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

Gregory Desilet info at gregorydesilet.com
Fri Sep 12 19:12:40 EDT 2014

Actually, I agree with you, Ed, in your lack of optimism for what a coalition could have accomplished in Iraq in the 90s. My only point would be that the U.S. would have likely fared better if there had been U.N. and/or international cooperation or involvement in the peacekeeping in Iraq after the Gulf War. This process could have drawn in countries such as France, Germany, the U.K. and the rest of NATO (and perhaps other countries) for a commitment to the Middle East peace process that would have made the U.S. look less like the lone neighborhood policeman. I’ve always felt that part of the problem in the Middle East has been that the U.S. plays too dominant a role and ends up being a large and easy target for whatever blame is perceived and needing to be assigned to events by local Mid-East factions. More active involvement from other countries would take some of the burden of that role from the U.S. Perhaps I’m still too optimistic, but I would have preferred to see that alternate history play out. Seems very possible to me it would have played out better that what has occurred. 


On Sep 12, 2014, at 12:46 PM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com> wrote:

> Greg,
> 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.
> Ed             
> --------------------------------------------
> 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
> that). 
> 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
> On
> Sep 12, 2014, at 10:00 AM, Edward C Appel <edwardcappel at frontier.com>
> wrote:
>> 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
> issue.)
> 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
> Accomplished.”
>     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
> one.
>>     Ed                   
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