Friday, December 29, 2006

Bush, "The Manchurian Candidate?"

As the Bush Administration prepares to release its latest strategy to turn tragedy into "triumph" in Iraq, all indications are that the lessons of Vietnam have been for naught.

The view that a "surge" in U.S. troops would lead to "victory" is strongly supported by individuals such as Sen. Lieberman, who has dual allegiances to Israel and the U.S. (in that order).

Given that right-wing Israelis and their U.S. "neoconservative" cohorts were instrumental in driving the U.S. into an unprovoked war, their continued influence can be felt as Cheney and Bush simply ignore the suggestions presented by the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group, as well as many other influential voices, both Democratic and Republican.

Not only are neoconservatives, such as Frank Gaffney, determined to continue destroying Iraq, but, as he stated on CNN yesterday, they are now convinced that the U.S. must also take on Iran militarily.

In short, the dream of neoconservatives and right-wing Israelis to restructure the Middle East in their image is alive and well. I suspect they won't be satisfied until the whole region goes up in flames, if that is what it takes for Israel's survival.

The fact that such a hawkish approach is most definitely NOT in the U.S.'s best interests (nor Israel's for that matter), seems to escape these arrogant, greedy individuals who are, rightly, universally despised.

The result of the implementation of their failed policies is the topic of an article by Robert Buzzanco, Professor of History at the University of Houston, who writes "Is Bush the Manchurian Candidate?" in which he describes the damage done by the Administration in vivid color:
If enemies of the United States had gotten together a few years ago to devise a plan to damage and undermine its global position-diminish its power and credibility, drag it into a stubborn war, harm its relations with allies, create international financial disarray, run up huge deificts, create political openings for the Europeans and China to exploit and become equals in global economic matters, motivate terrorists, bring the U. S. image in the Middle East to its nadir, restrict civil liberties at home, and so forth--they would have been hard-pressed to create a program that would be more effective than the Bush administration's policies on these issues of war, terrorism and global economics have.
Mr. Buzzanco proceeds to recall what could have been:
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 the United States had the sympathy and respect of much of the world. The outpouring of goodwill was unprecedented in the post-Vietnam period, and the United States stood alone as a military and economic power. When Bush responded in the September attacks a month later with the invasion of Afghanistan, where al Qaeda leaders were hiding out, the world community and the U.S. populace supported him.

But beginning in mid-2002, when he returned to his obsession with Iraq, the worm began to turn. Using politicized intelligence and outright lies, the Bush administration, congress and the media all went along with the invasion of Iraq, beginning in March 2003. Consequently, in what we can not see was a remarkably short time, the amity and power accrued after 9/11 melted away.
Once support from the world community dissipated, the U.S. found itself "twisting slowly in the wind" with the sole support of Tony-the-Poodle and Sharon/Olmert.

The amazingly bad judgment of Cheney-Bush and their neoconservative cohorts will be remembered as one of the darkest moments in U.S. history. Warnings from friendly governments, both in Europe and the Middle East, were totally ignored as the Administration proceeded to implement the "Project for the New American Century," developed by neoconservatives and rejected by President Clinton.

Unfortunately, the Administration is seemingly determined to continue digging deeper and deeper a hole, which makes it all that much harder to climb out of in the end.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Will Bush invade Iran to save his personal legacy?

I agree with Mark Parent who writes:

But Bush can’t stop now. He figures his legacy as a disgrace to America and all mankind can be postponed or perhaps somehow even reversed if he could have just a little more time.

Time for what? Could it be that Bush truly intends to carry out the full neoconservative program in the Middle East, complete with more regime changes?

Could spreading his most spectacular failure to Iran and Syria make Iraq seem merely a “catastrophic success“? Are even Bush and Cheney stupid enough to think an air war against Iran will accomplish anything other than forcing their withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, pushing their rebellious populace back into the arms of the Mullahs, driving the price of oil over $200 a barrel and beginning a brand new war in Iraq against the Iran-friendly Shia whom the U.S. has spent hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars installing in power?

The thought that Cheney-Bush and their neoconservative cohorts might attack yet another Muslim nation would strike me as a bad joke were it not for the fact that these individuals have shown such incompetence and bad judgment during the past six years. Nothing would surprise me.

The rational suggestions proposed by the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group have seemingly been totally rejected by the "know-it-alls" in the White House, according to the latest news coming from Condi Rice and her bosses.

Instead of talking to Iran, a fleet of U.S. navy ships was dispatched to its neighborhood. I wonder what we would do if Iran parked its warships on our coasts.

Instead of replying to two long letters sent by the Iranian President, one to Bush and one to the American people, the word from the White House is: We won't reply because they know what they MUST DO!

Obviously, members of the Administration have yet to learn that the words MUST DO will, invariably, achieve the opposite result to the one desired, given the arrogance implied in those words.

The question then becomes: Will Democrats sit by, once again, and allow another tragedy to develop right in front of their noses?

We can only hope that, once in control of Congress, Democrats will find the pants they took off six years ago and...wear them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Yes, Hillary has relatively strong negatives, but....

Can't you just see Hillary and Bill flanking Obama, her chosen V.P., on the campaign trail?

I suspect that combining experience with charm would be a winning combination.

Doubtless, Bill would be an asset to Hillary if she decides to run, particularly as the striking difference between his successful presidency is compared to Bush's failures.

As U.S. representative to the U.N., he would be in his element.

Obama, while not ready for prime time after just two short years in the Senate, would indeed be a major assetto the ticket should he settle for #2. His low key approach with emphasis on bi-partisanship would be applauded, particularly after roughly 20 years of growing, visceral party estrangement.

Needless to say, it would be a history-making event and would, most likely, meet with the approval of the majority of Americans who are aching for change.

"Humiliation," key to Arab/Muslim resentment

In an article entitled "Mideast Rules to Live By," Tom Friedman addresses an issue that is usually ignored by U.S. government officials, particularly those of the Cheney-Bush administration: humiliation of Arab/Muslims, given that it is at the very core of the relationships between East and West.

Mr. Friedman writes:

"Rule 11: The most underestimated emotion in Arab politics is humiliation. The Israeli-Arab conflict, for instance, is not just about borders. Israel's mere existence is a daily humiliation to Muslims, who can't understand how, if they have the superior religion, Israel can be so powerful. Al Jazeera's editor, Ahmed Sheickh, said it best when he recently told the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche: "It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about seven million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West's problem is that it does not understand this."
I have made this point for as long as I can remember, given its importance in dealing with proud people who have indeed been humiliated time and time again, humiliation that reached a crescendo when arrogant supreme, Cheney-Bush, assumed power.

The damage done by this lack of sensitivity to foreign customs and cultures, has played a key role in promoting terrorism.

Given that promoting terrorism should NOT be our objective, one can only wonder why our "fearless leaders" insist on treating Arab/Muslims with such contempt.

Not only have Arab/Muslims been used as U.S. proxies to "maintain the balance of power" in the region but they also paid a very high price for the Holocaust as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were evicted from their homes and forced to live in refugee camps to this day.

And, is it any wonder that resentment flourishes as U.S. troops encircle the region and establish military bases on their lands?

I can just hear the outcry in our nation should a foreign power establish military bases on our soil. Obviously, we would not tolerate such an incursion into a sovereign state.

That brings to mind the following dictum: "Do unto others as you would want others do unto you."

It's really not that complicated when you think about it....

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Rumsfeld: "Perception of U.S. weakness is provocative"

In his farewell speech, Donald Rumsfeld warns that "perception of U.S. weakness is provocative:"

"Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative," Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at a lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney as his side, "but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well."

As Bill Clinton would say: It all depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

Is a nation that spends roughly half a TRILLION a year on defense, more than all other nations combined, perceived as weak? And, if so, by whom?

Or, is the presence on foreign soil of a nation with overwhelming military power viewed as provocative?

The correct answer to that question has been missed by the Cheney-Bush-neocon administration all along as it embarked on an unprovoked war on Iraq designed to restructure the whole Middle East in its image.

Had the Administration focused its attention intently on Afghanistan where the culprits of 9/11 resided, the result would have been, most likely, a picture of progress that the world would have embraced and would have made Americans proud.

But, that was not to be. Instead, hawkish ideologues in the U.S. and Israel known as "neoconservatives" were embraced by Cheney-Bush and the world looked on in horror as thousands of bombs and missiles were dropped on Baghdad in an unprovoked assault designed to "shock and awe" the world:

"Present in the crowd were some of the former hawks with whom he planned the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq: Paul D. Wolfowitz, his former deputy, and Douglas J. Feith, his under secretary for defense policy. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, his frequent rival in Mr. Bush's cabinet, did not attend."

Admittedly they did achieve their objective in that the world was indeed SHOCKED and the goodwill shown toward the U.S. evaporated almost instantly.

That everything went down hill from there has been widely documented. Rumsfeld was "correct" as it proved that "weakness is provocative," given that action/inaction in Iraq painted just such a picture of weakness.

The Cheney-Bush administration will go down in history as the most incompetent in modern times given that, had it restricted its efforts to Afghanistan, it could have shown the world what the U.S. can achieve with the cooperation of the global community.

That it chose Baghdad as "the route that leades to Jerusalem" when the opposite is true, is a tragedy of enormous proportions.

And, finally, to add insult to injury, the following words from Dick Cheney during the farewell ceremony:

"Mr. Cheney's declaration that "Don Rumsfeld is the finest secretary of defense the nation has ever had," was more in keeping with the event."

One can only wonder which planet these individuals inhabit. It surely is not planet Earth

Thursday, December 14, 2006

When the balance of power hangs by a thread....

News on this Thursday morning are alarming, as far as Democrats are concerned.

Wire services inform us that Tim Johnson, Democratic Senator from South Dakota, has undergone what seems to be emergency brain surgery.

Leaving aside the human element of this story for the moment, should the Senator be unable to fulfill his job, the Governor, a Republican, would choose his replacement. Needless to say, it is expected that his replacement would be a Republican.

Assuming this scenario to play out, the Senate would be evenly divided (50-50) and Cheney, of all people, would have the tie-breaking vote.

I suspect that Democrats would not cave silently to such an unexpected turn of events, particularly since every poll indicates that the great majority of Americans are aching for change in leadership.

The thought that Cheney, one of the most despised hawks in government, would be tie-breaker, adds insult to injury should this course of events play out.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finally an honest answer to the question: Why do they hate us?

Question: How would we like a foreign power to establish military bases on our soil, say, in Texas, N. Dakota, California and Virginia?

Answer: We would not tolerate it.

The question then becomes: Why should foreign powers be expected to tolerate U.S. military presence on their soil?

Answer: They shouldn't.

The following article addresses this issue and provides a rational answer to the question: Why do they hate us?

Unfortunately, honest answers to difficult questions were never even considered by the Cheney-Bush-neocon cabal. Instead, they charged into not one but two Arab/Muslim nations with the intent of restructuring the whole region in their image.

That such a misguided policy was predetermined to fail was obvious to every observer even vaguely familiar with historical precedent.

Therefore, the conclusion reached by the authors is, by far, the most intelligent and pragmatic assessment of the situation presently unfolding in the Middle East:

"The Iraq war is now a painful failure for the United States. One silver lining brightens that gray backdrop. The Iraq debacle creates and opportunity to reassess longstanding policies that would otherwise be too difficult to change and prompts us to rethink the premises of the United States military policy toward the Persian Gulf region. The best way to increase our security and the stability of that troubled region is, paradoxically, to drastically reduce our military precense there."

Sadly, as long as bullies Cheney-Bush continue in the White House, U.S. foreign policy will continue on the same highly counterproductive road and the world will become an ever-more dangerous place due to their incredible incompetence and arrogance.

Following is the article in its entirety:

New York Times - Published December 12, 2006

Time to Offshore Our Troops by Eugene Gholz, Daryl G. Press and Benjamin Valentino

The Iraq Study Group's recommendation that the United States withdraw its combat forces from Iraq reflects a growing national consensus that our military cannot quell the violence there and may even be making matters worse. Although many are hailing this recommendation as a bold new course, it is not bold enough. America will best serve its interests in the Persian Gulf by withdrawing its ground-based military forces not only from Iraq, but from the entire region.

Critics of the report continue to debate the wisdom and details of a drawdown in Iraq, but there has been no debate about America's broader strategy in the gulf. Policymakers and analysts from across the political spectrum assume that the United States must maintain a robust military presence there.

The bipartisan authors of the report, for example, advocate maintaining "a considerable military presence in the region" including "powerful air, ground and naval deployments in Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar" even after the last American combat troops leave Iraq. Others -- including Donal Rumsfeld and Hillary Clinton -- go further and consider strengthening our forces around the gulf by shifting some troops from Iraq to neighboring countries.

Maintaining a large military presence in the region has been the cornerstone of American policy since the 1991 Persian Gulf war, and remains so today. With the Iraq war, we now have tens of thousands of troops elsewhere in the neighborhood.

But the strategy is flawed. In fact, many of the same considerations that led the Iraq Study Group to call for withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq suggest that the Unites States should withdraw its troops from neighboring states as well -- leaving only naval forces offshore in international waters. As in Iraq, a large United States military footprint on the ground undermines American interests more than it protects them.

Just as our troops on Iraqi streets haves provided a rallying point for the insurgency, the United States military presence throughout the region has been a key element in Al Qaeda's recruitment campaign and propaganda. If America withdrew from Iraq but left behind substantial forces in neighboring states, Al Qaeda would refocus its attacks on American troops in those countries -- remember the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia?

Worse, the continued presence of our military personnel across the region will continue to incite extremists to attack American cities. Osama bin Laden repeated stated that the presence of American forces on the holy ground of the Arabian Peninsula was a primary reason for 9/11.

Our presence also destabilizes our important regional allies. Not only do American bases make these countries a target for terrorists, but many of their citizens bristle at the sight of Unites States bases on their soil. Indeed, the most serious near-term threat to our energy interests is the overthrow of friendly governments by domestic Islamic extremists, a danger that is increased by the presence of our troops.

The good news is that the United States does not need to station military forces on the ground in the Persian Gulf contries to protect its allies or to secure its vital oil interests. For nearly 30 years, Pentagon planners have focuses on two principal threats in the gulf: the conquest of major oil reserves (by the Soviet Union or a regional power like Iraq or Iran) and interference with shipping through Persian Gulf waters, particularly through the Straight of Hormuz. Forces stationed "over the horizon" -- afloat in the Indian Ocean and at bases outside the Middle East -- can address both threats.

By remaining a strong naval presence in the Indian Ocean, along with some naval forces in the international waters of the Persian Gulf itself, the United States would be able to thwart an invasion of any gulf oil producer. Long-range American aircraft stationed at Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean, could contribute as well. Should more substantial threats arise, those air and naval forces would buy time for ground forces and land-based aircraft to return to bases in the region.

This is the same strategy that the United States used to defend the Persian Gulf during the later years of the cold war. It would be even more effective now. Today's adversaries have considerable less offensive military power than 15 years ago: the Soviet Union is gone; two wars with the United States have destroyed Iraq's offensive capacity; and Iran's poorly trained and ill-equipped ground forces have grown even more obsolete.

While the threats have withered, new technology has vastly increased American military capabilities. Today, aircraft carrier strike groups can carry hundreds of precision land-attack cruise missiles in addition to their complement of aircraft (which also drop precision weapons). And long-range Air Force bombers are now far more lethal against ground targets, particularly targets advancing across highways and open desert.

Yes, there are limits to our military might. America's vast firepower is ill suited for policing the streets of Baghdad, or forcing Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to get along in Iraq. But our modern weapons could easily halt an Iraqi or Iranian invasion in its tracks.

Protecting the flow of oil through narrow shipping lanes in the gulf is a more difficult mission. But responding to Iranian mines or cruise-missile attacks on oil tankers would not require ground forces or land-based aircraft to be stationed in the Persian Gulf during peacetime. In fact, in a war in the Strait of Hormuz, American operations would be carried out largely by submarines, surface ships and naval aircraft -- all of which could be stationed in the Indian Ocean during peacetime.

There are, of course, other threats to American interests in the region. Terrorists could damage key oil fields and ports, or friendly governments in the gulf could be toppled by anti-American extremists. These concerns, however, do not justify peacetime forward deployment. Unites States allies play the primary role defending their own oil fields and safeguarding their internal security, and their forces are better suited for the job. If anything, the presence of "infidel" soldiers nearby increases the likelihood of terrorist attacks and political upheaval.

This does not mean the United States can withdraw all its military from the region tomorrow. As the Iraq Study Group persuasively argues, forces will be needed in Iraq during a transition to train Iraqi troops, to guard against threats to topple the government in Baghdad, and to strike at any newly discovered Al Qaeda threats. But these missions can be conducted from a small number of temporary Iraqi bases in remote parts of the country, where the American soldiers would be less visible and less vulnerable.

The Iraq war is now a painful failure for the United States. One silver lining brightens that gray backdrop. The Iraq debacle creates an opportunity to reassess longstanding policies that would otherwise be too difficult to change and prompts us to rethink the premises of Unites States military policy toward the Persian Gulf region. The best way to increase our security and the stability of that troubled region is, paradoxically, to drastically reduce our military presence there."

As a long-time advocate of precisely such a strategy, all I can say is: I hope our "fearless leaders" in D.C. have the willingness to listen and the ability to grasp what is, by far, the most enlightened proposal made public to date.

It is precisely what Democrats should have proposed a long time ago.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

79 recommendations but missing the one that would, most likely, work

The Iraqi Study Group's report was released last week and was received, predictably, with loud criticism by right-wing die hards, particularly those of the "neoconservative" variety, who whined "surrender" while the left pushed for a reasonable time table for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.

A large number of the Commission's suggestions is focused on diplomacy, particularly the need to engage Syria and Iran in regional dialogue. Needless to say, threats and demands, the specialty of the Bush administration, will never replace diplomacy.

Since anyone even vaguely familiar with with customs and cultures in the region was well aware that Syria and Iran would reject preconditions, one cannot help but wonder why Bushites wasted so much time.

"Dumb and Dumber" comes to mind, again, and again, and again.

With Iraq in shambles and the situation in the region rapidly deteriorating, one would think that the world community would be willing to help. But, that has obviously not been the case.

Reason: As long as Bush-Cheney-neocon cabal is in charge, leaders around the globe are willing to sit back and watch 'em "twisting slowly in the wind."

Conversely, had Sen. Kerry won the 2004 election, leaders around the globe would have rushed to the U.S.'s side for no other reason than to prove that their lack of support was not driven by anti-Americanism but simply by the arrogance of the individuals sitting in the White House.

Given the enormity of their failure, it is quite amazing that the word impeachment is not being seriously considered given that two more years of failed leadership is a very high price for our nation to pay.

The fact that President Clinton was impeached because he lied about SEX becomes even more irrational when compared to the lies and distortions of the present occupants of the White House who, so far, have escaped unscathed.

Unfortunately, the Baker-Hamilton Study Group was not in a position to suggest that what was truly needed to win the war in Iraq was wide-ranging cooperation of its neighbors as well as the whole global community given that the price to pay would have to be the resignation/ impeachment of Bush-Cheney.

Given the close association of Baker with the Bush family, such a suggestion was clearly never in the cards.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jimmy Carter violates "taboo"

If former President Jimmy Carter expected to trigger a debate, he most certainly succeeded when his latest book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," was published.

To say that the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been an albatross around our nation's neck for decades is an understatement.

To say that individuals living in the Middle East should be willing to live and work with their neighbors is stating the obvious.

To say that this drama should have ended a long time ago given the suffering of both peoples is a fact.

That a resolution of this conflict is imperative as a precondition for peaceful coexistence in the Middle East, regardless of Mr. Olmert's protestations, as unanimously agreed by all nations in the region.

By bringing the attention of Americans to this conflict, viewed from the Palestinian perspective, President Carter made a gutsy move given that, as he stated on "Meet the Press," criticism of Israel is taboo in our nation.

Furthermore, it became increasingly clear during the past six years that U.S. foreign policy was largely devised in conjunction with Tel Aviv, particularly as it applied to the invasion of Iraq that was strongly encouraged by Sharon and right-wing members of the U.S. Jewish community, better known as "neoconservatives."

Their rationale: Israel does not like many of its neighbors and U.S. troops should get rid of their leaders. Nations such as Iraq, Iran and Syria were prominent on their list.

For a tiny nation such as Israel, living in the midst of Arab/Muslim nations, to decide that restructuring the Middle East to its liking was of the essence for its survival, can only be described as the ultimate exercise in arrogance.

While many of us would like to see changes in the region, "regime change" by military force is definitely not the answer as the enormous drama playing out in Iraq clearly proved.

Neoconservatives exercised a major influence in governmental and journalistic circles. Amazingly, their policies were embraced by Cheney-Bush until -- finally -- the results of their failed policies became clear to the great majority of Americans who expressed their views in the '06 election.

While the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for over five decades, failure to comprehend that Arabs/Muslims see in the humiliation of Palestinians the humiliation of them all, has been a major obstacle in negotiations.

Obviously, Prime Minister Olmert doesn't comprehend this fact of life given that, to this day, he would want us believe that there is no connection between the drama being played out in the region and the never-ending humiliation of Palestinians.

Unfortunately, during the past six years the Bush administration turned its back on the conflict and provided Sharon with carte blanche to do as he pleased -- just one of the innumerable mistakes that have led to the present situation in the Middle East.

The mixture of arrogance, greed and naivete displayed by Cheney-Bush and their neoconservative cohorts is truly mind boggling to those even vaguely familiar with Arab/Muslim customs and cultures.

Did these individuals really believe that they could impose "democracy" by military force given past history?

Arabs/Muslims are proud people and, when treated with arrogance they react negatively. Conversely, when treated with respect, they are very likely to respond positively.

But, that is clearly an issue that the occupants of the White House have not grasped. In fact, even after the release of the report by the Baker-Hamilton commission that made a strong case for dealing directly with Iran and Syria, Bush repeats the same preconditions that have not worked in the past and will not work in the future.

It takes a very dense individual to take actions that are so highly counterproductive.

The fact that the President of Iran has sent not one but two letters to the U.S. (one to the White House and one to the American people) is proof that Iranians are indeed interested in dialogue. But, as long as Bush sticks to his stupid preconditions, Iran will never cave.

As for President Carter, he clearly understands the urgency of settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part and parcel of peaceful coexistence in the region.

Predictably, he has been the target of criticism by various Jewish individuals/institutions after the publication of his latest book given his "audacity" in criticizing Israel. One can only hope that by bringing these facts to light an honest debate will finally ensue that will accelerate the beginning of the end of this sad and bloody conflict.

Tearing down the wall Israel erected would be a great first step. In the era of globalization, living behind walls is a sure sign of defeat.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

A Day to Remember....

To Whom It May Concern:

You know who you are since you've been around me for quite a few years now.

But today is that special day, the day to remember the happiness when we first met, the many places we visited together, the many experiences we shared.

As time goes by and life gets shorter, memories become ever more precious as the fleetingness of life becomes ever more apparent.

If I say more than I should at times, it is because...I care. If I left a small mark in your life, I hope it's one that says...I care.

And so I tell you on this special day that it has been a great pleasure meeting you and that my thoughts are always with you wishing you the very best.

From your one and only....

Role of Cheney's "Energy Task Force" revealed?

What could have been, but wasn't....

The stage was set, after the tragedy of 9/11, to achieve a major success in a part of the world that had remained largely isolated and was ruled by religious extremists whose policies dated back to the "stone age."

The world had responded to the attacks with and almost universal show of sympathy for the U.S. and a willigness to participate in what was seen as a necessary retaliation against those who had planned and implemented the attack, namely, Osama bin Laden and his sponsors, the Taliban.

Unfortunately, that was not to be since GREED rudely intruded and became the major factor that eventually led to failure.

Given its priorities, the Bush administration engaged in a half-hearted effort to oust the Taliban and go after bin Laden since their primary objective had been, since day one, the occupation of Iraq.

Result: Two tragedies instead of one success.

In an article in today's Wash Post entitled "Afghan District Makes Own Deal with Taliban," it becomes increasingly clear that neither objective has been achieved: Osama is still on the run and the Taliban was in remission and is, seemingly, on its way to full recovery.

The question then becomes: What was the Administration's rush to occupy Iraq when their full efforts should havse been devoted to Afghanistan?

Obviously, it is a question that has commanded much attention of late since the various rationales given changed drastically over time.

Hopefully, not that Democrats will be in charge of both Houses of Congress, the truth will finally emerge.

I suspect if and when they get access to transcripts of documents dealing with Cheney's Energy Task Force, much will become clear. After all, why would the V.P. go all the way to the Supreme Court and in effort to keep them under wraps?

An educated guess would lead to the conclusion that attending CEOs of energy related companies were informed at the time that they would soon have access to Iraq since the embargo would be lifted as soon as Saddam was removed from power.

Needless to say, the Administration was anxious to keep such promises from the public since Bush-Cheney were in the process of gathering "intel" that would convince the American people that launching an assault on Iraq was imperative given the "threats" posed by Saddam to his neighbor and...the world.

The fact that Saddam was not in a position to attack anyone at that point in time was obvious to anyone familiar with the facts, such as inspectors who had been on site, off and on, for years on end and had been given unchallenged access to every corner of the nation.

But, instead of allowing them to complete their job, they were hastily recalled from Iraq before they could certify that WMD were non-existent. After all, it was the LAST thing Cheney-Bush wanted to hear since preparations for war were in full swing.

What makes the actions of the Deceptive Gang so incredibly callous is their utter contempt for the many warnings they were given by individuals familiar with the complexities of the occupation of not one but two Arab/Muslim nations.

But then, GREED always has trumped reason...and tens of thousands of innocent individuals must, once again, pay for it.