The strategy FDR never thought of
Piling on is fun, as every schoolboy remembers from grammar-school recess. The trick is to be one of the pilers and not the pilee, and never get crushed at the bottom of the pile.
George W. Bush is the boy at the bottom of the pile, taking the weight of insult, affront and other abuse from assorted connivers, blowhards and corporation lawyers looking for clients.
Kendall Myers, a self-styled “expert” on U.S.-British relations and an adjunct professor — i.e., a part-timer without serious academic credentials — at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, told a seminar that “the special relationship” between the United States and Britain, the foundation of victory in two world wars and triumph in the twilight struggle of a protracted Cold War, is “totally onesided” in America’s favor, that Washington has no respect for the British, that Britain’s role as a bridge between the United States and Europe “is disappearing before our eyes.” All George W.’s fault, naturally.
There’s piling on from an old source of opportunists. The State Department is infested with “analysts” and “advisers” eager to call almost any president “arrogant” and “stupid” and “ignorant,” and particularly this one, ostensibly for his war policy in Iraq but actually for his reluctance to take seriously the lose-lose nostrums that flourish like E. coli bacteria in Foggy Bottom. Mr. Myers’ superiors called him in for a talk, and he will presumably be told not to let the door hit him in the butt on his way out.
Or maybe not. Such behavior is not unknown in Foggy Bottom. Only a month or so ago another State Department noodnik, eager to get on television, any television, told an interviewer for Al Jazeera, the preferred medium of Middle East terrorists, that the United States — i.e., George Bush — had displayed not only “arrogance” but “stupidity” in Iraq. He, too, was disciplined, but after making a full grovel he was allowed to stay on the public payroll.
The Hollywood rants, which mostly illustrate the mindless vulgarity that now defines the popular culture, are aimed to entertain, certainly not persuade, and Danny DeVito, who has made a movie career of appearing as costume jewelry worn by actresses twice his height and half his weight, showed up drunk to wow Barbara Wawa & Co. with a story about his fun trashing of the Lincoln Bedroom as a guest of the fabulous Clintons, followed by a rambling rant about George W. that was so vulgar that half of it had to be bleeped out.
But more serious piling on is on the way. The bipartisan Iraq Study Group, commissioned by Congress to find a way to dispense with the war in Iraq and led by the man who helped George W.’s daddy save Saddam Hussein in the first Iraq war, will report next week that it deplores what’s going on in Iraq, but hasn’t a clue about what to do about it.
The panelists said they would report to Congress this week and in the meantime were warned by co-chairmen James Baker and Lee Hamilton that they were not under any circumstances to tell anyone what was in the report. So of course some of them did. What’s the point of knowing stuff in Washington if you can’t tell everybody about it?
Everyone is told to expect a recommendation that Iran and Syria be invited to assist the coalition of the willing in extracting the West from Iraq. We won’t be told how the enemy can help, since nobody knows. A pity FDR and Winston Churchill didn’t think about a strategy like this in early 1942. Half of us might be speaking German now (and the other half Japanese). The panel, according to the New York Times, will suggest withdrawing 15 combat brigades from Iraq and sending them to unspecified bases in neighboring countries where they would be responsible for protecting the Americans remaining in Iraq. It’s not clear how they would do this, perhaps by conducting seminars led by adjunct professors at Johns Hopkins, beamed into Iraq by Al Jazeera.
Wisdom sometimes slips out of the mouths not only of babes, but of fools. “I think we’ve played a constructive role,” said one person identified by the New York Times as “involved” in the committee’s deliberations, “but from the beginning we’ve worried that this entire agenda could be swept away by events.” Reality can do that.