ON THE DOMESTIC FRONT IT’S LOOKING like the Romney-Ryan ticket and the Tea Party base are planning like it’s 1928. The outlines of their approach seem clear. Kill off the last unions and get the working stiff in an ever tighter economic noose. Collect multi-million dollar campaign donations from the super rich and repay them with Paul Ryan-inspired tax breaks so that they get their money back, and more, once you take office. Cut Social Security to the bone; bleed Medicare and Medicaid white.
Don’t just unplug granny. Blow up the electric company with granny inside.
It’s might be hard to imagine, but the trend in foreign affairs is even more ominous. Because, when it comes to foreign policy, it’s de ja vu all over again, with Mitt Romney leaning hard on the same geniuses who plunged us into Iraq War. As Bill Keller noted in the New York Times yesterday, Romney has fallen head over heels for neoconservatives like John Bolton, Dan Senor and William Kristol.
If you’re lucky, you’ve been able to purge the memory of these men from your consciousness in recent years. But we need to remember that nine weeks after 9-11, Bolton was assuring the media that Saddam Hussein had vast stockpiles of biological weapons: “The existence of Iraq’s program is beyond dispute.”
Old news, of course. But now Bolton is whispering in the right ear of Mitt Romney, himself. Bolton! The man who insisted Saddam had all kinds of WMD’s hidden under his bed. The man who claimed it was imperative, in 2009, that Israel launch a nuclear strike on Iran at once.
A nuclear strike!!!
“Negotiations have failed,” Bolton told a bug-eyed Chicago audience, “and so too have sanctions…So we’re at a very unhappy point–a very unhappy point–where unless Israel is prepared to use nuclear weapons against Iran’s program, Iran will have nuclear weapons in the very near future.”
Today, with only three months remaining until the election, Bolton, who doesn’t blanch at the thought of possibly nuking tens of thousands of human beings, still claims that the United States must back Israel in any Iran attack.
Senor wasn’t nearly so prominent in the early days of the W. administration. But he did spend fifteen months in Iraq, as spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which tried its bumbling best to govern the fractious country after the 2003 invasion. And what did Senor tell reporters pretty much every day?
Hey, it’s doing great!
The first car bomb that spring killed four American soldiers at a checkpoint. No sweat to men like Senor and Bolton. It’s going great. Major Kevin Nave’s family receives word of his death on his daughter’s fifth birthday. Yep. All good. Sgt. Jeremy Feldbusch catches a shell splinter in the skull that leaves him almost blind and suffering from seizures and mood swings. Great, great. Lt. Therese Frentz gets caught by a bomb in a restaurant, leaving her burned over most of the upper body, her left ear hanging by scraps of flesh. No problem. Major fighting in Falluja in 2004? Great. A Marine chopper is shot down with 31 men aboard and John House, a Navy medic, dies without meeting his newborn son? Cpl. Carlos Pineda, tries to put down covering fire during an ambush and takes a bullet through both lungs and dies?
The fighting continues; but Senor doesn’t have to worry, because he’s soon safe and sound at home, going to Harvard Business School, making money in big chunks in the hedge fund business. So the dirty work is left to people like Chris Dyer, a 19-year-old from Cincinnati, who joins the Marines. Before he leaves for Iraq he tries to reassure his father, “Don’t worry, Dad, I’m coming home.” He did–in a flag-draped coffin in 2005–after a gigantic roadside bomb flipped the heavy tracked vehicle he was riding inside, killing Dyer and fourteen others on board.
The fighting continues into 2006; and 2007 winds up as the goriest year of all; and it isn’t going great; and we can’t find the hidden WMD’s, either. Yet, on the advice of men like Bolton we pour the blood of tens of thousands of young American men and women into the sand, watch untold numbers of Iraqis die, spend a trillion dollars on the sorry enterprise, and can’t extricate ourselves from the mess until Barack Obama takes office.
NOW, SENOR AND BOLTON AND OTHERS JUST LIKE THEM are murmuring sweet nothings in Romney’s left ear, reassuring him that we can jump, head-first, into what is shaping up as a very similar Syrian civil war. And you know what?
It is going to be great!
If possible, William Kristol is the worst of the sorry lot, a leader when it came to drumming up support for the Iraq invasion. As early as January 1998, he and fellow neocon Robert Kagan were faulting the Clinton administration for relying on limited bombing attacks and calling for the United States to launch a ground assault. Again, they said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Not to worry, though. The invasion would be easy, smooth sailing across the desert, so to speak:
We can do this job. Mr. Hussein’s army is much weaker than before the Persian Gulf war. He has no political support beyond his own bodyguards and generals. An effective military campaign combined with a political strategy to support the broad opposition forces in Iraq could well bring his regime down faster than many imagine.
It was easy for Kristol to say, smugly in one Fox News interview after another: “We can do this job.” Like all leading neocons, including five-times draft-deferred Dick Cheney, Kristol never did a minute of fighting for the country he claimed to love; and since he didn’t have to actually see any blood, it was that much easier to believe it was necessary for others to fight and die in a noble cause.
Sadly, these are the experts who are advising Mitt Romney today.
In a July 24th speech to a meeting of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in Reno, Nevada, the GOP candidate boldly promised his audience: “I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.”
More dying to come? It looks that way if Romney wins the election. And all this from the man who gave up a chance to help the United States of America do its duty and fulfill its destiny when he skedaddled for France, and did missionary work for the Mormon Church, instead, giving other lucky young men the chance to do their duty in the mud and the jungles of Vietnam.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A LIBERAL to wonder, “Haven’t we already asked our military to do enough? Isn’t it a crime to send the same men and women back to the combat zones three, four and five times?”
If the neoconservatives want to start another Middle East fight, can’t we agree that they should raise their own taxes to pay for the next war, sign up their own sons and daughters to do some of the fighting, and maybe jump into the blood and the gore themselves?
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