Wednesday, June 22, 2005

THE MONTY PYTHON SCHOOL OF LEADERSHIP!

Snave's note: I find the following article interesting. It is not what I would call objective, but I tend to agree with most of it.

Gene Lyons
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
06-01-05

With respect to the Bush administration's "war on terror," our administration appears to have entered the Monty Python stage of debate, where extreme silliness trumps all competing values. I refer to the inspired scene in "Life of Brian" in which a cabal of toga-clad revolutionaries styling itself the "Judean People's Liberation Front" meets in a Roman coliseum to argue strategy.

It's time to confront the real enemy. Poor Brian, the amiable dunce who keeps being mistaken for the messiah, obligingly shouts an anti-Roman slogan, only to be coolly informed that the real enemy is, in fact, the "People's Liberation Front of Judea."

As a send-up of 1960's left-wing factionalism, it's priceless.

So now we're doing it all over again, except this time the crackpot radicals appear to be the White House and its allies. (It doesn't help that so many of the administration's principal figures appear to have been driven bonkers by Jane Fonda-style radicals during the Vietnam era.) Instead, the administration spent last week attacking not Al Qaeda or Iraqi insurgents, but the real enemy: Newsweek magazine and pusillanimous Americans who doubted the wisdom of invading Iraq to begin with.

Washington Post columnist Terry Neal found it "mind-boggling listening to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who used information from a now discredited source known as 'Curveball' to make the case for war against Iraq, calling out Newsweek: 'Newsweek hid behind anonymous sources, which by their own admission do not withstand scrutiny. Unfortunately, they cannot retract the damage they have done to this nation or those that were viciously attacked by those false allegations.'

"It was almost as if the Newsweek fiasco had occurred in a vacuum, or in an alternate reality, where the Iraq war, fought over non-existent weapons of mass destruction, had never occurred."

Meanwhile, the same newspaper's estimable Walter Pincus, in a story unaccountably buried on page A26, reported that back before the war, both the CIA and German intelligence sources handling "Curveball" warned that the Iraqi defector was at best "problematical." Nothing he said could be confirmed. He was eventually determined to be a fabricator peddling tall tales.
Contrary to the White House line that the president was misled by poor intelligence, Pincus said that "many U.S. intelligence analysts were internally questioning almost every major piece of prewar intelligence about (Saddam) Hussein's alleged weapons programs."

Elsewhere in the news, The New York Times broke yet another story about an under-trained and poorly supervised group of soldiers who allegedly decorated their tent with a Confederate flag and called themselves the "Testosterone Gang," systematically beating and torturing prisoners to death at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. Even worse, Army investigators believe, some victims were innocent civilians caught up in the chaos of war. It's estimated that 85 percent of Bagram detainees were released without charges.

Atrocities happen in all wars. Two things, however, make the reported American transgressions at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram Air Force Base particularly appalling: first, the way they appear to confirm everything Islamist propagandists say about the "crusaders' contempt for Islam"; second, that they proceeded directly from the administration's country club tough-guy rhetoric.

Classic psychology experiments have repeatedly shown that, absent stringent discipline among their captors, isolated groups rendered helpless and defined as the "other" often fall prey to sadism and brutality--a phenomenon hardly unknown to U.S. military authorities. Instead of proper training, however, inexperienced American Reservists were encouraged to treat the captives as "terrorists" to whom the president naively determined the Geneva Conventions did not apply.

In effect, if not intent, George W. Bush and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who signed off on memos validating torture for "enemy combatants," declared open season on detainees.

Then there was the story of former NFL star Pat Tillman, a genuine American hero who gave up a $4.5 million contract to defend his country after 9/11. After he was killed by his own troops in a tragic combat blunder on a mountainside in Afghanistan, the Pentagon hid the actual circumstances of his death from his own family for many weeks, seemingly fearful that the facts would render his sacrifice meaningless.

"They realized," Tillman's embittered father told The Washington Post, "that their recruiting efforts were going to go to hell in a handbasket if the truth about his death got out. They blew up their poster boy."

With all due respect, I think the elder Tillman and the Pentagon are both mistaken. His son is no less a hero for the tragic circumstances of his death, and most Americans are grown up enough to handle the truth. Hardly anybody opposed the mission into Afghanistan, and few do today.

What they can't handle, and what's forcing the Bush administration and its supporters into increasingly absurd postures, is their growing awareness of the comprehensive disaster caused by their misguided obsession with Iraq and the propaganda campaign that got us there.

13 Comments:

Blogger Tom Harper said...

The Ministry of Silly Walks is a perfect analogy. They're walking funnier and funnier, and they also look like a dog on a leash being pulled every which way (especially Frist, making 2 opposite announcements about Bolton, just hours apart).

5:48 PM  
Blogger Lizzy said...

Not only is it the perfect analogy, but it's my favorite Monty Python sketch to boot.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Damien said...

Still can't understand what Frist has been smoking? Maybe its enough the Bolton will probably enter the UN without any clear legitimacy - I need that funny walks Gif!

6:28 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

Kick ass article...and one from my state...nifty.

3:17 AM  
Blogger halcyon67 said...

That is very good. I just think that the Republicans have failed to take their meds.

They are destroying themselves. I say let's sit back and watch or take excessive advantage of them and their stupidity.

Krispy Kreme Karl Rover is a perfect example

3:45 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

Oops! That last comment didn't take. I'll try again. I agree that the analogy is nearly perfect!

4:48 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Tom, great comment! I think the GOP might also be like the owner of a pack of dogs that is straining at the leash, and of which they are losing control. The dogs being Frist, Santorum, DeLay, Bush, Cheney, etc., of course.

Lizzy, "Silly Walks" is one of my favorite Python skits as well. I think my very favorite might be the one where Terry Jones first tries to jump across the English Channel, then tries to eat a cathedral.

Damien: Frist has been smoking LOCO WEED, of course!

Matt: all Arkansans aren't bad. You, Bill Clinton and Gene Lyons are proof!

Samantha, you might like the Rove cartoon J.Marquis has at Are We There Yet? if you haven't seen it already. It says it all!

As much as I would like to sit back and watch them implode, I do think we need to be pointing out the various ingredients of the implosion to our Republican friends and mention possible reasons for such things. This should be done in a gentle, persuasive manner. There are a lot of them out there who aren't satisfied, and who might be quite willing to see major changes made in D.C.

Thanks for stopping by, Donald!

4:54 PM  
Blogger sleepybomb said...

well done mr snave,
this administration is fixin' to fall for the blunders they committed and can't address.
the life of brian tag is great!
actually you could prolly fit everyone in the white house to anyone of many idiots played by the pythons.
i think the bit with the housing project that crashes and burns kinda sums up their idea of nation building, or the re-enactment of pearl harbor with the ladies tea clubs battling it out...
i'll stop now.
oh yeah, where did ya find that wonderful gif? (i'm gonna steal it!)

8:17 PM  
Blogger Unadulterated Underdog said...

I agree that the Ministry of Silly Walksthis is a great analogy for Bush's handling of Iraq. The issue with the Bush Administration is that they keep saying things are getting better when they're not. It's like BushCo is totally seperated from reality. If things were going well, why are casualties mounting by 2 or 3 a day? I also agree that while the war was necessary, Bush did publically make claims he could not substantiate such as the WMD's claim and a strong pre-9/11 Iraq-Al-Qaeda connection. However, Iraq needed to be dealt with because of its long history of supporting terrorist groups in general and its failure to allow full and complete WMD inspections. As I said in my Iraq post, we needed to invade but Bush needed to be honest that the war would be tough and long, he needed to be honest that we had evidence of wrongdoing but that it was not totally verified and he needed to plan the operation better than he did. These are my qualms. I am not sure that he lied, but he was never open and honest. So while we support the war, we should look into his failings and wrongdoing.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Christopher I said...

While I, too, agree with most of what Gene Lyons said, his article contained a rather startling comment: “Hardly anybody opposed the mission into Afghanistan, and few do today.”

Given that upwards of 5,000 (possibly as many as 20,000) Afghanis, almost all civilians, were killed, and many tens of thousands lost their homes, doesn’t Gene Lyons confirm so many of the prejudices held against the USA outside its borders, and that the lives of brown-skinned non-Americans are regarded as expendable and cheap?

Isn’t it the truth that the perpetrators of 9/11 contained not a single Afghani, and that if the US was to carry out an invasion, it might more logically have been of Saudi Arabia or Egypt, the countries of origin of all the 9/11 attackers?

Let’s get real.

12:19 PM  
Blogger halcyon67 said...

Snave, what J. Marquis's blog address? I typed in arewethereyet.blogspot.com, and nothing came up.

7:50 AM  
Blogger Snave said...

Samantha,

Try the link from my site. It should work for you!

10:37 PM  

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