My college ex and I used to keep in touch pretty regularly - in fact he's probably one of the people who helped me get through law school. But you know, years pass and I really hadn't heard from him in quite awhile. Last night out of nowhere, just after the SotU starts, I get a text from him that simply said, "He looks like an ass."
Speaking of asses, why does CNN suck so bad? I hate to turn into one of these people, but every time I go abroad and come back I remember that American people must be fucking morons
to put up with this mindless crap. It's like E! but with politicians. This morning before work, Miles O'Brian - formerly of the perfectly respectable science news segments - was doing a segment on how People in D.C. Go Out To Bars and Drink During the SotU! Wow! People in the nation's capital like politics a lot? They go to bars with lame political names? They play drinking games? Stop the Presses!
But really, I hope you were all watching last night before the speech, when some asshole leaned over a huge table map, like he was about to show us how we're going to invade Poland from the south, and a map of downtown D.C. appears. He takes a huge NFL-style playbook pen and neurotically whips a huge red circle around the White House, "The President and the First Lady will be entering their limo right here! Then DRIVING downtown to the Capitol," whipping huge lines across the map and circling the capitol building, while Paula Zahn stands next to him trying not to laugh in complete embarrassment. This is news people. While CNN International has serious roundtables about the future of Iraq, CNN USA gets the President's mapquest directions for his three block drive.
So, the speech was actually pretty boring. Now that he's essentially powerless, I am both 1) able to listen to him now without my blood pressure spiking at the dire future of the nation and 2) not really all that concerned that he can wreck our country's car many more times. He knows it, too, which is why most of it was pretty flat. Except for the 20,000 soldiers thing. This, my friends, is a lose-lose situation. I haven't had time to read the pundits opinions on this issue, but I'm not sure I see what other choice we have. When the R's point out that the Democrats are waffling here - saying it's a bad idea but giving no alternate plan - they're right. The real problem is, we should have done this YEARS ago. I've never been a pacifist - I come from a military family and I know full well that occasionally you have to fight for things. But you aren't supposed to do it like some pansy who finally gets the compunction to face his bully, without taking boxing lessons. If we were going to invade Iraq (and I believe we shouldn't have), we should have taken Shock and Awe seriously. A major reason we ran out of the Baghdad suburbs during George the First's reign is that we didn't have the troops there necessary for such an exacting scenario (and because they knew then that even a huge invasion would have lasted years, and he was up for reelection). In other words, if we were going to take Iraq, we needed to fucking take Iraq
. But everyone knows this by now and I've repeated it a thousand times in the past five years.
We're very much at the point where the past is the past, and however we've fucked it up, we're going to have to play the cards we're dealt, and an escalation now - though it won't be as effective than if it'd been done years ago - may be the only way to stamp most of this fire out. We can talk about turning Iraq over to the local military and police, but that's a much tougher situation than most people understand. I don't think it's been made fully clear to the people (shocking) how Bush completely
fucked this part of the mission.
I may have talked about this on the blog already, but a few years ago I worked for a law firm that represented one of the factions in the Iraq, advising them how to negotiate their new constitution. This wasn't imaginary scenario work, our research really went over there and played a part in the negotiations. Our team was split up into every issue, and I worked on military restructuring. That means I researched conflicts of every shape and size during the last century, compiled information about the current state of the Iraqi forces, and advised the best way to first, disband the old ranks, and second, put them back together in a country rife with internal conflict and serious external pressures.
So here's how badly Bush fucked this up. After a year of work, all of my colleagues work went over there - on criminal statutes, incorporating sharia law, humanitarian rights, voting rights and the design of the new legislature. My work had to be thrown in the trash. Every month I was completely re-writing my advice because the situation over there would get so increasingly screwed that there was no saving it. In every other conflict in the world there's been a messy but somewhat similar approach to disbanding a formerly hostile army, but because Bush basically told them to go home, it's caused the chaos we're dealing with today and that's nearly beyond help.
This is why I hate the 20,000 soldier scenario, but am mostly resigned to it. What else can we do that this point? It's like letting an infection fester when you KNOW all you had to do was spend a morning in the ER getting it painfully cleaned out, but you decide to be macho and just use bandaids and neosporin for a few years, until you've got gangrene and have to cut the whole damn arm off. Except maybe
a few hours of extensive, potentially deadly surgery will save it. And damnit, you'd kind of like to save your arm, because if you cut if off, the gangrene might just spread to the rest of your body anyway, and then you're screwed AND armless.