Thursday, February 15, 2007

Out of chaos would become vacuums

Today Bush paid a visit to his ideological enablers at the American Enterprise Institute, which he kept calling by its initials. He said “I appreciate what the AEI stands for,” but he might have been thinking it was the Affiliated Engineers Inc. or Appalachian Education Initiative or Azimuth Error Indicator or Alleanza Evangelica Italiana.

Prepositions are really not his friend: “there is one principle of which every member of every party should be able to agree on”. If you’re wondering, that one principle is “We’ve got to fight the terrorists overseas, so we don’t have to face them here at home again.”

In this speech, Bush’s favorite adjective “interesting” was back with a vengeance: “One of the interesting things that I have found here in Washington is there is strong disagreement about what to do to succeed, but there is strong agreement that we should not fail.” Isn’t that interesting? “It’s an interesting enemy, isn’t it?” Aren’t they just? “Isn’t it interesting that NATO is now in Afghanistan?” Fascinating. There were also “interesting” stories and quotations and, not quite the same thing, I know, but he said that various things, usually military, were “in our interests” no fewer than 10 times.

Some things are more than interesting; they are, in fact, amazing. 9/11, for example, “was an amazing turning point in the history of our country, really, when you think about it.”

It’s very important for you all, as citizens, to understand the blindingly obvious: “It’s important for our fellow citizens to understand a mother in downtown Baghdad wants her child to be able to walk the streets peacefully, just like mothers here in America want their children to be able to go to a playground and play peacefully.”

“And the reason why I mention success is, it’s important for us to succeed.” At least he had a good reason for mentioning it.

His rhetoric flew to new heights of rhetoricity: “If we were to leave this young democracy before the job is done, there would be chaos, and out of chaos would become vacuums, and into those power vacuums would flow extremists who would be emboldened; extremists who want to find safe haven.”

Most of the speech was devoted to Afghanistan.

“Under the Taliban, free enterprise was stifled. Today, the Afghan economy has doubled in size since liberation.” Admittedly, that gain was entirely in the, ahem, agricultural sector. But of course he wants to put an end to that: “I have made my concerns to President Karzai pretty clear -- not pretty clear, very clear”. And there is nothing more terrifying that George Bush trying to make himself very clear.

For example, what does he really think about poppy production? “These poppy growers are trying to make a living. And the idea is to provide these farmers with credit, and seeds, and fertilizer, and assistance to bring their products to market.” Well, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

We’re helping Afghanistan in other ways as well: “it’s in our interest and the interest of NATO countries to provide training so they have more, more strong fighters.” Also, we’re helping restructure the country’s hilariously corrupt judicial system because “There’s nothing more discouraging when justice is not fair.” We’re sending them prosecutors, judges and lawyers to help, because when you see a country that’s really fucked up, your first thought is “I know! Let’s send lawyers!” He says this job “must be neat, really.” But it is a thankless task: “And I cannot thank our citizens for taking time out of their lives to go.”

What we really need to send are some cowboys: “Taliban and al Qaeda fighters do hide in remote regions of Pakistan -- this is wild country; this is wilder than the Wild West.” Like Deadwood, but without all the creative swearing.

And why is it important again? “And a victory for the forces of liberty in Afghanistan will be a resounding defeat in this ideological struggle.”

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