Monday, January 29, 2007

Slouching Toward Tehran

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
- from the "Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats

This morning NPR launches its exclusive interview with President Bush. The job of the interview goes to Juan Williams, who chummed with Cheney at the White House Carnival last October.

The piece leads off with a question from Williams to Bush: "If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq, how will the US respond?" Good God, what a stupid question! Why not ask, "Given that most, if not all US casualties are being caused by Sunni insurgents backed by US allies such as Saudi Arabia, why are you focusing on Iran?" or "Given that the powerful SCIRI and Dawa members of the Iraqi government are close allies of Iran, what are you possibly hoping to achieve by being more aggressive with Iran?" Or even, "Since the Iraq Study group recommended working with Iran and Syria, why are you discarding all of their advice and opting for confrontation with Iran and Syria?" No, can't be contrary...instead Williams asks a question you might expect to hear from someone on Fox News -oops!

All right, off to a bad start but lets see where this goes. Bush answers, "If Iran escalates its military action in Iraq to the detriment of our troops and/or innocent Iraqi people we will respond firmly."

Back in the studio Inskeep then asks Williams a reasonable question: "And Juan do you get the sense that the President is looking for a fight with Iran?" And Williams responds, "No Steve, I had the sense that he’s defensive about this....he kind of shied away from the idea that that necessarily meant an escalation...."

I never thought I'd recommend turning to Bush for counsel in such a matter, but the clueless Williams might just want to consider the words of the Decider from way back in 2002: "There's an old saying in Tennessee -- I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee -- that says, fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again." Hey Juan, remember all that BS about WMD's and war as a last resort before March of 2003? Ringing any bells?


Anonymous said...

Bah. The administration gave this interview to Juan Williams because they knew he wouldn't (couldn't) outsmart George Bush.

I can't stand either, so I gave this piece a miss. And the day they have Mara fluff Dick Cheney on-air, I think I'll give that one a miss as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh God, now it's Michael Oren, the Israeli soldier-historian to teach us about the history of the US in the Middle East. OKTHXBY.

Porter Melmoth said...

Leaving aside all the factors of what this interview SHOULD have been, (and it should have been an opportunity for somebody really bold to nail Bush's ass on every issue) it is nevertheless a considerable example of just how good our boy Junior has gotten at posing in the presidenting act. Not only has he long been able to buddy up one on one, he has also been able to refine his conversational parrying to and fro. It is breathtaking what progress that boy has made. Some of his responses were downright reminiscent of a (get ready) Henry James paragraph-sentence. Could it be that he genuinely impresses the interviewer who happens to be in his presence, so that said interviewer, expecting a true dumbo, discovers Bush to be surprisingly adept at verbal rattling, and so they are defused from asking the tough, intelligent questions, and instead get derailed onto a sidetrack of superficiality, causing the Pres to 'win'. . . ? Why is his decorum so powerful? I noticed that Andy Rooney let fly a complaint yesterday on '60 Minutes' that the Pres can't even say 'nuclear' properly, yet here's poor, pathetic, overrated Juan Williams, taking the Pres to heavy task on his saying 'Democrat Congress' in the SOTU, and even gets him to utter an 'official' statement, saying that he can't pronounce certain words very well, yet drops the ball on this and every other opportunity . . . Well, that's not very accessible or helpful journalism, because the timidity in the face of the Throned One is too great for truth to prevail. I happen to know a woman who, when she lived in Texas, got to talk with the then governor at a benefit in which he appeared. The two talked for over an hour. And because of that - because he deigned to talk to a commoner one on one for over an hour at a public function - the woman I know was exalted. She felt so cared-for, so attended-to. And now, years later, Bush is still able to work his wonders on people who should know better. Question: Bush may have a knack of yak, but is it so formidible that NPR wimps can't stand up to it? Answer: why should they stand up to it when they are perfectly happy to go along with it?

Porter Melmoth said...

I have to add the following observation: where is the hard evidence that the Middle East will collapse into catastrophe if the US leaves Iraq? What's the scenario? All I've ever heard (and not just on NPR) is that everything will go ballistic if the US leaves. How? Who? Why? What sort of speculation does an 'expert', I don't care what kind, have to offer about what would REALLY happen if the US leaves? Total war? Of course not. The regional nations and powers would not attempt 'taking' Iraq, especially in light of the US failure; besides, many of them have always been relieved that the US got suckered into the mess, so they didn't have to. What more convenient excuse does a failed enterprise have but to say that things will get even worse if that failed enterprise admits its failure? I'm just waiting, probably in vain, for a cogent, detailed, and credible thesis on post-US Iraq and surrounding region. I can only hope that a succeeding non-Bush president will fly to Teheran and broker an agreement firsthand with the Iranians, thus setting the stage for a more stable and independent Middle East as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Porter, if I suss it right, the official line is this: If the U.S. fails in Iraq, it will embolden our enemies, who will next attack Egypt and Saudi Arabia to create "Islamist extremist" states a la Iran and the former Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. We would also be turning Iraq over to terrorists who would use it as base for further operations against the U.S. "homeland."

That's not my view at all, but it's the one I seem to getting spoon fed.

Porter Melmoth said...

Kevan, you're absolutely correct about the spoon-fed hogwash (to use Dick Cheney's non-cuss word of choice lately) that passes for a 'certain catastrophe', should we decamp from Iraq. Thing is, there is still no hard evidence to back any of it up. It's the old domino theory for SE Asia, regurgitated through the panting wet dreams of Richard Perle and David Frum (e.g. their bozo tract advocating a new Hundred Years' War, 'An End To Evil', attempted to lay it all out for us to slavishly follow). I would never expect NPR to chart an investigative course through this complex subject, but somebody, somewhere, with enough credibility to be heard, should make the effort, and soon.