Sunday, November 14, 2004

CIA purging

One of the most unfortunate parts of this past election is that we're clearly never going to find out just how badly the prewar intelligence was subject to political interference.

The only thing we can surmise, however, is that things are just going to get worse.

The White House has ordered the new CIA director, Porter Goss, to purge the agency of officers believed to have been disloyal to President George W. Bush or of leaking damaging information to the media about the conduct of the Iraq war and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, according to knowledgeable sources."

The agency is being purged on instructions from the White House," said a former senior CIA official who maintains close ties to both the agency and to the White House. "Goss was given instructions ... to get rid of those soft leakers and liberal Democrats. The CIA is looked on by the White House as a hotbed of liberals and people who have been obstructing the president's agenda."
The CIA? A hotbed of liberals? Compared to who, exactly? "Liberal" here must mean "apolitical professional", many of whom have looked at the ideological blinders in the White House with horror. The only people left will be true believers, people who have demonstrated (through the Iraq blunders and the Chalabi debacle) that they're singularly unfit to handle this issue.

And intelligence is the key weapon against terrorism. Straight-up warfare is of dubious usefulness at best without it, and coordination between intelligence and law enforcement is the best way of really stopping problems before they start. It's not like the U.S. can invade Spain just because Al Qaeda may have some cells there.

I'm reminded of Alan Rickman's famous line in Die Hard, when all his plans were brought to fruition. "You want a miracle, gentlemen? I give you the F...B...I."

Osama needs a miracle to succeed.

We gave him B...U...S...H.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Election Thoughts

Would have posted yesterday, but blogger was haywire throughout most of the day.

Don't have much time, so I'll just say this: This was not a victory for Bush's foreign policy, for his economic policy, or the war on terrorism... not really. It was his failures in those that boosted turnout on the left, and that should have defeated him.

Instead, this was a victory for social conservativism- specifically, the hatred and loathing of homosexuals that is bubbling under the surface of far too much of the United States for the rest's comfort. Forget Queer Eye, metrosexuality, lesbian chic and the rest... a significant minority (if not a majority) of Americans have shown outright hostility towards a group that consists of 10-12% of the American population. Rove was right about an aspect of American society that many, many people (including myself) had dismissed as too disturbing and outlandish to take seriously.

More broadly, it illustrates the dual nature of American society- that it is the fusion of the Enlightenment and of Puritanism. The latter was perceived as dying, as America moved in the same secular direction as the rest of the world, comfortably protected by the declared seperation of church and state. This was in error. Religiosity in the United States is very much alive.

The Republican party isn't going to forget this, and how useful it was. They'll milk this for as long as possible, and the Democrats aren't going to get around it by embracing the religious right. They'll be painted as faithless libruls, no matter what.

Osama Bin Laden won't forget this. Although I doubt he cares much about gays, he and his ideological brethren can easily spin this as proof that the "war of civilizations" is not between the "secular West" and "Islamic fundamentalism", but between American and Islamic fundamentalisms, differing only in which religion they assert is the One True Faith.

Moslems in general won't forget this. They'll see it as an endorsement of Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, and to the extent that it wasn't a repudiation of such, they'll be right.

Europe won't forget this. Every leader in secular Europe is going to array themselves against the American religious right, and benefit handsomely from it.

Canada won't forget this. North America just got a lot lonelier for Canada. Canadian and American values are diverging, but I don't think either Canada or the United States had fully realized just how much. Canada's past election was a repudiation of overt religiosity- the American one embraced it.

In the meantime, expect American gays to get the message, loud and clear... and expect the division between the United States and the rest of the world to become a gulf. Huntington may indeed have been right about the Clash of Civilizations what he didn't anticipate was that the United States would end up being its own.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Election

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, or who I'd vote for. My preference for presidential candidate is pretty obvious to those who have read the site over the last three years.

I'm not going to tell you who I think the winner will be; those sorts of projections are pretty much pointless at this point, although I do think that the high turnout that we're seeing (see Kos for that) does suggest a certain outcome.

What I WILL tell you is that this election may be taking place in the United States, but it has global ramifications; not only in its effects on those who are the targets (recipients? beneficiaries? victims?) of U.S. foreign policy, but on the relationship between the United States and the rest of the world. The United States is divided, but the rest of the world isn't, not really, and if legitimacy is conferred on the victor that was lacking the last time around, it will serve as an endorsement, in the eyes of the world, of that victor's foreign policy goals.

There is no division between the people and the leader, not anymore. American politics does not stop at the water's edge and very possibly never will again. It's too outwardly focused, and if 9/11 did actually change anything, it's that.

In some respects, though, this election is also the culmination of my blogging career. (Bean pointed out in comments that I hadn't been commenting on the election much... that's not because I consider it unimportant, but because of the normal posting issues that I've been grappling with.) More that anything, this site has been dedicated to the effects that online "conservatarians" have had on American political discourse, and American foreign policy.

We've seen the growth of the so-called "Mighty Wurlitzer" and its ultimate expression in the policies (and spin) of the Bush administration. We've also seen the growth of a contrary force, largely based and built online, that has been key to the closeness of this race. Atrios called it the "mighty Casio"... it's smaller, tinnier, and quieter, but it kept on sounding dissonant notes that continually threw the Wurlitzer off. Both were really aimed towards this election, because the "Wurlitzer" is aimed at giving Bush a second term unconstrained by the threat of defeat and the "Casio" in repudiating and arresting the forces that gave him the presidency in the first place.

Thus, although I don't plan to go anywhere, this election is going to--by necessity--change my focus to documenting and analyzing the victorious force's rise and effects.

I think I know which force that's going to be.

I know I hope which one it will be.

Regardless, however, all I can do at this point is watch, and wait, and hope.