President Bush vanishes into thin air, nation doesn’t notice his absence?
OK, I am working on a “ten good things” list, but this little situation developed and I find it so curious I thought I’d write about it. I remember this clearly, last night President Bush addressed the nation on live TV. I didn’t watch of course, I mean, the Simpsons were on, one has to have priorities. Still, I assumed I would be able to read about it in the morning, him being president and all, and the address was about the War in Iraq, something near and dear to us all. And this is a president who hasn’t always been particularly available to the press, so I just naturally assumed this was important news.
So I go to the BBC..no mention. I go to CNN…no mention. I go the the DrudgeReport, that wonderful repository of all things precious to conservatives. Nada. Had I dreamt the whole thing? Fortunately I did find mention of his address on antiwar.com and in my local paper, sfgate.com. My sanity, such as it is, is still intact. Still, I found it very curious that a live speech by the President got so little coverage. Are we that jaded by the war and all that it simply wasn’t important? I mean, the DrudgeReport’s big story of the day was about OJ Simpson stealing towels from a hotel. CNN did have some coverage when I finally found it, but Britney’s wardrobe issues had equal billing.
I guess I’m just getting old, when I was younger a presidential address was big news. Now it’s ho hum. Granted, he didn’t have all that much exciting to say. In fact he pretty much confirmed what I have been saying his Iraq strategy is all along. Continue the occupation until he leaves office and pass the problem on to the next president. We’ve had a surge that wasn’t really much of a surge, and now the surge is going to recede. That’s the plan…stretch the army a little bit further and say everything will be all right. He pretty much said the plan is for the USA to protect the Iraqi government forever, no mention was made of what the Iraqis thought of that idea. As I’ve stated before, a government that requires foreign troops to stay in power clearly has some serious legitimacy issues. (Yes, I’m trying to be more diplomatic these days.) Read about Bush’s speech here.
Bush also said the usual stuff about the war on terror and terrorism and how the occupation of Iraq was important in the fight against Al-Qaeda. There’s really no point being diplomatic about that, it’s propaganda. The American adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply a new chapter in what was once called “the great game.” This was a term used by Kipling to describe the Russian/British rivalry for control of central Asia for most of the nineteenth century. I even note in my research for this article that I’m not the first to use this parallel in discussing the problems in the region, this article points out how India is one of the current players, though they have used the analogy in a more focused way than I am.
The USA didn’t get directly involved in the regionuntil Carter declared in the late seventies that the USA had a right to use military force to protect “our” oil supplies. The “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” school of thought unfortunately. Since then we’ve gone from simply buying middle eastern oil to actually using force to guarantee our access to it. Nothing has changed since Russia and England’s rivalry except the players. Now it’s mostly Russia, China and the US fighting over control of the region’s resources.
Hell, for all practical purposes this game has been going on since the time of Alexander the Great. For good or for ill the middle east and central Asia has always been one of the world’s greatest resources, either because of it’s central location and thus control of trade routes, or because of the plentiful mineral and other wealth in the area. It’s kind of a sad irony that in the modern era it turned out that the region was also home to much of the world’s oil, that pretty much guaranteed another few centuries of invasions and foreign meddling.
Unfortunately, the people running our current administration are the dot commers of foreign policy. For some reason they thought that the fall of the Soviet Union ushered in a new era where America would reign supreme as the world’s superpower, and that we would be able to reshape the world in our image. Like the dot commers, the Bush administration thought the rules of the game had changed, and that their success was guaranteed, all they had to do was reach out and grab it. The dot commers thought that having a sound business plan was old fashioned, and we all know where that ultimately led most of them, and unfortunately our foreign policy suffers from the same fatal flaw.
Oh well, I will be blogging more upon this at some later point. I think it’s very important when studying current events like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to strip out the justifications and good intentions and try to look at what is going on in a historical perspective. I think it’s very revealing, even if it’s not a pretty picture. I think if the mainstream left and right try to look at the issues of our time this way and work together, we can get out of this mess without the calamity and divisiveness that poisoned our nation during and after Vietnam.
Yeah, I’m an optimist. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image of the Khyber Pass in 1933 is believed to be public domain, and even if not I am claiming it as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post, the Khyber Pass is “the” centre of the great game in many respects. I also thought it curious because the same view in modern times can be seen here, or better yet, click on the image above. Attribution: “17051. India. North-West Frontier Province. Khyber Pass; view east toward Jamrud and the Plains; Winding road. About 22 miles from Peshawar. (May 1933) Subject Catalogue Card Number: Bi NK3. Raffius.”)