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Pentagon vs State Dept - whats your take?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2003 09:29 am
Again and again these last few months we have heard about the rift between Pentagon and State Dept. There seems to be a veritable rift in world views between the two, that explains why the opposition between the two reappears no matter what dilemma is at hand.

There was the rift on military issues. Rumsfeld's bold forward tactics and reliance on high-tech, involving all kinds of risky moves as small teams were sent out far ahead - vs the more traditional Powell doctrine that was said to be more of the risk-evasive sort - though the extent of "groundpaving" bombing it involved would have left a whole lot more dead enemies in its wake. (Or is this a correct way to phrase this opposition? Reports from Baghdad hospitals now have doctors claiming they never saw anything like what happened now in terms of casualties during Gulf War 1.)

There's the rift in world views on diplomatic matters. The State Dept eager to at least try the UN route as long as possible, and to build as wide as possible a coalition to go into war with when it comes that far - even at the cost of compromise. While the Pentagon seems to consider diplomacy merely an optional strategy in the military toolkit, to be used only in as far as it seems a worthwhile means to achieve the pre-determined military end goals with.

And now increasingly yet another opposition comes to light, specifically referring to what the post-war order in Iraq should look like but indicative of a wider difference in world views. Referring to a TNR article in which Lawrence F. Kaplan (unconvincingly) argues that Syria will not be next on the hitlist because - amongst other things - the State Dept seems so wedded to the idea of 'working with the existing regime' there, I wondered this about it in a post to the US/UN/Iraq thread:

nimh wrote:
I find this whole State Dept/Pentagon opposition fascinating.

The Pentagon seems to espouse some messianistic change-this-world attitude. It smacks of arrogance, for sure, and makes one fear about which crusades it will still lead Bush Jr into. But it also represents some changes in foreign policy that the left, ironically, has long asked for.

For compare the Pentagon line with the State Dept position on who to co-operate with and how. Its the State Dept that gambled on getting high Baathist officers/officials to effect regime change from inside - which would have gotten Saddam out but otherwise simply replaced one dictatorship with another. Its the State Dept that aimed at keeping the basic Baathist structures intact and limit any "revolution" to their decapitation, so that order could be quickly reestablished after the war. Its the State Dept that wants to keep the Iraqi exiles out of the post-war power for now, distrusting their internal divisions and "unreliabilities". It is the State Dept that prefers to keep Assad in as long as he can be 'worked with'. In short, the State Dept hasnt got much up with the whole 'establishing democracy' thing, which it probably considers a dangerously naive endeavour that could threaten stability. In fact, it seems to espouse the all-out version of classic realpolitik, the kind that props up dictatorships as long as they are the lesser evil, or "our" dictatorships; that distrusts dissidents and democratic opositions for the risk they could bring to "stability"; that sees "stability" as the holy grail, in fact, and repression and human rights as luxury interests. That lives in a world made up of only governments, while the Pentagon, in all its militant fervour, has no fear staking its plans on native or exile oppositions, on the alternatives to a regime within (civil) society.

I hate to set the cat among the pigeons, but one could well argue that the Pentagon line is actually, in comparison, highly idealistic, contrasted with the old cynical realpolitik of the State Dept. And we know that its the cynical realpolitik of arming "lesser evil" dictators and guerrillas only to a decade later find them our latest enemy, whom we then have to wage war against again - etc - that got us into all this trouble. Question now is what other kind of trouble the idealist messianism of America-the-Liberator, that the Pentagon now seems to put forward, will put us in, and how in the long run they compare.


What do you think about the elements of each of these dimensions of this apparent polarisation of world views?
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2003 09:44 am
bookmark
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2003 12:32 pm
Nimh -- A brief visit and I'll return later. But I think the "problem" with the State Department is that it has many and diverse voices -- and always has had. It's not a knee-jerk organization, as least not to the extent that Defense is -- a little pursy-lipped but not knee-jerk! The two departments represent two quite different goals. The rift would hardly exist if Defense hadn't taken on an ideological role for which it's ill-suited and which constitutes a conflict of interest. Part of it is due to the growth of the military as a social and economic force (MI complex), and lately it has been given further impetus by the power-hungry Rumsfeld who has also tried to decimate the CIA and take over all of intelligence. It is a curious thing to watch "conservatives" centralizing so much power in the federal government, and then see within the federal government itself a further centralization of power in Justice, Defense, and that new schmoo, Homeland Security. One is almost surprised to see the other Cabinet posts still in place...
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2003 09:53 pm
nimh

This is a very interesting question you pose here, and I wish I were more knowledgable regarding the history of the relationship between these two branches.

Clearly, and as Tartarin alludes to, the diplomat and the soldier have different functions - talk versus fight, to be simplistic. So it seems pretty likely they've not seen eye to eye on many previous occasions. Certainly too, the consensus regarding this administration does seem to be that the fighters are in ascention over the diplomats. I heard Madeline Albright on PBS some weeks before the war began, expressing alarm at the how this administration's approach to the UN and its members had damaged relationships and agreements which her State Department team had worked very hard at achieving.

As to messianism in the Pentagon...If by 'the Pentagon' you refer to the strictly military folks, I have to suppose there are some modern day Pattons kicking about, guys who love war and are zesty to get into it with all their new whizbang toys. And I think Tartarin is correct to bring in the element of the related industrial dynamic which also has a real interest in fresh wars so that their products are purchased.

But my guess would be that those two factors are probably not much changed between Clinton's time and the present. Which, if i"m right, would suggest the messianism is coming from Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz and the president. And that is certainly born out by what we know they've written and said.

Your more subtle question relates to classical Kissinger-style realpolitik versus this modern messianism and which might be more productive (or less disgusting perhaps) in bringing about change outside the US. I certainly won't argue that the history of realpolitik has been concerned with stability far more than any more altruistic motive (eg human rights). And I certainly wouldn't argue that this quite pathetic record couldn't be improved. It surely ought to be.

But, boy am I dubious that the record will improve with Defense more powerful than the diplomat corps - particularly THIS group (which really ought to be renamed as The Department of Offense). Afghanistan isn't a very compelling example. Nor are all the dead and maimed Iraqi civilians.
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dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 13 Apr, 2003 10:01 pm
bookmark also - fascinating topic
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 02:18 pm
Tartarin wrote:
The rift would hardly exist if Defense hadn't taken on an ideological role for which it's ill-suited and which constitutes a conflict of interest. Part of it is due to the growth of the military as a social and economic force (MI complex), and lately it has been given further impetus by the power-hungry Rumsfeld who has also tried to decimate the CIA and take over all of intelligence.


I'll disagree with this. IMO, the rift has very little to do with anything more than a personal rift between Rumsfeld and Powell.

Powell, the former #2 person at the Pentagon is now the #1 US diplomat and Rumsfeld, now the #1 person at the Pentagon, was formerly a White House Chief of Staff (a politician) and the US's Ambassador to NATO - a diplomat, are simply in postions where they each know the other's job and each think they can do other's job better than it is currently being done.

Rumsfeld seems to be coming out with the stronger hand at the moment because he has lackeys in the DoD that back his view where the career diplomats in the State Dept. have little or no interest in all things Defense so Powell gets no backing for his vision.

Remove Powell and Rumsfeld from the picture and there is no rift.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 03:12 pm
I don't think so, Fishin'. The rift has been there for years, and though the Rumsfeld-Powell relationship has added to it, the Pentagon has been grabbing for increasing power ever since WWII. Ike put his finger on it.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 06:25 pm
french voices
Newspaper quote from Francois Heisbourg, director of the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique:

Quote:
The war has gone better than expected. The neoconservatives are in the seventh heaven. They have something of the Bonapartists, with their ideals that are spread by the sword: we're going to reorder all the Middle East.


Though the quote in question implied a sten warning, Heisbourg did also make a link between said Bonapartism and the introduction of secular law in Egypt, suggesting a dangerously messianistic endeavour can still also yield lasting positive results.

And one from Alain Finkielkraut:

Quote:
"Before the war in Iraq started, I have said I considered intervention morally right but politically wrong. Not a very practical position, but at the time I could at best 'think aloud'; we were not, as many wanted us to believe, face to face with a scandal, but with a dilemma. A choice between two evils. The peace was an evil too, because it constituted a status quo [..] that preserved the gruesome regime of Saddam Hussein. [..]"

From the moment the Americans and Brits started the war against Iraq, Finkielkrauts hesitations disappeared. "[..] Give war a chance - perhaps it'll end well. Saddams disappearance is already a success and who knows the return of America to the Middle East might have advantageous effects on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. [..]

The 'hawks' in the American government are wrongly called conservative. They are revolutionaries - from the right - but nevertheless revolutionaries, who want to re-create the Middle East and subject reality to their dream.
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realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 06:47 pm
fishin' & Tartarin: Would you agree with the prediction that, in the next month or so, Mr Powell will leave the Administration to become, perhaps, the president of some prestigious university?
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 07:02 pm
fishin

Nice to see you. I don't think I agree. My guess is that Powell's tenure in State would have been rather traditional were it not for Rumsfeld's very untraditional view of what Defence ought to be up to.

nimh

I take your hypothetical question to read something like... "Are we upside down here perhaps? Is it possible that the 'liberal' disagreement with this foreign policy change is actually better understood as an ironically conservative stance? Might it be the case that this neo-con vision is, in the present time, the proper means to actually achieve the sorts of goals that liberals traditionally hope for - peace, human rights, equal opportunity, etc?"

Do you want to head in that direction? It could be valuable.
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 07:33 pm
realjohnboy wrote:
fishin' & Tartarin: Would you agree with the prediction that, in the next month or so, Mr Powell will leave the Administration to become, perhaps, the president of some prestigious university?


For my part I'd guess no. I don't think Powell would give Rumsfeld the satisfaction...
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 07:39 pm
blatham wrote:
fishin

Nice to see you. I don't think I agree. My guess is that Powell's tenure in State would have been rather traditional were it not for Rumsfeld's very untraditional view of what Defence ought to be up to.


I don't see where that is in disagreement. I stated that there was clearly friction between Rumsfeld and Powell. I just don't attribute that friction to a Dept of State vs. Dept of Defense issue brought on by the so-called "Military-Industrial Complex".

If the issue was attributtable to the MIC then it would have been just as heated all along and it hasn't been. Most of the foreign policy stuff that the Pentagon picked up over the last 30 years have been things that have been dumped on the Pentagon against the wishes of the Pentagon.

It isn't Defense vs. State - it's Powell vs. Rumsfeld - a personal grudge match.
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dyslexia
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 07:40 pm
"For my part I'd guess no. I don't think Powell would give Rumsfeld the satisfaction"
good point
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:01 pm
blatham wrote:
nimh

I take your hypothetical question to read something like... "Are we upside down here perhaps? Is it possible that the 'liberal' disagreement with this foreign policy change is actually better understood as an ironically conservative stance? Might it be the case that this neo-con vision is, in the present time, the proper means to actually achieve the sorts of goals that liberals traditionally hope for - peace, human rights, equal opportunity, etc?"


I wouldnt go that far, but yes, I did note some of the ironies in this situation. Re: this war, it's been the left - those traditionally the idealists out to "change the world for the better" - who have been pleading the virtues of realpolitik - of containment policies, of the justifiability of leaving a dictatorship in power in name of regional stability, etc. While it's been Republicans - those traditionally wary of any idealist drive to change the world and lofty but impractical talk of human rights - who are taking up the sword, using the ends of 'liberation from dictatorship' and 'ending brutal human rights abuses' as justifications - with those ends being actually achieved, to some lesser or greater extent, too.

An interesting reversal of roles, at the very least. Same kind of irony as that of those voting for Clinton to change the world getting eight years of stabilisation, and those, next-up, voting for Bush to restore order and tradition getting a rocky ride of international revolution (if you allow me the flourish).

I'm afraid of the part of the neo-con vision that has America in a specific messianistic role as Guide for the World - the Pax Americana part - and I am even more afraid of the neo-con practice of picking fights around the world on the basis of national interest rather than any objective standard of "evilness". But however randomly the foes of the moment appear to be chosen, they do each indeed constitute the kind of brutal dictatorships any liberal would want to see ousted too, with the possible exception of Iran - no longer are we talking having democratically elected presidents shot or overthrown (say, the Lumumba/Sukarno precedent). Purely speaking in terms of human rights and measures of freedom from totalitarianism, the "new American wars" - Iraq, Afghanistan, going back to Yugoslavia in Clintons time - have achieved ends any liberal would have stood for, while the harm they did is thus far mostly in fields (regional stability, the unity of institutions like NATO, EU, SC) that leftists never used to care for all that much.

In terms of traditional leftist values, the end of American hegemony that the current Pentagon line seems to suggest may be reprehensible - breathtakingly scary, even. But many of the conclusions the neo-cons seem to have come up with on the path to whatever end goal it is they are striving for, represent changes in foreign policy attitude that leftists long pleaded for. End the inviolable primacy of national territorial sovereignty that dictatorships profit from to repress their own population. Don't always look for alternatives within existing power structures - look at what alternatives the oposition, the underground, civil society, exiles offer. Dont be taken aback by the risk of a bit of chaos if you do; installing democracy is worth the instability. Take a risk on trusting the people instead of always aiming to keep the administrative structures of a dictatorship intact, and merely replace one apparatchik by another one. Don't settle for a more US-friendly version of the local brand of totalitarianism - dare to be Woodrow Wilsonesque in your mission to create whole new standards of sociopolitical order. These are sounds that now, on a cursory overview, seem to be emanating from the far right - leaving the left, which wuld have proposed much of the same earlier on, merely to say "but they dont really mean it!".

Even the military strategy - risking more of our own men in bold new tactics that in part are intended to involve far fewer enemy casualties than usual - can be said to respond to the traditional leftist criticism, associated with the carpet bombing practices of yore, of hipocisy re: civilian victims.

I am searching a bit here I know - improvising, and may well have made a few too sweeping generalisations. Its more, like you say, an interesting thread of thought. We can simply oppose all that comes from the right, and pick up on the Pentagon/State Dpt differences only to do some gloating about 'internal divisions' - or we can try to seek out which - if any, of course - of those differences actually involve questions - in whatever twisted version - we have been trying to get on the agenda for a long time ourselves.

Look at posters here, even, republican posters now warning that "no dictatorship in the world should feel safe". The instinct is to react against the arrogance of the implied claim to world domination in such posts; but hey - we do apparently suddenly have a US Right that a) considers the notions of fighting dictatorship and freeing civilian populations valid and immediate foreign policy concepts and b) is eager to play an active role on the world stage in clamping down on such "baddies". Thats an interesting contrast with all those post-WW2 years when the only times the Right would get out of its isolationist instincts was when the baddies in question were communists.

So - an interesting development, at least, and perhaps, in some odd way, even an opportunity. But yeh - unfinished thoughts - further input is definitely welcome.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:11 pm
fishin

I am, as I mentioned earlier, at some disadvantage here in not having a good historical grasp of the relationship between these two departments. So I don't have the proper information to ascertain whether your take or Tartarin's is closer to the truth.

That being said, Tartarin's point regarding Ike's classic warning ought not to be casually dismissed. Ike, after all, had probably a better view of this emerging dynamic than anyone, and he certainly wasn't a liberal pacifist. I'm going to guess that State gets fewer door to door salesmen from Boeing and Lockheed Martin than does the DoD. I'd further guess that the amount of dollars exchanged in relationship to Pentagon activities is greater (by a "my god in heaven!' factor) than that which relates to State activities. If we can infer that the drug trade exists because there is money to be made, we can infer it of the weapons trade as well.

But as regards a Powell/Rumsfeld personality clash as the central causal element in present departmental conflict... it's a thesis I do not think credible. Have you read Ambassadors Keisling and Wright's resignation letters to Powell? http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/08/1049567674242.html
And of course, these aren't the only signs from State that folks are unhappy with what the administration/Rumsfeld are up to.

Do you know of a precedent situation where resignations, made publically, of this nature have occured, or where division between State and DoD was this evident?
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 08:45 pm
blatham wrote:
fishin

I am, as I mentioned earlier, at some disadvantage here in not having a good historical grasp of the relationship between these two departments. So I don't have the proper information to ascertain whether your take or Tartarin's is closer to the truth.

That being said, Tartarin's point regarding Ike's classic warning ought not to be casually dismissed. Ike, after all, had probably a better view of this emerging dynamic than anyone, and he certainly wasn't a liberal pacifist. I'm going to guess that State gets fewer door to door salesmen from Boeing and Lockheed Martin than does the DoD. I'd further guess that the amount of dollars exchanged in relationship to Pentagon activities is greater (by a "my god in heaven!' factor) than that which relates to State activities. If we can infer that the drug trade exists because there is money to be made, we can infer it of the weapons trade as well.


The dispute between Rumsfeld and Powell has little, if anything, to do with arms. Everything has come to a head because Rumsfeld is pushing for teh DoD to take over control of all foreign aid. That's not arms he's talking about it's wheat, flour, public works, etc..

Quote:

But as regards a Powell/Rumsfeld personality clash as the central causal element in present departmental conflict... it's a thesis I do not think credible. Have you read Ambassadors Keisling and Wright's resignation letters to Powell? http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/08/1049567674242.html
And of course, these aren't the only signs from State that folks are unhappy with what the administration/Rumsfeld are up to.

Do you know of a precedent situation where resignations, made publically, of this nature have occured, or where division between State and DoD was this evident?


I know first hand of plenty of people, myself included, that either quit or retired at the Pentagon because of all of the non-military foreign aid taskings that were dumped on the Pentagon.

But, those aside, if as you say, these letters are unique it bolsters the argument that this is a Powell/Rumsfeld issue and not a State/Defense issue. If it was an issue between the 2 departments brought on by the MIC it would have been on-going for decades. You would have seen similar letters 5 years ago. You didn't see them then because Powell and Rumsfeld weren't in office 5 years ago. The MIC has zip to do with the current squabble. Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon and the rest of them don't sell sacks wheat and they don't care which political hack in Iraq takes over as their intrim head of government. Blaming the MIC is just double-talk people use when they don't have a real answer for what is going on. It's the standard boogy-man used any time someone mentions the Pentagon.
0 Replies
 
Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 09:37 pm
I certainly don't see Powell as a hero. The "non-military foreign aid taskings that were dumped on the Pentagon" may well have been among the profiteering activities which State couldn't handle. I'm pretty sure State has never had a flexible, hidden budget anything like the one Defense has.

The point about liberal/conservative is an interesting one, but the really troubling aspect is the means/end debate. Genuine liberals and conservatives at least agree that the means should be no less noble than the end, even though they might disagree about what these should be.

We've got two problems here. One is the loss of language. Calling these guys conservatives when they are really fundamentalist radicals is the first big mistake. Another is the loss of history: we forget (or were never told) that the Cold War was, if not an entire lie, largely a very big and potent one built on just enough truth to pass by those many citizens who are bored by details. It was trumped up and played with for political gain and for tremendously lucrative contracts for particular industries, just as we are seeing now. Those who never learned language or history really believe we "won" something called the "cold war," that it was a battle against an "evil empire" and that our leadership is once again conservative-thank-god. The same game (so successful! so lucrative!) is being played once again although this time it's the War Against Terrorism (or Evil) and the battleground is the Middle East.

The State Department, though it always knew the rules, also knew it was a game. It has been going on for decades. The MIC isn't a bogeyman. It's the man who came to dinner and stayed and stayed and stayed -- so familiar now that we hardly notice him.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 09:45 pm
I'll post this here, because it's the first one that seems to match the article. c.i.
*******************************
Mocking the White House at War
April 14, 2003
By ALAN COWELL

LONDON, April 13 - In the run-up to the war with Iraq, when
Justin Butcher's "Madness of George Dubya" was playing at a
fringe theater in north London, Mr. Butcher began to sense
that some Americans might bridle at his virulent lampoon of
the Bush administration and its readiness to go to war.

A "hostile minority" of e-mail messages, he said, demanded
to know how he would feel after a terror attack on his own
country. (He replied that Britain had indeed known Irish
Republican terrorism.)

Some asked why he was not grateful for Europe's salvation
by the United States in the Second World War. (He replied
that until 1941 the United States "sat very profitably on
the sidelines" of that conflict.) Some even pointed out, he
said, that if he were living in a country run by his "hero"
Saddam Hussein, he would be "lowered into a vat of acid"
for the kind of dissent and disrespect that is in his
revue.

But Mr. Butcher seems far from intimidated.

Now that his show has moved from the fringe into London's
mainstream West End for a four-week run at the Arts Theater
set to end on May 3, "The Madness of George Dubya" has been
hailed by some critics here as an overdue revival of
political satire on the London stage. Mr. Butcher, the
writer and the director, wants to take it to American
theaters, too.

The breakthrough into the West End was a triumph for Mr.
Butcher, 33, a playwright who as an undergraduate studied
classics at Oxford before training as an actor at the Drama
Studio in London. Before "The Madness of George Dubya," his
best-known work was a one-man show, "Scaramouche Jones,"
about a clown who breaks five decades of silence to
commemorate the year 2000 and his 100th birthday so he can
tell his life story as he removes the greasepaint for the
last time.

"Dubya" - part vaudeville, part farce, part cabaret - has
become the newest emblem of the frustration and ambivalence
felt by some Britons at being drawn into a war as the
principal allies of an American administration that
provokes incredulity and resentment rather than loyalty
among many of them.

"It's undoubtedly anti-Bush," Mr. Butcher said, "but to
understand it as an anti-American diatribe is to miss the
point." To describe it as topical might be an
understatement, too. From its conception to its first
production took less than three weeks, he said.

The United States, Mr. Butcher said, justified a war on
Iraq by "a series of palpable hoaxes" that left him
"increasingly flabbergasted by the shameless, manipulative
cynicism of the whole approach." He was so incensed that
starting late in December he resolved to cast, write and
stage his revue, which opened just over two weeks later, on
Jan. 14, in the Theatro Technis fringe theater in north
London. It opened in the West End last Monday.

The subtitle of "The Madness of George Dubya" is
"Strangelove Revisited," reflecting the way the show
reworks the 1963 Stanley Kubrick movie, "Dr. Strangelove,"
as the story of a rogue American general at a British air
base ordering a nuclear strike on a distant desert country
identified variously as Iraqistan and Arabistan. (The title
also draws on Alan Bennett's 1991 play "The Madness of
George III," which became the 1994 movie "The Madness of
King George," depicting the descent into madness of a ruler
encircled by a coterie of loyalists.)

The events are cast as a dream by Dubya, a George W. Bush
look-alike. He is sometimes seen wearing paisley pajamas
over a Superman T-shirt, clutching a huge teddy bear and
armed with toy pistols. Much is made of heavily accented
malapropisms - "the war on tourism," "weapons of mass
distraction."

At first it seems odd that the revue should hark back so
much to the cold war era. The Kubrick movie still stands as
a classic protest against nuclear militarism, and this
latest revisiting underscores the sense of cold war
polarization by using lyrics and music by an American, Tom
Lehrer. The show ends with a rousing chorus of "We will all
go together when we go."

The parallel, Mr. Butcher said, is deliberate, intended to
evoke similarities between the mind-set of the cold war and
that of the campaign against terrorism as promoted by the
White House after the Sept. 11 attacks. "Our constant state
is one of being at war," Mr. Butcher said.

Some Americans might be perturbed by the caricatures of
their president and of the people around him - the Dubya
figure calls them "Colin, Dick, Donald Duck." This Dubya,
who seeks to wage war on "poverty, tyranny, injustice and
France," is a childlike character easily manipulated by a
ruthless entourage of advisers drawn from the oil and arms
industries.

American officers like General Kipper, who orders a nuclear
strike on a distant Muslim country, are shown as deranged
zealots. The American pilots who fly the nuclear-attack
plane are shown as ignorant and self-absorbed, more
interested in pornography than the land they are about to
bomb.

Some characters seem to be caricatures of American
politicians whose own words have already made them seem
like caricatures to some of their critics. "All you have to
do is transcribe their utterances, and it needs very little
embellishment," Mr. Butcher said. "You couldn't invent it."


The British characters, by contrast, are more or less
bumblers dragged along in the powerful American wake. Prime
Minister Tony Blear is preoccupied by a real estate deal -
a real-life scandal that swirled around Prime Minister Tony
Blair's wife, Cherie, last year. Group Captain Windbreak is
the very model of British deference as he seeks to dissuade
General Kipper from ordering a nuclear strike. "Quite so,"
he murmurs, as the American officer demurs. "See your
point."

Wafiq Dizeez, an Arab envoy, introduces a serious long
moment in chronicling British and American involvement in
Iraq since the early 20th century. The counterpoint is
Yasmina, the cleaner from Al Qaeda, a suicide bomber who
wears a belt of explosives over flimsy underwear beneath
her cleaner's housecoat.

Mr. Butcher called the show a "hotch-potch of revue,
satire, cabaret, stand-up, vaudeville." In a way, it is
also news: with events in Iraq moving so fast, the play is
updated daily for new jokes.

"Coalition forces have today secured many areas of the city
of Belfast," Dubya said during last Monday's performance as
President Bush met Mr. Blair in Northern Ireland.

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/14/arts/theater/14GEOR.html?ex=1051334774&ei=1&en=58df510ed007d67c

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
0 Replies
 
blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 09:49 pm
fishin

Didn't mean to suggest the dispute between those two men related to arms. Rather, was just speaking to a significant real world difference between the two departments. That difference (the one I point to) is related to what Ike spoke of. State personnel and policies are not intertwined with the huge dollar industries that mark the Pentagon's activities. One might claim these connections are innocent (at the peril of sounding credulous, clearly, as Ike wasn't one to see boogy men) but regardless, that's a deep and real difference.

You suggest a particular and very specific reason (Rumsfeld pushing to control foreign aid) things have come to a head. May I ask what data you are privy to in making the claim? It doesn't square with what I've been reading and I'm not at all sure it can account for what we are seeing.

Re resignations...of course, I'm talking about resignations from State, not the Pentagon, made publically, and for reasons specifically related to America's present course of unilateral and pre-emptive war. (And this is where the MIC may well be very relevant indeed. But that is probably best left to another thread. Is the MIC a boogy man or a significant dynamic functionally pro-war and actually pro weapon distribution?)
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Mon 14 Apr, 2003 09:54 pm
nimh and tartarin

Sorry, I'll have to respond to your posts in the morning.
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