Clinton: ‘A positive direction’ ahead for relations with the Muslim world

Hillary Clinton and Libyan Amb. Ali Suleiman Aujali
U.S. Sec. of State, Hillary Clinton and Libyan Amb. Ali Suleiman Aujali address gathering at the State Department, in Washington, D.C., Thursday night (from State Dept. video)

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary R. Clinton, hosted an Eid ul-Fitr celebration, Thursday night, at the State Department, marking the end of the Muslim Ramadan month of fasting.

After acknowledging the lateness of the event, since Ramadan ended a few weeks ago, Sec. Clinton took the opportunity to address the violence against U.S. diplomatic missions abroad, including Egypt, Yemen, and the tragedy that resulted in the death of the Libyan ambassador, and three others, following violence at the consulate in Benghazi, Tuesday.

Here is a small portion from the most poignant section of her remarks:

“When all of us who are people of faith – and I am one – feel the pain of insults, of misunderstanding, of denigration to what we cherish, we must expect ourselves and others not to resort to violence. That is a universal standard and expectation, and it is everyone’s obligation to meet that, so that we make no differences, we expect no less of ourselves than we expect of others. You cannot respond to offensive speech with violence without begetting more violence.

“And I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.

“So tonight, we must come together and recommit ourselves to working toward a future marked by understanding and acceptance rather than distrust, hatred, and fear. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult, answering ignorance with enlightenment, answering hatred with understanding, answering darkness with light; that if one person commits a violent act in the name of religion, millions will stand up and condemn it out of strength.

“In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe either here tonight. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future. We keep supporting the next generation, believing that young people can keep us moving forward in a positive direction.”

Also present at the event was the Libyan Ambassador to the United States, Ali Suleiman Aujali. Calling the late U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens a “dear friend” and a “real hero,” he offered an official apology to the American people, on behalf of his countrymen, and noted, “Chris, he loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he committed — and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.”



Shaken confidence: U.S. culpability in a post 9-11 world

9/11 attacks in New York City. (US National Park Service)

American resolve formed around the twisted steel ruins of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in 2001, like 15-ton concrete blocks around re-bar. Our determination to avenge the acts of September 11 was certainly not a question. What should have been questioned at the time and wasn’t, was how we would react as a nation, after the shock, after the dust, after the sun rose on the twelfth and there were holes in the New York City skyline, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and a field in rural Pennsylvania.

Hearts began to heal, even then, for those of us who were not directly affected by loss of a beloved family member, though as a nation, for weeks, palpable sorrow rode over us in waves, like bands of a fading hurricane. We had weathered the eye of the storm, and though buffeted by its aftermath, we would have found our own way to heal. Still, the government sought to intervene on our grief, distract us from our sorrow. They told us to behave as if nothing had happened, nothing to worry our pretty little heads about. Like a father who doesn’t want to bother his young children with difficult realities, we were told to “go shopping.”

At that point, the wall of American resolve segmented. Our willingness to stand together as a nation of guaranteed Constitutional liberties was broken. Instead of one, united wall, standing on the shoulders of our founding fathers, of the greatness of our Republic, our leaders gave in to the inevitability of war, the justification of hate, the easy propaganda of a public willing not to have to understand what happened.

“A great people has been moved to defend a great nation,” George W. Bush told the country that night. “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining.”

But if one were to ask Osama bin Laden why he organized the attacks, he would not have said, “I wanted to extinguish the freedom the infidels represent.” His motives were more political than cultural. Having characterized the attacks that way, though, Bush made it possible for our government to begin dismantling those very freedoms of which he spoke, and blame it on the terrorists. His administration could then characterize its subsequent freedom squashing actions of torture, rendition and wiretapping, of invading Iraq, as a godly fight against “evil-doers,” and necessary.

President Bush and his administration’s springboard reaction was predictable, and the enemy who attacked us was counting on it. Though the world stood with us as brothers against the wanton destruction of lives, and the disruption of commerce the events of 9/11 brought, there were concerns that, in its reaction, a power as great as the United States could potentially abandon the concept of America as “guardian of liberty,” and engage in some wanton destruction of her own.

European newspapers were saying, within a week of the attacks, that although the old world saw the coalition building Bush was engaged in as a good sign, “The ‘war against terrorism’ is no licence to kill,” and “that even in Europe there are reservations about the US’s policy.” Unchecked, a military power like ours, combined with our immaturity as a nation, had the potential to subvert the peace of the entire planet.

Our elected representatives, afraid of appearing dovish, authorized two wars and the liberty limiting Patriot Act. Our check on political power, the radio, television and the newspaper agencies, afraid of appearing as unpatriotic outliers, asked only who we were going after and when. Few asked why.

Those who questioned our leadership’s course of action were quickly blackballed, black listed, really. Less than a week after the attacks, comedic pundit Bill Maher’s ABC-TV show, Politically Incorrect, was cancelled shortly after he called President Bush out, for calling the attacks “cowardly acts.”

“We have been the cowards,” insisted Maher, “lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, that’s not cowardly. Stupid maybe, but not cowardly.”

Bush and Dick Cheney have said many times that “history will decide” whether their administration’s policies  were necessary for the country and good for the world.  This anniversary is not just a time to reflect on the tragedy of what happened on that bright, Tuesday morning, ten years ago. It is a time to ponder the tragedy of what has happened to our country since: increasing intolerance; attacking the construction of mosques in communities where Muslims have lived for decades; the rise of Christian Dominionism; anti-immigrant paranoia; candidates who would have been considered part of a lunatic fringe twenty years ago are suddenly mainstream; and we continue to fight the longest wars in our history.

“While fighting a war with al Qaeda, America has waged a political war with itself,” the Rand Corporation‘s terrorism experts observed in a report released this past July. “This is nothing new in American life…[b]ut the shadow of 9/11 across America has exacerbated the internal conflicts. Fear may lie at the heart of much of America’s response, just as the terrorists intended. But the terrorist attacks have…if anything…magnified the extremes within America, from the isolationist impulse to go it alone to the internationalist impulse to remain a beacon of freedom for the world, from the reluctance to engage to the desire to sort things out. In what could be the final legacy of 9/11,” the Rand report continues, “the terrorist attacks have compelled America to become an exaggerated version of itself, with its own internal contradictions heightened and intensified.”

History, then, will not only judge the merits of our leaders and where they took us; it will also decide how far we allowed our country to be taken from the ideals in which the founders of this country believed, and for which, generations of Americans have fought and died. Who stood? Where did they stand? What did they do when they stood there?

On September 11, 2001, members of Congress stood on the steps of the Capitol and sang, seemingly spontaneously, “God Bless America,” in unison. It was, arguably, the high point of national unity that horrible day. We all stood with them.

Where did you stand, and what are you willing to do now to restore America as a beacon of liberty?

One World Trade, aka Freedom Tower, and other construction at Ground Zero, the corner of Liberty St. & Greenwich St., New York City. (June 2, 2011, by PBG)


Rand Paul sticks to his guns on Patriot Act

Rand Paul by Gage Skidmore 2
Image via Wikipedia

UPDATE: After reaching an agreement with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Rand Paul was able to bring two of his amendments to the floor for limited debate before a vote to table was taken, which is expected to kill both offerings. A vote on extending the Patriot Act will follow.


Standing alone, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is stretching his Libertarian muscle, and is singlehandedly keeping the extension of three key elements of the Patriot Act from being renewed  before they expire at midnight, tonight. The provisions that await a vote in the US Senate are known, loosely, as “lone wolf,” “business records” and “roving wiretaps.”

Paul is using a “procedural” maneuver to extend the debate on the bill, possibly until well past the sections of the Act sunset on Friday. Despite an overwhelming Senate vote, 79-18, to move toward a vote later today, Paul’s refusal to accede to unanimous consent could prolong debate until 7:00am tomorrow.

One of the last of his amendment to the bill which he has, so far, refused to withdraw, is to exempt gun sales from Patriot Act oversight, based, of course, on his explanation that to allow such access would violate the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

But although Rand Paul is the last one standing, he does not have the corner on objections to renewing the provisions. Just this morning, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) worked out a deal to withdraw their amendment to ask for more transparency into how the federal government’s intelligence community officially interprets all the provisions of the controversial legislation, in exchange for the opportunity to hold hearings on the matter later in the year.

In part, the Wyden-Udall amendment asserts:

“United States Government officials should not secretly reinterpret public laws and statutes in a manner that is inconsistent with the public’s understanding of these laws, and should not describe the execution of these laws in a way that misinforms or misleads the public.”

In a floor speech, Thursday, Wyden, who is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, “The American people will be surprised at how the Patriot Act is being interpreted. People have a right to know what a law says and what the government thinks the law means.” There now exists, he claims, a difference between “what the law says and what the government secretly believes it says.”

In floor speech on Tuesday, Udall characterized his concern that in extending the three provisions “Congress is granting powers to the executive branch that lead to abuse, and frankly shield the Executive Branch from accountability.”

“If people knew what was in the bill they would be outraged,” he added Thursday, saying that these provisions are “ripe for abuse.”


Success, measured in blood

“…tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.”
– President Barack Obama, in his announcement to the nation of the successful operation that killed Osama bin Laden, May 1, 2011

Yes, Mr. President.  Hooray for our side. We kill good. That is to take nothing away from the accomplishment of some very brave members of the US military who risked their lives in carrying out the mission. Congratulations to you as well, Mr. President, for making the courageous call to put the plan into action with only “a 55/45 situation,” barely better than an even chance that bin Laden was there, as you told 60 Minutes last week.

Obama Osama announcement
President Obama tells the nation that Osama bin Laden is dead. Click to watch the White House video. (From

Yet, when you evoke the “story of our history” of scientific, socio-political and strategic global achievements, and liken them to the pursuit of one man, it not only gives way too much power to his notorious legacy, it also piles his demise into the larger than life determination, self-reliance and stick-to-it-iveness we like to think we are known for in the world. It is a play for American exceptionalism that those who run for a national office are forced to embrace in this post-Reagan political environment, so voters can cheer for them as they stand on the stump with red, white and blue stained muck dripping from their insincere smiles, weak chins and empty, outstretched arms.

Exceptionalism is an evolution of an idea that has gone from achievement is great, to Americans achieve, to Americans are great for what they achieve, and finally just the dysfunctional notion that nothing in God’s creation is better than America and Americans.

Celebrate, but not in ignorance

Regardless of the exception one can take to the phrasing President Obama used on May 1, we pursued justice, and the justice we exacted is great (in its grossness). That, in itself, may be something to celebrate, for a country so desperate to believe in itself. With Americans cavorting in front of the White House, cheering at Ground Zero in New York, and waving flags in town squares across the country two weeks ago, one hopes that when they recall these days to their children and grands, that they will finally understand the lessons of sustained diligence and unrelenting vigilance. Optimism says they will, with age and wisdom, understand that this outcome does not make America stronger; we just feel a lot better about ourselves.

For those of you who insist on celebrating in blind ignorance, there is a sad shallowness to the victory when you dance, the predictable programming of an American automaton. There is a hollowness to the celebration when you sing sour notes of patriotism at the echoing explosions of a war we cannot end.


Being true to ‘our values’ is never ‘off message’

“As a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country, and that includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.  This is America. ” -President Barack Obama, at the White House Iftar (feast ending a day of fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan), August 13, 2010

“There wasn’t a lot of debate because he made it clear that he WAS going to take it on.” – White House official to

We have a president that believes that it doesn’t matter what the polls say when it’s a matter of the fundamental principles of our founding documents.

President Obama’s remarks Friday, about the mosque and community center in Lower Manhattan, may have stirred up a hornets nest and left the Republicans “licking their chops,” as one House Democrat’s chief of staff told Politico, Saturday.

“It’s just another day off message,” another Democrat’s aide told the political website’s reporters.

Since when is a matter of Constitutional principle “off message” for an American president? There can be nothing more on message, nothing more necessary for him to say and important for the entire world to hear, than we are equally tolerant of all faiths.

Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton, following the president’s remarks, stated there was no way the president was going to let this one go by. “[I]t is his responsibility to stand up for the Constitutional principle of religious freedom and equal treatment for all Americans,” he said.

The president himself again clarified his remarks when he ran into the press while on a family vacation in Panama City, Florida, Saturday night.  “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding,” he said. “That’s what our country is about. And I think it’s very important … that we stay focused on who we are as a people and what our values are all about.”

Even Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who refused to let his state be divided by the political extremism that is so prevalent in our country, and gave up being a Republican so he could run as an Independent for his state’s US Senate race, chose to agree with the president’s stand. “I think he’s right,” Crist told reporters Saturday, “I mean, we’re a country that in my view stands for freedom of religion and respect for others.”

And there is the main issue – respect for others. With so many of our fellow citizens turning vehemence, disrespect and anger into something that even the press lets go as the new standard for political discourse, we must remember that this country – our country – was founded on principles of tolerance, respect, and civility.  Let’s not lose that.


Minarets are not Missiles

A mosque grows in Manhattan

“…we would betray our values if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else.” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, August 3, 2010

There are so many ways that the Ugly American shows itself these days. The flap over the community center and mosque blocks from the 9/11 attacks makes it clear that even though the Cowboy is out of the White House, he is an integral part of the American Manifest Destiny psyche. (I apologize to real cowboys for that remark; you are all better than he ever will be.)

Make no mistake – had the GOP controlled Congress and the Executive during this anti-Muslim mud slinging, they would have pulled a Terry Schiavo and stuck their self-righteous noses where they don’t belong – in urban zoning and permitting issues.

Even now, supposedly smart people like Newt Gingrich, who should be bigger than the gutter swimmers in this country, are calling for a congressional resolution that says we will never enact sharia, Islam’s strict religious based law, in America. As if!!!

Don’t we already have a resolution like that, a little something called the U.S. Constitution? This is a problematic solution to a non-existent problem. I mean, why stop there? Why not say we can never enact Mosaic law, or Feudal law, or even Roman law? We must stop before we are drawn and quartered in the streets! Puh-leeze. We don’t have to pass a resolution to say we’ll never have a king, or never allow unreasonable search and seiz-

Well, maybe that one needs help.

You see, Newt, if you believed in the importance of the ACLU in this country, you wouldn’t have to worry about sharia becoming the law of the land.

We, quite properly, have no “hallowed ground” in this country; we have landmarks on historical grounds and institutions on government grounds and echoes of war on battlegrounds. A community center for Muslims in New York City, half-a-mile from Ground Zero, is about the best in America, and the best in that great city. The Constitution keeps us from being reactionary.

What law says that it’s American to be angry, resentful and racist? Wait…I got this one. “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.” Where is that one from again?


Managing the Conversation for Change

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.—Niccolo Machiavelli

If national elections in the United States are about one thing, that thing is change. We change from liberal to conservative, from peace to war, from a strong domestic commitment stressing economic equity to a commitment to economic disenfranchisement. We give entitlements to the poor or we give tax breaks to the wealthy. We secure the futures of our working class or gild the parachutes of CEOs and CFOs, and grant them pardons when they do to their employees what our government cannot. We vote. We change.

The thing is, you can go three or four presidents and – unless there’s a war or an economic collapse – not notice a thing. Sure, you may get a little more or a little less money back from your taxes, and there is the occasional media sensation or scandal, but as long as your working, life goes on; the paychecks come in; you fill your car with gas and take your vacations and love your family and take this wonderful American routine for granted.

It should come as little surprise then, that Americans tend to wallow in the rut of secure sameness, holding on to the day-to-day like a toddler to a binky. The times that allow this static lifestyle are numbing, so much so that politicians and purveyors cannot resist taking advantage of a lulled populace, picking our futures from our pockets like back alley thieves.

Indeed, it could be said that some Americans get to choose change, while others have change thrust upon them.

Just because Bush and Cheney have run our country over the cliff in a barrel of mismanaged change does not mean we are doomed to to splat like Wile E. Coyote on the stark floor of the Painted Desert, while they peer over the edge and dusts off their hands in satisfactory glee.

Admittedly, the news of the day is not good: Wall Street is teetering; McCain has been bumped up by throngs of white men in love with the legs and lies of Sarah “Peggy Hill” Palin (or her husband); gas is over four dollars a gallon again. But all that is what happens when “change” is unfurled like a “Mission Accomplished” banner. It’s not change we can believe in; it’s change they want us to believe. It’s the kind of change where things are really just the same, which is what they really want. Our kind of change, Barack’s change, really scares them, and their chants of “burn baby burn” (oops!) I mean “drill baby drill”, in turn, scare us.

I may just be paranoid, but I fear that Palin especially – with her neocon church beliefs – is using words like “some of these CEOs and top management people” as code when she says they are “addicted to other people’s money.” I fear that Palin will foment an atmosphere of anti-Semitism disguised as classism. That is why we have to pull together behind Barack Obama.

Obama and Biden are challenging us to believe in change and be their agents in affecting it. If this change is going to happen, we must make it happen. Unlike the current administration that just wants us to go shopping and fill our cars with four dollar a gallon gasoline, the Democratic ticket wants us to have a hand in determining the course of our own democracy. What a radical idea!

“…creating change starts with creating a vision for change and then empowering individuals to act as change agents to attain that vision. The empowered change management agents need plans that provide a total systems approach, are realistic, and are future oriented. Change management encompasses the effective strategies and programs to enable those change agents to achieve the new vision.” from Managing Change: An Overview, by Nancy M. Lorenzi, PhD and Robert T. Riley, PhD, published by JAMIA, Mar-Apr 2000

Unlike the populist politics of Obama, I think that when Bush 41 had his vision of “A New World Order” he was counting on the participation of multinational corporations, NATO, the IMF, the WTO and the World Bank to help create it. They are who he wanted to “empower.” Not the people. God no.

Forty-one’s legacy staff in Bush 43’s White House wanted to continue in that direction. Even after 9/11 happened, they still went to Haliburton and Blackwater to help fight this stupid war in Iraq. They didn’t ask anything out of us except to “go shopping.”According to a 2007 article published in Foreign Affairs, a publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (who conspiracy folks think are in on this whole mess), “George W. Bush has revived George H. W. Bush’s call for a ‘new world order’ — by creating, in effect, a new new world order.” But even this cabal isn’t sure the world is ready. “Because the U.S. government is viewed as having undercut many global governance structures in recent years, any effort by this administration to rewrite the rules of the global game is naturally seen as yet another attempt by Washington to escape the constraints of international law.”

Included in the JAMIA “Managing Change” article there is a table entitled “Reasons for Contemporary System Failures” which lists ways in which change implementation fails in a corporate environment. One does not have to look far to find the failures of the Bush-Cheney administration in their efforts to change the USA’s approach to global politics. Of course, these (in italics) are just my associations and interpretations. Feel free to use your own:




Ineffective outgoing communication

Ineffective listening

President’s August 2001 Daily Briefing: “Bin Laden Determined to Attack”

Phoenix FBI

Pet Goat

Failure to effectively prepare the staff for the new system

Condi and the NSA

Differences with Colin Powell, Richard Clarke and Paul O’Neill


Hostile culture within the information systems organization

Facts don’t matter; politics do. We’ll make the facts fit.

The Cheney push to reclassify documents, including a “new” kind of classification

Outing Valerie Plame

Hostile culture toward the information systems area

They don’t have to know what we do, just what we say.

We’ll make the press afraid to speak against us.

No strategies to nurture or grow a new culture

Could have used the opportunity after 9/11 to reach out to the rest of the world and unite to find a way to resolve the terrorist situation in a statesman like manner. Instead, things like “Dead or Alive,” “Bring it on!”

Also, dissolving the Iraqi Army, not guarding the borders. Basically not having a strategy for peace.

Underestimation of complexity

Missed deadlines and cost overruns

It’s hard to be president.

Surplus to deficit

How many billions has this war cost us?

Lost credibility

Mission Accomplished.

Katrina: You’re doing a heckuva job, Brownie.

Medals for the idiots who planned and mishandled Iraq.

Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson

Scope creep

Failure to define and maintain original success criteria

Find WMDs

Welcomed as liberators

It will pay for itself

Failure to renegotiate deadlines and resources if criteria do change

Refusal to deal with Iran

Refusal to re-evaluate relationship with Russia

Refusal to acknowledge the bad intelligence, even before March ‘03

Refusal to allow the UN inspectors to do their jobs


No clear vision for the change

Holding on to the Cold War mentality of an evil enemy that must be vanquished.

Holding that everyone longs for democracy and freedom – also a Cold War legacy

Unintended consequences

5,000 dead soldiers

Longest war the US has ever fought

Loss of credibility in the rest of the world

Shifting allegiances to try to find a suitable ally among the sects of Baghdad.

Huge deficit.

Ineffective reporting structure

Abu Ghraib

Reporting to Cheney and not the Pres.

Staff turnover

Staff competency

Provision of a technical “fix” to a management problem

Gonzales and Rove firing Federal Prosecutors

Visiting Ashcroft in the hospital to get his approval for illegal wiretaps rather than agree with the acting AG

Lack of full support of “boss(es)”

Powell was against it;

Lack of support of the American people, and we are the bosses

Roles and responsibilities not clearly defined or understood by everyone

Scott McClellan

Richard Clarke

The US Military

W did not ask us to play our part; he felt as though he didn’t need it. “Go shopping,” he said.

Several people vying to be “in charge”

Cheney, Ashcroft, Powell, Rice, Rumsfeld (remember Rummy’s wanting to co-opt all intelligence for the DoD?)

Adequate resources not available from the beginning

Rumsfeld’s refusal to acknowledge the need for more initial forces – “You got to war with the army you have, not the army you want.”

Not enough intelligence, both the spy kind and the brain kind

Failure to benchmark existing practices

Well, there have been benchmarks. They just haven’t been met.

Inability to measure success

“When they stand up we’ll stand down.”

They do keep moving the line lower. Can you say “everybody limbo!”?


System too technology oriented

Too complicated for simple minds

Poor procurement

Lure of the leading (bleeding) edge

Democracy anywhere will bring democracy everywhere.

We fight them there so we won’t have to fight them here.

A small force ought to be enough to do it.

Inadequate testing

Did anyone think this through, I mean with their brains?


Inadequate or poor-quality training

Poor timing of training—too early or too late

Leadership issues

Leader too emotionally committed

“Bring ‘em on!”

Leader’s time over committed

It’s hard to read stories to kids and saw logs in Crawford.

Too much delegation without control

Haliburton, Blackwater and Dick Cheney

Failure to get ownership in the effort

No call to join in the effort. Just go shopping.

Leader’s political skills weak


“Lying” to get initial approval


Spurious ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda

Nigerian yellowcake

Downing Street’s “Dodgy Dossier”

Again, the italics are mine. The rest is from: J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2000 Mar–Apr; 7(2): 116–124. Copyright © 2000, American Medical Informatics Association

Like I said, these are just my ideas. I’m curious to know if you have your own. Let me know. Even the briefest internet search brings a handful of past news stories illustrating the issue of Bush trying to shift us to this change of his:

Members of the Bush administration keep talking about what a promising moment for peace this is. The suggestion is that the departure of Saddam Hussein, and the arrival of a new Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu Mazen, has changed everything. It is hard to see precisely how Saddam Hussein was preventing the Israelis and Palestinians from making peace. What has really changed is President Bush himself.

“Suddenly he is taking a strong personal interest in the peace process, and putting his own personal political capital on the line. But what motivates him is still a bit of a mystery.”

Bush’s change of direction

by Jon Leyne
BBC State Department correspondent

“Commentators have fixated on the invocation of ‘preemptive’ military action to counter enemies seeking ‘the world’s most destructive technologies.’ Yet this is not the crazy idea it is often portrayed to be. To enforce a robust nonproliferation regime, preemption might actually make sense in certain cases. The real problem in the new strategy is not preemption but narrowness — the focus on three wretched governments and terrorists, and the emphasis on force, coercion, and selective treaty enforcement as the main instruments of national policy.
Conservative defense intellectuals and officials deserve credit for highlighting the fact that effective nonproliferation requires changes in the policies or governments of states unwilling to abide by international laws and norms. Yet they then proceed to make the reverse mistake, looking only at the outlaws and ignoring the challenges posed by nuclear weapons in general. So long as some states are allowed to possess nuclear weapons legitimately and derive the benefits that flow from them, then other states in the system will want them too — including, perhaps, the successors to the governments the Bush administration currently opposes. The proliferation threat thus stems from the existence and possession of nuclear weapons and theft-prone materials, not merely from the intentions of today’s ‘axis of evil.’

“The nonproliferation radicals recognize that the good guys of today can become the bad guys of tomorrow. So they say the United States must retain and ‘upgrade’ an enormous strategic arsenal forever to deter or defeat any adversary. At the same time, they argue that the new bad guys (rogue states and terrorists), unlike the old bad guys (the Soviet Union), cannot be deterred and contained and so must be eliminated quickly. The Bush administration thus essentially favors a strategy of repeated regime change plus a large, steadily modernizing nuclear arsenal.

“This bleak vision makes sense only if the determination to retain deployed nuclear arsenals forever does not exacerbate proliferation risks, and if the weapons being retained provide a necessary, usable, and effective deterrent against threats that are greater than proliferation. Since neither of these assumptions is valid, the strategy is flawed.”

Bush’s Nuclear Revolution: A Regime Change in Nonproliferation

George Perkovich

From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2003


BUSH: “We’ve got a plan in place. The plan says there will be elections in January, and there will be. The plan says we’ll train Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work, and we are. And it’s not only just America, but NATO is now helping, Jordan’s helping train police, UAE is helping train police. We’ve allocated $7 billion over the next months for reconstruction efforts. And we’re making progress there. And our alliance is strong. We’re making progress.

“It is hard work. It is hard work to go from a tyranny to a democracy. It’s hard work to go from a place where people get their hands cut off, or executed, to a place where people are free. But it’s necessary work. And a free Iraq is going to make this world a more peaceful place.”

from the first Presidential debate, Kerry/Bush-Sept 30, 2004


“Our work in Iraq has been hard.

“Helping construct a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship is a massive undertaking. Yet we have a great advantage. Whenever people are given a choice in the matter, they prefer lives of freedom to lives of fear. Our enemies in Iraq are good at filling hospitals, but they do not build any. They can incite men to murder and suicide, but they cannot inspire men to live, and hope, and add to the progress of their country. The terrorists’ only influence is violence, and their only agenda is death.

“Our agenda, in contrast, is freedom and independence, security and prosperity for the Iraqi people. And by removing a source of terrorist violence and instability in the Middle East, we also make our own country more secure.

“Our coalition has a clear goal, understood by all — to see the Iraqi people in charge of Iraq for the first time in generations. America’s task in Iraq is not only to defeat an enemy, it is to give strength to a friend – a free, representative government that serves its people and fights on their behalf. And the sooner this goal is achieved, the sooner our job will be done.”

President Outlines Steps to Help Iraq Achieve Democracy and Freedom
Remarks by the President on Iraq and the War on Terror
United States Army War College
Carlisle, Pennsylvania–May 24, 2004

So I guess now that we have started re-regulating the financial industry, we’re in for a newer new new world order. Can I order a new leader who listens to the people and not the New World Order?


A Sabbatical for War

Letting the Killing Fields Lie Fallow
After the Autumn Harvest

So the seeds sown in the spring surge have been cut, and baled in flag covered coffins. The noble Petraeus, in the regalia of an honored soldier, and the honorable Crocker, intent hidden behind the skirts of his diplomat’s robes, pay homage to the lords of state who put up the treasure of the people that they may do the king’s bidding and return in glory and praise.

They bring gifts to the lords of the House and the stone walls of the Senate, those same bales of bodies of the honorable and the innocent, piled against the mark on a marble column etched MMI. They bow low as they present the lords with the grisly gift. “My lords, I bring you the promise of military progress,” says the noble Petraeus, eyes still on his shoe tops. But from the bench, the chair merely clears his throat.

“This,” says the chair as he glances at his fellow legislators, “this is what he calls progress?” The disappointed dais shakes its collective head.

“But my lords,” says Petraeus, edging his eyes up from his still bent head, “You cannot call this anything but a good sign. The enemy is at least partially, somewhat subdued. See how our divine guidance has enabled us to shrink his harvest! Why, by next summer, we will even be able to give him fewer seeds to sow.”

“Correct me if I am wrong, Petraeus,” responds the chair, “but aren’t you the one who recommended giving the enemies of our republic the extra seed with which to sow their killing fields, those self-same seeds that you now say you will soon rescue from the scythe of our country’s foes?”

Petraeus shuffled his feet together and examined his chest of medals. “I never said it would be easy,” he offered meekly. “I am merely a soldier in service to my king.”

At this point, the court jester and her friends began their taunts in an allegro chorus:

“Ah. Ah. Ah. Ah.
You brought the seeds.
You brought the knife.
You dared the enemies to take more life.

“Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.
You say in Anbar
The enemy scurries,
But here you bring us our children to bury!

Owww. Owww. Oww. Owww.”

Showing bemusement, the chair calls for the jesters to leave, lest he reveal his amusement with their song and incur the wrath of the king. “Get them out,” he shouts, and when they are gone, turns to the ambassador. “Do you see the clamor of the people, Mr. Crocker? Surely you can guarantee them that all this blood and treasure is worth the cost.”

“Well, it is worth it to those our deaths and money protect,” says Crocker proudly. “But,” he adds, “I cannot guarantee victory.”

“Then woe to our country and God bless our people and its vacuous leadership,” concludes the chair. “Woe to us all.”

And in the hallways, someone is singing, “Woe. Woe. Woe. Woe.


So goes the conversation after six years of conflict, six years of sowing the killing fields with dedicated, patriotic men and women for our enemies to harvest “over there so they don’t kill us over here.”

Rare is the harvest that cuts down life to no purpose.

For whose consumption do our brothers and sisters bleed and die? For us or for our enemies?

If it is for me that they die, as we start the seventh year of the conflict of a generation, let’s give the war a sabbatical. I wish that by next September 11, we allow the killing fields to lie fallow, to sow no more seeds, that we may allow honor to recover. Then, after another year, we can plant the seeds of peace, that we can all eat of its fruit and restore the devalued soul of our great nation.


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