Sunni Bloody Sunni

For once the circumstances facing Bush are forcing him into the right thing, or at least the most reasonable facsimile of “right” that’s left available to him after all of his previous choices. Having to cede responsibility for the handover to Brahimi must be a sting in the ass to an administration that only a year ago was treating the U.N. like a doormat, but then again this is the group of forward-lookers who initially looked to Jay Garner as Viceroy Pro Tem. (Garner probably can’t help it if he looks like somebody’s drunk uncle—okay, I guess he could lay off the 40 weight until his nose stops glowing like Chernobyl—but still, what in the world made anyone look at him & think, “Here stands a molder of men’s destinies,” when in the end he couldn’t even cut it as a sock-puppet?) (Answer: He’s pals w/Rumsfeld.) What must be even more galling to Bush—& especially to his brass—is the need to have an old Hussein general bail their asses out at Fallujah. How long it takes before this decision blows up, too, is anybody’s guess but it really wasn’t much of a choice: Bush could either have started a real bloodbath just as the world press was swamped w/pictures of our cleancut lads & lassies troops torturing Iraqi prisoners or else he could’ve sat on his hands & tried to pass it off as prudence when everyone knows that patience isn’t his long-suit. (Besides, nothing makes Little Lord Fauntleroy pissier than having to wait out circumstances being imposed by someone else.)

Elsewhere the administration keeps hemorrhaging from places unimaginable just minutes before. Yesterday CNN ran a story about a speech Paul Bremer gave six months before 9/11, in which he said that the Bush administration was “paying no attention” to terrorism: “What they will do is stagger along until there’s a major incident and then suddenly say, ‘Oh my God, shouldn’t we be organized to deal with this.’” If the Democrats were only running someone—anyone—other than an uninspiring Massachusetts “liberal,” Bush would already be packing his bags.

*

Finally caught up with The Weather Underground the other night, & one little bit of it keeps coming back to me: Mark Rudd saying his community college students occasionally ask him what he did during Vietnam & how, when he tells them that he helped found an organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the United States, they just look at him like he’s “from another planet.” I’ve had similar disconnects talking to people who’ve read about the Weathermen or the SLA but don’t remember the days leading up to them—who don’t understand the situation in which: a) the idea that a real change might be made to the system if only it were given a strong enough push; b) the politicians were neutralizing peaceful protests, no matter how massive, by appeals to the Silent Majority; and c) the American public’s complacency had become as great an enemy as the politicians’ & corporations’ greed. If I’m less comfortable w/Naomi Jaffe saying that she’d jump at the chance today to be involved in a violent revolution  than I am w/Rudd’s admission that 30 years hasn’t solved his confusion about the proper tact to take, I also can’t help but feel that a continuation of the complacency that doomed the Weathermen underlies a lot of the moral objections younger people have towards the idea of planting bombs even in unoccupied spaces. There’s a gloating, pointing quality in their objections, as if only a total fool might do such things, but they’re judging it w/the benefit of perfect hindsight. I’d love to know if things will be so crystal-clear to them if we’re still fighting it out in Iraq 10 years from now. (Todd Gitlin at least claims to have seen the Weathermen’s wrongheadedness at the time, though his moral outrage seems inextricably laced w/his anger over their appropriation of the SDS, a crime he seems unable to place into a larger context.)

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