The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread
April 13, 2002
The Bush Doctrine, R.I.P.
By FRANK RICH
As a statement of principle set forth by an American chief executive, the now defunct Bush Doctrine may have had a shelf life even shorter than Kenny Boy's Enron code of ethics. As a statement of presidential intent, it may land in the history books alongside such magisterial moments as Lyndon Johnson's 1964 pledge not to send American boys to Vietnam and Richard Nixon's 1968 promise to "bring us together."
It was in September that the president told Congress that "from this day forward any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." It was in November that he told the United Nations that "there is no such thing as a good terrorist." Now the president is being assailed even within his own political camp for not only refusing to label Yasir Arafat a terrorist but judging him good enough to be a potential partner in our desperate effort to tamp down the flames of the Middle East.
Yet the administration's double standard for Mr. Arafat is hardly the first, or only, breach of the Bush Doctrine.
As Tina Fey explained with only faint comic exaggeration on "Saturday Night Live" last weekend, the U.S. also does business of state with nations that both "fund all the terrorism in the world" (Saudi Arabia, where the royal family on Thursday joined in a telethon supporting Palestinian "martyrs") and are "100 percent with the terrorists except for one little guy in charge" (Pakistan). President Bush, who once spoke of rigid lines drawn between "good" men and "evildoers," has now been so overrun by fresh hellish events and situational geopolitical bargaining that his old formulations — "either you are with us or you are with the terrorists" — have been rendered meaningless.
But even as he fudges his good/evil categorizations when it comes to Mr. Arafat and other players he suddenly may need in the Middle East, it's not clear that Mr. Bush knows that he can no longer look at the world as if it were Major League Baseball, with every team clearly delineated in its particular division. "Look, my job isn't to try to nuance," he told a British interviewer a week after the Passover massacre in Netanya. "My job is to tell people what I think. . . . I think moral clarity is important."
Mr. Bush doesn't seem to realize that nuances are what his own administration is belatedly trying to master — and must — if Colin Powell is going to hasten a cease-fire in the Middle East. Mr. Bush doesn't seem to know that since the routing of the Taliban his moral clarity has atrophied into simplistic, often hypocritical sloganeering. He has let his infatuation with his own rectitude metastasize into hubris.
The result — the catastrophe of the administration's handling of the Middle East — is clear: 15 months of procrastination and conflict avoidance followed by a baffling barrage of mixed messages that have made Mr. Bush's use of the phrase "without delay" the most elastically parsed presidential words since his predecessor's definition of sex. It takes some kind of perverse genius to simultaneously earn the defiance of the Israelis, the Palestinians and our Arab "allies" alike and turn the United States into an impotent bystander.
The ensuing mess should be a wake-up call for Mr. Bush to examine his own failings and those of his administration rather than try (as he did a week ago) to shift the blame to Bill Clinton's failed Camp David summit talks (and then backpedal after being called on it). While the conventional wisdom has always had it that this president can be bailed out of foreign-policy jams by his seasoned brain trust, the competing axes of power in the left (State) and right (Defense) halves of that surrogate brain have instead sent him bouncing between conflicting policies like a yo-yo, sometimes within the same day.
Speaking to The Los Angeles Times this week about Mr. Bush's floundering, the Reagan administration policy honcho for the Mideast, Geoffrey Kemp, said: "A two-year-old could have seen this crisis coming. And the idea that it could be brushed under the carpet as the administration focused on either Afghanistan or Iraq reflects either appalling arrogance or ignorance."
The administration of Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell is hardly ignorant. But arrogance is another matter. "We shouldn't think of American involvement for the sake of American involvement" is how Condoleezza Rice defined the administration's intention to butt out of the Middle East only a couple of weeks after her boss's inauguration, thereby codifying the early Bush decision not to send a negotiator to a last-ditch peace summit in Egypt. Since then, even as Sept. 11 came and went, we've been at best reluctantly and passingly engaged, culminating with our recall of the envoy Anthony Zinni in December, after which we sat idly by during three months of horror. Not until Dick Cheney returned from his humiliating tour of the Arab world in late March did he state the obvious: "There isn't anybody but us" to bring about a hiatus in the worst war the region has seen in 20 years.
Even then, the 180-degree reversal from the administration's previous inertia was not motivated by the bloody imperatives of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians but by their inconvenient disruption of Mr. Bush's plans to finish his father's job in Iraq. A cynic might go so far as to say that "Saddam Hussein is driving U.S. foreign policy" — which, as it happens, is what Benjamin Netanyahu did tell The New York Post on Tuesday.
The goal of stopping Saddam, worthy as it is, cannot be separated from the conflict of the Jews and the Palestinians and never could be. But even now Mr. Bush seems less than engaged in the Middle East. It took him a week after the Passover massacre to decide to send Colin Powell to the region. The president has yet to speak publicly about the spillover of the hostilities into Europe, where each day brings news of some of the ugliest anti-Semitic violence seen there since World War II. He continues to resist the idea that American peacekeepers will be needed to keep the Middle East (not to mention Afghanistan) from tumbling back into the chaos that could once again upend his plans to take on Saddam.
Peacekeepers, of course, are to Mr. Bush a synonym for nation-building, which he regards as a no-no. If there's a consistent pattern to the administration's arrogance, it's that when the president has an idée fixe of almost any sort on any subject — from the Bush Doctrine on down — it remains fixed in perpetuity, not open to question, even as a world as complex and fast-changing as ours calls out for rethinking.
Never mind that Sept. 11 was the most graphic demonstration imaginable that a missile shield may not be the most useful vessel for our ever more precious defense dollars; it's still full speed ahead. Nor has the bursting of the stock-market bubble dampened Mr. Bush's conviction that Americans should entrust their Social Security savings to his campaign contributors from Wall Street's investment houses. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, once pitched as a quick fix to the (fleeting) California energy crisis, is now being sold as an antidote to our Middle Eastern woes (because some 10 years from now it may reduce our oil imports by 4 or 5 percent). The Bush tax cut, conceived at a time of endless surpluses and peace, is still touted as the perfect economic plan even now that the surpluses are shot and we are at war. In this administration, one size idea, however slender or dubious, fits all.
To Mr. Bush, these immutable policies are no doubt all doctrines, principles, testaments to his moral clarity. In fact, many of them have more to do with ideology than morality. Only history can determine whether they will be any more lasting than the Bush doctrine on terrorism. Meanwhile, we should be grateful that the administration did abandon its stubborn 15-month disengagement from the Middle East to make an effort, however confused, hasty and perilous, to halt the bloodshed and (one imagines) lead the search for a political solution.
"This is a world with a lot of gray," said Chuck Hagel, the Republican from Nebraska, to The Washington Post late this week. "We can choose either to live in an abstract world or choose to engage in the real world. . . . The reality of that has started to set in with this administration." We must hope that Senator Hagel is right. While it is far too late for an Arafat or a Sharon to change, it is not too late for a young president still in a young administration to get over himself. At this tragic juncture, the world depends on it, because, as his own vice president put it, there isn't anybody else to do the job.
-- (Dumbya@filthy.liar), April 14, 2002
Frank Rich is a well-known lover of young boys and a typical New York liberal without a moral bone in his body, unless you count the one stuck up his anus on a regular basis. Creatures like Rich and his ilk hate everything that is right about this country and take pleasure at demeaning those who strive to make this a better place to live. Here is a little more about this fat, ugly little fag freak:
During the Monica Lewinsky uproar, New York Times columnist Frank Rich argued that since a majority of Americans didn’t want Bill Clinton to leave office, his sleaziness ultimately didn’t matter. Perhaps he was a trendsetter, maybe a visionary. Either way, an element of Clinton’s legacy is our society’s growing acceptance of pornography.
In a nearly 8,000-word cover story on the porn business for the May 20 issue of the Times’ Sunday magazine, Rich takes a similarly democratic approach: “People pay [at least $10 billion] for pornography in America in a year,” he writes. That’s more “than they [spend] on movie tickets, more than they [spend] on all the performing arts combined…Porn is no longer a sideshow to the mainstream like, say, the $600 million Broadway theater industry – it is the mainstream.”
The troublesome issue – the depraved, degrading nature of porn, to be specific – ultimately doesn’t matter. Early in his piece, Rich admits that he isn’t out “to construct a moral brief,” just as he wasn’t in 1998 when discussing Clinton’s scandalous conduct. Apparently there wasn’t room to tackle that angle in the 8,000-word article.
In the age of moral relativism, popularity is enough to legitimize any behavior, and Rich follows the construct with pornography. That’s why it’s curious that he makes a considerable effort to establish the semi-respectability of (part of) the industry and (some of) those who work in it. For example, he mentions that Veronica Hart, an adult- film star twenty years ago and now an executive at a large porn studio, has a classy theater background; while in college, she played “leads in plays by Pinter and Garcia Lorca.” Rich also observes that many porn films have an artistic pedigree, if you will, coming “in all genres, from period costume dramas to sci-fi to comedy. (One series is modeled on the old Hope-Crosby ‘Road’ pictures.)” He relates that one skinflick is “full of erudite cinematic references” and that another has not only “a social conscience reminiscent of ‘West Side Story’” but also “a soundtrack that features music by Aaron Copland.”
No, states Rich repeatedly, the people of Pornville often aren’t what you’d expect them to be. These are respectable businessmen, don’t you know. Russell Hampshire, who owns a large production company, declares, “I like the rest of Bush’s cabinet – just not [attorney general John] Ashcroft.” Director Michael Raven says he’s “leaned toward the right in my politics, but I’m bothered by the Republicans’ association with the religious right.” Many in the industry worry that Ashcroft may launch another Ed Meese-style attack on porn. So long as Republicans limit their agenda to moneymaking, these could be their new angels.
Plenty of porn people have children, framed photographs of which are clearly visible in the accompanying portrait photos of both Hampshire and his fellow mogul Steve Orenstein. But how Mom and/or Dad earn a living can be problematic. Of his nine-year-old stepdaughter, Orenstein remarks, “The counselors say don’t tell her yet.” It isn’t only the young whom he keeps in the dark; Rich reports that Orenstein “has revealed his true profession to only a handful of people whom he and his wife have met on the PTA circuit.”
Next to some in porn, Orenstein is a blabbermouth. Bryn Pryor, a staffer at the trade journal Adult Video News, tells Rich, “If our customers project shame, then [we] must be doing something wrong. Everyone at AVN writes under a pseudonym. We have people here who don’t want anyone to know their real name.” The $10 billion aside, that this shame apparently remains pervasive may be greatly encouraging. The truth is, however, that every day it’s becoming less intense, thanks to stories like Rich’s. The mainstream entertainment media profess to disdain the porn industry, but they have been influenced by it, and they exploit it.
One study found that on prime time television, references to porn were 300 percent more common in 1999 than in 1989. A 1999 Rolling Stone article noted that music videos by big-name groups frequently feature adult-film stars. Moreover, a Washington Times piece last year reported that “one of today’s fashion statements among young people is a T-shirt that says ‘Future Porn Star’ or ‘Future Pimp.’” That dovetails with Rich’s comment that “the next generation of porn consumers and producers alike may break with [the] puritan mindset.” AVN’s Pryor says that today’s teens have “never known a time without Calvin Klein ads and MTV. By the time they see porn, they’ve already seen so many naked people, they’re pre-jaded.”
And when they’re adults, God knows what kind of movies they’ll watch, or presidential misconduct they’ll countenance.
-- Send (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 14, 2002.
"Frank Rich argued that since a majority of Americans didn’t want Bill Clinton to leave office, his sleaziness ultimately didn’t matter."
I would be very happy to have you explain how it is that what you consider to be Mr. Clinton's "sleaziness" has mattered in any "ultimate" manner. You may introduce your own hypothesis about Mr. Clinton's immortal soul, but only if you believe he is possessed of such a thing. In which case, it is your Christian duty to be properly anxious for the eventual salvation of said soul, rather than peevishly vindictive and jubliant at the thought of his eternal damnation.
Aside from ultimacy, when you consider the results simply in terms of politics, the most obvious result of what you define as Mr. Clinton's "sleaziness" that I can glean was that Albert Gore, Jr., Democratic candidate for POTUS, presumed that he would be wise to run away from Bill Clinton's embrace -- and he lost -- but probably only by one vote in the SCOTUS. Factually speaking, a plurality of over half a million people who voted in 2000 seemed to prefer Mr. Gore over the guy who sneaked out of the process and into the White House.
-- Little Nipper (email@example.com), April 14, 2002.
"Send mo money",
Do you have any comments on the subject of the article, or is attacking the messenger your only intention?
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 15, 2002.
Which ‘article’ would you be referring to, ‘showing’? The original article posted by our village idiot, or the other article that spelled out just where Rich is coming from?
-- Send (email@example.com), April 15, 2002.
"Send mo money",
Your spewing was an article? You did not indicate a source other than your name at the bottom, so I thought that trash was yours. Guess I should have known it had to be a copy/paste. Judging by your previous posts, an imbecile troll like yourself is not capable of writing so many words.
Of course I was referring to the article of the original post, you idiot. It's obvious that you are not intelligent enough to offer any serious debate, so you attack the source as most trolls do.
-- LOL (send mo money @ is. an idiot!), April 15, 2002.
So what if the guy is a looney left wing fag? He makes some excellent points.
Bush is caught between a rock and a hard place, fight terrorism on the one hand, protect oil sources on the other.
-- Uncle Deedah (unkeeD@yahoo.com), April 15, 2002.
BTW, I took a lot of shit when I suggested in the aftermath of 9-11 that we as a country ought to steer clear of getting involved in the affairs of foreign nations because it usually leads to making as many enemies as friends.
Guess ol' Unk aint so dumb afterall.
-- Uncle Deedah (unkeeD@yahoo.com), April 15, 2002.
IMO, there is a large difference between our response to terrorist attacks on our soil and our response to terrorism on another's soil. Palestine is Israel's problem and we should not get involved on the ground unless the Pals start to bomb us.
But going after Al Qaeda and anyone who aids them (wherever they are, including Iraq) is appropriate and essential.
Of course we could just sit around and wait for the next attack (nuke?) and then we could be real angry for a coupla months.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 16, 2002.
"Palestine is Israel's problem and we should not get involved on the ground unless the Pals start to bomb us."
This is true and it would be nice if the U.S. could mind their own business. Unfortunately the long term agenda of the NWO is to destroy the Arab world and gain control of a majority of the world's oil. The Israelis are a key NWO player in this agenda. Powell is over there to create the illusion that the U.S. is interested in a peaceful resolution and keep the Palestinians sedated, while Israel gradually takes more and more control over the area. It will take a while, but eventually the Palestinians will be obliterated, Saddam will be overthrown, then the Saudis and Iranians, unless they made to comply with our agenda.
-- (email@example.com), April 16, 2002.
Dang, why didn't I see that? Thank you for elucidating.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 16, 2002.
My pleasure Lars. Just pay attention, you might actually learn something for a change.
-- (waking @ up. sleepers), April 16, 2002.
Tell me more, oh Carnac thou magnificent.
-- (email@example.com), April 16, 2002.
Sooner the better. Don't like this progression but it more and more has the look of inevitability. Say the jews and arabs nuke each other. They're happy. Done killed all them unbelivers on both sides and now their hovels are theirs without anyone daring to encroach cause of the radiation. They both win!
But then there's the oil. The only thing in this internecine warfare between the sons of Abraham that the rest of us give a damn about is the oil. Sooner they get their shit done the better for us heathens.
-- Carlos (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 16, 2002.
U guys talk fast. Slip the above in behind email@example.com
-- Carlos (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 17, 2002.
"Say the jews and arabs nuke each other."
Ain't gonna happen, the Jews are major players in the NWO. The U.S. has been giving money and defense technology to Israel for decades so that the NWO can eliminate the Arab problem. If anyone gets nuked it will be the Arabs, not the Jews.
-- (okay. time to @ wake up. now), April 17, 2002.