Thursday, September 21, 2006

Excerpt from an interview of Sidney Blumenthal

I really enjoyed the interview with Sidney Blumenthal over at Welcome to WorkingForChange. I am posting a short bit of it here. For the full interview here is the raw link:

Sidney Blumenthal is "both a trenchant, learned journalist and a tested political counsel who served as a former special advisor to both Bill and Hillary Clinton in the White House, Sidney Blumenthal has been writing commentary on politics regularly for and The Guardian since 2003. Blumenthal is a wordsmith with lacerating insight."

Okay here is just a small part of the "Buzzflash" interview:

"BuzzFlash: Much of what you've written so accurately and trenchantly points to the failure of the Bush administration to achieve its own stated goals. Really, Iraq is only the most tragic and at the same time, the most ludicrous example of how they have constantly shifted their goals and even failed every time they've shifted them. It might have been something extremely different if this were a radical government, and actually had succeeded at something beyond making the wealthy wealthier and leading us to the point of bankruptcy. I guess those are their two successes in some weird sort of way.

But you write frequently about their failures -- that, by their own standards, they've failed. Of all the many reasons they've given for going to Iraq, none seems to hold up. What we're left with is that they're stopping terrorism there, when we're really just mediating a civil war at this point between Sunnis and Shiites. Given all this failure, how are they able to continue to rule with the trump card of "you need us to fight against terrorism"? I know you can kind of manufacture "truthiness," as Stephen Colbert says on television, with big bad scary commercials with wolves in them. But the reality is failure, as you've pointed out. How can they get away with this?

Sidney Blumenthal: For every failure, Bush develops a new front where he insists that he is required to save us from a new threat. The Bush universe of threats is a constantly expanding universe as he moves to politically higher ground, escaping from failure after failure. He's not only radical, but the consequences of his radicalism have been catastrophic. These people have been deeply incompetent.
Now, some of the things that they're incompetent about go to the heart of what they believe. Their incompetence is not some inadvertent byproduct. It actually derives from their principles.
For example, consider what happened to New Orleans and the aftermath from Hurricane Katrina -- the destruction of a major American city, an absolute inability of the federal government through FEMA to cope as it should have with this terrible catastrophe. Why was it unable to cope? Well, the Bush Administration doesn't really believe in government. That's one of its dirty little secrets. So they turned FEMA into a dumping ground for political hacks. They demoted it. They cut it apart. They drove out professionals. They turned it into a plaything for lobbyists and no-bid contractors. What's going on throughout the government is a kind of FEMA-ization.

What has happened in Iraq in the occupation is not much different from what happened in New Orleans. Look at the privatization of warfare in the occupation, and how Halliburton and other contractors have profited. They've practically looted the federal treasury. And the result's catastrophic. The privatization of the occupation should not be seen as too different from Bush's proposal to begin privatizing Social Security. Imagine what that would have looked like, had it not been stopped. But their incompetence reflects their philosophy.

BuzzFlash: Do they think they've succeeded?

Sidney Blumenthal: They always think they need to be given another chance, and that, in time, things will work out. I think Bush's strategy is like Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind -- "Tomorrow's another day!" He has no strategy. Listening to his press conferences and speeches is like being stuck on a camp bus when you were a kid, singing, "We're Here Because We're Here." That's his policy on Iraq. It's like endlessly singing "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall."

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