[KB] "Trivial Repetition," "Dull, Daily Reenforcement"

Edward C Appel edwardcappel at frontier.com
Fri Sep 12 14:46:52 EDT 2014


Yes, we'll have to disagree on this one.  The "Saddam problem," as you call it---left over from the Gulf War---was for me the "Saddam solution," albeit a very distasteful one, I admit.  The mess that the British and other victors of WWI created with the disparate parts of the defunct Ottoman Empire was at least being covered over, tamped down, by the dictator in question, in his area of control anyway.  Take Saddam out of the picture, and look what we got.

As for whatever that great "coalition" Bush senior was able to muster together might have been able to do by way of social control in the '90s and beyond---you're more optimistic than I am.  I see no reason to believe that a commensurate level of chaos would not have ensued.

We have chosen, rather the moneyed interests that rule this nation have chosen, to squeeze profits out of the last drop of oil that can be drilled from the sacred ground of planet Earth.  That's our fundametaL issue, or one of them, in all this.  We should long ago have solved our addiction to this intoxicating brew.  Our ecosystems are sinking fast into rising seas, flood waters in states, provinces, and island nations, and a biosphere on a headlong slide into another major extinction.

Whatever the "truth" about the present conundrum and its causes, I find it difficult to credit Obama in particular, or the Democrats in general, for rhetorical effectiveness.

On Fri, 9/12/14, Gregory Desilet <info at gregorydesilet.com> wrote:

 Subject: Re: [KB] "Trivial Repetition," "Dull, Daily Reenforcement"
 To: "Ed Appel" <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 Cc: kb at kbjournal.org
 Date: Friday, September 12, 2014, 1:58 PM
 While I admit I venture
 skeptically and cynically into the can of worms that is
 American politics and foreign policy, I have to disagree
 with you on this posting, Ed. I think Obama has done a
 reasonable job in attempting to extricate us from our
 military involvements in the Middle East. No matter what
 course of action chosen, the likelihood of broad approval
 would be slim (damned if he does this, damned if he does
 American and
 British involvement in the Middle East has had a long and
 tortured history—due to alliances there and dependency on
 oil. The Gulf War was, in my opinion, a necessary action and
 it rightly received broad international support. The big
 mistake we made—the mistake made by Colin Powell and Bush
 Sr—was to leave Saddam in power. Granted, the U.S. did not
 have international support to go all the way to Baghdad, but
 after Saddam set fire to the oil wells in Kuwait, Bush Sr.
 had the high ground for pursuing him and no one on the
 international scene would have had substantial moral or
 political ground to oppose such action. At that point in
 time, due to the international coalition created for the
 Gulf War, the U.S. could have removed Saddam from power and
 left the U.N. and the international community with the task
 of overseeing nation re-building in Iraq. If, subsequently,
 the political scene in Iraq blew up, the international
 community would have been as involved as the U.S. in
 overseeing and cleaning up the mess. The U.S. would not have
 had to go it alone—as was the case following the Iraq War.
 As things happened, Bush
 Jr. had to confront the mess left by his father and the poor
 decision he and Powell made. If Bush Jr. had not acted, the
 Saddam problem would have continued to fester until another
 American president would be forced to confront him and his
 militant aggression in the Middle East again—and possibly
 under worse circumstances. Bush Jr. seized an opportunity to
 do what should have been done previously—remove Saddam
 from power. Unfortunately, the situation no longer drew
 international support and Bush should have backed off until
 he could get such support. That he did not do this was his
 big mistake. 
 Whether we
 like it or not, the U.S. has an intricate set of
 involvements and commitments in the Middle East and there is
 no easy short cut political way to change that history. The
 only good thing to do at this point is attempt to learn from
 past mistakes and make better decisions regarding our
 actions there. Thus far, Obama has been reluctant to repeat
 mistakes of the past. He is building international support
 for American actions regarding Iraq and Syria. I doubt very
 much he will commit any large number of boots on the ground
 there during the rest of his term. He will let the various
 factions fight it out among themselves, while lending modest
 and cautious support to the factions that appear closer to
 our interests. That few hawks or doves in the U.S. will like
 this approach is a given, and Obama knows this. But thus far
 he has had the courage to chart the unpopular course—one
 that exposes him to criticism from every side. I think he
 deserves credit for that since, as I say, I believe it’s
 the better from among a lot of ugly options.
 Greg Desilet
 Sep 12, 2014, at 10:00 AM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
 > Burkophiles,
 >     I asked in a
 chapter in Praeger’s Venomous Speech last year, “Where
 Is the Democratic Narrative, FDR Style?”  That piece had
 mainly to do with the polemical malfeasance of the Dems in
 dealing with, rhetorically pretty much ignoring, what
 globalization has done to aggravate the income gap in
 USAmerica the past three and a half decades.  (Tax policies
 are culpable, too, we know, in multiple ways.)  Senator
 Warren appeared on Moyers on PBS last Sunday.  She listed
 four Democratic proposals she thinks are winning issues
 going into the Fall elections.  Moyers asked her why, then,
 aren’t we hearing more about them from Democratic
 candidates and their spokespersons?  Warren really had no
 good answer.
     Burke says in the Rhetoric (p. 26), “Often we must
 think of rhetoric not in terms of one particular address,
 but as a general BODY OF IDENTIFICATIONS that owe their
 convincingness much more to trivial repetition and dull
 daily reenforcement than to exceptional rhetorical skill”
 (emphasis in original).
 >     I monitor Fox News daily.  That
 propaganda network masquerading as a news channel (I know,
 we can say the same thing about MSNBC) is near-fanatically
 repetitive in promoting its conservative, anti-Obama
 agenda.  Fox is relentless.  Case in point: Bill
 O’Reilly has invidiously targeted the President in his
 opening “memo” for as many nights as I can remember. 
 Another: Wish I had even one dollar for every time I’ve
 watched our consulate in Benghazi burn on my Channel 48. 
 They don’t let up.
 >     Add this mantra to the list: Bush 2
 “won” our righteous “War on Terror” with the surge
 in Iraq.  Obama came into office, took our troops out of
 that country, and now has “lost” a war that Bush,
 Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz had brought a U.S. victory
 and peace to!
     The rhetorically inept, more accurately altogether
 missing, response by Obama in his “leading from behind”
 speech on Wednesday, and in his fumbling precursors to that
 address, are dispiriting.
 >     First and foremost, Obama was and
 is uniquely situated to characterize the Iraq War for what
 it plainly was: A mendacious military adventure, foisted on
 USAmerica by subterfuge and deception, a cynical
 exploitation of the shock of 9/11, not merely a “dumb
 war.”  Fifteen Saudis and four Egyptians, under the
 leadership of a wealthy Saudi, trained in Afghanistan,
 highjacked four commercial jetliners and perpetrated the
 mayhem of that frightful day.  Saddam, we knew even then,
 had nothing to do with it.  Nor did his chemical weapons,
 if they even had existed and they didn’t, nor did his
 so-called “mushroom cloud” potential, pose any real
 threat to this nation.  Again, we knew even then that
 Iraq’s nuclear ambitions, even if real, were as yet no
 more than hope, if not fantasy.  And, for anyone paying
 attention, the Bush-Cheney fear-mongering had already been
 shot down in an op-ed in the NYTimes by Ambassador Wilson,
 and by clear-headed reporting
 > by the
 McClatchy News Service.
 >     So, what happened after waste of a
 trillion dollars (it will be three trillion or more after
 medical expenditures are exhausted a half-century from now),
 loss of thousands of American lives, tens of thousands of
 maimings and woundings, and destruction and shattering of
 this jerry-built nation of warring sects that only a tyrant
 like Saddam could hold together—what happened after the
 candidate who promised to end the Iraq War came to power? 
 He stopped calling the war what it really was and started
 treating it pretty much like a somewhat legitimate
 enterprise we had to bring to an end “responsibly.” 
 Obama was even planning to keep fifty thousand (or was it
 eighty thousand?) troops in Iraq in perpetuity, before
 al-Maliki said “no way” to our insistence on military
 immunity.  (And Obama doesn’t even defend himself on that
 You may object that Obama had to metamorphose into a “war
 president,” since he was then Commander-in-Chief. 
 Can’t in any way imply that our soldiers died in vain in a
 conflict subversively motivated by oil, Israel, Bush family
 score-settling, or plans for victorious re-election in 2004
 by a flight-jacketed president after “Mission
     Upshot: There exists a corrupt context to what Obama
 and USAmerica face in the current chaos of the Middle
 East.  It is a context that requires repetition and more
 repetition still by leadership that has some semblance of
 the near-self -destructive insanity of America’s vaunted
 “War on Terror.”  As he takes us into yet another phase
 of this resource-draining, quick-sand tugging, tar-baby of a
 conflict, someone with a megaphone has to stand up and shout
 down the McCains and Foxies who current occupy the
 rhetorical terrain uncontestred.
 >     I have no hope that Obama’s the
 >     Ed                   
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