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Central theme of this editorial:

It is time to move away from violence
in the war on terror.

From the Stone Age forward, the history of humanity has been one of violence, escalating with population, exponentially since the development of metallurgy and the invention of gunpowder. The rise of monotheism seems to have made things worse over the millennia. Whenever one or another is hijacked by an extremist, violence in the name of God occurs whether it be witch hunting, crusading, war or imperial conquest of one type or another. Secular governance, as Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot proved, has a record no better.

These historical facts compel us on this site to seek better anwers. If we seem irreverent of the powers that be, so be it. We find no guidance of substance in the political arena, and precious little in monotheisms with a few notable exceptions such as Martin Luther King, Jim Wallis or John Shelby Spong. We do find considerable substance in history considered in the lights of recent developments in sociology and psychology.

That many countries are peaceful, leads us to believe further that peace is possible with the right national culture--a product of how a culture nurtures its new generations. Most of the Middle East and certain parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and the US have yet to adopt those more peaceful means. The large Republican turnout, if in minority, in 2006 was essentially an endorsement for more war. So any social revolution in America will likely require a much larger societal catastrophe than Iraq. Would two more years of "staying the course" into national bankruptcy be such a disaster? Only time will tell. Meanwhile, we prefer to believe that societal evolution in America has reached a level of awareness where it will continue to steer us in more peaceful directions.

The American electorate has in any event just spoken on this matter. They have had enough of the Bush presidency, corruption, scandals, the Neocons and Authoritarians taking over the House of Representatives and runnig it as a dictatorship.

It is rare indeed for an off-year, second term election to change history. Yet this one did, in at least three important ways:

  • Governance by the people triumphed over the rule of Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld that led to corruption, and scandal became commonplace. The intransigence of these three left no room for debate, much less Dialogue. Their reign of rule by scare mongering is over. If Mr. Bush is serious about responding to the voter's wishes via bilateral cooperation, he can avoid gridlock. In any event, his reign is over.
  • "Stay The Course" was rejected as an Iraq policy. Yet as quoted below, he repeats his slogans that have failed miserably after a three-and-half-year trial. To learn from this historic mistake, Mr Bush will first have to admit to himself and the world that Iraq was indeed a huge mistake. He may choose to essentially gridlock the world rather than swallow a bit of pride like the rest of us do on occasion. Only then can he work effectively in a bi-lateral relationship with Congress. While we hope that happens, we fear it will not.
  • Neocon collapse as the conservative order, where war can be the order of the day to build the fiber of a nation, is now history. Our national challenge is to prevent its re-emergence. America must now reverse the damage the Bush policies have done by forcing wages to decline, eroding the economic base of the middle classes, rewarding corporate greed, enriching the already filthy rich, eroding America's world standing as a bastion of freedom and liberty, and enlisting monotheism in the struggle against terror after it too has failed to achieve peace after millennia of preaching love, brotherhood, and togetherness.

See: Transcript for the complete transcript.

Mr. Bush was remarkably quick to act after the nation voted Democratic. So quick was he, and so polished at stealing the limelight from the election results, it is easy to believe his performance was planned ahead of time. His timing is proof that he knew losses were coming. This behavior is truly Authoritarian. If he had only managed his Iraq intelligence with equal efficiency we would not be in this mess now. Still what he had to say about Iraq showed no movement at all in his basic policy. With all due respect for Bob Gates, changing Defense Secretaries will be just so much window dressing unless the boss changes his direction as well.

A change in direction could happen. For the past six years Mr Bush has stumbled for words so often one wondered what kind of man occupies the White house. Not so now. His responses, right or wrong, were quick, crisp and clear. Earlier, of course, he was essentially doing Dick Cheney's bidding with Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and other Neocons chiming in; papa was out of the picture. If this news conference was a harbinger of what is to come, it appears that the Neocon experiment is now over and that Mr Bush is in charge for the first time, and not above employing papa's seasoned troops. Policies for the Middle East will now at least become more realistic. Will they save Iraq and Afghanistan? Not a chance. Will they save the 2008 election? Perhaps, if the Democrats stumble in Congress and fail to nominate the likes of Barack Obama. Time will tell.

Excerpts from: 8 November News Conference:

Bush Quote Commentary
"I told my party's leaders that it is now our duty to put the elections behind us and work together with the Democrats and independents on the great issues facing this country." Bush will give on minor issues; hold firm on Iraq, if he can; use the Baker report against Congress and the will of the people unless it calls for withdrawal.
"The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner, and work together to address the challenges facing our nation." This may be true for some; most were just plain angry at Mr. Bush over the war, Katrina, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, corruption and personal scandals in Congress.
"Will this country continue to strengthen our economy today and over the long run? Will we provide a first-class education for our children? " Our economy is already heading downhill and will continue to do so. 'No Child Left Behind' has not lived up to his promise.
"And, most importantly: Will this generation of leaders meet our obligation to protect the American people? Spoken by the man who turned Iraq into a first-class recruiting and launching platform for terrorists and jihadis."
"... I also believe most Americans and leaders here in Washington from both political parties understand we cannot accept defeat." Few believe we can win. From top to bottom, our military knows a win is not possible. If we stay the course, we must eventually leave in haste and ignominy instead of exiting in an orderly manner as soon as possible. Otherwise, exiting would also become prohibitively expensive.
"In the coming days and weeks, I and members of my national security team will meet with the members of both parties to brief them on latest developments and listen to their views about the way forward." WMD comes to mind. What is to stop him? Well, Congress has oversight powers they must exercise.
... "I'm also looking forward to hearing the views of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, co-chaired by Secretary James Baker and Congressman Lee Hamilton. This group is assessing the situation in Iraq and are expected to provide -- and the group is expected to provide recommendations on a way forward." A good guess is that he has already been briefed; after all he has to, to stay ahead in appearance, since he delayed so tragically in relieving Mr Rumsfeld of his duties.
"The election has changed many things in Washington, but it has not changed my fundamental responsibility, and that is to protect the American people from attack. As the Commander in Chief, I take these responsibilities seriously. And so does the man who served this nation honorably for almost six years as our Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld." This is a strong signal that Mr Bush will fight hard to stay in Iraq. He retains a minority of popular support.
"Our military has experienced an enormous amount of change and reform during the last five years while fighting the war on terror; one of the most consequential wars in our nation's history." Then why are the soldiers and marines in Iraq so dispirited? They don't see winning as even possible.
"Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change". Oh? What of any substance has he done in the cause of peace?
"Amid this time of change, I have a message for those on the front lines: To our enemies, do not be joyful. Do not confuse the workings of our democracy with a lack of will. Our nation is committed to bringing you to justice. Liberty and democracy are the source of America's strength, and liberty and democracy will lift up the hopes and desires of those you are trying to destroy." Sounds like a clarion call to arms; how can this bring peace? It hasn't worked in a war that has now lasted longer than did WWII. World-wide there is more terror today than ever.
"To the people of Iraq: Do not be fearful. As you take the difficult steps toward democracy and peace, America's going to stand with you. We know you want a better way of life, and now is the time to seize it." This is not reality.
"When I first came to Washington nearly six years ago, I was hopeful I could help change the tone here in the capital." In this he succeeded: From a measure of cooperation to almost total contention. American society is more polarized than ever.
"I'd like our troops to come home,too, but I want them to come home with victory." Yet another call to arms.
"And Bob Gates will bring a fresh perspective. He'll also bring great managerial experience." There is a vast gulf between managing to keep the engines going and charting safe passage among the icebergs and land mines. With due respect for Bob Gates, managing violence is the wrong emphasis. His progress will require statesmanship and diplomacy--lots of each on his part. Anyone can pull a trigger. That is just not enough against terror; its fertile fields and fertilizer must be tended to. The metaphors of course represent Humiliation and Alienation.
"I had a good talk with him on Sunday in Crawford. I hadn't -- it took me awhile to be able to sit down and visit with him. And I did. And I found him to be of like mind. He understands we're in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq." We can only hope that Mr. Gates is not just another toady, for Bush is definite about staying the course--however discredited during his own tenure.
In reference to Rumsfeld: "As you know, we're constantly changing tactics." And nary a word about strategy (other than the failed "stay-the-course"), how can we move on, really move on from here.
[Continued from next above]: "My point is that, while we have been adjusting, we will continue to adjust to achieve the objective. And I believe that's what the American people want." If that is so, why did the election turn out as it did? This man is unreal. "Adjusting" is not the answer; an "about face" is needed.
"What is also important for the American people to understand is that if we were to leave before the job is done, the country becomes more at risk. That's what the Vice President is saying. He said, 'if the job is not complete, Al Qaida will have safe haven from which to launch attacks.'" Same old song. He is trying to scare us. Is this leadership? Fact is, al Qa'ida is now in Iraq because Bush put them there. It is time to face the errors of our ways. It is not the mistakes we make, but how we handle them that counts. But first, we have to recognize them.
In reference to Nancy Pelosi: "I believe, on a lot of issues, we can find common ground. And there's a significant difference between common ground and abandoning principle. She's not going to abandon her principles and I'm not going to abandon mine." Sounds like a hardened position from here.
"I'm still going to try to speak plainly about what I think are the important priorities of the country, and winning this war on terror is by far the most important priority." Yet one more time!
"I understand people don't agree --didn't agree with some of my decisions. I'm going to continue making decisions based upon what I think is right for the country. I've never been one to try to fashion the principles that I believe or the decisions that I make based upon trying to, kind of, short-term popularity." Authoritarian to the core. In effect he is dismissing the electorate's message and any possible wisdom it might have. Electorates are not always right of course, and they can be right or wrong for reasons that may or may not be valid. In this case, the US electorate happens to be on the side of history, on the side of logic, too. Read John Dean and Republican Politics and Authoritarianism for more on the logic.
"But the reality is that it's a tough fight. And we're going to win the fight. And I truly believe the only way we won't win is if we leave before the job is done." He is a man of principle -- blind principle.
"And I have vowed to the country that we're not going to fail; we're not going to leave before the job is done." And stubborn, too. Maybe he thinks this is wisdom.
"See, if the goal is success, then we can work together. If the goal is get out now regardless, then that's going to be hard to work together." In other words, Congress will do it his way or he won't do it. He may have another surprise coming, and sooner than he would like. Pelosi doesn't seem like she can be suckered. More than anyone, she orchestrated the turn around, and readiness, in the House. Can she get around Bush? It is a given that she will take the blame for whatever bad happens if we do in fact leave in a timely fashion. After we pull out, would Bush obstruct the necessary rebuilding of trust in Iraq and the world of Islam? This eventuality must be faced squarely by the Democrats if/when it happens. Authoritarians among the Democrats might also torpedo any peace process.
"And it's -- you know, I think back to Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. I mean, Harry Truman began the Cold War and Eisenhower, obviously from a different party, continued it. And I would hope that would be the spirit that we're able to work together." Bush is a war president alright. Has he had his Waterloo yet? Maybe 2006 was it.
"In other words, don't look at the results of the election and say, Oh, no. America's going to leave us before the job is complete. That's not what's going to happen, Jim." Well, Iraq is on a well-oiled slippery slope to chaos; staying in Iraq is no longer an option. Most Iraqis want us to leave. Yes, there could be civil war--that could happen in any event. The longer we fail to provide security, power, sewage, and jobs for the people the less welcome we will be, and in consequence, the worse the post-occupation situation will become.
"That's why re-enlistment rates are up, and that's why enlistment is high." Recruiting shortfalls are endemic. See Enlistment Shortfalls according to the General Accounting Office. See also No Draft No Way for how the services lowered the recruiting bars to solve the problem.Who is he talking to? Was it for statements like this that Nancy Pelosi called Mr Bush a liar?
"... I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about, but I can tell you that I believe the faith-based and community-based -- the faith- and community-based initiative is a vital part of helping solve intractable problems here in America." Over millennia, the faith approach has not brought peace. Instead of clarifying the question, Mr Bush offered this response. He purposely made yet another bow to our friends on the religious right.
"Social Security is -- you know, people are generally risk-averse when it comes time to Social Security. My problem with that is that the longer you wait, the more difficult the issue's going to become." Application policies of entitlement have already been amended, and they can again. The retirement age is one such example--America has in fact a labor shortage. It is a privilege to live longer. Is it not also a privilege to be productive longer? Alternatively, money spent on Iraq could do wonders for entitlement accounts, not to mention disease and energy. What kind of person sees "growing difficulty" in matters of plutocracy, but not in how it also applies to Iraq?

There were some positive elements from the same news conference:

Bush Quote Commentary
"The message yesterday was clear: The American people want their leaders in Washington to set aside partisan differences, conduct ourselves in an ethical manner, and work together to address the challenges facing our nation. We live in historic times. The challenges and opportunities are plain for all to see." This is true. It has been true for the last six years.
"Will we build upon the recent progress we've made in addressing our energy dependence by aggressively pursuing new technologies to break our addiction to foreign sources of energy?" Good question. We hope this happens. Grain alcohol is our best bet.
"Will this generation of leaders meet our obligation to protect the American people?" Excellent question. Easily the the most important issue of the news conference. Until we see the Baker report, we cannot judge the strategic wisdom available to Mr. Bush. We are not optimistic that that report will include the root psychology and means to approach that problem.
"I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election, but I believe there's other factors as well. People want their Congress -- congressmen to be honest and ethical. ... no question, Iraq was on people's minds." These are in fact the reality. (What Mr Bush left unsaid is that most people are sick of Iraq and want to withdraw in a timely, orderly way, not wait until the issue becomes forced as it did in Vietnam. We believe the American electorate is more enlightened than its leaders.)
"And, as you have just learned, I am making a change at the Secretary of Defense to bring a fresh perspective as to how to achieve something I think most Americans want, which is a victory." Dare we presume he meant a victory for the American people?
"We will work with members of Congress. We will work with the Baker-Hamilton Commission." This is a clear commitment and easily the most important one of the news conference. Until we see this report we cannot judge its wisdom, but it will certainly deserve careful study.

In this news conference, as also in many others, Mr. Bush repeatedly tells us what we believe. While many of us in fact want, or need, to be told what to believe, many of us also have a negative response--it is like mind rape. Mind rape is the purpose of propaganda, whether from the Left, Right, or some other religious or secular quarter. But just as in WWII, propaganda alone will not suffice in a war on terror. Substance is needed. It was substance after all that turned the tide in WWII. Hitler made the mistake of not realizing the consequences of the wars he started. Sound familiar? It is another cycle of repeating history.

As for the substance, it lies in what causes violence in the first place, and what can be done about that. Much is already known about this and much can still be learned. But the US as a nation is not even looking in that direction. A few individuals, such as Altemeyer are. And fortunately, a few people are taking action, John Dean for example.

For some of our findings and suggestions see:

To cap continued violence, we will be better off looking at how the peaceful societies achieved their peacefulness. Portugal, Japan and the Nordic countries each have stories to tell. Between them and the US lie Canada, as close to a twin nation as can be found. It lies on the peaceful side of the US. Yet Australia and the UK are relatively more peaceful than is the US. Any such research must also include the Middle East and Asia. And equally important, the leaders of the major monotheisms, need to do some introspection of their impacts, real impacts, on modern cultures. See: Monotheism and Violence for some very disturbing facts.

Go to: Transcript for the complete transcript.


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