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Monday, October 22, 2007

Serious Consequences

by digby

I have long noted the similarities between the modern conservative movement and their former hated enemies, the Commies. Indeed, their Leninist approach to Ronald Reagan is nearly a direct knock-off and guys like Norquist and Weyrich have been known to draw explicit parallels between themselves and Mao and Stalin.

But you rarely see them come right out and proclaim their admiration for the communists --- and admit that they are emulating their techniques, as we see in Cheney's shoe pounding speech this week-end:

As time passed, the terrorists believed they'd exposed a certain weakness and lack of confidence in the West, particularly in America. Dr. Bernard Lewis explained the terrorists' reasoning this way: "During the Cold War," Dr. Lewis wrote, "two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: 'What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?'"

I agree with Greg Djerejian who responded:

It's really an appallingly strange time in our country. We have a singularly powerful Vice-President (compared to any of his predecessors)--openly quite enamored by the tactics employed by the Soviet Union--our former arch-foe whose human rights standards we derided. Indeed, we fought a decades-long Cold War so that Western style constitutional freedoms would trump Soviet authoritarianism. But yes, from this Sovietophile posture, use of torture and black-sites and detention without habeas corpus protections makes all the sense in the world, doesn't it? Because we have a Vice-President all but openly emulating and cheer-leading the tactics of the KGB, not in the wilds of Wyoming, but to a soi disant sophisticated audience in Washington DC.

It's almost as if the reason they hated" the totalitarians was because they could get away with doing what these guys could only fantasize about. It wasn't hatred at all, actually. It was ency.

But this is no longer an academic exercise, is it? Aside from the torture and black sites and detention without habeas (as if that's not enough) they've also been busily laying the legal groundwork for an authoritarian regime at home. It only awaits the next "crisis" for them to fully implement.

And judging by the hysterical reaction of the media and political elites the last time, I can only assume that they will succeed in persuading the country that all these things are necessary.(Recall that Sally Quinn spent the first few years after 9/11 giving terror-porn speeches all over Washington about how to prepare for the next attack, including whether your Shih Tzu can wear a gas mask.) The Nazis, (another former enemy no doubt richly admired for their efficient ways of dealing with internal dissent) never did an illegal thing according the German law. They just changed the laws. That's how the smart folks do things. Precedents, judges, new laws -- it all adds up to a new police state just waiting for the moment it's required.

Meanwhile, Cheney and the rest of his lunatic cohorts are sending clear, unambiguous signals that they are planning to attack Iran. Indeed, as Kevin Hayden pointed out yesterday, there is a coordinated product roll-out happening right before our eyes. First of all we have that Dick Cheney speech in which, as Greg Djerejian also points out, he repeatedly uses a phrase he and Bush used in the run-up to the Iraq war: "serious consequences.

Using the exact language Seymour Hersh described in his recent article, Cheney lays the groundwork for an attack based upon the alleged fact that Iran is arming the Iraqi insurgency:

General Petraeus has noted, Iran's Quds Force is trying to set up a "Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and to fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq." At the same time, Iran is "responsible for providing the weapons, the training, the funding and, in some cases, the direction for operations that have indeed killed U.S. soldiers."

...Iran's real agenda appears to include promoting violence against the coalition. Fearful of a strong, independent, Arab Shia community emerging in Iraq, one that seeks religious guidance not in Qom, Iran, but from traditional sources of Shia authority in Najaf and Karbala, the Iranian regime also aims to keep Iraq in a state of weakness that prevents Baghdad from presenting a threat to Tehran.

Perhaps the greatest strategic threat that Iraq's Shiites face today in -- is -- in consolidating their rightful role in Iraq's new democracy is the subversive activities of the Iranian regime.

And Bill Kristol follows up with very similar language, only adding that we are already win-win-winners!

KRISTOL: We’re winning in Iraq...It looks like the Iranian government is going for the full hard line on their nuclear program. And I think we are going to have to be serious about dealing with both their intervention in Iraq — which is now the only real threat, I think, incidentally, to relative success in Iraq — and their nuclear program.

WALLACE: When you say getting serious, I think a lot of our viewers are going to say, Kristol thinks there’s going to be a war.


KRISTOL: I think there could be a use of force. September 6th, 2007, when Israel used force against Syria to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons with North Korean aid, is going to go down in history, I think, as the date where we got a glimpse of the kind of future we’re dealing with...I think the short-term question is does Petraeus think he needs a little help across the border to secure our successes in Iraq.

And if so, I think the president will give it to him. We can’t let them just build IEDs and train Iraqis with impunity across the border.

And then there was this from certifiable lunatic, Michael Ledeen. We've already won, but risk losing again if we don't well... you know:

...Gen. Petraeus told Congress last month that it would not be possible to win in Iraq if our mission were restricted to that country.

Not a day goes by without one of our commanders shouting to the four winds that the Iranians are operating all over Iraq, and that virtually all the suicide terrorists are foreigners, sent in from Syria. We have done great damage to their forces on the battlefield, but they can always escalate, and we still have no policy to direct against the terror masters in Damascus and Tehran.

Cheney and his boyz aren't exactly being subtle about all this. It isn't just sabre rattling in the hope that Iran --- or China and Russia --- come to their senses and do what we want them to do, as some Democrats seem to think. Dick Cheney doesn't believe in such things. He says right in his speech that he considers dialog and engagement to be weakness. He believes that actions are the only thing that matters. He's not hiding anything.

The question now is whether he and his buddies will be able to get Bush to pull the trigger. I would guess he will. The more unpopular they are, the less they have to lose and the more they can appeal to Junior's newfound fascination with his place in history. After all, trying to take over the world has made many a failed leader's historical reputation. Unfortunately, Junior probably doesn't realize that it rarely turns out to be a good one.