Paul Krugman devotes his Memorial Day column (Times Select) to lamenting how George Bush violated the cardinal rule about Presidents leading their countries into war:
“In this place where valor sleeps, we are reminded why America has always gone to war reluctantly, because we know the costs of war. That's what President Bush said last year, in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
Those were fine words, spoken by a man with less right to say them than any president in our nation's history. For Mr. Bush took us to war not with reluctance, but with unseemly eagerness.
Now that war has turned into an epic disaster, in part because the war's architects, whom we now know were warned about the risks, didn't want to hear about them. Yet Congress seems powerless to stop it. How did it all go so wrong?
Krugman goes on to cite all the warning signs that this President should not be trusted to be Commander in Chief, while noting that Bush has now resurrected al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, the bogeyman that he once claimed was not particularly important. Yet despite growing disillusionment with Bush's warmongering and the 2006 election mandate to end the American occupation of Iraq, it goes on this Memorial Day with no end in sight.
The truth is that the nightmare of the Bush years won’t really be over until politicians are convinced that voters will punish, not reward, Bush-style fear-mongering. And that hasn’t happened yet.
Here’s the way it ought to be: When Rudy Giuliani says that Iran, which had nothing to do with 9/11, is part of a “movement” that “has already displayed more aggressive tendencies by coming here and killing us,” he should be treated as a lunatic.
When Mitt Romney says that a coalition of “Shia and Sunni and Hezbollah and Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda” wants to “bring down the West,” he should be ridiculed for his ignorance.
And when John McCain says that Osama, who isn’t in Iraq, will “follow us home” if we leave, he should be laughed at.
But they aren’t, at least not yet. And until belligerent, uninformed posturing starts being treated with the contempt it deserves, men who know nothing of the cost of war will keep sending other people’s children to graves at Arlington.
Here is how Al Gore frames the problem, in a Guardian article well worth reading:
The pursuit of "dominance" in foreign policy led the Bush administration to ignore the UN, to do serious damage to our most important alliances, to violate international law, and to cultivate the hatred and contempt of many in the rest of the world. The seductive appeal of exercising unconstrained unilateral power led this president to interpret his powers under the constitution in a way that brought to life the worst nightmare of the founders. Any policy based on domination of the rest of the world not only creates enemies for the US and recruits for al-Qaida, but also undermines the international cooperation that is essential to defeating terrorists who wish to harm and intimidate America. Instead of "dominance", we should be seeking pre-eminence in a world where nations respect us and seek to follow our leadership and adopt our values.
Amen. But I can already hear how the fear mongering right and a compliant media will portray this. They will ignore the catastrophe their neocon ideologues have inflicted on the Middle East, the damage to US honor and prestige and influence, the devastation of our armed forces, the depletion of our National Guard, the plundering of our treasury, the diminution of our freedoms at home and the damage to our sense of confidence and optimism and, without missing a beat or the slightest self-aware sense of dishonesty or shame, piously tell us how the Democrats are soft on defense. And they'll keep repeating the lie until they've undermined every value the country celebrates on Memorial Day.