Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Basic Math

According to recent news reports, a Pentagon study has just concluded that the US has three options in Iraq. We can increase troop strength, decrease troop strength, or pull out completely.
That's some pretty basic math. Any second grader should be able to grasp that concept although some alert second graders might ask why the option to keep the number the same as it is seems to be missing.
My guess is that President Bush commissioned that study group to look at changes in strategy and thus the option to maintain current troop levels wasn't on the table to begin with.
Somewhere I read this week that President Bush has ruled out the option to reduce troop strength to zero. So that leaves only two options if the Republican talking point prior to the November election is to be valid. If we aren't "staying the course" and we aren't "cutting and running" then we have to either increase troop numbers or decrease them. Pretty basic math.
That argument strangely rings some familiar bells for me. It seems to me that this was how Richard Nixon handled the Vietnam War during his 5 years of oversight of that war. In fact Bush seems to be using Nixon's strategy now. I haven't read the speech, but I read that Bush was in Vietnam this week and blamed the American loss of the Vietnam War on Congress.
Why do I get the impression that he didn't say that to improve diplomatic relations with the nation of Vietnam?
Why do I get the impression instead that Bush was opening the door, practically inviting the new congress to do the same thing with the Iraq War, cut the funding and take all the blame for the loss down through history.
Hey, Nixon was no better at basic math than Bush is, but Congress's approach worked in Vietnam. Let's give it a try in Iraq!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Neo-Con Con

Who to believe these days, huh? In the White House we have leaders who historically lead by dictating rather than by informing the public and relying on their support. Now we have what on the outside appears to be a change of course at least in terms of Middle East policy and perhaps east Asian policy as well. At this point it wouldn't be surprising to see Japan inviting us to leave Okinawa! Why else spend $6 billion in Guam? But who really knows these days...
Anyway, take a look at this Washington Post article about the new neo-conservative tack. All of a sudden it's all Donald Rumsfeld's fault? Oh my goodness, how convenient! But here's what really got me in this article. It quoted Jewish neoconservative Joshua Muravchik bringing into question the strategy of bringing democracy to Iraq:
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It may also be, he said, that the mistake was the idea itself -- that Iraq could serve as a democratic beacon for the Middle East. "That part of our plan is down the drain," Muravchik said, "and we have to think about what we can do about keeping alive the idea of democracy."
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How quaint...
So here we have the strategists responsible for the notion of using force to reshape the entire Middle East in the image envisioned by radical rightists in Israel basically telling us that the plans have gone back on the shelf while the White House goes on acting as if nothing has changed. Meanwhile the rest of us living in this democracy which isn't are left wondering what the hell is coming next. Is Iran the enemy or an ally? Will we attack them or will they help us out in Iraq? Are we losing our allies in Asia because we seem determined to make more enemies over there than friends? Are Bush and Cheney now to be thought of as blithering idiots even by the Right? Or are they still the servants of God that they were in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005?
Is the American Right guilty of war crimes? Is Israel? This change in tack occurred right after Israel's disastrous attack of Lebanon. Is that why the Jews are now jumping ship in the US and blaming Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld?
Does anybody know what's going on anymore?

Babel

My wife and I went to Bangor yesterday for a little shopping. Bangor traffic is becoming insane even off-season but with Christmas approaching I had my internal traffic sensors in full ignore mode. Appropriate to the insanity of city traffic, we took in the movie Babel while we were there. That movie is 2 hours and 22 minutes of roller-coaster stress weaving nothing but reality into a disturbingly uncomfortable set of interconnected stories of frustration and danger. The movie has themes, among them language barriers, beaurocratic indifference, the importance of individual needs and actions, and yet how tiny those are compared to the population as a whole. Like I said, the stage for this story is reality but the effect is quite disturbing.
Actually, I was surprised that this movie was showing in Bangor. Usually reality based movies that so directly deal with controversial subjects like torture, illegal immigration, American arrogance, the insignificance of wealth, the sensation of using drugs, the effects of and motivations for suicide, and teen nudity and sex only show up in the alternative theaters like Railroad Square in Waterville. I had originally planned to see it there but opted for Bangor when we saw that it was playing at the Bangor Mall Cinemas.
I suppose fair warning is due. About half an hour before the movie's conclusion my wife was trying to get me to leave the theater. I wouldn't go. I had to know how all the interwoven stories ended.