The Iraq Debacle & Abu Gonzo
(EVERGLADES CITY, FL.) For the past four years, as I've been criss-crossing the country -- and even when traveling
abroad in Southeast Asia, North Africa and Europe -- I have run into the same pattern: Conservative, Reagan-style
Republicans, many of them serving or former military types, ranting about the Bush Administration and the incalcuable
damage done both to the Constitution and to America's reputation in the world.
In all these conversations, these angry screeds just burst out of these conservatives, without any pre-knowledge that
the fellow they're talking with is an editor of a progressive, anti-Bush, pro-democracy website.
When they find out my political slant, they seem overjoyed that they've met someone who shares many, though clearly not
all, of their anxieties about the wrong direction in which the country is being taken. They need to vent their anger and
disappointment big time; they can't do so in front of many of their military superiors and fellow officers. So they're
happy to have someone to talk with who listens to their rants and agrees with much of them.
I'm in Florida for my uncle's 85th birthday celebration in a wealthy, white neighborhood in South Florida and one of the
extended-family members, an active-duty official in one of the armed forces, volunteers that "the Cheney
Administration," as he puts it, has wrecked the standing of America abroad by its obsessive pre-occupation with
launching this ill-advised Iraq war and then continuing it long past the point of no-return.
CONSERVATIVE ANGER AT BUSH
This former Reagan staffer opines that if the U.S. had gone into Iraq with "a half-million men, and taken care of
business," America would not be trapped in the quagmire it's in today. But he also believes that you can't fight
extremist Muslim terrorists mainly in militarily campaigns since "you can never win" that kind of guerrilla war.
The war we should be fighting and winning, he said during his 30-minute rant, is for the hearts and minds of the locals,
and CheneyBush policies are not capable of succeeding in that type of battle, especially given the use of torture as
approved state policy, the not uncommon rapes and murders of Iraqi civilians by U.S. troops, the corruption everywhere
that accompanies the U.S. occupation, the continuing lack of a functioning infrastructure (electricity, fresh water,)
Later in the evening, my sister and I engaged the military man again on a seeming contradiction: You stated, we say to
him, that the U.S. can't win these type of wars against nationalist guerrillas but you think we should have thrown
500,000 troops into the battle anyway.
In an argument I've heard before from other military types, he didn't see his position as containing a contradiction:
>>"If we had moved that half-million in there in force and kicked ass immediately, stopped the looting, secured
the ammo dumps, made it more difficult to come across the porous borders, installed our Iraqi strongman in charge -- if
we had done all that then, chances are pretty good that things would have turned out much differently and to our
>>"But since the Cheney Administration, mainly Cheney and Rumsfeld, messed up the situation royally from the
git-go, there's no way we can put Humpty Dumpty back together again, achieve anything approximating a victory. It's
simply time for us to go, before we make the situation even worse. Better to simply get out of there with as much of our
tattered reputation as we can take with us, rather than flail about for a year or two before having to exit even more
hastily in humiliating Vietnam-War fashion."
DEMOCRATIC MOVES ON THE IRAQ WAR
The latter part of that argument seems to animate many Democrats in the House and Senate, willing to take the political
risk by attaching strict conditions to war-funding bills, as a way of crippling CheneyBush's ability to wage its
aggressive war-of-choice and to build momentum for ending the U.S. misadventure in Iraq as soon as is practicable. Sure,
the Dems' moves are a kind of attack-from-the-side approach, rather than opposing CheneyBush policies frontally, the
result of which timidity is to leave U.S. troops on the ground there for several more years.
But if it takes small, incremental but significant steps to start the exit-Iraq ball rolling, then let's take them -- as
long as the effort continues with more meaningful de-funding and withdrawal bills in coming months. In addition, it is
essential that Congress pass a bill stipulating that there will be no financial support for any pending Bush war against
Passing resolutions devoid of legal teeth in them doesn't help all that much in getting U.S. troops, and innocent
civilians, out of harm's way. Passing bills that fund the troops' withdrawal, in concert with U.N. and regional
stabilizing efforts, can draw the day closer when the U.S. military machine can start rolling out of this catastrophic
war, now in its fifth tragic year.
ALBERTO GONZALES, BUSH TOADY
So how does Alberto Gonzales, the "Abu Gonzo" of the headline above, fit into the Iraq picture?
For one thing, to figure out how to stop the Iraq war, first you have to know the key players who took the U.S. into
that war and bungled Occupation. My advice is to look for those with their fingers in a whole lot of policy and
operational pies. In the current CheneyBush Administration, that translates to Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Bush Himself,
Alberto Gonzales, Stephen Hadley, and the ineffectual Bush lapdog Condoleezza Rice. (Previous co-conspirators Don
Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Steven Cambone, Doug Feith, and John Ashcroft have already left the scene of the crime, and
would make excellent witnesses.)
What we're witnesssing in these waning days of the CheneyBush Administration is an implosion of the once-monolithic
inner circle, with the rest of the remaining crew hunkering further down in the White House bunker, trying desperately
to avoid both the stain of history and to stay out of the federal slammer as a result of their crimes and corruptions.
(See ##"Bush Heads for the Bunker.") ( www.crisispapers.org/essays/bunker.htm
Attorney General Gonzales (who, from his earliest association with Bush in Texas, has been his personal legal toady) has
demonstrated time and again his willingness to do whatever needs to be done to keep Bush in office. Rove and Gonzales
and Harriet Miers, key figures in Bush's so-called Texas Mafia, are stand-ins for the elite, behind-the-scenes powers
that prop up this shady enterprise.
And now Gonzales, caught knee-deep in the U.S. Attorneys scandal, looks as if he's a political liability and will be
thrown overboard in short order. His key aide, Kyle Sampson, was the designated scapegoat (with Deputy A.G. Paul McNulty
the new chosen patsy), but his resignation couldn't stanch the bleeding in this ever-widening scandal, and Gonzales'
lies, dissemblings and probable perjuries before U.S. Senate committees requires something more drastic, such as his
firing or resignation -- or, failing that, his impeachment.
(But dumping him won't come easy to CheneyBushRove: more than most, Gonzo knows too much, knows where the bodies are
buried, so to speak. Who can guess what he might be willing to tell a grand jury in order to save his own neck?)
GONZO'S LARGER CRIMES
As is often the case, the real crimes go uncharged and the thing that brings down the kingpin is a lesser scandal. In
the 1930s, for example, Al Capone, the master mob boss, was imprisoned for non-payment of taxes rather than for the
numerous murders and mayhem he engineered. In the case of Gonzales, he'll probably go down for covering-up his political
maneuvering to fire competent, dedicated U.S. Attorneys and install Bush loyalists in their stead, ones willing to
concoct phony "vote fraud" charges against Democratic opponents.
Gonzales would seem to fit in the Rove category of domestic-policy criminals, but Gonzo's impact on foreign/military
policy is much, much larger. Consider: Gonzales is the one figure most responsible for creating a legal philosophy in
support of Bush authoritarian rule whereby the President is permitted to violate the Constitution and laws passed by
Congress whenever he says he's acting as "commander-in-chief" during "wartime."
That suspect legal philosophy also winds up justifying torture and other severe violations of Americans' civil liberties
in the so-called "Patriot" Act, military tribunals, "extraordinary renditions" of suspects to countries notorious for
their extreme interrogation methods, the forced disappearance of the 600-year-old legal tradition of habeas corpus,, and so much more. In short, the "war on terrorism," Gonzales asserts, trumps all laws and constitutional protections.
However, Gonzales will not be removed from office for those gross crimes -- where domestic and foreign policies meet --
but because internal White House emails by others reveal his complicity in the politicalization of the U.S. Attorneys
system, and because he lied publicly in his attempt to escape culpability.
RUNNING OUT OF SCAPEGOATS
It does the heart good to see the shrinking Bush Bunker crew start to run out of lower-level scapegoats (Libby the fall
guy for Cheney, Rumsfeld the sacrificial lamb for continuing the Iraq war policy, Sampson and McNulty for Gonzales, et
al.). That means that the genuine villains, those in control of policy, are now having to face the music.
When Gonzo goes, that should mean that the progenitors of CheneyBush policy (those two, plus Rove, Rice and Hadley) will
be left even more exposed and thus the primary targets of congressional investigations -- and, in the case of Bush and
Cheney, impeachment proceedings.
Cheney and Rove should be first to go after Gonzo -- Cheney for attempting to run the world, Rove for so disastrously
running Bushworld politics. As Patrick Fitzgerald's Libby trial showed, Cheney is at the heart of virtually every bad
decision and policy in the Administration, running virtually a shadow government, covert intel organization, and foreign
policy apparatus. Rove likewise on the domestic politics front. Their fingerprints are all over the joint, and
bulldog-tenacity investigations should reveal the extent of their perfidy.
Let's get on with it.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle
for nearly two decades, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers website (www.crisispapers.org
). To comment: email@example.com .
First published by The Crisis Papers and Democratic Underground 3/27/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.