Friday, January 12, 2007

The curse of insight

One of the many unfinished columns on my hard drive was a mostly tongue-in-cheek piece reviewing my track record as prognosticator in my columns. I didn't want to crow too much about my record, and so my heart wasn't in it.

Then I watched our pathetic, shell-of-a-spoiled-child President sleepwalk through his "new strategy" talk, the key elements of which were predicted here and here.

Then I read the latest claptrap from Victor Davis Hanson, who continues to publish regularly in major newspapers despite a track record unblemished by success. (This time the patron saint of warbloggers lectures liberals on the evils of -- I kid you not -- expecting the U.S. to solve the world's problems. Um ... yeah. Darn us for urging that Iraq adventure, huh?) And there's the latest insanity from the Mustache of Freedom. The high-profile chowderheads are clearly annoyed at the way in which we can and do point out their incompetence, but their access to their platforms remains undisturbed.

I may just make the time to go back and finish that piece, and give it more of an edge.

Update: From Mideast scholar Trita Parsi in an IPS column yesterday:

President George W. Bush's address on Iraq Wednesday night was less about Iraq than about its eastern neighbour, Iran. There was little new about the U.S.'s strategy in Iraq, but on Iran, the president spelled out a plan that appears to be aimed at goading Iran into war with the U.S.
The incremental raids and arrests may instead be aimed at provoking the Iranians to respond, which in turn would escalate the situation and provide the Bush administration with the casus belli it needs to win Congressional support for war with Iran. Rather than making the case for a pre-emptive war with Iran over weapons of mass destruction -- a strategy the U.S. pursued with Iraq that is unlikely to succeed with Iran -- the sequence of events in the provocation and escalation strategy would make it appear as if war was forced on the U.S.

Me, April, 2006:
What would happen if, for whatever reason, Iran sank a couple of American warships? George Bush would find another megaphone and another telegenic pile of bubble to stand on. The Andrew Sullivans and Thomas Friedmans of the world would drag their laptops and their Huggies with them as they dive under their beds, and again write trembling jibberish praising their Savior in Chief. And millions who only recently wandered out of Camp Jingo would scurry back in mortal fear.

The cowed millions would demand action, and action they would get. Bush would round up his nuclear posse and unleash an unprecedented retaliation. Iran would glow for millennia with the radiation of a thousand nuclear warheads in the first all-out nuclear strike in history. Millions of Iranians, or perhaps tens of millions, would die. And Red State America would cheer. Bush's poll numbers would regain their former heights, and talk of censure and Valerie Plame and Katrina would dissolve into the radioactive haze that would blanket the planet.

The civil war in Iraq would probably subside. Or perhaps we would withdraw regardless, having made a superseding, definitive statement of Texas testosterone. Either way, an Administration currently besieged on all sides would again ride high.

My nightmare is that our rulers are now trying to figure out how to achieve this desirable result. Absent provocation like the sinking of a few U.S. ships, Bush will never get away with going nukular against Iran. So how to provoke Iran into taking the gambit? Incredibly, we are on now upon the second iteration of that genus of questions. We know that Bush talked with Tony Blair about how to goad Saddam into throwing the first punch against us three years ago. It is probably safe to assume that such high-school logic still prevails. So the Administration will look for ways to provoke such an attack again.

The only part of that scenario that I wonder about now is whether the gambit would actually revive Bush's mojo -- I have no doubt that he thinks it will, but he may have waited too long for it to work on Joe Sixpack.

But I suspect we are going to find out in short order.

Update 2: No need to write my column -- Jebediah Reed has done a far more important and fact-laden piece than I would have. I will never see Fareed Zakaria the same way again.


Blogger RandyH said...

Mr. Bluememe-

I just went back and read the "Martingale school of foreign policy" piece. It's good. I must have missed it when it came out. It reminded me of a comment I heard from a caller to C-Span a couple weeks back. He made an analogy that I was surprised I hadn't heard anything like before. He equated Bush and the Neocons to someone bringing a poker strategy to a chess game, raising their bets on each turn and they don't realize that this is not how chess is played. They're "feeling lucky" and "believe" they are winning so there's no telling them otherwise.

Anyway, I thought you might like that bit. Looking forward to the masterpiece.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Eric Soderstrom said...

That's the thing about the speech - and a lot of his speeches are like this - there's a bunch of half truths and BS psoturing and whatnot, as usual, but if you look closely, you can find little nuggets of truth that reveal his true intentions.

In this case, the Iran talk was part of it. How about Patriot missle batteries, though? Um, who has missles? Can they be used to shoot down the IEDs that are the big killers? And why a second carrier group? More nuggets that support the Iran thesis.

There's also the bit about passing legislation to make sure that Iraqs oil revenues are shared by all of the Iraqi people. I can't figure out how to link in a comment, but there was a story on Alternet last week about how we are pushing them to pass legislation that will make sure the PROFITS from Iraq's oil goes to a handful of Western companies for the next 30 years. So this surge could well be about getting enough stability to get the legislature working again and get that passed. After that, maybe we'll see troops coming home.

Or maybe it is a plan to push on to Tehran.

Whichever - writing all of my representatives and a few who aren't is definitely back on my To Do list. Let's huury up and get through those 100 hours and on to stopping this disaster.

2:57 AM  

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