Petey in comments below notes a rather shocking portion of today’s Bush speech where he’s bragging about his administration’s authorization of torture:
Today in the Senate, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) delivered a fiery speech calling for the Senate to filibuster U.N. Ambassador John Bolton.
Dodd said Bolton had earned a “failing grade” for his work as ambassador and had already “largely burned his bridges with his colleagues” at the United Nations. Moreover, he said Bolton’s effort to have two intelligence analysts fired after they refused to support his conclusions had “endangered our national security” and were “so outrageous that they show that Mr. Bolton does not even deserve a vote.” Watch it:
According to BoltonWatch, Bolton’s opponents may already have enough votes to block him.
Full transcript: Read more
Bush is letting detainees out of the CIA-operated clandestine “black sites” and shipping them to Guantanamo Bay. What’s the deal? Nobody knows for sure what secrets lurk in the heart of Bush, but Spencer Ackerman has informed thoughts:
Unless it rejiggers the military tribunals to bless torture/coercion, KSM and other Al Qaeda figures might in fact be set free by the courts. Is Bush so cynical as to force Congress into the odious position of either setting the stage for murderers to walk out of Gitmo or blessing torture? Of course he is!
What a lovely country we’ve become.
Fred Kaplan is, as usual, very good in his latest. I wanted, however, to highlight something he says that expresses a very common sentiment that I think ought to be called into question: “Meaningful, multilateral sanctions seem a dead end at this point, in any case; to continue to push for them, when crucial governments are set against them, only makes the United States and the United Nations look more foolish.”
I know I’m tilting against the overwhelming consensus here, but I think it’d actually be good to see the United States make a serious proposal for multilateral something-or-other that we’d like to see happen, to get some support for the proposal on the Security Council, to put it to a vote, lose the vote, and then complain about the loss but accept it as legitimate. It seems to me that this is how the Security Council ought to work — not unlike a legislature, where people regularly introduce proposals that they know are going to be defeated. Obviously, Bush isn’t one to care about this sort of thing, but I think establishing a trend in that direction would be of enormous benefit to the UN over time.
Another blogger joins the chorus and suggests replacing the Pentagon’s Captain Queeg with Lindsey Graham. I think the Democrats would be atypically shrewd to center their fall campaign on national security by focusing on Rumsfeld. They should attack him for losing the war, for not sending enough troops, and for wrecking the most high-stakes military mission in a generation. If a defense secretary who has bungled two wars cannot be replaced after six years, then we have no accountability in government.
I’ve said this so many times I’m growing hoarse, but this is silly. It would be one thing if Rumsfeld were in office, then made some missteps, and then Bush fired him. Presidents sometimes hire people they wind up regretting. But Rumsfeld’s been in office for almost six years. And Bush has gotten rid of many members of his national security team. Colin Powell, Richard Armitage, and Richard Haas were all ditched. A lot of your prominent “liberal” national security experts — Richard Clarke, Rand Beers, Flynt Leverett — used to work in the Bush administration (see also Anthony Zinni). Rumsfeld is around because Rumsfeld’s policies are Bush’s policies. Dumping him would, at this point, be a meaningless cosmetic change.
This Rumsfeld-obsession plays a genuinely pernicious role in our national discourse. The basic reality of the matter is that between September 2001 and Spring 2003 the bulk of the American political and media establishments endorsed the key elements of the Bush foreign policy. Over the subsequent 18 months or so, it became obvious to the bulk of this establishment that the Bush foreign policy was a moral and practical disaster. Rather than conclude that they were operating from mistaken premises and that they should come up with some new, authentically different ideas, the predominant impulse has simply been to say “we could have gotten away with it to if it wasn’t for that meddling Rumsfeld!”
Well, no. Rumsfeld’s ideas were bad ones. But the bad ideas — the policies, Bush’s policies, The Washington Post‘s policies, Andrew Sullivan’s policies, etc. — are the issue here, not Rumsfeld personally.
Joseph Cirincione, who you should listen to on all things nuclear proliferation, worries about the Bush administration‘s civilian nuclear energy programs:
“It gives countries, under the guise of civilian nuclear programs, the ability to make one of the key ingredients for a nuclear bomb – plutonium,” said Joseph Cirincione, senior vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning Washington think tank. “And they can stockpile it in large quantities. How are you going to tell Iran that they can’t do this if you’re promoting it yourself?”
National Review John Hood takes offense at the “moral-equivalence mentality” this involves and says that “because Iran is run by a disgusting cabal of terrorism sponsors and Holocaust deniers, telling its dictators that their nuclear program won’t be tolerated is not all that difficult.” This gets perhaps to the very core of the problems with conservative foreign policy. To be sure, any of us when we’re sitting around the living room shooting the shit can draw distinctions between an Iranian nuclear program and, say, a Norwegian one. The Norwegians get the benefit of the doubt for a variety of reasons, and a Norwegian military nuclear arsenal would be less worrisome than an Iranian one. Nevertheless, if you expect to have an international system that countries are going to cooperate with it has to be governed by neutral rules and not John Hood’s gut sense of what’s right or wrong.