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Apr 24, 2006 4:40 pm


A Thousand Days



A haunting op-ed from historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in todays Washington Post: Bush's Thousand Days:
But our Cold War presidents kept to the Kennan formula of containment plus deterrence, and we won the Cold War without escalating it into a nuclear war. Enter George W. Bush as the great exponent of preventive war. In 2003, owing to the collapse of the Democratic opposition, Bush shifted the base of American foreign policy from containment-deterrence to presidential preventive war: Be silent; I see it, if you don't. Observers describe Bush as"messianic" in his conviction that he is fulfilling the divine purpose. But, as Lincoln observed in his second inaugural address,"The Almighty has His own purposes."

There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war.


The futility of a nuclear attack in actually achieving the goal of such a strike [take out the deep bunkers in Iran] is apparent.

The necessity of opposing any military action in Iran should also be apparent.
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Adam Kotsko - 4/25/2006

Opposing Bush is not a partisan issue!


Alan Allport - 4/25/2006

A few words of contrition might be in order, at the very least.


Jonathan Dresner - 4/25/2006

I'm confused: does his opposition to the initiative at the time preclude his conclusion now that it was indeed justified? How is that "revisionist"?


Tom Bruscino - 4/24/2006

I was there also, and I will confirm Stephen's account of Schlesinger's position at Marietta that night.


L. Nathaniel Rock - 4/24/2006

Bush’s Iraq war is costing $100,000 per minute, But who’s counting?

Well folks, its really getting a little old in Washington.

Now The White House plans to ask Congress for an additional $70 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, driving the cost of military operations in the two countries to $120 billion this year, the highest ever. I read these fact recently, while reading an article in the Los Angeles Times. In the article, it was said that “most of the new money would pay for the war in Iraq, which has cost an estimated $250 billion since the U.S. invasion in March 2003.”

The article also noted “The additional spending, along with other war funding the Bush administration will seek separately in its regular budget next week, would push the price tag for combat and nation-building since Sept. 11, 2001, to nearly a half-trillion dollars, approaching the inflation-adjusted cost of the 13-year Vietnam War.”

This means that current Defense Department spending is about $4.5 billion a month on the conflict in Iraq, or about $100,000 per minute.

Yes, $100,000 per minute.

This is crazy folks.

Like many African-American voters I’m culturally conservative, with strongly held faith values, especially on issues such as same-sex marriage and school vouchers. Yet on the issues of Iraq as a public policy I’m on the polar opposite side from the GOP. I visited the pentagon’s Web site for casualty numbers in Iraq. It looks bad America.

Bush will be in office for another thousand days. In politics that a life time. In war it could mean the death of hundreds or thousands of men, women and children, and billions more U.S. tax payer dollars.

Enter Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who today wrote an article in the Washington Post about Bush's Thousand Days. Schlesinger a writer, a historian, who served as an adviser to President John F. Kennedy, writes, “ a thousand days remain of President Bush's last term -- days filled with ominous preparations for and dark rumors of a preventive war against Iran.

The issue of preventive war as a presidential prerogative is hardly new. In February 1848 Rep. Abraham Lincoln explained his opposition to the Mexican War: "Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose -- and you allow him to make war at pleasure [emphasis added]. . . . If, today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us'; but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.' "

This is precisely how George W. Bush sees his presidential prerogative: Be silent; I see it, if you don't . However, both Presidents Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower, veterans of the First World War, explicitly ruled out preventive war against Joseph Stalin's attempt to dominate Europe. And in the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, President Kennedy, himself a hero of the Second World War, rejected the recommendations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for a preventive strike against the Soviet Union in Cuba.

It was lucky that JFK was determined to get the missiles out peacefully, because only decades later did we discover that the Soviet forces in Cuba had tactical nuclear weapons and orders to use them to repel a U.S. invasion. This would have meant a nuclear exchange. Instead, JFK used his own thousand days to give the American University speech, a powerful plea to Americans as well as to Russians to reexamine "our own attitude -- as individuals and as a nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs." This was followed by the limited test ban treaty. It was compatible with the George Kennan formula -- containment plus deterrence -- that worked effectively to avoid a nuclear clash.

The Cuban missile crisis was not only the most dangerous moment of the Cold War. It was the most dangerous moment in all human history. Never before had two contending powers possessed between them the technical capacity to destroy the planet. Had there been exponents of preventive war in the White House, there probably would have been nuclear war. It is certain that nuclear weapons will be used again. Henry Adams, the most brilliant of American historians, wrote during our Civil War, "Some day science shall have the existence of mankind in its power, and the human race shall commit suicide by blowing up the world."

But our Cold War presidents kept to the Kennan formula of containment plus deterrence, and we won the Cold War without escalating it into a nuclear war. Enter George W. Bush as the great exponent of preventive war. In 2003, owing to the collapse of the Democratic opposition, Bush shifted the base of American foreign policy from containment-deterrence to presidential preventive war: Be silent; I see it, if you don't. Observers describe Bush as "messianic" in his conviction that he is fulfilling the divine purpose. But, as Lincoln observed in his second inaugural address, "The Almighty has His own purposes."

There stretch ahead for Bush a thousand days of his own. He might use them to start the third Bush war: the Afghan war (justified), the Iraq war (based on fantasy, deception and self-deception), the Iran war (also fantasy, deception and self-deception). There is no more dangerous thing for a democracy than a foreign policy based on presidential preventive war.

Maybe President Bush, who seems a humane man, might be moved by daily sorrows of death and destruction to forgo solo preventive war and return to cooperation with other countries in the interest of collective security.

Abraham Lincoln would rejoice."
I agree with Arthur Schlesinger Jr.


L. Nathaniel Rock

PS, Bush’s Iraq war is costing $100,000 per minute. In the 2-3 minutes you have taken to read this article. How much more money have we spent in the Iraq War, But who’s counting?

***

L. Nathaniel Rock, is a freelance writer, community-building consultant, blogger, and publisher of African-American Political Opinion.com he can be contacted at 240-472-8501 or by email at: LNathanielRock@Gmail.com


Robert KC Johnson - 4/24/2006

Agreed. The argument against attacking Iran can be made for a host of reasons, and doesn't require involving the Afghan war one way or the other.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/24/2006

That's a problem with Schlessinger and current events. He's smart enough and eloquent enough to make profound points, but sometimes he seems utterly unable to step back from his own partisanship.


Stephen Tootle - 4/24/2006

Schlesinger is engaging in a little revisionist history here. I saw him speak at Marietta College on the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan. He was (very much) opposed to our intervention there.

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