I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The amoral cretins who rule our public discourse

So many of the oh-so-brave and oh-so-honest Bush followers who now suddenly proclaim the war in Iraq to be a failure spent the last three years continuously branding those who said the same thing as surrender-happy cowards and traitors. Two years ago and even a year ago (and in some quarters, still), those who pointed out that our invasion was achieving nothing other than mass death, a destruction of U.S. credibility, swarms of conversions of Muslims into extremists, and a gross weakening of our military were viciously attacked as American-hating subversives who wanted the U.S. to lose.

Yet now, many of the people who did the demonizing are themselves declaring their war to be a failure without acknowledging their responsibility for it and reconciling their admissions with their sickening demonization of those who pointed this out all along. One of the worst and most infuriating examples I've seen yet is this:

NY Post columnist and Bush follower Ralph Peters, November 21, 2005, attacking the surrender-happy treasonous Democrats who say we're not winning in Iraq and listing all of the heinous disasters that will occur if we don't win:

Increasingly, quitting looks like the new American Way of War. No matter how great your team, you can't win the game if you walk off the field at half-time. That's precisely what the Democratic Party wants America to do in Iraq. Forget the fact that we've made remarkable progress under daunting conditions: The Dems are looking to throw the game just to embarrass the Bush administration.

Forget about the consequences. Disregard the immediate encouragement to the terrorists and insurgents to keep killing every American soldier they can. Ignore what would happen in Iraq — and the region — if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round.

Forget about our dead soldiers, whose sacrifice is nothing but a political club for Democrats to wave in front of the media. After all, one way to create the kind of disaffection in the ranks that the Dems' leaders yearn to see is to tell our troops on the battlefield that they're risking their lives for nothing, we're throwing the game. . . .

Just set a time-table for our troops to come home and show the world that America is an unreliable ally with no stomach for a fight, no matter the stakes involved. Tell the world that deserting the South Vietnamese and fleeing from Somalia weren't anomalies — that's what Americans do.

While we're at it, let's just print up recruiting posters for the terrorists, informing the youth of the Middle East that Americans are cowards who can be attacked with impunity. Whatever you do, don't talk about any possible consequences. Focus on the moment — and the next round of U.S. elections. Just make political points.

After all, those dead American soldiers and Marines don't matter — they didn't go to Ivy League schools. (Besides, most would've voted Republican had they lived.)

America's security? Hah! As long as the upcoming elections show Democratic gains, let the terrorist threat explode. So what if hundreds of thousands of Middle Easterners might die in a regional war? So what if violent fundamentalism gets a shot of steroids? So what if we make Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the most successful Arab of the past 500 years? . . .

The Dems are ready to betray our troops, our allies and our country's future security for a few House seats. Surrender is never a winning strategy.

If we run away from our enemies overseas, our enemies will make their way to us. Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die.

Ralph Peters today, in USA Today, on why we lost in Iraq and owe it to the troops to admit that and to be ready to leave:

President Bush insists that we have no conflicts with the al-Maliki government. The president isn't telling the truth — or he himself doesn't support our military's efforts. He can't have it both ways. Bush appears increasingly desperate just to get through the upcoming elections.

I supported the removal of Saddam Hussein. I believed that Arabs deserved a chance to build a rule-of-law democracy in the Middle East. Based upon firsthand experience, I was convinced that the Middle East was so politically, socially, morally and intellectually stagnant that we had to risk intervention — or face generations of terrorism and tumult. I still believe that our removal of Hussein was a noble act.

I only wish the administration had done it competently.

Iraq is failing. No honest observer can conclude otherwise. Even six months ago, there was hope. Now the chances for a democratic, unified Iraq are dwindling fast. The country's prime minister has thrown in his lot with al-Sadr, our mortal enemy. He has his eye on the future, and he's betting that we won't last.

This chaos wasn't inevitable. While in Iraq late last winter, I remained soberly hopeful. Since then, the strength of will of our opponents — their readiness to pay any price and go to any length to win — has eclipsed our own. The valor of our enemies never surpassed that of our troops, but it far exceeded the fair-weather courage of the Bush administration.

Yet, for all our errors, we did give the Iraqis a unique chance to build a rule-of-law democracy. They preferred to indulge in old hatreds, confessional violence, ethnic bigotry and a culture of corruption. It appears that the cynics were right: Arab societies can't support democracy as we know it. And people get the government they deserve.

For us, Iraq's impending failure is an embarrassment. For the Iraqis — and other Arabs — it's a disaster the dimensions of which they do not yet comprehend. They're gleeful at the prospect of America's humiliation. But it's their tragedy, not ours.

Iraq still deserves one last chance — as long as we don't confuse deadly stubbornness and perseverance. If, at this late hour, Iraqis in decisive numbers prove willing to fight for their own freedom and a constitutional government, we should be willing to remain for a generation. If they continue to revel in fratricidal slaughter, we must leave.

And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that. Iraq was never our Vietnam.

It's al-Qaeda's Vietnam. They're the ones who can't leave and who can't win.

Back in November when Peters wanted to depict anti-war Democrats as dangerous subversives, Peters said: "Ignore what would happen in Iraq — and the region — if we bail out. And don't mention how a U.S. surrender would turn al Qaeda into an Islamic superpower, the champ who knocked out Uncle Sam in the third round. . . . Quit Iraq, and far more than 2,000 Americans are going to die."

Now that he wants to "quit Iraq," he says: "And contrary to the prophets of doom, the United States wouldn't be weakened by our withdrawal, should it come to that."

Ever since the invasion, those who previously argued that the President was dishonest in his statements about the war were deemed to be vile traitors who were undermining the Commander-in-Chief in a time of war and thereby weakening the U.S. and harming "the troops" (David Horowitz: "to call the commander-in-chief a liar and a traitor is to sabotage the war effort and undermine our troops in Iraq"). Now Peters says: "the president isn't telling the truth — or he himself doesn't support our military's efforts" and that is supposed to be some sort of hard-nosed, brave critique.

The dishonesty and total amorality of someone who can argue this way is truly revolting. Today he labels as "prophets of doom" those who say that withdrawal would produce devastating results for American security -- even though he was one of the leading voices making that argument less than a year ago when demonizing those who opposed the war.

This same sick dynamic is pervasive all over right-wing punditry and the right-wing blogosphere -- all of these self-proclaimed super-patriots spending the last three years shrieking that anyone who criticizes The War or who points out the reality that it is failing is some sort of grotesque traitor and friend of The Terrorists (that repulsive November, 2005 Peters column from above was promoted in most of the predictable Bush-following sewers).

Yet now that reality is forcing them to admit the truth of what war critics have been saying for the last three years, they want to pretend that their reversal is some sort of badge of shining courage and, worse, they seek -- like good Stalinists -- to simply erase what was said and done in the past so that nobody notices not only how wrong they were about everything, but also how deranged were their hate-mongering attacks against those who were right.

It was those very attacks which ensured that this country stayed in Iraq, pretending all along that things were going great and never having a meaningful or informed debate about what we were doing. And now those who perpetrated those attacks and made one false statement after the next about the war -- thereby ensuring that we dug our hole deeper and deeper -- want to blame everyone for this disaster except for themselves.

As I said the other day about Peggy Noonan: "There is nothing wrong with acknowledging one's errors and changing one's mind. When it is genuine, that is a commendable attribute which ought to be encouraged." But people like Noonan and Peters aren't doing that. They know that they were on the wrong side of this most vital issue -- and not just wrong in their predictions, but were revealed to be deeply flawed in both judgment and character -- and they are desperately attempting to dump the blame on others (anyone - Bush, Rumsfeld, the Iraqis, Democrats, the press) in order to save themselves.

Identifying those responsible not just for our invasion of Iraq, but for the vulgar deceit and demonization that was used to quash criticisms and to caricature those who were pointing out these truths all along, is vitally important so that our country is never influenced by the likes of Ralph Peters again.

UPDATE: McQ of the QandO blog - 9/28/2004:

Iraq remains the swing issue. But Kerry and company have yet to articulate anything which differentiates their plan for Iraq with Bush's plan for Iraq except, essentially, to say they'll do it better. And sneaking into that "we'll do it better" verbiage is the subtle current of "cut and run", with promises of troop pull-outs without regard to whether Iraq is stable enough for such pull-outs. . . . [W]e see a creeping defeatism in the content of Kerry's discussions about Iraq's future.

McQ -- October 5, 2004

Its one of the biggest and most troubling problems I find with Kerry and the left. Despite the rhetoric about 'finishing the job' in Iraq, one can't help but believe the real intent of any Kerry administration would be "peace with honor", also known as "cut and run". . . .With all of that being said and despite the success in Samarra, we continue to hear the doom-and-gloom from the left. Some of it can be written off to campaign rhetoric which has to make a case for change, but some of it is simply endemic to the left.

More of the same here and here.

McQ -- today:

This is what has happened to Peters and many supporters of our effort in Iraq. The frustration of watching what could have been become what will not be because of stupidity, cupidity, incompetence, poor planning, no planning, lack of initiative, misplaced priorities and inconsistent leadership has been awful. Peters is probably more frustrated than I am because he knows, given his numerous trips to Iraq, the situation better than I do. And he knows pretty well what we could have done, probably should have done, and what we didn't do.

Given the CENTCOM slide everyone is referencing, you literally can see the literal slide toward chaos happening. It is a real pity, because, as Peters notes, it didn't have to happen. And yet, even with the evidence of the violence and the march of the arrow to the right on the slide, we have Dick Cheney saying that things are going pretty well in Iraq.

There's a difference between being positive and delusional.

When Kerry and others talked about the severe problems in Iraq and the complete ineptitude of the administration's conduct of the war, he was being a cut-and-run defeatist and doom-and-gloom loser.

When McQ and his Bush-following comrades say the same thing (two years and hundreds of thousands of needless deaths later), they're being hard-nosed patriots willing to do the tough work and acknowledge reality.

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