Real Resolve

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Bush Administration, Civil Rights, Iraq War, War on Terror

Resolve is one of President Bush’s favorite words. You can choose any of his speeches on the war on terror, or Iraq, and you’ll find that the transcript is larded with the R word.

A random example, Bush’s speech from December 12:

I’ve come to discuss an issue that’s really important, and that is victory in the war on terror. And that war started on September the 11th, 2001, when our nation awoke to a sudden attack.

Like generations before us, we have accepted new responsibilities. We’re confronting dangers with new resolve. We’re taking the fight to those who attacked us and to those who share their murderous vision for future attacks.

We will fight this war without wavering, and we’ll prevail.

But what the hell does “confronting dangers with new resolve” mean? What has actually been asked of us? With the exception of the sacrifices made by our soldiers and Marines … nothing. We go on with our lives just as before. We are not buying liberty bonds, growing victory gardens, knitting socks or rolling bandages for the troops. As illustrated by the World War I-era posters, in past wars citizens were asked to at least give up some extravagances for the war. Today the president and the Republicans in Congress won’t even consider raising taxes to pay for their war. Instead, they’ll shift the burden to the future. Our children will thank them, Im sure.

So what is Bush asking of us, except to trust him? Is that what we’re supposed to be “resolved” about?

All over the Right Blogosphere today the righties argue that Bush must be allowed unprecedented presidential powers because we are fighting terrorists. And terrorists are scary. They killed people on 9/11. They might kill more people, like me. I’ll gladly trade some civil liberties for safety.

In today’s Boston Globe, H.D.S. Greenway writes that fear is distorting our judgment.

I have no doubt that one day the Bush administration’s curtailment of civil liberties, especially the torture of prisoners, will be looked back on as a national shame. I never would have thought I would live to see the day when the president of the United States would threaten to veto a bill in Congress to ban torture, or when the vice president would spend his days lobbying Congress in favor of torture. That little shop of horrors, the vice president’s office, seems to be the place where fear regularly gains ascendancy over good judgment.

The Bush administration’s predilection to torture was clearly a result of mind-clouding fear caused by the greatest terrorist attack in history on Sept. 11th, 2001. The same can be said of the excesses of the Patriot Act, and, too, the decision to use the National Security Agency to spy on American citizens without benefit of warrant as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Bush administration has shamelessly used fear to get its way. Both the president and vice president have tried to picture a withdrawal from Iraq as resulting in an Al Qaeda takeover of Iraq, and an Al Qaeda-led Caliphate stretching across the Muslim world. In reality al Qaeda hasn’t the remotest chance of taking over Iraq, not with 80 percent of the population either Kurdish or Shi’ite, and a timely end to American occupation might sooner lead to an Iraqi-Sunni disenchantment with foreign terrorists.

Today, righties are frantically patching together byzantine legal arguments in favor of trusting Bush. In every case, when you read deeply, you see their concern is not for the integrity of the Constitution, but the integrity of their skins. Here’s an example; keep reading to the conclusion —

I’m just guessing here, but I suspect that we have technology in place that allows us to begin intercepting phone calls within a matter of minutes after we learn of a phone number being used by an al Qaeda operative overseas. My guess is that there is a system into which our military can plug a new phone number, and begin receiving intercepts almost immediately. I hope so, anyway; and I’m guessing that the disclosure of this system to al Qaeda is one of the reasons why President Bush is so unhappy with the New York Times. If we do have such a technology, it certainly would help to explain the remarkable fact that the terrorists haven’t executed a successful attack on our soil since September 2001. And the disclosure of such a system, by leaking Democrats in the federal bureaucracy and the New York Times, makes it more likely, by an unknowable percentage, that al Qaeda and other terrrorist organizations will launch successful attacks in the future.

Translation: I don’t know what Bush is doing, but I want him to keep doing it to protect me from the terrorists.

This is not “resolve,” people. This is cowardice. This is being a herd of frightened beasts stampeding off a cliff.

My dictionary says resolve means “Unwavering firmness of character, action, or will.” I say that real resolve is not letting fear gut the Constitution.

Last June Lance Mannion wrote, “[t]hat’s why the Right hates the Left these days. We aren’t as afraid as they are. They hate us for our freedom from fear.” And now the righties are waxing hysterical because the jihadists are here! These little niceties about warrants and laws are a luxury we don’t have!

To which I say, first, no one is saying that we shouldn’t conduct surveillance on suspected terrorists. But the Bush Administration has yet to explain (to anyone’s satisfaction but a terrorized rightie’s) why it bypassed FISA, or if there was a problem with FISA why it didn’t go to Congress to make new provisions for oversight. So the argument that insisting on these constitutional niceties will make us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks just doesn’t wash. We are not choosing between safety and liberty; we are choosing between tyranny and liberty.

But what if, in some remote stretch of possibility, putting some limits on The Emperor Bush actually did increase risk of terrorist attack? I do not believe this is true, but let’s pretend. Isn’t standing on principle, even in the face of danger, the very essence of resolve? Shouldn’t we be facing terrorism with “unwavering firmness of character, action, or will” intead of running to Big Brother for protection?

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11 Comments

  1. Rick  •  Dec 20, 2005 @3:29 pm

    Why should they be afraid? Doesn’t their god take them in when they die?

  2. alyosha  •  Dec 20, 2005 @3:55 pm

    I’ve done a lot of thinking about Fear and Cowardice among the right over the last few years, having worked next to one.

    Fear and Cowardice turns very quickly into thuggery, as these people will do anything to feel safe. They view the world in terms of threats, and that includes people like us who don’t share their fears. The Boy Emperor’s bleatings about gutting the Constitution to “protect” us, and the way the cowardly among the right think this is just grand, is just the start. These people will do anything to feel safe, including committing acts of thuggery against you and me.

    Not everyone on the right is a fundie Christian, some are devout Catholics. The fundies hew to a literalist interpretation of the bible, and tend to have a lot of courage in their views about spirituality, as they see it. But other righties have only a weak sense of spirituality, and will compromise any tenet of their religion in order to feel safe.

    My co-worker was a devout Catholic, who sang in the choir, and yet he:

    1) compromised “thou shalt not steal” to exclude what he thought were issues of survival, thus making it perfectly OK for our country to invade another for the oil

    2) excused that “the pope is old” when John Paul ruled that the Iraq war was not a “just war” by church guidelines.

    These people will compromise anything to feel safe. This is why they are obsessed about money and greed. The only principle they hew to is that of survival at any cost.

  3. joanr16  •  Dec 20, 2005 @3:59 pm

    I remember after 9/11 it was considered patriotic to go on as before, maintaining one’s routine, so as not to “let the terrorists win.” A president who respected the Constitution and the law before 9/11 would have no trouble doing so after. He’d realize that to do otherwise would be a form of surrender to terror.

    The Constitution and the law mean no more to Bush than the text of “My Pet Goat.” He considered himself a God-appointed autocrat all along. The only difference now is that everybody knows it.

  4. Steve from Canukistan  •  Dec 20, 2005 @6:33 pm

    This is Bush’s war. Everything about Bush’s war is a LIE. The rest of the world does not buy this war nor believe that this is the best way to address what happened in September 2001 …except for poodle Blair…and even he has had misgivings. Smoke and mirrors, propaganda and lies, parallel universes where a republican tribe of reckless and unprincipled reprobates dwell. The emperor with his clothes on. The resolve Bush talks about is his resolve to continue to lie and mis-lead so that his sycophants will think he’s making ‘em safe from terrasts and screw ANYBODY who asks critical questions, demands explanations or can otherwise see though this bullshit.

    Under Bush’s watch the Middle East has become a political and strategic disaster that may well blow up in the chimp’s face yet. What are the fundies really after? Screw the planet up so bad so as to hasten their “get raptured out a here’ fantasies? The war profiteers don’t share the fundies views on religion but they sure are making tons of money. What a great alliance. The American ayatollahs + the fascist carpet baggers = death to everyone who gets in their way. It would appear that the USA is been governed by a bunch of lunatics! What a sad chapter in American history this is shaping up to be.

  5. erinyes  •  Dec 20, 2005 @9:39 pm

    “I don’t know what Bu$h is doing, but I want him to keep doing it to protect me from the terrorists”.
    Jed: Why are you snapping your fingers, Jethro?
    Jethro: It keeps the tigers away!
    Jed: Do you ‘recon it’s workin’?
    Jethro: ‘Don’t see any tigers, do ya?
    The Hose job of the century…..

  6. tofubo  •  Dec 21, 2005 @9:21 pm

    i dig by and maha

  7. No Blood for Hubris  •  Dec 21, 2005 @10:58 pm

    B-b-but, B-big B-bwother WOVES Us!!

  8. xpara  •  Dec 22, 2005 @12:02 am

    Of course the yellow-bellied slacker is afraid. He is a coward and a liar. A classic schoolyard bully. His followers tremble too. What if the other kids stand up to them? The emperor has no clothes except the flight suit with the padded crotch, the flight suit he disgraced. Avoiding Vietnam on daddy’s tick was not enough. When even the TANG gets bothersome, the coward went over the hill. Bugging out from the Champagne Unit must be some kind of low point in the sorry history of combat avoidance.

    Here is a supposed “man’s man” who was caught on camera immobilized by panic before running away to a Nebraska bunker on 9/11. A “rancher” without cattle. A “cowboy” who is scared to get on a horse.

    If Bush cannot be dressed up as a hero, Bush is nobody. He is a brat spoiled by unearned wealth, some inherited, most foisted upon him by favor seekers. He is utterly lacking in the noblesse oblige his father showed flying off a carrier in the Good War. He is a coward and he is a liar, the opposite of an honorable man. Duty? Honor? Country? Don’t be ridiculous.

    And this is our protector? Along with five-deferment Cheney? Their malignant incompetence , echoed by their often-salaried toadies, threatens the very existence of our nation, once seen by the world as the last best hope for mankind.

    After 9/11 shows him for the disgrace to the office that he is, Bush had to become a “War President”. For that, of course, he needed a “real” and ongoing war. Afghanistan might have been the right war at the right time and would have been followed up to a just conclusion by a real leader. But these pukes needed a first-class sound and light show to strut their stuff. Like bullies always do, they picked on somebody (a fellow bully as it happened) they knew was too weak to resist. They bluster. They lie. (Did you notice that the only one telling the truth about WMDs was Saddam?) And then comes the invasion.

    Our magnificent actual military takes out Saddam in three weeks. Bush prances around in a replica of the flight suit he dishonored. “Bring it on,” he crows. Well, you pissant of a pretext for a president, they did. Tens of thousands of lives? Hundreds of thousands of wounds? Hundreds of billions of dollars?

    Why?

    With abiding disgust, I think it is very possible that this blood and treasure was sacrificed primarily for the greater glory of Bush. This illegal monstrosity of a war, in other words, was just another political ploy by these traitorous opponents of a free, secure, prosperous, progressive, and fair America. Thus Bush benefits from the blood of the countrymen and women he betrayed.

    Illegal spying? Torture? Trashing the Geneva Conventions? Sliming genuine war heroes as a matter of Rovian course? The bully’s way.

    Shorter rant: Bush went to war for votes. Oil? Of course. Graft? Natch. But you need to keep power to benefit from the oil and graft. So the elections were the real motive.

    Support our troops. Bring them home. And jump the chicken hawks in on the ashes of Georgie’s excellent adventure in Iraq, with the Shrub the first out the door and crashcart Dick pushing the stick.

    Since that will not happen (they’d freeze in the door), let us make sure that honest and brave and true men and women make it into Congress in time to save the republic, and what is left of our honest and brave and true military, by impeaching every one of these lying, yellow frauds.

  9. WereBear  •  Dec 22, 2005 @2:51 pm

    The constant right-winger whine of “I’ll give up my civil liberties to feel safe!” is the crux of it, all right.

    There is absolutely NO evidence that giving up civil liberties has EVER made us safer. Not during WWI…or WWII…or the Cold War…or now. I could make a strong case that protecting civil liberties INCREASES our safety. By going through the courts we aren’t wasting resources, we have oversight and a fresh view on the situation, we encourage the citizenry to report things because they feel valued and that the information they might report will be handled properly…and for the love of all that’s rational, nothing is stopping either hot pursuit or instant wiretap if that’s what it takes, you have 72 hours to make the case to the court.

    The right wingers have always been willing to send innocent virgins to feed the volcano god. After all, they are neither virgins nor innocent…so why should they care about the rights of those who are?

  10. marblex  •  Jan 1, 2006 @12:14 pm

    The right wing nutcakes hate us for our freedom from F E A R.

    Try reasoning with them: Here’s a discussion I recently had. The other individual walked away from the conversation feeling stupid, but probably not enlightened.

    Q: What are you protecting?
    A: I don’t want to die in a terror attack
    Q: How can giving up your liberty protect you from terrorists?
    A: The “government” can catch ‘em before they act.
    Q: O.K. So, you give up your freedoms and liberties (which your forefathers fought and died for, but no biggie) and now you’re “safe” from terrorists (even though you can’t really explain how). You go outside, cross the street and get killed by a speeding bus. Now what?
    A: Well. . . some things can’t be helped.
    Q: What do you think are the odds of you getting killed by a terrorist versus being killed in traffic?
    A: (No response)
    Q. I’d say you are as likely to be killed in a terrorist attack as you are to be killed while skateboarding naked on Mount Kilaminjaro, when a 600 pound paratrooper falls on you.
    A: (No response)
    Q: So what you’re really “protecting” by giving up your liberties, is your “right” NOT to die in a terror attack? You do realize you are going to die someday, don’t you?
    A: Duh.
    Q: Well, really, what the fuck do you care how you die? But if it really matters to ya, how about this? I will keep you safe. Just place yourself in my TOTAL COMMAND AND CONTROL and I promise I will keep you safe, 24/7. Of course, you will have to permit ME complete authority over your activities, interactions, comings and goings. But I guarantee…you will be SAFE from everything except death by natural causes. You can live your life in a safe little cage, without freedoms, without liberty and without ANY PRIVACY WHATSOEVER.

    Because the only way you can ever be “safe” is by being under LOCK AND KEY 24/7. Get it?

  11. Ed McKee  •  Feb 10, 2006 @2:04 pm

    I am watching you on C-span as I write this note.

    This is my first experience of reading your blog, and it was precipiatated by seeing you introduced on C-span.

    I applaud your willingness to enter acomplex fields and to solicit comment from the general public. I am impressed by the fact that one of the two top interviewers in the media (the other being Jim Lehrer) has put you under the spotlight.

    Ed

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