It’s official. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has become the official house organ (in-house newspaper) of World War III. Hey, it’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. The Journal’s editorial page has become the go-to place to advocate American imperialism and an endless war "against Islam."
I have been a WSJ reader for 46 years, since 1960. I became a subscriber in law school, and my subscription has seldom lapsed (when I was a newsstand purchaser). It’s a good newspaper and it has a stellar record on Wall Street.
I was probably the first journalist to interview Peter Kann, former head of Dow Jones, at the Majestic Hotel in Saigon where we were both staying, many years ago. Too many years ago.
And so I have often followed the affairs of Kann, the WSJ and Dow Jones.
Long ago, however, the WSJ editorial page asserted its independence. The WSJ editorial page has often been cutting-edge in identifying serious social trends and societal abuses. The work of Dorothy Rabinowitz comes to mind.
But the WSJ is wrong on WW III.
Thursday’s WSJ carried a polemic by former U. S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich calls for wholesale changes in the War Against Terror (WAT). On the cable news channels Gingrich has been pumping up the WAT as WW III. Newt’s wrong. In fact, the WW III argument is plumb goofy. Presidential fever does strange things to people. Newt’s thinking of running for president, and he wants a war to occupy his considerable imagination and to apply his considerable talents.
Saturday the WSJ carried a piece by the itinerant right-wing hit men David Rivkin and Lee Casey, who argue that in the WAT detainees should get minimal protection and basic treatment. No Geneva Convention for them. Rivkin/Casey write regularly as a tag team apologizing for prisoner abuses and aggrandizement of executive power (when Republicans are in power, of course).
Finally, the editorial page editor, Paul Gigot, interviewed President Bush for Saturday’s edition. Bush was, as usual, conflicted and confused. Gigot saw this as the "courage of Bush’s convictions."
The Bush Administration came to power claiming "adults" would make foreign policy, not the "children" of the Clinton years. They chided Clinton’s attempt to make terrorism a "law enforcement" problem and demanded a declaration of war. All before 9/11! The result of this pseudo-hairy-chested drum beating for war has been America’s political and military decline throughout the world. Instead of adults being in control, it now appears that no one is in control. Certainly not anyone with a minimal appreciation for world leadership.
The Bush Administration’s record on foreign policy is certain to be declared the most disastrous in American history.
Sorry WSJ editorial page. You’re wrong. It will take a generation or more to undo the damage that has been done. Bush is going to end up leaving office with everyone across the entire the political spectrum mad at him, from liberals/leftists to conservatives/rightists.
"World War III" is the latest loony policy to spring forth from the people I used to call the "pasty-faced, goose-stepping, right-wing weenies" who have never heard a shot fired in anger and love playing war by pulling the levers of power without having any idea of or concern for the consequences of their actions. Vice President Cheney stated he had "other priorities" during the Viet-Nam War. He seems to have had "other priorities" during the past several years, as he goaded Bush into undertaking a fantasy excursion into Iraq.
At the age of 18 I took an oath of enlistment to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from enemies foreign and domestic as part of my ROTC service. I took no oath to succor other causes or other nations.
Let me cut to the quick and be blunt about it: fighting terrorism is a law enforcement problem. The FBI is a law enforcement agency. The CIA and national intelligence apparatus operate under legal constraints and as part of a constitutional system. They enforce our laws. And they try to do the job well.
We have not been attacked for five years (my fingers are crossed). That’s because our law enforcement system, as upgraded and enhanced to confront a very novel and creative enemy, is working. Unlike Gingrich, I don’t think we need to declare war on the world or claim "we will not compromise our self-defense." That kind of trumpeting smacks of Israeli policy, also run by incompetent hacks, and look what it gotten them in Lebanon.
The system has worked when it was properly applied and supported. A combination of Special Forces and CIA operatives took down the Taliban in Afghanistan and chased Osama into his current cave. Then the politicians took over, the bean counters began to demand a role, and the Afghanistan mission was starved to the point of extinction. Because Bush has a delayed reaction mind, he still does not realize that 2001’s win against the Taliban has become 2006’s incipient defeat. Maybe he will wake up to that fact. And soon. I hope so.
In my opinion there is one phrase that defines America today: loss of faith. The world has lost faith in us, and we have lost faith in ourselves. Recent polls indicate more and more people believe the U. S. government was involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (Washington Post, 9/8/06). Does anything more glaringly obvious document loss of faith?
Our problem is not WW III. Our problem is that Bush & Co. have been fighting the Second World War, instead of a new global conflict where cooperation and consistency are the coin of the realm.
The problem is not, as Bush, believes, whether Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker of the House (WSJ/Gigot). The problem is that the office of president has been vacant for too long. Slogans and blind loyalty to narrow political interests have triumphed over undivided loyalty to that simple oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. It’s time Bush reread his oath, and took a fresh look at the mess he and Cheney have created. Then Gingrich would not have his WW III to bandy about any longer.
Years ago, I wrote that the WAT would be compromised by Bush’s Iraq extravaganza. I was right. Bush was wrong, again. (The Bush brothers and I have had a Road Runner-style relationship for over a decade; the two Wily Coyotes constantly hear my beep, beep; they have been consistently wrong and I have been consistently right in our ongoing confrontations.) Once again, I will stake my reputation on the prediction that we can make America safe and keep the world safe, if we do the job right and avoid ridiculous rhetoric about World War III. George, are you listening?