Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lapham's "Case for Impeachment" [full text]

The full text of Lewis Lapham’s “The Case for Impeachment: Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush,” in the March 2006 Harper’s, is now available, with footnotes, at:

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

World War Lost

It has come to this: 60 percent of respondents in a world survey believe the invasion of Iraq has increased the likelihood of terrorism. That includes 75 percent of Australians, and between 75 and 82 percent of Brits, Spaniards, Germans, Italians and Finns. Oddly, in Europe, the French were, next to Russia, the least critical of the invasion, with “just” 67 percent thinking it increased the likelihood of terrorism. Maybe Bush should think of vacationing on the Côte d’Azur this summer, when he’s done making fearful visits, measured in minutes, in countries where he still claims democracy is making progress: Americans still see little irony in their president parachuting into Iraq or Afghanistan to claim, gripping and grinning hands left and right and behind walls of security goons and deceptive scheduling (wasn’t that how Arafat used to travel around Lebanon to save his skin, back in the 1980s?), that liberty is making strides. He sounds like Hitler’s self-deluding generals who, even in 1945, would trundle off to Berlin to assure the Fuhrer that the Third Reich would still prevail. Two invasions, two occupations, two countries hemorrhaging civil war, a world turned against him and feeling less secure, and the man still manages to claim victory. Richard Nixon, too, was no longer tethered to reality in his last two years. But in comparison Nixon’s crimes were minor. The San Francisco supervisors’ resolution to impeach Bush, seemingly ridiculous on its face (and a fat target for the mercenary media of the right), has the ring of necessity, and to many in the trenches and at the receiving end of his hubris’ shards, of urgency. But wasn’t removing Saddam the right decision? The same world opinion puts those positive responses at 36 percent, withy 45 percent calling it a mistake. The man’s trial is the supreme irony of the war. His era is finished. His meaning is finished. His last laugh isn’t. His trial is both a farce and a coup in his favor. The longer he manages to be in a courtroom, while Iraq shatters and burns outside the court, the more he can claim, without saying a word, that no matter the outcome of his trial, America’s condemnation is complete: The invasion, in this tragic run of ironies, was Saddam’s undoing, but the occupation has been his miserable vindication. It has made the occupier look more like the régime it undid, down to the Americans’ headquartering in the so-called Green Zone, the very place, in Baghdad, where Saddam created his Versailles. The hearts and minds, not only of Iraqis, but of the world, are lost, making something like a global war on terror virtually unwinnable (if it was ever winnable). And still President Bush grins and claims victory. It’s enough to make you wonder whose side he’s on anymore.    

Original at

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Heroism of Bode Miller, Vassal of American Presumption

I must admit that I’d never heard of U.S. skier Bode Miller until Newsweek featured his ice-capaded face on its Jan. 23 cover. That was about the time when Hamas — the Palestinian Taliban — won its Super G (for goring) victory in the Palestinian elections; when Iraq ratified its Allah-is-great election results, giving Iranian-backed thugs in a pretend-parliament the satisfaction of establishing a theocracy under America’s nose; when President Bush was at his East German best in a daily defense of his lawless domestic spying program; when Samuel Alito — Robert Bork’s last laugh — was confirmed to the Supreme Court by a Senate almost as relevant as Baghdad’s parliament; and when Canada, that forgotten province to the north of American indifference, elected its most conservative prime minister in 12 years. How, amid all this, Bode Miller ends up on the cover of a supposedly serious national newsweekly explains, I think, why Bode Miller — occasional drunkard, eternal individualist, anti-team-player, corporate commodity, media punching bag and supreme Olympic loser Bode Miller — was the only true American hero of the Turin Winter Games. He lived up to the meaning of America in the world’s eyes these days: Presumptuous, self-absorbed, ignorant, loutish, incompetent. Read the rest...

Monday, February 27, 2006

William Buckley's Cronkite Moment: The Acknowledgment of Defeat in Iraq

Exactly 38 years ago today (Feb. 27), Walter Cronkite, reacting to the 1968 Tet Offensive, told his CBS Report audience that the Vietnam War was no longer winnable. It was a seminal moment in the war. Lyndon Johnson knew it. If he’d lost Cronkite, he’d lost the American public—and the war, for good. On February 24, William Buckley Jr., an early advocate of war on Iraq , pulled a Cronkite in his column. Not only does Buckley no longer believe that the war in Iraq can be won. He goes further than Cronkite did in 1968 and calls for “the acknowledgement of defeat” as the best way to “submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.” In other words, to cut and run for the sake of national security. Buckley’s piece won’t have the same effect on the American public, nor the credibility, as Cronkite’s moment following Tet. But the effect on the conservative movement, and the Bush administration, could be considerable. The end result is the same: The war, already lost in Iraq , is now lost at home. Here is Buckley’s column, along with the complete text of Walter Cronkite’s famous “report” to the American public:
  1. William Buckley Jr: "It Didn't Work" [National Review Online]

  2. Walter Cronkite: "We're Mired in Stalemate..." [CBS News]