bush win in 2004.
Just something to think about.
Skamandros | 08.02.06 - 6:19 am | #

Billmon is of course dead right, and it hurts, those like my 78 year old mother, who believes "things will get better once the democrats get back in". And while its hard for me to tell my mother otherwise, I'm not Billmon and the rest out there are'nt my mother. So when the democrats fall all over themselves clawing at the chance to display their cheeks before AIPAC -- that amounts in sum to the rebirth of the neo-con agenda of ginning up WWIII, there is a right time to get off the bus -- and tell mother it just aint so.

Considering Billmons track record on being right in such matters, for better or worse, no one else is even close, at calling a spade a spade.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 4, 2006 5:34:37 AM | 13

Yes, Anna, welcome.

Nonetheless, we are already in the second round of the match:
A rebuttal to a rebuttal

Posted by: Werner Dieter Thomas | Aug 4, 2006 5:51:24 AM | 14

xmphora's post should be read along with Billmon's and Gilliard's.

Spontaneous human explosion

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Aug 4, 2006 5:51:56 AM | 15

Wonder what y'all mean by WWIII.

WWI and II were wars between European powers, in Europe, with external resource battles for oil and sea dominance for transport. The colonies of Australia, Canada and don't forget the USA also participated.

WWI had trench warfare, soldier against soldier, mustard gas, and beginning use of air power for recconnaissance and intelligence. Much reliance on shipping and sea battles, as in traditional European wars.

II ended with firebombing, tens of millions dead in man-to-man battles and also encompassed all of Europe and the oil areas, as well as all coasts. Air power meant transport and bombing this time, culminating in transporting two atomic bombs.

What would WWIII look like? Use of atomic bombs doesn't automatically make it a World War. If it is one, that would be the end and I think there must be some remnants of Cold War restrictions on retaliation etc. Mutually Assured Destruction anyone? I don't think so.

A WWIII means global war, not a "Global War On Terrorism."

Do you all think that is what is coming down? A world war? If not, stop using the phrase.

If so, tell me so I can get scared. WWI killed off a generation of men, WWII killed millions more. I know that a generation of Iraqis are gone, and so has the civilization of Palestine been destroyed, as is happening now in Lebanon.

And that is horrible. But again, this WWIII idea seems preposterous.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 4, 2006 5:53:11 AM | 16

Maybe the competence argument can push events back past '08. The military is openly questioning the legal advice of Abu Gonzales, maybe 50 members of the Senate think Rumsfeld should resign, and at any given moment a Hurricane could thread it's way into the Gulf and put the killing blow on a crippled New Orleans. Does ideology matter if our leaders are incompetent? How can Democrats trust them to do ANYTHING?

Maybe all the factions pushing for war in the Middle East from Cheney to Dan Halutz to Al-Qaeda to Hezbollah all light their respective firecrackers only to find out they are duds. I'm thinking to the attempted coup on Gorbachev in 1991 by Communist hardliners. The people didn't so much pick sides as stand up and say "enough with this". Boris Yeltsin earned his ration of vodka in that little speedbump of history. Sure Russia has Putin now and a catastrophic decline in life expectancy but it's better than nuclear war. The Communist system just sputtered out. The Soviet states didn't all get Democracy, some got decay and crime but my point is it didn't all blow up at once.

Good didn't triumph over evil so much as entropy beat inertia.

Maybe Lebanon integrates Hezbollah militants into the state military as part of a power-sharing life-saving compromise. Israel builds it's wall, Europe ponies up some cash for Palestine to live decently in a fragment state in a fragile truce, and Iran realizes they can live decently on $100/barrel oil so why make a fuss. Maybe the Dick Cheney has his 5th heart attack and VP Condi Rice and her office husband live out their last days in office cutting ribbons and shopping for shoes and bicycles. The world isn't saved but neither is it lit afire.

Call it optimistic pessimism. The world will continue to suck but forecasts of increased suckiness should be seen as more linear instead of exponential. I'm not trying to close my eyes to reality but I also don't want to die from ulcers.

Posted by: joejoejoe | Aug 4, 2006 6:08:04 AM | 17

Just re-read "The war party". A couple of things:
Newt et al are mainly just drumming up fear; as much as they would like to drop the big one they don't really need to yet and they don't want gas lines and world wide depression for the fall elections. Karl's modus operandi is not crude slashing anyway it's murder by the thousand little cuts. Democrats falling over themselves to alienate their own base in order to appeal to his base is nothing but fun for him.
Meanwhile the generals you seem to be clutching at are even deeper in the maelstrom than some of the Dems in congress who have their integrity intact, Kucinich springs to mind and I'm sure there are a few others. Conyers. A perception in the country even that there is such a thing as "anti war" and that it might swing any election would give these guys a little more clout. And there's always a chance that the progressive American jewish community (which actually outnumbers the clean break wackos) might reassure a few timorous types like Ned. In any case a few new congressmen to back up your generals might be handy. I'm inclined to agree with Steve; though I wear my pessimism on my nom de plume I'm a little wary (and weary) of churlishness no matter how prolix.

Posted by: nationofbloodthirstysheep | Aug 4, 2006 6:09:48 AM | 18

One could look at Europe, China, India, Russia as relatively sane adults - what sort of view do they hold toward a J.D. teenager, a junior Shrub - insane Geo.Bush & Co. and the Christian fundamentalist package? I don't think they particularly want radioactive isotopes from US bombs exploded in Iran to go over their countries. Wind patterns *are* so unpredictable.

Maybe this test is a reminder from the "adult" Russians for the US to behave? Or else ... ?

Russia test-fires intercontinental ballistic missile 2006-08-03 22:49:07

MOSCOW, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) — The Russian military successfully test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday as part of work to extend the weapon's service life, according to Interfax new agencies.

The Topol RS-12 missile was fired from the Plesetsk launch pad in northwestern Russia and hit its target on the Kura testing ground on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Far East, about 7,000 km east of Moscow, the news agencies reported.

Posted by: Owl | Aug 4, 2006 6:45:27 AM | 19

We attack Iran by December and there can be no halfmeasures. We will drop some bombs on their nuclear sites and they will either move overtly into southern Iraq to cut off our armies supplies, or be accused of doing so, and then it's nuke time. Their military must be destroyed so they cannot block the Straits or intercede in Iraq where they could essentially wipe out our army. There is no way to do this with setpiece battles and sporadic conventional bombs. Bye bye Tehran. Bye bye Shiaism. At the very moment Shia's seem to have great power in their grasp it will be snached away. History is cruel.

China and Russia will reluctantly accept it. So will Osama who after all has been a friend of the Shites for what is it, 15 days now. The House of Saud will be able to concentrate on fighting Osama and his ilk. How long they can I don't have a clue. Eventually it will take our boots there to secure the oil.

Oil will still be in the $100 to $200 dollar range for a bit and the economic dislocation will be pretty big. The vast American middle class will be debt trapped due to the timely bankruptsy legislation but the dream of the top 10% owning 90% of all assets will finally have been achieved. While for the time being that total will be smaller than recently that doens't matter much because truth be told it isn't the gross amount but it's the proportion that matters. Bragging rights and power don't you know.

Posted by: rapier | Aug 4, 2006 6:55:42 AM | 20

"Events -- from 9/11 on -- have moved too fast and pushed us too far towards the clash of civilizations that most sane people dread but the neocons desperately want."

As of now not in the cards, not without the Europeans, not without a draft here in the US. To get there you need massive terror attacks, at least, in Europe.
Have the neocons managed to persuade the local security apparatus that this is necessary? Again, I doubt it.

But if they have, well then into the maelstrom...

The problem in our "democratic" societies is their inherently authoritarian power structure. If the big brain goes mad, the collective body follows, since it is conditioned to always follow. In that case we can all sit back and reflect on how stupid we were wondering why the Germans just trotted along into maelstrom when their NeoCons decreed that that was the necessity of the day.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 7:48:50 AM | 21

Billmon points out it is too late. And we are now to drink Kool-Aid. He certainly nails the Democrats...a rotting corrupt adjunct to the corruption of the corporate-owned, Christian-based Republicans; the problem is that Billmon has a bright mind and great literate touch but seems to lack guts...actually Gilliard, not as brilliant, seems to know how to fight. Even were every prediction (Billmon's hopelessness is not just based on his analysis it also hinges on where the analysis leads, and no one knows that. Just too many variables. Small errors with initial conditions lead to huge variations in resulting outcomes, as in Navier-Stokes partial differential equations) Billmon makes true (predicated on his analysis which is convincing but necessarily incomplete), it would still not lead one to just throw one's hands up and quit. Owl above is correct; war with Iran is not inevitable; the Democratic leadership may fold (maybe has folded already) as soon as the defense of Israel becomes a full-throated chorus, but there are other players...Russia, and China are two important ones. Everything does not start and end with Billmon's analysis...too many variables, too many initial conditions. It is very dangerous when such a defeatist, depressive attains a large following. I am not sure what can be done; but I am sure giving up will guarantee much of our worst fears.

Posted by: della Rovere | Aug 4, 2006 8:10:17 AM | 22

this WWIII idea seems preposterous

You wont forget you said that, will you?

Posted by: DM | Aug 4, 2006 8:20:55 AM | 23

2nd anon :

How much do you want to bet me that the whole reason the neocons decided to tack Iran onto their enemies list is because Chalabi never delivered that pipeline to Haifa?

That fits in with the Gangster Capitalist view of the Israelis.


But surely China, Russia, and Europe will react - perhaps in some unforseen and very unpleasant way if the US attacks Iran.

For an attack on Iran, the US has to first clear out of Iraq completely - anybody left in Iraq will be a hostage to Iranian missiles.

On point one I agree. One point two, Iran won't have to do a thing. Iraqi Shia can eliminate the US occupation forces on their own anytime they concert their efforts to do so.


Meanwhile the generals you seem to be clutching at are even deeper in the maelstrom than some of the Dems in congress...

I, too, have zero faith in "the generals", and I don't want them out of the stable in any case. The ideal thing for them to do would be to publicly resign, one after the other. Less likely than the Demoplicans biting the hand that feeds them. Which has probability approaching the vanishing point.

owl :

One could look at Europe, China, India, Russia as relatively sane adults - what sort of view do they hold toward a J.D. teenager, a junior Shrub - insane Geo.Bush & Co. and the Christian fundamentalist package? I don't think they particularly want radioactive isotopes from US bombs exploded in Iran to go over their countries. Wind patterns *are* so unpredictable.

Yes. I think this is very important. The US/Israeli Axis is not the "sole" superpower it thinks of itself as.

della rovere:

Owl above is correct; war with Iran is not inevitable; the Democratic leadership may fold (maybe has folded already) as soon as the defense of Israel becomes a full-throated chorus, but there are other players...Russia, and China are two important ones.

Yes again. Says I. Of course I know no more about any of this than the next man in the street. But when it gets this serious, and this obvious, the man in the street's perspective is the one everyone is reduced to. No one wants to die. Well, maybe the Israelis do.

If Iran is smart, if Russia and China correctly counsel Iran, Iran will keep it's hands well clear and above the table vis a vis Iraq, and will talk that way too. R&C then make sure that the US/UK/Israel know that they are going up against everyone else that counts on the planet and... US/UK/Israel back down. Just like Khruschev in Cuba.

Where there's life there's hope.

Posted by: John Francis Lee | Aug 4, 2006 9:12:54 AM | 24

I remember once listening to a political commentator talking about the difference between "Stockholm Problems (as in Bergmann films)" and "Calcutta Problems (as in trying to stay alive one more day)".

Given the seemingly inexorable movement of events since 9/11, worrying about WWIII is not a "Stockholm" problem, as Gilliard would have us believe.

Gilliard thinks that Iran is holding the high cards, given the vulnerability of US troops in Iraq - and as Billmon suggests there are non-civilians at the Pentagon who probably agree. But there is no reason to believe that considerations like these figure into the thinking of the Cheney administration, their Democratic enablers or the chattering classes. We have long since "lifted off" into a foreign policy based on pure fantasy. People who talk seriously about the war in Lebanon as being one in which "Freedom" battles "Terror" are mad as hatters as is the opposition party that nods in agreement.

To see how completely our leaders have lost the plot, look at the case of Blair. He has chosen to stand by Israel and defend "policy as fantasy" in slightly more erudite terms. The result? A massive revolt by foreign policy analysts and a majority of his own party. Clearly, they see where this is heading.

We are a nation of solipsists on a collision course with reality. It is not going to be pretty.

Billmon is right.

I would like to put in a plug for Paul Rogers of the Oxford Research Group who has be posting extremely interesting pieces on Lebanon and the GWOT nearly everyday at

Posted by: tgs | Aug 4, 2006 9:17:43 AM | 25

Where Billimon becomes so valuable is that he's not caught up in the Liberal/Democratic echo chamber. Read aloud and listen to what people say in some, if not most, of the Democratic/Liberal blogs: many of them are just as loony and deluded, based only on hope and faith, as their Republican counterparts. Many of these folks are just as detached from the reality as the Republicans.

As much as we don't like it, the reality is that the world is not what we want it to be. Accepting reality means we have to deal with it, not shoot the messenger and try to create our own version of the reality. We are not any more of an empire than the Bush administration.

Posted by: kao_hsien_chih | Aug 4, 2006 9:20:17 AM | 26


The Russians did not "back down" in Cuba. Not in real life. Only on the History Channel. A deal was made where Kennedy pulled out the short range missiles the US had stationed in Turkey which had initially provoked the Russians into stationing theirs in Cuba. It was a quid pro quo. However the Kennedy administration spun it successfully into the well-known fairy tale.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 9:23:08 AM | 27

It is a stunning testament to the political devolution of this country that the most effective anti-war movement in America is inside the walls of the Pentagon or buried deep in the bowels of the CIA! But that is the reality, thanks in no small part to the Dems and the Israel lobby.

Really? I wonder about Billmon's sense of "devolution" in this sentence. When, in the last century, did the US take its biggest step towards becoming a military state? Surely in 1939 or 1940, when FDR started launching his lend-lease initiative. And a good reason for his doing so? With a war near at hand, FDR could start putting our manufacturing base on tje productive footing of a war machine--the New Deal itself having failed, it seems, to jump-start the economy in any way. And the next thing we knew, our land was fully employed. Would it stay that way if we demobilized at the end of WWII? Not to worry: Truman was right there, ready to keep the factories cooking with the Cold War. Yes, Truman, who had no minor role to play in the launching of Israel--not to mention the Korean War, and any number of other actions that would bear fruit shortly following his departure from office (with the overthrowing Mossadegh, Arbenz, and who knows whom else besides).

Two Democrats in the White House, Roosevelt and Truman, got this show on the road, and it was only Eisenhower--General of the Armies Eisenhower--who managed to keep the warriors on a short leash for eight long years (no shootout over Quemoy and Matsu, no shootout in Lebanon, no military action surrounding the uprisings of 1956 and the nationalizing of the Suez Canal, no invasion of Cuba....need we enlarge on this list? It's an exercise in nostalgia, that list!)....But then came Kennedy and Johnson, and we all knew what happened next. Well, let's at least give a hand to Carter--himself a military guy, struggling for peace in the Middle East--and to Bill Clinton, who apparently decided, after Black Hawk went down, that not a single American soldier would die in action during his administration. But still and all, old habits and allegiances die hard: in effect, the Democrats have driven around on the war machine for the last sixty-six years, and they aren't accustomed to doing otherwise.

Should I add that I've been a Democrat all my life? And for the very reasons that Gilliard reminds us of--all going back to the New Deal? But this doesn't speak to Billmon's basic point: the "prosperity" of the United States depends on the proper care and feeding of its war machine; this is something the Democrats learned under FDR, and something they won't soon forget.

Of course the ultimate role model for FDR was none other than Lincoln, the first Republican president, and the true inventor of our war machine. And wasn't Lincoln a cool guy? Wasn't Lincoln the guy who abolished slavery?....

Posted by: alabama | Aug 4, 2006 9:42:52 AM | 28

I'm not hopeful.

However, with (too little) time on our hands, something must still be done; some pressure must still be applied.

If Lamont wins the primary, I would recommend that left bloggers immediately issue an ultimatum to democrats in both houses of congress: Impeach or face Lieberman's fate.


"Moderate" voters? Screw 'em. They've been overrated since Clinton left office (probably before), and at this point, their milquetoast ethics are beneath contempt anyway.

Irrespective of the issues neutered dem representatives WANT to campaign on, turn the issue voters HEAR ABOUT into the war and stopping the inept/criminal/failed/lying/and-on-and-on Bush regime.

Maybe even the Israel discussion can be sidelined by focusing talk on "Bush the inept," or "Bush who ABSOLUTELY MUST GO."

Will this initiative "fix" things? Don't make me laugh. Our nation, its prestige, well-being and security, are permanently damaged. And we won't reverse the worsening trend. But for Christ's sake, it would be nice to slow it down a bit.

Will this plan "work," even in a limited sense of getting an impeachment? Probably not. Although a distracted Bush has to be better than a Bush with time on his hands.

What the fuck else are we supposed to do?

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 10:04:25 AM | 29

"Where Billimon becomes so valuable is that he's not caught up in the Liberal/Democratic echo chamber. Read aloud and listen to what people say in some, if not most, of the Democratic/Liberal blogs: many of them are just as loony and deluded, based only on hope and faith, as their Republican counterparts. Many of these folks are just as detached from the reality as the Republicans."

Yes. He gives good analysis. That is a small (essential) part of navigating politically. He has a great tendency to tail off into pessimistic fatalism. It is hard with the problems facing this country and theworld, and anincredibly unresponsive and inflexible system, to have an optimistic take on anything. Billmon is an intelligent guy, not a prophet. |His analysis is wothless if we cannot figure out whereto take it.

Posted by: della Rovere | Aug 4, 2006 10:17:40 AM | 30

billmon, how i wish i could disagree.

Posted by: conchita | Aug 4, 2006 10:18:09 AM | 31

Very well said Billmom,

This country, as the shining city on the hill is done...The experiment has failed...
and the American people are to blame for this loss.....why?
because they never gave a shit....plain and simple.

Posted by: Parallax | Aug 4, 2006 10:22:48 AM | 32

"Everything does not start and end with Billmon's analysis...too many variables, too many initial conditions. It is very dangerous when such a defeatist, depressive attains a large following."

Prove. me. wrong.

Posted by: billmon | Aug 4, 2006 10:44:22 AM | 33

Uncle $cam

That clip on Carlin was just masterfull!
I need to get that!

Posted by: Parallax | Aug 4, 2006 10:48:40 AM | 34

Can there be such a thing as a collective Howard Beal moment? I doubt it. But then I am a slick little coward, always have been.
Short of that, what?: An Israel Boycott?

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 10:50:35 AM | 35

It could be that the neocons and the Rapture loonies simply want war for the sake of more war and the Second Coming. The wheels may have totally come off the bus - I'm willing to consider that possibility.

But, more likely, the neocons are playing the game they've always played - seeking US (and the 51st state's) world hegemony by force. That hegemony requires oil - the ability to access it for the US and, as much or more, to control the supplies of it for everyone else. Iran is the major regional impediment to this goal. With Iran neutralized in some way, a lot of other things fall into place. So Iran is in the cross-hairs.

It seems to me China has a lot of interest in this game. China does not want to see the Middle East descend into total chaos. It has a vital interest to make sure that the US does not control all of its access to oil. China also has a lot of cards to play - and not just the tons of US debt it holds. It could take serious offense tomorrow over any one of the stupid slights the Taiwanese are always lobbing its way. I can't believe it's going to sit by and watch the neocons play out their fantasy.

Terrible that one has to hope to be rescued from one's own government's folly by the clear-thinking officials of the Chinese Communist Party, but I guess that's where we are.

Posted by: NickM | Aug 4, 2006 11:05:14 AM | 36

Shorter Billmon: We're All Fucked

I am sorry Billmon, but I don't share the pessimism regarding the coming of The Next War.

I think Iran would be content with wider influence, but not necessarily control over the Iraqi government. Additionally, there have been some news reports that Iran is only threatening if the war expands to Syria. The Iranian regime has not been that particularly vocal about the current situation in Lebanon and I have a feeling that the Iranians don't particularly like Lebonese people all that much (just like the Arab world despises the Palestinians, but holds up their cause just to dig at Israel).

Right now, I believe that we are in the middle of an international game of chicken, with Syria being the key linchpin. There are many in Israel and here that would like to see the current crisis expanded to Syria, however that prospect now seems increasingly unlikely with Condi now even calling for a ceasefire this week and the Israeli's seeming to declare victory if they can control S. Lebanon to the Litani.

Once the current crisis abates in the coming weeks, it is highly likely that a renewed guerrilla campaign will occur in S. Lebanon with Iranian backing, but Iran is smart enough to maintain plausible deniability, as they have so often done in the past. Plus, with continued Iranian backing in Security Council from Russia and China, it seems unlikely to me that there will be any renewed condemnation of such future support for Hizzbollah.

The fact is, the U.S. military position in the Middle East is precarious at the moment. There are a number of bases in the Gulf region and central Asia surrounding Iran, but these bases exist as sort of isolated outposts, with limited defensive capabilities. These bases are by design impermanet facilities with limited deployments that supposedly can be ramped up at times of ready, however with all our troops in Iraq and the rest in Arizona, there is little chance that there are troops at the ready to provide increased defensive capabilities.

Additionally, these bases are surrounded by Muslim populations that are ambivalent to their existence at best and extremely hostile at worst (see bin Laden, O. & Qaeda, a. et al). If these bases were used as launch pads for The Next War, I severely doubt that many of these populations will stand idly by as this occurs. But who knows.

In my mind (and here is where I agree with you Billmon, but for different reasons), the only way for the U.S. to have sufficient deployments to fight The Next War is if there is a substantial troop redeployment from performing security operations in Iraq and to these other bases. So I guess the end result is the same and the only way to prevent The Next War I guess is to keep our troops in Iraq doing what they are doing.

With all that said, I think there is one more significant reason that we should stay in Iraq, Thomas Friedman now says that we should leave and this position is quickly becoming conventional wisdom among "Washington Insiders". Considering these folks record, I feel perfectly comfortable taking the contrarian position.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Aug 4, 2006 11:20:37 AM | 37

Check out the lead on the Huffington Post website: The Israeli attack on Lebanon has angered the Shia whom are now demostrating by the hundreds of thousands against Iraeli and American forces. And, thank you Billmon, your post has strengthened my resolve to forego voting for Democrats this Nov. I'll support an Anti-War Libertarian before I'd vote Democratic.

Posted by: Iron butterfly | Aug 4, 2006 11:21:28 AM | 38

Progressives should start registering Republican now. We can't do anything about the Democrats, but a fairly small group of progressives would be enough to tip the Republican Party away from Christian fundamentalists. Teddy Roosevelt was a Republican and he was an environmentalist and enemy of large corporations.

Posted by: steve ex-expat | Aug 4, 2006 11:26:42 AM | 39

Things are bad, we are fucked.

But there are varying degrees of fuckedhood.

Voting for anyone other than democrats is no wiser now, no more responsible now, than it was when Nader ran in 2000.

If you think the GOP can't screw things up more than they have so far, can't steal more, can't make more enemies, can't run up more crippling debt, can't blast the hate messages any louder, you're not giving them enough credit.

Not by a long shot.

"The worst is not, So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.'" (King Lear, IV,I).

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 11:29:45 AM | 40

"So I guess the end result is the same and the only way to prevent The Next War I guess is to keep our troops in Iraq doing what they are doing."

Crazy like a fox Bubb Rubb is...

It is certainly ONE way to prevent it. Stay put in this tar pit, that way you can't get into another one. Practical man speaking.


Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 11:37:00 AM | 41

"Shorter Billmon: We're All Fucked"

More like: We're all fucked, and don't expect the Dems to save us. Save the whales, maybe, but not us.

Posted by: billmon | Aug 4, 2006 11:43:57 AM | 42


Depression is the natural outcome of looking honestly at reality.

Wing-nuts leaders in Israel, UK and USA have bought into the Air Force "Shock and Awe" con job and started wars in Iraq and Lebanon without ground forces in place to finish the job.

Muslims are developing effective counter measures to foreign occupiers. Israel even with USA aid cannot kill radical Muslims fast enough to impact the replacement pool of Muslim Warriors from a population base of a billion people. Ethnic cleansing of Southern Lebanon is doomed to failure. There will be incredible pressure brought by the Israel lobby to bomb the "real culprits" in Syria and Iran. The only variable will be Karl Rove's calculation if the bombing campaign will help or hurt the 2006 election.

The bombing of Iran will be a gigantic bust. The Straits of Hormuz will be closed. Oil will rise to $500 dollar a barrel. Gas lines. Shutdown of the economy. 130,000 American soldiers encircled by Revolutionary Guards.

Escalation is inevitable. Just as the State of Israel can not permit continued rocketing of their homeland and invaded Lebanon; once the USA starts bombing Syria and Iran, the counter strikes will force the USA into WWIII; occupation of all of the Middle East oil fields by millions of American boys and girls.

Posted by: Jim S | Aug 4, 2006 11:46:11 AM | 43

Why vote at all, Iron Butterfly? Our system of elections and representatives is the cement holding our war machine in place. I don't plead for political passivity, still less for violent action. Rather, for thinking through other possible avenues of action that don't affirm a system they're meant to oppose. I also don't deny that this takes time....

Posted by: alabama | Aug 4, 2006 11:46:19 AM | 44

I guess it depends on what your definition of "saved" is.

Fix things? Hell no.

Slow down our freefall into the crapper?

Maybe, a bit.

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 11:49:05 AM | 45

Sorry kids, don't click on my link if your at work. Shoulda put a NSFW (not safe for work) tag sign on it. I'd feel awful if someone got into trouble over it.

Of course it's George Cartlin comedian known for the use of major profanity and wisdom. However, some even today don't know that.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 4, 2006 11:54:03 AM | 46

Since Billmon - and by extension MoA - and Gilliard are the 2 bloggers I read the most, even when in holidays, it's only fitting that I crosspost my opinion just posted on Steve's site. I don't think their positions are totally irreconcilable, ultimately, just that Billmon is a necessary insight to cool down feverish hope of major changes if Dems win in Nov. - which as Gilliard says, would still be in my opinion a better result than W keeping control of the country.

I too tend to think both positions are not mutually exclusive and are quite on the money, both of them.
Overall, I think Billmon is right. He has figured out that the core problems of the USA are too deep and too massive to be fixed, which is quite correct since, after all, even with electoral fraud, Bush still went away both times with something like 45% of the votes. The whole political system is rotten, which is a quite obvious fact. Then there's that other little-acknowledged fact, which is that most of the American people is made up of idiots and bastards, and democracy can't properly work on the long run with such a people. Not that this problem is purely American, it's probably shared by pretty much every other country. People will see the error of their ways only when it'll be too late and the damage can't be undone anymore, when they'll be plunging down the cliff.
Therefore I'm with Billmon in that the ultimate fall can't be averted.
And about Iran, well, I thought that after losing Bosnia and Croatia, Milosevic was done with his antics and knew it. Then he tried the same trick with Kosovo and just destroyed Serbia for several decades. So, I don't think it's safe to consider that Iran won't be attacked. In fact, I'm prone to think that since Bush has begun to fuck up the whole imperium, he may well be the man to pull the trigger on it once and for all, and do something really stupid like bombing Iran and sending the Marines. I mean, if you add Iraq's invasion, then occupation, and later this Lebanon fiasco, all has been a trainwreck. We know what would wreck things even more and why would it not happen?

But then, I'm not sure pessimism is the only thing to do. Sure, it's over in the long run, but I still think that it's possible to alleviate the suffering and problems that will come all along the fall, and that is a good thing to aim for. So, all the progressive, the liberal, the leftist efforts aren't totally in vain if they can manage to assure that as many people will suffer, sure, but suffer a bit less than if BushCo had full control of the country. So in this way I'm also with Steve, not because I think that incremental liberal progress will assure things will go back to order with time, but because the insane collateral damages caused by the coming fall can be softened a bit, and maybe the extent of the fall itself can be reduced.

And if I may add one thing I forgot to put on my comment at Steve's, it's that indeed as some mentioned here, there may be a larger game than just US vs Evildoers going on. In fact, I'm wondering how Russia and China will react, and if they will loosen their position enough to give the impression to Bush he can hope to get away with an attack on Iran under certain circumstances. Pretty much a subtler version of "beef between Iraq and Kuwait is an Iraqi internal affair, US isn't interested by it". Basically, I'm wondering if ultimately Russia and China won't come to the conclusion that the meltdown of US military might in a war against Iran and its subsequent economic collapse aren't a desirable outcome from their point of view, and if they won't decide to sacrifice a good chunk of Iran to see it done in a replay of the Sicily expedition.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 4, 2006 12:05:03 PM | 47


As usual, great post. But I think you underestimate the amount of opposition to our gov'ts unwavering support of the Israeli right-wing.

For a long time, there has simply been no place in American public life for principled criticism of Israel. This seems to be changing in a significant way, particularly with Iraq showing just how much this support costs (and how little it seems to benefit us). As with the Iraq war, the media, pundits, and pols don't reflect how most Americans feel about this issue.

Right now there aren't many candidates out there willing to risk staking out this position. But, as with Iraq war, this is changing (maybe too slowly to make a difference).

Posted by: a-train | Aug 4, 2006 12:16:44 PM | 48

"Basically, I'm wondering if ultimately Russia and China won't come to the conclusion that the meltdown of US military might in a war against Iran and its subsequent economic collapse aren't a desirable outcome from their point of view, and if they won't decide to sacrifice a good chunk of Iran to see it done in a replay of the Sicily expedition."

I can't imagine China wants to see the instability caused by $200/barrel oil, and a US economic and military meltdown. They want us to bleed slowly like we've been doing, not explode.

Posted by: NickM | Aug 4, 2006 12:17:43 PM | 49

Some ways to receive Billmons message :

In certain languages the sentiment of his position would not necessarily be considered defeatist, at least not at first-hand.

Coping with a broad range of points-of-views / sentiments at the same time is universally regarded as a mark of intelligence & civilization.

Sharing ones deepest sentiments/frustrations about non-personal issues (hopefully with friends) is universally a good thing. And we should be honored.

Setting realistic expectations is a very different thing from defeatism. And generally it takes knowing something about the individual to determine the difference. To add, setting realistic expectations in life is a very valuable and very healthy thing.

Choice alert. A better choice may not be available in the short term but we need to keep some space cleared on the table just in case it shows up.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 4, 2006 12:19:52 PM | 50

I believe China is waiting for the US to be sufficiently weakened (worthless dollars, broken military) for it to "arrange" to redirect oil flow its way. Iran (especially) et al., can choose to go along voluntarily, or otherwise.

A year ago, I believed that sooner or later, the USA would have only one option to resist the Chinese plan, the threat of a nuclear assault which would take us back to the old M.A.D. framework.

Now, it's probably on tap for "sooner."

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 12:23:11 PM | 51

Nonsense, Billmon (#33). My problem isn't with your analysis. By and large I agree. It's with your pissing in your pants. I am sorry, you do not know how things will play out (politically); all you KNOW are the very serious problems ahead economically, politically, militarily, environmentally...And certainly they are just that. But if you want to play the rulers' game FOR them, giving up before the fight is over, do it, but do it privately. You can take the Kool-Aid by yourself and with other terrified fatalists (Although why not fight even if it is "over"?; you say there is nothing to "lose" is all already lost. So I still do not understand why you won't fight. You could be wrong. You have been before. They count on immobilizing opposition and you play the cops' game).
Now if you mean by your rejoinder: "Prove me wrong. Go save the world". I'll try. May not do any good. Maybe when your done wallowing we can talk about strategy.

Posted by: della Rovere | Aug 4, 2006 12:28:13 PM | 52

Crazy like a fox Bubb Rubb is...

It is certainly ONE way to prevent it. Stay put in this tar pit, that way you can't get into another one. Practical man speaking.


Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 11:37:00 AM | 41

Well basically, now that Friedman and Washington Conventional Wisdom have declared their support for Iraqi withdrawl, I can only now assume that is the worst option right now. Over the past decade, these jokers have not been right about a single damned thing and I feel that contrarianism may well be the correct response, despite how badly I have been against this war and wish the occupation to end as soon as possible.

As Groucho Marx once said,

Whatever it is, I'm against it!

Well with these jokers, I think it is precient advice. Whatever they are for, I am definitely against.

In terms of the Democratic party, I think another Marx quote perfectly encapsulates them,

Remember men, we're fighting for this woman's honor, which is probably more than she ever did!

My thoughts exactly.

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Aug 4, 2006 12:30:40 PM | 53

Billmon's convincing and depressing narrative reminds me of nothing so much as Phillip Dick's fantastic and highly recommended The Man in the High Castle, an alternate history where the Germans and Japanese won World War II and divided America between them. The publisher blurb says that "Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to awake".

Let's hope.

Posted by: Jimmy Jazz | Aug 4, 2006 12:30:59 PM | 54


send this post to

i think Don has a job for you.

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 12:35:54 PM | 55

I didn't say it was an option I liked or supported.

It's nauseating.

But apart from nukes, what levers will we have in 2010, assuming we're still around? And how worried is Joe Cialis right now about the moral abyss he's teetering at the edge of?

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 12:42:11 PM | 56

Who is "We"? That's the real question. I am not critizing you: but who is this "We"?
The military-industrial Leviathan with us as foot soldiers? Humanity? Who is "We"?

Posted by: Guthman Bey | Aug 4, 2006 12:51:54 PM | 57

Billmon's post here is probably one of his greatest, he'd probably argue and say it was his most depressing black moment as he thinks about those that love him.

He has every right to "connect the dots" as Blair so fucking stupidly did yesterday and in the opposite direction.

I am a widower with four kids, sitting alone on the net peacefully for a few minutes in the surburbs of Dublin, Ireland, and will shortly have to do fucking housework and cooking and all that after I log off.

Maybe I am in depressive mood also, but can anyone give me reason to hope?

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Aug 4, 2006 12:53:46 PM | 58

I've got to say this -- cross post it on both sites -- just to state where my own mind is.

Mixing politics and serious economic/cultural/political analysis is fraught with problems.

Its not that politicians aren't intelligent, or that theoreticans aren't practical. Some are. But politics, as the sloppy process of creating and justifying a system of controls over the mechanism of government, to pen an on-the-fly description, is quiet different, I think, than analytical work.

Two different skill sets. Two very different mindsets. Two different kinds of praxis. Apples and oranges.

To put it simply, the analysis of the mess we are in, and the politicians who helped bring us here, reinforces my disdain of both politics and politicians. A craven bunch of egoists if ever there was one. Nonetheless we are apparently condemned to try to use this blunt instrument to make things better. Hence my increasing involvement in politics. I'm not for a minute deluded that politics represents the best that we can achieve, certainly in the U.S., as a process of regulating society sanely.

That would be like putting a dress on a pig and believing the pig transformed.

Where the argument gets dicey is when we get to what look like the limits of self delusion in politics, and the inference comes begging that politics is irrelevant as a "positive" force, except around the margins. Not to say that the margins aren't important, to individuals, but . . . well you get my point.

Rarely has a metaphor been more descriptive than "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic".

Posted by: DonS | Aug 4, 2006 12:54:39 PM | 59

Funny how people come out of the woodwork as billmon pen pricks their denial systems. It seems thus far the the game is set. Billmon is just a master reading the tea leaves, and as in all tasseomancy, the wind could blow and change the code. However, he, like our ol buddy GC tells us things we would rather not hear. Wise to a fault. Damn how that works. Best to prepair a noble death song as my aunt use to say. I use to think she was crazy, however as I matured I understood why she walked the trail of tears every year of her life until she was to old and to broken to walk it. Old before her time. I use to listen to my father blame the victim. She drank her self to death, I was to young to understand then, I understand now.

But it need now be that way, the american people could shift their collective consciousness, hold these thugs to account, change the system. But I don't look for it. In fact there is not a snowballs change in hell.
That's why I voted for Bush, that's right I voted for him. But not for the reasons others did. 'Faustian bargain'? Sure it is, however, I know that nothing will change within this corrupt system until it is broken. Then and only then can we start over. And hopefully get it right next time if there is anything left.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 4, 2006 1:08:55 PM | 60

Who are "we?" Those of "us" who will self-select as ubermenschen. When push comes to shove, they'll be abundant.

It would be nice for the US to say "I've seen too much killing," and put its weapons down. At a small scale, it would be nice for a Rush or a Hannity to say the same thing.

But you know what? Soon as that happens, some ambitious "regular guy / nice kid" will see a career opportunity, and become the next firebreathing hatespigot.

Hell, even HAD the Iraqis greeted us with flowers, back here we'd still be facing a depleting oil supply, a pampered, factionalized, de-communitized populace, and an unsustainable debt/currency situation.

How do you think "we" are going to react to shortages? Maybe some hyperinflation? Or at least the evaporation of entitlement transfers? One thing's for sure. We'll surely know it isn't "our" fault. No way, no how.

America has needed a homegrown rhetorical bitchslap for a long time now. Instead, we have shitmerchants like Tom Brokaw slopping plates of reeking "greatest generation" bullshit to a people with no accomplishments of their own to take pride in.

Look around. "WE" are weak, spoiled, violent, xenophobic, lazy, superstitious, completely lacking in discipline, and overflowing with imaginary, delusional "honor."

"WE" get our news from despicable, moldy crusts of men. Can you imagine Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room" telling us Teheran has been vaporized, then turning to bimbette #4 for the stock market's reaction?

I can. Not even a small stretch.

Those are some thoughts on "we."

Still, you have to vote democrat. If only for the sliver of a chance George W. Bush will be forced to testify under oath, and be asked why in fuck's name he didn't put the goat book down.

Posted by: American | Aug 4, 2006 1:08:57 PM | 61

bubb rubb & della rovera

you would be as bleak as billmon if you were under the falling bombs & the fire of israelis in lebanon, in gaza & in the west banks

you are watching & are witnesses to sheer bloody murder

people who do not have a name & whom have never had a name - they are nameless ; - these children women & men - they have always been nameless because american culture does not & has never given a fuck about them

the self serving narratives of 'democracies' have always hidden & hide still their bloody works

your legislature is responsible. your judiciary is responsible. your medias are profoundly responsible. & yes the american people are responsible for placing the narratives of their own lives over that of others. people live their lives as if they will never have to ay the fucking bill

i can assure you that bill is being sent to you - now for generation after generation

& the narrative of numbskulls like bliar a buffoon so ubuesque in his criminal naiverté & it is criminal. hios service at the feet of the master has guaranteed the death of iraquis, of afghanis, of palestinians & of lebanese

as people have pointed out here, referenced, sourced & commented - the policy of the empire is chaos, bloody chaos

& whether its name is lamont or leibermann is completely beside the point

it is the same bloody naiveté that allows blair to get way with what he said at thar press conference for clowns

tonight, this hour in france 19:15 - the idf without any form of constraint is bombing the villages, towns & cities of a sovereign people

we will face, we citizens of the west the bloody revenge for these acts so don't be surprised, don't say you didn't know, - what we have coming for us, i dread but i am human enough to know that it is inevitable

& these days aas i have sd before will get a great deal darker, that pessiimism does not anull action but on the contrary it highlights & underlines the routes we must take, as individuals & as communities

Posted by: r'giap | Aug 4, 2006 1:17:31 PM | 62

Zionists maneuver to seize Temple Mount

On the brink of the zionist celebration of Tisha b'Av the zionists are aggressively posturing towards seizing the Temple Mount, on which lies the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third most holy site to Muslims.

Regarding a report of the 'israeli' high court issuing a decree allowing the RADICAL zionist group permission to ascend the Temple Mount this action stands to thrust the Muslim world into an even greater state of outrage.

You cannot tell me that this is a 'matter-of-fact' happenstance event. This is calculated and methodical.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 4, 2006 1:17:49 PM | 63

While Billmon's post is depressing, I don't read depression as much as resignation into it. He's reading the atmospheric data and forecasting our weather for us. All the indicators he sees point to a Cat 5 Hurricane Dick headed our way. We can board our windows and hope for the best, but the outcome is out of our hands and the truth is - we see now - it was never in our hands. The boards, windows, structure and all may well be in oblivion when the storm is over, but board those windows anyway if you think it might do some good. Can't hurt. But it is no longer a question of fighting or giving up and it's pointless to criticize those perceived to be on either side of this irrelevant dichotomy. The whirlwind has been unleashed and we will reap it.

We've seen this one forming for several years and hoped it wouldn't be this strong, or that steering currents would move it out to some diplomatic sea where it would spend it's energy and fade away. We've been disappointed, the dark clouds are on our horizon now (instead of just pummeling the ME) and the breeze is begining to freshen. Those here who resist Billmon's forecast do not contradict his analysis of the domestic conditions that created the storm, the eye as it were. They look to factors peripheral to the US to save us from ourselves or at least mitigate the consequences of our actions: the Chinese, the Russians, the EU, Iran or some other force that will dissipate this storm. It's still possible, of course, but forecasting deals in probabilities and they don't look good for our hopes. Yeah, Iran and Syria are in the crosshairs and biding for time, and the Russians, Chinese and even the EU will try to buy them some as it is in their interest. But their main objective will be to avoid as much serious damage to themselves as possible. The Russians have their own energy cards to play and don't need ME energy; they want a weaker US unable to march around in their own back yard. The Chinese understand what the real game is and will follow Sun Tzu's maxim of not getting in your enemy's way when he is busy committing suicide. They'll be along afterward to pick up the pieces.

The only way this war doesn't widen is if the neocons give up their vision of ME and global US domination. It is their finger on this trigger. Where is the evidence that they are changing their minds? You don't see any on Fox News, CNN or any of the other corporate media outlets. Quite the contrary. Christian Zionists like Hagee and Roberson receive constant media attention, are well organized and funded and are exhorting their enthusiastic followers on to Armageddon from their TV shows and their pulpits. AIPAC and the AEI "thinkers" are doing their part as well to provide intellectual cover for those not motivated by the rapture. There are no voices on our corporate media trying to pull us in another direction but many shrill ones trying to shout down those elements of mass consciousness that oppose this madness. This means that the people who control the levers of power in is country want a storm and, by God, they're gonna have one. If we get lucky and it doesn't hit, you can make fun of the forecaster later. But in the meantime, prepare yourselves (psychologically, at least) for a bad one.

Posted by: lonesomeG | Aug 4, 2006 1:21:44 PM | 64

Another possible scenario to Billmon's, esp for all you political SF fans: upcoming from Ken MacLeod (via Charlie Stross's blog):

Finally: I suddenly remembered that I've got a manuscript copy of THE EXECUTION CHANNEL by Ken MacLeod to read (and blurb). That's Ken's next novel, due next year. I'm four chapters in, and I have two observations: (a) if it lives up to the beginning it's going to be seen as his most significant work to date, and (b) the shrieks of rage it summons forth from the 101st Fighting Keyboarders (anti-idiotarian irregulars) will not be merely ear-splitting, they'll generate positive overpressure and cause blast damage.

As Ken pitched it, in the pub, when he was trying to explain what it's about: "It's set five or six years in the future. The War on Terror is over. Terror won."

Posted by: Dismal Science | Aug 4, 2006 1:23:52 PM | 65


sweet holy christ!

Posted by: r'giap | Aug 4, 2006 1:24:21 PM | 66

I would say that billmon's pessimism is catchy, except I've been feeling like this for a while now.

The US has not been a democracy for a long time now, probably since the end of WWII. A two party system is a system, like it's one party counterpart, which carefully controls descent, and limits the ability of individuals to engage in changing/running society. A democracy requires the ability to form new parties with a reasonable expectation of being able to share power. In particular, the US system is too stable. It supports too much compromise and not enough competition. This in itself is not enough to be fatal. It also requires massive media censorship. The Democrats are fully playing the current game. Compromise is done at every turn. One feels like they might just compromise themselves into concentration camps.

I always thought of question period of one of the grosser aspects of parliamentary democracy. I guess I am beginning to warm up to the idea. Perhaps it is the heart of what makes it work – even if it does work badly.

Relativity: A grook with no reference whatever to the two-party system

To wear a shirt that's relatively clean,
You needn't ever launder off the dirt
If you possess two shirts to choose between
and always change into the cleaner shirt.
-- Piet Hein

Posted by: edwin | Aug 4, 2006 1:41:45 PM | 67

Gee, I remember back in 2004 when Billmon was pushing the "Popular Front," let's support the Democrats line. Some people just are a little slower to wake up than others. Nice of you to finally wake up and smell the coffee, Billmon. Welcome to the real fight.

Posted by: Eli Stephens | Aug 4, 2006 1:45:38 PM | 68

my apologies if someone else has already posted this, but no time to read all of these comments while at work. paul krugman disagrees:

Put it this way: If the Democrats gain only five rather than six Senate seats this November, Senator James Inhofe, who says that global warming is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” will remain in his current position as chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. And if that happens, the Sierra Club may well bear some of the responsibility.

The point is that those who cling to the belief that politics can be conducted in terms of people rather than parties — a group that also includes would-be centrist Democrats like Joe Lieberman and many members of the punditocracy — are kidding themselves.

The fact is that in 1994, the year when radical Republicans took control both of Congress and of their own party, things fell apart, and the center did not hold. Now we’re living in an age of one-letter politics, in which a politician’s partisan affiliation is almost always far more important than his or her personal beliefs. And those who refuse to recognize this reality end up being useful idiots for those, like President Bush, who have been consistently ruthless in their partisanship.

Posted by: conchita | Aug 4, 2006 1:47:33 PM | 69


First of all, I'll state for the record that I've been a long-time fan of your writing. Your analyses tend to be spot on and I find that I tend to agree with much of what you write about.

Having said that, I feel the need to respond to the last two posts which have garnered the most responses (and have brought about the responses from Gilliard). I also read Gilliard regularly and also tend to agree with much of what he writes.

In general, I would like (if possible) a further elaboration on your shorter point "We're all fucked, and don't expect the Dems to save us". To me, this jusn't make any sense. First, because I'm not quite sure what you mean by "we're fucked". Do you mean in the sense that the political landscape in the US is so far gone that it makes little difference what one does to try and change things?

If so, then I will have to side with Gilliard in this and respectfully disagree. While in the final analysis you may very well be right - what point would it make? While you may very well be providing a service to your faithfull readers (and can congratualte yourself for being so astute in your analysis), if we are truly fucked as you think we are, then pointing out the obvious is futile (and I am fully aware that you aren't necessarily pointing out the obvious. But if you are right, then logically it is obvious - or will have been - as events unfold).

However, if you leave open the possibility that you could be wrong, then you leave open the possibility that we aren't as truly fucked as you think we are (disreguarding the Dems for the time being). And that leaves open the possibility for hope (however small that may be). Which means that your commentary isn't futile (by my analysis). I get the sense that you want to be wrong, but really can't quite muster the strength (at this point) to say so. Events have unfolded to the point where it would be foolish NOT to point out the obvious. In that sense, you have provided an invaluable service.

But a wise person once said that it's better to know the truth and act the fool in attempting to right wrongs and seeking redress for injustices then to know the truth, see the truth for what it is, and do nothing. You may very well be right - but in the end, it will mean very little.

As to your comments reguarding the Dems - I will agree (up to a point) that we can't count on them to save us. Which is true in one sense (politicians are politicians, afterall - they'll be looking out for themselves), but false in another (the Democrats aren't as monolithic as the Republicans in their approach to current issues).

I see the efforts of the netroots as an attempt to rest some control from the insider Dems in Washington. The Lamont - Lieberman race is at the forefront of this battle. And while it's true that we aren't likely to get any kind of substantial policy change in re Israel, we are in a much better position to have pressure put on Dems to make a change than if the Republicans retain power. Granted, not ideal - but better than nothing.

It's also false in the sense that we can't count on anyone but ourselves, our relatives, out likeminded friends and colleagues, to really make substantial changes to the system (Again, I see attempts by the netroots as part of this process). It's an uphill battle and it may never succeed. But it's better than doing nothing, throwing up one's hand to the situation and resign oneself to fate.

Posted by: eponymous | Aug 4, 2006 1:52:47 PM | 70

By secretly providing NSA intelligence to Israel and undermining the hapless Condi Rice, hardliners in the Bush administration are trying to widen the Middle East conflict to Iran and Syria, not stop it. As hundreds of thousands march in Iraq chanting 'death to Israel', 'death to America'.All the while Lobbying for Armageddon, Entering the Temple Mount. Who gains from all this?

You cannot tell me that this is a 'matter-of-fact' happenstance event. This is a purposeful planned agitation meant to evoke a retaliatory response from the ENTIRE Muslim world as well as the Palestinians.

You might ask yourself, What is Tisha b' Av and what does it have to do with anything?

Tisha b'Av is the day that is celebrated or perhaps mourned as the day in which both the First and Second Temple were destroyed. First by Babylon, then later by Rome it fell on the EXACT same day centuries apart. BOTH times interestingly enough, for their DISOBEDIENCE. Talk about proving history repeats itself.

You can familiarize yourself with the event here
With such a volatile subject why do you suppose that the media delayed reporting this event?

"We have been blessed with the ability to make this happen. We have been entrusted with the responsibility to see to it that it happens. The days of mourning the destruction of the second Temple have ended. The days of mourning our own lethargy regarding the Third Temple will soon be over. The time has arrived to effect the tikkun - the repair - and to establish the 9th of Av as a day of rejoicing forever. The choice is ours - if only we close ranks, and unite to make it happen."

"Blessed" IS NOT the word that should be used to describe this action. With the help of injecting 'dispensationalism' and the 'rapture'theory
into the doctrine of 'christianity' it has helped to deflect a CURSE placed upon the disobedient radical element based on the possession of a state and an army as the means by which to OBTAIN salvation.

And people wonder why I despise religion.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 4, 2006 1:54:57 PM | 71

5 Theses and a Problem: Why Not to Vote Republican

1: All democratic politics (power workings) stems from the failures of aristocrats to actually do their jobs.

2: Commitment to democracy has necessarily relied on faith in a future for some fraction of our selves/offspring.

3: Nuclear holocaust and American willingness to start it - along with global warming, and other rational planetary disaster fears - short circuit popular ability to imagine or believe in democracy.

4: Democracy as we would like it may not currently be possible.

5: Second best historically valid pathway toward a safe aristocratic failure and ensuing dribs of power for the people who can actually do their jobs = global hegemony of one nation so its troops are everywhere, and so that nation creates its own shield against nuclear holocaust.

Problem: rapture-tempted man child in charge of rapture-happy political alliance that is actually, albeit schizophrenically, eager to nuke planet.

Perhaps, just maybe, we're better off to vote for the Hedonistic World Conquerors, rather than the Purifying World Conquerors.

Posted by: citizen | Aug 4, 2006 2:14:12 PM | 72

Gee, I remember back in 2004 when Billmon was pushing the "Popular Front," let's support the Democrats line. Some people just are a little slower to wake up than others.

I don't disavow or retract what I said then -- it was worth a shot, in fact it was the only shot we had. I don't know if John Kerry could have prevented war with Iran (probably not, despite his recent barroom boasts) but it would have been a higher probability event than expecting Shrub to grow up and act like responsible leader.

But Kerry lost and the point is now academic. Perhaps a Democratic president, even a Hillary, might swerve into the ditch rather than drive off the cliff, and if this were the summer of 2008 and we were in the same situation we are in now I'd probably be talking Popular Front again.

But it's 2006, war with Iran most likely is less than a year away and there's absolutely nothing a Democratic House or even Senate can do or will do to stop it. Finis.

Posted by: Billmon | Aug 4, 2006 2:18:19 PM | 73

I can not, for the life of me, understand why Billmon's assertion was seen as controversial or depressing. It's a statement of fact.

During the last election, the Democrats fielded an idiot as their candidate for president. A man who was capable of delivering an absolutely incredible answer to the following question:

"Knowing what you do today, would you have gone into Iraq if you had been president?"

Drumroll please ....

"Yes, I would."

And you think you have a functional Democratic Party capable of anything?

Posted by: SteinL | Aug 4, 2006 2:23:41 PM | 74

Prove. me. wrong.

Posted by: billmon

Show me the scene where you told your kids that they, you and everyone around them were fucked up.

Cause if it doesn't exist, that's your proof.

And if it did happen, it won't be any of us other fucked up folks you'll have to worry about...

Posted by: bcf | Aug 4, 2006 2:27:53 PM | 75

Spectacular writing, spectacular thought, as usual, from Billmon.

I can't help but feel, though, that fatalism is always a mistake. Nothing is set, ever. To think otherwise is to buy into solipsism and hubris.

I don't have much hope of the Age Of Aquarius suddenly breaking out if the Dems take the House and/or Senate. But it'll be a change in the dynamic that's held sway for the past five disastrous years. I think once that dynamic changes, conventional "wisdom" could begin to shift as well, and more substantial changes, now inconcievable, might be possible.

In other words, just because the Dems are spineless and compliant now doesn't necessarily mean they'll remain so if they get a shot at power and influence. That kind of confidence and validation often bears unexpected results.

Some of you may paint me as hopelessly in thrall to the Dems, but really -- what's your option? Of course I want the party remade from the ground up. I want the entire economic and political system of this country remade from the ground up. Immediately. But before you counsel me to "join the REAL fight", you'd better have some sort of real strategy and achievable goals that ordinary people can get behind and participate in. I believe in doing what is possible and moving forward by any means necessary -- not in holding my head and moaning.

Yeah, yeah -- call me a dreamer if you want -- I think I'm being quite realistic. You don't win "real fights" by telling yourself you've already lost.

Posted by: mercury | Aug 4, 2006 2:28:19 PM | 76

It's touchingly quaint that some of you still think there will be Nov. elections, or that it will matter .... it's not like there is a Sanity Party running...

Meanwhile...New Pravda-on-the-Hudson ran World Can't Wait Ad today - apparently - for "Day of Mass Resistance"link. But it's not til Oct. 5...

Posted by: jj | Aug 4, 2006 2:29:39 PM | 77

Raindrops keep falling on my head
And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
Nothin seems to fit
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

So I just did me some talkin to the sun
And I said I didnt like the way he got things done
Sleepin on the job
Those raindrops are falling on my head, they keep falling

But theres one thing I know
The blues he sends to meet me wont defeat me
It wont be long till happiness steps up to greet me

Raindrops keep falling on my head
But that doesnt mean my eyes will soon be turnin red
Cryings not for me
Cause Im never gonna stop the rain by complainin
Because Im free
Nothings worrying me.

The Wild Bunch is coming.

Let's throw on hell of a PITY PARTY!

Posted by: Etta Place | Aug 4, 2006 2:47:11 PM | 78

diary at dKOS... According John Kampfner in the New Statesman:

I am told that the Israelis informed George W Bush in advance of their plans to "destroy" Hezbollah by bombing villages in southern Lebanon. The Americans duly informed the British. So Blair knew. This exposes as a fraud the debate of the past week about calling for a ceasefire. Indeed, one of the reasons why negotiations failed in Rome was British obduracy. This has been a case not of turning a blind eye and failing to halt the onslaught, but of providing active support.

The Daily Mail implies the Bush Administration agreed Israeli plans in order to degrade the Hamas and Hezbollah ability to retaliate for airstrikes on Iran which are to follow when the threat to Israel is reduced.

Blair may have to resign. By failing to inform his cabinet colleagues and lying to Parliament, Blair has betrayed the principle of cabinet collective responsibility.

Already there are demands for his resignation in many papers indicating that the effort to oust Blair is now organised and underway.

Posted by: crone | Aug 4, 2006 2:49:01 PM | 79

jj's right,
voting is not a reliable tool. So I'll correct to saying that we don't really want the Rapturist-Tool Party in control.

Please act accordingly.

Posted by: citizen | Aug 4, 2006 2:53:00 PM | 80

I can not, for the life of me, understand why Billmon's assertion was seen as controversial or depressing. It's a statement of fact.

Well, we're an empire now so I guess we can try to create our own reality. After all, why should the Rovians have all the fun?

Show me the scene where you told your kids that they, you and everyone around them were fucked up.

We've talked about it -- they already know we're fucked. In fact they think I'm pathetically clueless for having taken this long to figure it out. I'm not making that up. We now live, as Margaret Mead predicted, in a pre-figurative culture. The kids are always the first to know.

Meanwhile...New Pravda-on-the-Hudson ran the World Can't Wait Ad today - apparently - for "Day of Mass Resistance"link. But it's not til Oct. 5...

LOL. They should call themselves "The World Can Wait Nine More Weeks."

Posted by: billmon | Aug 4, 2006 2:53:57 PM | 81

billmon's mix is part scholar, sceptic, provocateur, proseur, artist, pundit, hyperbolist, empathist, reflectioner, entertainer, romanticist ...

complex mix.

but does billmon's style sometimes undermine the greater cause as accused ? Maybe so, but the debate, thought & reflection he provides & provokes more than makes up for any damage (real or perceived).

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 4, 2006 2:58:22 PM | 82

The Wild Bunch is coming.

Let's throw on hell of a PITY PARTY!

Posted by: Etta Place | Aug 4, 2006 2:47:11 PM | 78

Sounds good to me. I'll mix up a batch of Lucifer's Tears

Posted by: Bubb Rubb | Aug 4, 2006 3:00:12 PM | 83

Just wanted to de-lurk for long enough to register my agreement with Billmon's post.
It seems to me that as long as the citizens of the US believe themselves so exceptional that they deserve a hugely disproportionate share of the worlds limited resources, then their elected leaders are duty bound to deliver. The last 50 years (at least) of American foreign policy has followed that premise, regardless of the party in power, and expecting that to change now runs contrary to logic.

Posted by: Aubanel | Aug 4, 2006 3:03:29 PM | 84

well, you go right ahead, bubb rubb, but i find the situation - the most horrific in a long (&lived) history of horrors

i find nothing the least bit comic about the butchery that passes the lips of american culture so easily but cannot remember an arab name unless it is ali baba

do what you will, make an attack on others, subvert their intentions, mock their high seriousness but that is another peculiarly american form of reduction

i feel horrified & i can neither believe my eyes, ears or heart

perhaps i was more naîve than i thought i was

the horror & there is no other word for it is being played hour on hour for so many years now

i do not think anyone here wants pity

but pity the country that imagines itself an innocent david only to find it is a gore driven goliath

if i cry, today, at this hour, it is for those who suffer directly & if i cry today, it is for the world to come

Posted by: r'giap | Aug 4, 2006 3:10:16 PM | 85

I am told that the Israelis informed George W Bush in advance of their plans to "destroy" Hezbollah by bombing villages in southern Lebanon. The Americans duly informed the British. So Blair knew.

Go back to that "accidentally miked" conversation in Russia between Blair and Bush.

They were not talking about Assad nor Annan. They were trying to second guess Olmert. Blair offers to go over and lay the groundwork - he doesn't think they can be successful at getting a ceasefire right away, but he offers to go over and try to see what's what for Condi before she goes, because clearly Condi can't afford to be seen to make the effort and fail. They know they won't get a ceasefire right away. Bush says he needs some other business to be resolved first...

Listen to Bush, he's got the whole line laid out. "It's a process" and he's mad at Annan because Annan wants a ceasefire first before the "process" happens. And then he lays into Blair with his zinger that "All Syria has to do is get Hezbollah to stop this shit..."

Blair clearly is struggling to be a part of the action... "I don't know what you have talked about (meaning Olmert)..." but Blair wants to go over there and pave the way for Condi, which obviously the US didn't support him to do. He's clearly trying to push Bush to get a ceasefire, and is not quite clued in on the neocon gameplan here.

And finally Blair says (I'm paraphrasing from memory of the tape), "What is he thinking? He's thinking that if Lebanon turns out fine, that if he can get a a solution on Palestine, if Iraq goes the right way... then he'll have done it."

I think he's clearly trying to second guess Olmert's political scheme for becoming the great PM who resolved all the problems. And Bush already has a game plan.

Posted by: 2nd anonymous poster | Aug 4, 2006 3:12:15 PM | 86

i have two words

ceasefire now

Posted by: r'giap | Aug 4, 2006 3:15:13 PM | 87

but pity the country that imagines itself an innocent david only to find it is a gore driven goliath

It gets more sad every single day. I don't care which civilians die on which side of that border (those borders!) it gets more sad every day.

I have met someone who survived three kidnappings during the Lebanese Civil War. He still lives in Beirut, he was tortured during every one of those kidnappings. He stayed in Beirut and still runs a business. Like so many other Lebanese he had faith in his country, he was one of the ones who stayed and rebuilt. He is from a Christian minority.

And now this. For what? What a disgusting senseless waste!

And if I were one of those people from the populations whose innocent are being destroyed, especially the poor, I myself would be thinking what to do against my own heartless people who don't seem to notice what is happening.

As for the term World War III - if we wind up fighting Syria and Iran you wait and see what other big powers in the world get into the act. In terms of the numbers of dead I think we cannot even imagine the disastrous possibilities that can result.

Posted by: 2nd anonymous poster | Aug 4, 2006 3:18:18 PM | 88

i have two words: ceasefire now

A bandaid is a good place to start.

But we're dealing w/a Junkie squatting in the Oval Office who is addicted to daily shots of Adrenaline, Testosterone & Oedipal Rage. What drugs are you going to switch him onto in place of war?

And he's backed by guys who insisted fighting a Nuclear War w/the Soviet Union was the way to go. Doesn't listen to anyone else, and has never read a book in his life 'cuz of his scrambled brains, so he has no knowledge base to counteract Cheney's arguments that just feel so damn good to his neurochemistry & ego.

There are roughly two strains in Foreign Policy - to Grossly oversimplify to make a point. The NeoNuts & the Realists. The Realists advised his father...Need I say more. If he were sane, he'd say well...NeoNuts totally blew it on Iraq, so now it's time to move in another direction. But given his Oedipal Rage, and fear of confronting yet another Failure in his Life in Iraq, he reaches for the drugs he knows...

(Read up on the studies they've done in prison in which they eliminated violence by remedying the inmates neurochemical problems by feeding them properly & giving them the extra nutrients they needed. It stopped the impulsive behavior.)


I have 2 other words to propose: 911 Truth.

That's light to the cockroaches. And note that they are finally fighting back w/this. It's no accident that CSPAN had the symposium on last weekend - 3 times...

Sectors of the elite that want them out, are starting to reach for that disinfectant. That's hopeful.

Posted by: jj | Aug 4, 2006 3:33:22 PM | 89

Everybody has his "satori" moment, his moment of enlightenment, where all things come clear. It has been easy to see this coming for some time with Billmon -- and now it has arrived; first in his Gilliard post, and now here. I would hope that many of the astute people who have been posting comments here on Moon have helped contribut to this.

A few observations:

Of course, no one KNOWS definitively what the future will bring. I think many of the possible scenarios have been well drawn out here.

Amy Goodman and Juan Cole, on DN today, do an excellant job drawing out the regional implications of the widening conflict. And they do it simply and in a way that, if you can get your hysterical wing-nut friend, or relative,to take a brief respite from endless paroxysms of hate, and sit down and listen with you, can really open up space for some real dialogue.

jonku, #16, asks what the worst case scenario could be, whether we could have a true "world war." Let me amplify a little on that, some of the tensions that exist, and how they can play out.

The danger of war is that it creates rapid, even if insubstantial and unsustainable, changes in established balances of power. These changes lead nations to feel very threatened, and feel that they need to take the initiative themselves, or be overtaken by events. This is how war spreads. Nations are coerced, or feel compelled, to take up sides, even if they would prefer to remain neutral. Some switch sides as the tide turns one way or another. Tensions between the interests of the nation's ruling elites, and their ruled publics, become greater, resulting in a vicious cycle of repression, increased impoverishment and resentment, eventually destabilizing whole countries through rebellion and coups. All of this is very unpredictable.

We have seen how the war could spread from Iraq and Palestine, to Lebanon now, and then possibly, Syria and Iran. Turkey can be expected to enter the fray in Northern Iraq, selling out the Kurds, but supporting the Americans. This can only destabilize Iraq further, by alientating our one ostensible ally there. We have talked about the possibility of unexpected topplings of friendly regimes: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and even Kuwait. While I think the administration is rather less worried about this possibility than we are, Hizbullah's success can only embolden the disenfranchised. Afghanistan is a rather large concern. Should it completely destabilize, Pakistan will be left in a suicidal quandary over whether to support American interests or its own. Facing conflict on one border, it will be more susceptible to an advance by India on its other border. We know the danger of that conflict spiraling out of control. Pakistan is also more likely to undergo a coup than our nominally moderate Arab allies.

As the Muslim world finds itself embroiled in an ever-enlarging conflict with The Great Satan, tensions may also heighten in the world's 2nd and 4th most populous Muslim states, Indonesia and Malaysia, which have heretofore remained undisturbed. Minority Muslim populations throughout Southeast Asia could rise up as we approach a war of the all against the all. Shipping routes to China and Australia could easily be disrupted by terrorists, bringing them into regional frays. China and India could reheat their longstanding border disputes.

Turning our attentions to our hemisphere, we see many areas of instability which could spiral out of control. Cuba is the most obvious. South Florida could find itself in the midst of a covert terror campaign. If the US becomes preoccupied, Colombia, and its US backed repressive government would be extremly vulnerable. But Colombia cannot be allowed to fall, because a government allied to Venezuela's Chavez would open up the Pacific, and China, to receiving Venezuelan oil exports which currently go to the US. One can easily see the potential for a Pacific war. Batchelet, a US trained puppet posing as a moderate, would be forced to show her true colors by using all the arms we send her. Chile, with one of the world's most neo-liberalized economies, is seething with class resentments. Any destabilization of that country would also effect US winter food imports. Perhaps, the dark horse here is Mexico, already in roiling turmoil because of a stolen election, and deep class resentments. A coup d'etat there, ushering in an anti-American regime on America's doorstep would be the greatest possible setback to US foreign policy. Central and South America, our own backyard, would have inadertently slipped from our grasp, while our eyes were focussed elsewhere. Barring a full-scale counterattack of unprecedented brutal dimensions, it would spell the end of American global hegemony -- if you can't weed your own backyard, no one will trust you to weed theirs. Finally, should Britain find itself increasingly beleagered as it is drawn into ever deeper war, and perhaps internal terrorism, Argentina could see this as an opportunity to re-seize the Fawklands, home to one of the largest oil reserves in the world.

Of course, the permutations are infinite, but those are some of the most possible areas of tension which could be destabilized by an ever-enlarging war that can I envision. Is the Bush State Department up to challenges like these? Condi could wear out her extensive shoe collection pretty fast, not to mention the unprecedented drains on global lipstick supplies.


It never ceases to surprise me that, despite ALL historical evidence, Democrats continue to believe that their party is less war-like then the other one. I agree that they can APPEAR to be less thuggish than the Republicans because they at times rely on more humane strategies,
like starving their adversaries to death. But when the budget comes up for discussion, and the Dems are calling for a public offensive outlay of $415 Million, instead of the $423 Million which the Repubs are calling for, only a sufferer of severe innumeracy, or willful ignorance, can come to the conclusion that one party has even the remotest interest in peace.

This is hardly the first time in history that unmitigated martiality has hid beneath the innocuous looking hat of anti-war sentiments. Nor would it be the first time that rich and venal politicians have mislead a fearful public looking for any sign of hope. I have neither the time nor the inclination to flesh out the historical record here, but I would hope that those among us who are most fearful of current events take some of the precious time they spend agonizing over events to review the historical record. At times like these, a little information, and a healthy scepticism, would keep our -- the anti-war movement -- ostensible allies fom becoming our worst enemies, and selling out their own best interests for the insubstantial promises of venal and deceitful politicians.

Don't worry folks, I'm still for Ned Lamont, I love Ned Lamont, I will always be for Ned Lamont, because he is anti-war, which means that he will wage the next war better than those pro-war bozos who botched this one up.

America has always been a war-like and aggressively expansionist country. I assume that everyone on a blog like this has familarized themselves with works like Zinn's People's History," and Smedley Butler's memoirs, available on the web. No one here should be under any illusions that any of our statesmen have ever been more than lying, armed thugs, out to grab as much filthy lucre as they can get their hands on. This simple fact seems to be too painful -- despite the over-whelming documentary evidence -- for many to accept, or hold on to.

That understood, the elite do debate tactics for grabbing other's assets and maintaining control of them. The current debate revolves around whether one would get more, in the end, by slowly strangling wealth out of the hands of others, or, by grabbing as much as one can, as quickly as possible, using shock-and-awe aerial bombardment of others, and putting aside the question of holding on to the spoils until a later date. The idea that twelve or fifteen "neo-cons" have somehow forcibly taken over government policy is ludicrous. While the policies presently being implemented are at the extreme right end of the spectrum of elite opinion, the neo-cons are merely the public face of vast corporate and moneyed interests that prefer their faces are never seen, or associated, with the "dirty business" of foreign policy. Think of it more as a battle between the McDonnell Douglas' and the Raytheons, against the Cokes, and Proctor-Gambles. The Carlyle boys and Buffetts and Soros' will ride whichever pony they can, if not both.

These unseen faces control both parties. From their perspective, the feverish and frenetic commenting on liberal blogs, is just the uninteligible work of so many ants on the ground, dragging their scraps of leaf back and forth interminably, yet seemingly without meaning.

That doesn't mean that they are not scared. The elite live in their own particular state of cossetted terror. But their terror is far removed fom the fears of us liberal bloggers. Their terror is not that some day abortion will become illegal (for the poor), or that cameras might spy on everyone (of the poor), or that jack-booted police might be able to kick down the doors, and disappear (poor) suspected terrorists -- no, that is not what they worry about. What they worry about is that one day the hoi-polloi will wise up and see through their game, and stop fighting each other for scraps of the pie, but instead unite and topple their precarious thrones.

And that is because those thrones are really very precarious. While the elite may live in gated-communities and have their own private security forces, they also have supply lines bringing in all the food and services which the rich require. And these supply lines are far more vulnerable than those of the US Army in Baghdad. All that protects these elite from the rest of us is an unwritten contract -- that, in exchange for us letting them have every material desire one could ever want, they will give us peace and security and stability and hope for the future and enough food to eat. But, if they screw up, and we don't get what is promised us in the social contract, and enough of us figure it out and wise up, and come together and start to organize, then the game would be up pretty quickly for the elite. But they can never let the game be seen for what it really is.

So, the game continues, indeed the game must always continue, of distracting the middle-class and poor with divisive social issues, and setting them upon each other. Those who find it hard to let go of their beloved Democratic Party would do well to spend some time at the blog Stop Me Before I Vote Again, which is where Uncle $cam gets his "Ratchet Effect" link from. The book, linked to on the right of the blog, while unfinished, does a far better job than I can of explaining the vagaries of party politics here in America. It is a quick read. Read it. You will discover how political parties divide and distinguish themselves, and why, and you will see clearly how they hook you personally in to believing that your views are correct. You will also begin to understand the underpinnings of the Democratic Party, and see that the conditions which brought about its surprising social welfare and equal rights achievements were anomalous, and comprised but a bief period of the party's history, and how that liberalizing history does not extend into the present, and why. It could be pretty illuminating for some. Like finally coming to terms with an abusive lover.


The danger we face today is unique, because America has never lost a real war, and its position of global dominance dictates that it can't let itself. We did not lose Vietnam. We wanted to make sure that Vietnam would never be a successful developmental model for other independent small states, and we wanted to incorporate the country into our sphere of influence. We suceeded. We pulled troops out because the military was no longer needed to achieve these goals. By bombing the country to smithereens, we assured that the country would not develop, independently or otherwise, for years. But Vietnam was not that risky: there were no resources which we felt we must have.

The current situation is much riskier. We have suceeded in reducing Palestine, Iraq, and now Lebanon, to rubble. But, the task of incorporating them into our sphere of influence becomes progressively more daunting as we build more enemies. This leaves us with two options. Declare victory and leave, hoping to maintain influence by diplomatic means; or, keep moving forward, spreading war and destruction in an ever wider swath. As the area destroyed grows, it puts increasing stress on the propaganda system to preserve the myth of benevolence in the wake of this damage. Costs mount and strains in society mount.

But the elite must plow ahead, because they cannot lose complete control of the Middle East. The goal is complete domination of the region. I'm not so sure that the planners have given this hope up yet. Plow further.

Should they not be able to achieve complete domination, the best they can hope for is a carving of the Middle East up into spheres of influence, acceptable to the great powers, US, EU, Russia, China, and the Middle East itself. The Bush administration does not seem capable of this level of statesmanship. Would Hillary be?

But, let's not fool ourselves about the stakes involved -- they are far higher for the US than WWII. WWII was not our war. Should England have lost, and Germany won, it would have been a little difficult on the ideological system, but we know that all contradictions like that could be worked out. As long as Germany had been stabilized, we would have been happy to pick up doing business with it right where we left off. We might have been short a few rocket scientists, and Germany might have landed on the Moon first, but that's life.

But this is OUR war. We started it -- much against the wishes of the rest of the world. For the US to lose completely, and lose its domination of the Middle East, its shipping lanes and its oil, would spell the end of American global hegemony. The rest of the world might breathe a sigh of relief, but for our elite, this would be anun paralleled disaster. I am certain such an outcome remains completely unthinkable and unacceptable.

Concerning the talk about whether it is the tail wagging the dog or the dog wagging the tail, advocates of both positions seem to agree on the belief that it is only one animal.

Yet, someone, here or on an earlier thread, linked to a column by Charles Krautheimer, in which he admonished Israel that it MUST win its fight, or else it would lose credibility and value to the US.

This points to an intriguing possibility, namely, that the US could save face in this ever-widening debacle by laying the blame on Israel: they are the ones who fucked up.

Of course, a certain level of retrenchment would be called for, and a ton of diplomacy, but this is definitely a promising way in which ever-widening doom is avoided. Blame Israel, cool the aid and arms shipments (for a while), cool the beligerent talk, find a way to at leat semi-integrate Syria back into our sphere of influence with carrots instead of sticks, and find an acceptable way to divide the spoils of Iraq with Iran, as long as it is willing to give up the dream of nuclear weapons.

Oddly enough, the grandaddy of all war criminals, Kissenger, hinted at such a possibility several days ago. The world world would ceertainly breathe easier if some sense were brought to the table. Sadly, it seems to me that a move in this direction would take a flexibility and an adroitness which the Bush administration simply does not possess.

It is hard to pull off the cowboy swagger when you are carrying a hot new load, of your own creation, riding heavily in your back seat.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 4, 2006 3:41:11 PM | 90

It can be stopped, but it will take a Perfect Storm of Actions to do it. You do not stop an Illiterate Junkie by Reason - he's not capable of it. (He was also told by NeoNuts that invading Iran will reverse disaster in Iraq.)

Some Vectors would probably include:
1) Outing 911.
2) Actions by Generals - current or past.
3) Economics - China threatening to stop buying Am. debt. Bank of Italy slashes dollar holdings in favour of UK pound; New Statesman reports that hedge funds moving from US to US link
4) Ongoing Mass WorldWide Protest. Young Jews Hold Die-In in Boston to Protest Israeli War

Congress will only respond if they see disaster looming, else AIPAC rules.

Posted by: jj | Aug 4, 2006 3:58:20 PM | 91

Add to the above:
5) Iraq - if all forces there band together & make clear they will cease co-operating w/xUS, if they attack Iran, or Shias remember how Shah was brought down in Iran & follow similar plan. Ultimately US can only stay 'cuz Iraqis tolerate them.

Posted by: jj | Aug 4, 2006 4:04:36 PM | 92


I point to how the Realists propose to stop this above. By the way, I liked your analysis on b's thread.

So many good comments:
Bubb Rubb #37
JimS #43
SteinL #74

crone #79: Yes, I believe this is finally the end of the road for Bliar. They will put him out to pasture at Carlyle Farms. But, as the ad says, "What can Brown do for you?" Nothing.

Uncle $cam: Tisha B'Av is the greatest day of mourning for Jews. It is a highly symbolic day. I do not believe there is that much difference between the dems & repubs in foreign policy, but, in Israel, a plan like this is suicidal madness. WWIII LEVEL. They are forcing US's hand to stay in the fire when US is trying to pull away. That is the only way to make sense of this madness. But the existential risk they are taking is madness. madness. madness. They view making peace with their neighbors as a greater existential risk than mutually assured destruction. madness. Who can support the existence of a country like this?

No one hates the capo as much as the little punk who shakes you down every week for the vig. And that's who you go after when you are pushed too far.


Oh, I forgot to say a word about stooge Sistani. He has to be at the breaking point. He has put up with the destruction and radioactive despoilation of his people in the name of a power he has never gotten. He has aquiessed in the Nazi-like scale murder of Iraqis.
And now this. How much forebearance will his followers put up with. Something has to give here soon, and when it does the dam will break loose.

Yes, Kerry said he'd have the same war, only better. Go dems!

Krugman, I've met him several times, and talked to him at length. I really like him. But he can be a Democratic shill, and he doesn't realize that things are FUBAR yet. conchita, please read "A Dimes Worth of Difference," by Counterpunch, and then try to argue that the Dems, and the Sierra club, are NOT WORSE then the Repubs for the environment. I have no problem with reading blogs, but read the best reporters in the land first.

And thanks to r'giap, who is our conscience here. A still, small voice always leading us to some sanity in the midst of total insanity.

And slothrup, I hope you are holding up. Faith, faith that you have the strength to see this through and be there for one who you love so much.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 4, 2006 4:39:35 PM | 93


John Francis Lee:

That Haifa pipeline was the great dream of Douglas Feith and what Chalabi was going to do for us once the neocon plan succeeded (it was supposed to be two months or so, right?)

dupes of their own dreams, conned by a con. typical!!!

Posted by: 2nd anonymous poster | Aug 4, 2006 4:47:47 PM | 94

dupes of their own dreams, conned by a con. typical!!!

The oldest story in the world!

And now "hell hath no fury". Think of the millions of lives destroyed for these morons. "You can't cheat an honest man" but there are no honest men who do that job. They're all victims of their own grandiose delusions. And so is everybody else!

Posted by: | Aug 4, 2006 4:51:33 PM | 95

Not only is the Haifa pipeline looking like a dream, but Haifa, itself, is increasingly looking like a dream.

Posted by: Malooga | Aug 4, 2006 4:54:42 PM | 96

@ Cloned Poster,

Actually there is hope. The fuckers may run out of cheap oil before they can use it a) to blow us all to hell or b) to destroy the earth ecosystems/water supply . But income maintenance and food manufacture for 6 Billion will also be a problem without cheap oil. Ireland is particularly vulnerable to oil crash famine.

Move to Kinsale; it's the only place getting ready for the oil price catastrophe.

Posted by: gylangirl | Aug 4, 2006 5:02:14 PM | 97

Re: Democrats, who needs em?

Bushco Republicans' foreign policy has been of a piece with its domestic program. Bully, deceive, intimidate, divide, and conquer. Spying on US citizens has as more to do with domestic policy than anything else, but it's justified on foreign policy grounds. The Iraq War fit in very well with Rove's 2002 and 04 plans. Slowing Bush down on the domestic front might be the final straw that makes the war machine jump the track.

Hillary just called for Rumsfeld's resignation. It was a smart move for her though assuredly cynical. It comes at a good time - I think they just might be able to get rid of him or at least turn him into a campaign issue.

What if they replaced him with someone, you know, sane?

Well, gee willkers. One can dream, anyway.

Posted by: NickM | Aug 4, 2006 5:04:38 PM | 98

Malooga, thanks for all of your writing.

But especially this:

They are forcing US's hand to stay in the fire when US is trying to pull away. That is the only way to make sense of this madness

Yes, that's the WWIII possibility in the making. The bullying kid who can drag his thuggishly ignorant father and mother in to back him up and make everything worse. Yo people, love means saying "no" once in awhile and letting your kid take it if that's what's going to teach him the right lesson.

Last night I dreamt that my mother had murdered a child and I, a child myself, was the witness, torn between turning in my mother for a life in penitentiary and my own sense of justice, truth and righteousness. Want to wonder what that was about?

Posted by: 2nd anonymous poster | Aug 4, 2006 5:05:34 PM | 99

To my eternal shame, I initially defended this ploy as a necessary bit of Machiavellian cynicism -- a way for the Dems to protect their right flank from a president who not only thinks Israel is the 51st state but a red state to boot.

I noticed your comment over at BooMan: something about Dems 'channeling their inner Machievelli'.

I nearly replied that your were channelling your inner DLCer.

I'm really glad you've decided to change the channel Billmon.

Posted by: Night Owl | Aug 4, 2006 5:11:59 PM | 100

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