Back by popular demand

Posted October 3rd, 2006 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Announcements, Ignorance of Ignorance

image0011.jpg this is a test. I have a glitch that is preventing me from uploading images from my blog interface software. But this is a real image (uploaded directly) that I took last August during festivities at the Chicago AFSCME convention, that I attended as a guest of one of the delegates. There were several of these live statues at various points in the room, creating
atmosphere.

Addendum: I didn’t post this picture out of any nostalgia for the sixties, or any other idyllic once upon a time that never was when all was well, and science was used to prove it – instead of to identify new and unforeseen problems. But how else to respond to the revelation that the current National Strategy for Victory in Iraq comes right out of the playbook of Henry Kissinger, who, according to Bob Woodward, gave Gerson (Bush’s speechwriter) a memo he wrote to Nixon in 1969? Unfortunately, it isn’t news that
policy is getting made by speechwriters. What is news is that, in a 60 Minutes interview about his book, State of Denial, Woodward essentially makes the case that Kissinger, along with Cheney and Rumsfeld who both worked in the White House during the Ford administration, are “fighting the Vietnam war all over again.” Cheney even told Rumsfeld to “get it right this time.” Not that some of us
haven’t suspected this based on inuendos from Bush et al that seem to lay the blame for all social dysfunction on the ’60s. Upon seeing it confirmed by Woodward with actual quotes, I suspected Digby would be all over it it and sure enough, found a post on it. As he so eloquently put it:

The extent of Rumsfeld’s screw-ups is well known by now, but this book seems to be asserting something about the war that is quite startling at this late date — the real reason they were so anxious to go into Iraq come hell or high water. Yes, we know it was about oil and it was about Israel and it was about PNAC wet dreams and seven thousand other things. But I’m talking about the Big Reason, the one that united all these people: Iraq is their long awaited chance to do Vietnam right.

Stewart Ackerman, writing in TNR, elaborates on the myths developed in the 60’s and 70’s – that attributed the failures in Vietnam to anti-war sentiment, and shows how this framing is being used now by the War-niks to blame “overzealous opposition to misguided wars” rather than misguided wars or any kind of failure in U.S. foreign policy:

When Nixon prosecuted an even more savage war with no appreciable change in its fortunes, an emboldened Congress, led by Democrats, voted to cut off funding in 1974. This had an unintended and profound consequence. Suddenly, the right, which had spent the previous five years and the entire Johnson administration recognizing that the war was bleak, if not totally futile, had a new scapegoat: the forces that had ended the war before giving their preferred strategy time to work. Those forces were twofold: first,
the representatives and senators who had betrayed the troops in the field; second, the antiwar movement that had pressured them to do so. …

Democrats are, of course, not blameless. He also writes:

…it is a profound and painful thing to accept that one’s country has involved itself in a futile or immoral cause; it is worse still to ask what intellectual or political mistakes led to such a nightmare. Faced with a disastrous war, the most important consideration is not “Were we wrong?” but “Why were we wrong?” and “How can we avoid being so wrong in the future?” These are questions that often will implicate the country’s leading politicians and intellectuals, and its cherished myths. The anguish
of confronting them has been on display in the Democratic Party’s foreign policy debate for 35 years.

Back to Digby;

Republicans did worse than that. They nursed their grudges against the counter culture and turned them into an opportunistic partisan culture war. And the real pieces of work, the neocons and the partisan veterans like Cheney and Rumsfeld waited patiently until they got their chance to “do it right.” Never having honestly assessed what went wrong the first time but merely laying facile blame on liberals and the anti-war movement, they have willfully made the same mistakes all over again and seem to
have no more sense of their own responsibility than they did three decades ago….

…all their dirty linen is now being exposed. The macho GOP they’ve been selling for 30 years turns out to be a bunch of whiny cranks who are so obsessive about their youthful “failures” that they have spent their entire lives getting into a position that they could prove they were right after all. But it’s clear that the modern Republican party is incapable of governing a superpower. They have no capacity for self-analysis or learning from their mistakes so they cannot be trusted to learn from this two term
debacle of terrorist attacks, unnecessary wars, economic insecurity, corruption and now even covering up for known sexual predators rather than risk their hold on power….

…It is long past time that Democrats killed the 60’s albatross the Republicans hung around their necks more than three decades ago and throw the dead carcass right back at them. This country’s problems are not caused by unreconstructed hippies ruining the political system. The problem today is the eternally resentful, unreconstructed anti-hippies who somehow got psychologically paralyzed by the events of that time.

To wrap up what was just suppose to be a test post, those now occupying the White House are obviously incapable of learning anything, particularly from their own mistakes, and will undoubtedly continue to find scapegoats make excuses for them by leaning on uncertainty, and muttering about untidiness and threats from unknown unknowns – which make learning imperative. Rapid changes in climate alone have put us in uncharted territory.

So now what? George Soros in his new book the Age of Fallibility, that he discussed in an interview on C-Span, suggests that, for the US to be again be a world leader, it has to contribute to solving common problems of humanity, of the kind that cannot be addressed without collective action, like global warming, the energy crisis,
and nuclear proliferation. And, of course, building the capacity to govern that matches up to the capacity we have developed to destroy the entire planet. He also points to the leadership role taken by the United States after World War II, when it sponsored the United Nations and initiated the Marshall Plan. Since then, we have had a Cold War that was also devastating. What is sorely missing now, besides leadership and accountability, is a plan for Post-Cold War Reconstruction.

More later on implications for science. Stephen Colbert has The Word on Kissinger.

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