Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hubris: The Paperback

We interrupt this blog to bring you this important new....

Today the paperback edition of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, the New York Times bestseller by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, goes on sale. You can order it here.

I know--don't ask me how I know--that there are visitors to this site who did not purchase a copy of the hardback when it came out last September. All will be forgiven if you now buy two copies of the paperback, which has a new chapter covering George W. Bush's so-called surge in Iraq and the Scooter Libby trial.

The hardback sold well, landed on several bestsellers list. On Election Night 2006, Tom Brokaw pointed to the book while analyzing the results on MSNBC:

Some of the most pointed criticism of the president on the war came from George Will and from Pat Buchanan. And then there were a whole series of books and they were called Fiasco and State of Denial and Hubris. And they were detailed accounts of all that had gone wrong before. So, you know, there was the reality on the one side and then what the president was trying to persuade the country, on the other side, was that I've got a plan, stay with me here. And finally people said, look, I've heard the sky is falling too long. I'm going to make my own judgment about this.

And it's rewarding that Hubris has already become assigned reading in college courses. Yes, how the United States became trapped in this mess in Iraq is already a subject of history.

The book received strong reviews, including a rave in The Washington Post. Here's a sampling from that shout-out:

There have been many books about the Iraq war, and there will be many others before we are through. This one, however, pulls together with unusually shocking clarity the multiple failures of process and statecraft that led so many people to persuade themselves that the evidence pointed to an active Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction and that it was in the interests of the United States to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

This is seemingly an eternal theme. The deeper we are drawn into Isikoff and Corn's account, the more we enter
March of Folly territory. When the late Barbara W. Tuchman published her masterly 1984 account of the ruinous policies that governments have pursued through the ages, she ranged across a canvas stretching from the Trojan war to Vietnam.

To qualify as folly, Tuchman wrote, a policy must meet three criteria: It must have been seen at the time as counterproductive; a feasible alternative course of action must have been available; and the policy must have been that of a group of people, not merely a single tyrant or ruler. If ever a policy qualifies on all counts, it was the U.S.-imposed regime change in Iraq. Isikoff and Corn are reporters (for Newsweek and the Nation, respectively), not historians, but they still compel the reader to confront a further, essential dimension of folly's march. In each case -- the Niger uranium papers, the mobile labs, the aluminum tubes, the Atta-Iraq link -- there were people up and down the policy chain, including some at the very top, who either knew at the time or should have known that the claims were false or unreliable.

Many critics of the Iraq War have highlighted the ideological drive behind the invasion. Fewer have grappled with the more complex question of why it was impossible for skeptics, doubters and more scrupulous analysts to stop it. Isikoff and Corn enable us to understand better how this devastating policy tragedy played out. But as Coleridge once observed, the light of experience is but a lantern on the stern, illuminating only the waters through which we have passed. Sadly, Isikoff and Corn can't tell the next generation how to avoid such tragedies.

A modern-day March of Folly? That's high praise, indeed. And while the existence of this book certainly does not guarantee that other tragedies of immense folly will not transpire (after all, Tuchman's book also failed in this regard), this is a narrative (full of drama and behind-the-scenes details) chronicling how the Bush crowd got away with it. Is it an act of hubris to think that books such as ours might lead to a nanosecond of pause the next time leaders try to mount a disingenuous rush to war? Maybe so. But if such folly is repeated, you can't say you weren't warned.

So please, buy the book. Or did I say that already?

Posted by David Corn at May 29, 2007 10:20 AM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

"A modern-day March of Folly? That's high praise, indeed."

And totally deserved and well earned by your and Mike's work.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. The additions sound tempting.

Thanks for all of your work!


Gerald said...

Our son has informed me that my book is available in French and German. The publishing company may want to tap into these countries because the people will enjoy reading my perceptual opinions of America's evil administration.?

capt said...

Ending A Failed Occupation

Congress has just voted to fund the war for another year — $100 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. How could that happen when two-thirds of the public are opposed to the war and the Democrats just gained the majority of both houses in the Congress with a mandate to bring it to a close?

Curbing a rogue president intent on sustaining a failed war is not easy. Public opposition is not enough. The mandate of the 2006 elections is not enough. A slim Democratic majority in both houses of Congress is not enough. Daily evidence of the deepening debacle is not enough.

In this instance, Bush vetoed the bill that set a date for beginning to bring home the troops. Republicans stood with the president, so his veto could not be overridden.

The Democratic leadership faced a hard choice. Activists urged that they pass the same bill again, inviting the same veto, and force Republicans to decide once more whether they stand with the failed policy of an unpopular president or for changing course in Iraq. More cautious voices urged giving the president the money he wanted for another year, and postponing the debate until September when they face the question of 2008 funding.

The first option—forcing another veto—took courage. It isn’t business as usual. It would create a firestorm of criticism in the right wing echo chamber. The president would spend the Memorial Day ceremonies and recess excoriating Democrats for abandoning the troops in the field. The Pentagon would announce that they’d run out of money, and were now forced to rob other programs vital to our defense to pay for the troops.

The more conservative members of the Democratic Congress were shaky enough on the first vote. They could easily revolt and vote with Republicans if the leadership forced a second one.

The leadership decided they couldn’t take the risk or didn’t have the votes. They chose instead to pass a bill funding the war for another year, with only symbolic "benchmarks" requiring reporting on Iraqi government "progress." The president will have his surge; the debate will be revisited in September.

Then, to add insult to this injury, the apparatchiki of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee dispatched a fundraising email describing the war funding as an historic victory. Clearly the party operatives either have no clue about their core supporters, or utter disdain for them.

The lesson is plain. To bring this war to an end will require an independent and resolute movement willing and able to put pressure on politicians of both parties, and to hold them accountable for their actions – or inactions.

The catastrophe in Iraq will continue, with our troops caught in the middle of a civil war they cannot stop. The only question now is how long the folly will continue, how many more lives will be lost, how many more billions squandered, how much more harm to America’s security and standing in the world will be done.

The president isn’t about to change course. The Congress must bring the war to an end. Vulnerable Republicans must pay a price when they wring their hands, murmur words of opposition and vote to sustain the president’s course. Conservative Democrats, those who voted for it from the start and have been slow to understand the scope of the debacle, must be challenged, not sheltered.

The vote on the supplemental gives a good sense of where members stand—who is prepared to stand up and who is prepared to just go along. Over the summer, we should make certain that the latter understand that there is a price to pay to supporting the worst foreign policy debacle in American history.


capt said...

"Our son has informed me that my book is available in French and German. The publishing company may want to tap into these countries because the people will enjoy reading my perceptual opinions of America's evil administration.?"

The French and Germans have a very different take on the USA and issues of global concern. I think many will find your observations interesting and insightful.


capt said...

Report: Hidden U.S. debt at $59 trillion

WASHINGTON, May 29 (UPI) -- If the U.S. government used standard corporate accounting practices, the nation's total liability would be $59.1 trillion, USA Today reported Tuesday.

Because the government keeps Social Security and Medicare on separate ledgers, the amount the government actually owes is far higher than claimed, as the two programs account for 85 percent of the total shortfall, the newspaper said.

The government claimed a $248 billion 2006 budget deficit but if standard accounting had been used to include the two programs, the true number would be $1.3 trillion, the report said.

Accountants in the analysis said the $59.1 trillion represents a 2.6 percent increase over last year and works out to $516,348 for every U.S. household.

Corporations and all levels of government except at the federal level use accounting practices that require expenses, including future ones, be recorded immediately. However, the White House and the Congressional Budget Office claim Medicare and Social Security aren't true liabilities because government can cancel or cut them at any time.


*****end of clip*****

I'm afraid I might come up a little short on my $516,348.


Gerald said...

capt, the Nazis' answer for this debt is to give more tax breaks to the rich. According to the Nazis these tax breaks for the rich will grow us out of this debt. The Nazis can really pile up the bullshit.

This debt will bring about much pain and suffering for Americans. I have a friend whose field is finance and he says the Nazi American government seeks a depression in Nazi America to cancel the debt. I am not into finance so I cannot say what this Nazi government wants.

I came in at the right time and I am leaving at the right time.

This morning on the Diane Rehm show I heard a guest say that the American people get what they deserve.

Where is the outrage? Silence is tacit approval of Hitler Bush and his policies.

Gerald said...

This message is for our Nazi Americans. DON'T PISS ON MY LEG ANF TELL ME THAT IT'S RAINING!!!

capt said...

"Silence is tacit approval of Hitler Bush and his policies."

No doubt, and funding an illegal occupation is insane. Our politicians and political system have failed to represent the people again.


capt said...

TB Case Brings Warning to Air Passengers

Health Officials Say Man With Rare Tuberculosis Could Have Infected Airline Passengers

A man with a rare and exceptionally dangerous form of tuberculosis has been placed in quarantine by the U.S. government after possibly exposing passengers and crew on two trans-Atlantic flights earlier this month, health officials said Tuesday.

This marks the first time since 1963 that the government issued a quarantine order. The last such order was to quarantine a patient with smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC urged people on the same flights to get checked for tuberculosis.

The infected man flew from Atlanta to Paris on May 12 aboard Air France Flight 385. He returned to North America on May 24 aboard Czech Air Flight 104 from Prague to Montreal. The man then drove into the United States.

He cooperated with authorities after learning he had an unusually dangerous form of TB. He voluntarily went to a hospital and is not facing prosecution, officials said.

The man is hospitalized in Atlanta in respiratory isolation, according to the World Health Organization.

He was potentially infectious at the time of the flights, so CDC officials recommended medical exams for cabin crew members on those flights, as well as passengers sitting in the same rows or within two rows.

The man was infected with "extensively drug-resistant" TB, also called XDR-TB. It resists many drugs used to treat the infection. Last year, there were two U.S. cases of that strain.

Because of antibiotics and other measures, the TB rate in the United States has been falling for years. Last year, it hit an all-time low of 13,767 cases, or about 4.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.

Tuberculosis kills nearly 2 million people each year worldwide.


capt said...

Plame was ‘covert’ agent at time of name leak

Newly released unclassified document details CIA employment

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald's memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

The nature of Plame's CIA employment never came up in Libby's perjury and obstruction of justice trial.

Undercover travel
The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

Plame worked as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations and was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) in January 2002 at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

The employment history indicates that while she was assigned to CPD, Plame, "engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business." The report says, "she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times." When overseas Plame traveled undercover, "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

Criminal prosecution beat national security
After the Novak column was published and Plame's identity was widely reported in the media, and according to the document, "the CIA lifted Ms Wilson's cover" and then "rolled back her cover" effective to the date of the leak.

The CIA determined, "that the public interest in allowing the criminal prosecution to proceed outweighed the damage to national security that might reasonably be expected from the official disclosure of Ms. Wilson's employment and cover status."

The CIA has not divulged any other details of the nature of Plame's cover or the methods employed by the CIA to protect her cover nor the details of her classified intelligence activities. Plame resigned from the CIA in December 2005.

Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson have filed a lawsuit against four current or former top Bush administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, accusing them and other White House officials of conspiring to destroy her career at the CIA.


*****end of clip*****

Even the MSM is calling out the Libby lobby as the looney liars.


capt said...

New Thread

O'Reilly said...

I know--don't ask me how I know--that there are visitors to this site who did not purchase a copy of the hardback when it came out last September. All will be forgiven if you now buy two copies of the paperback, which has a new chapter covering George W. Bush's so-called surge in Iraq and the Scooter Libby trial.

Look, I don't want to know how but I do want to know who. Name names!

Thanks for the two new chapters, good idea! It's like US rock bands releasing albums in Japan with an extra song or two. Fanatics in the US market find a way to purchase the Japanese release.

capt said...

Libby defense fund member attacks Fitzgerald

One of Scooter Libby’s "most ardent defenders, Richard Carlson, a former chief of the Voice of America who serves as a member of a defense trust set up for Libby," reacts to Patrick Fitzgerald’s latest filing which again states that Valerie Plame was covert:

I think it’s certainly unseemly that he is kicking him while he’s down. For Fitzgerald, to get on his high horse, it’s disgusting and he should be ashamed of himself.

Richard Carlson is the "bow-tied father of bow-tied television pundit Tucker Carlson" who "sent a courier with a check to Libby’s Virginia home…on the morning of his perjury indictment."


*****end of clip*****

"kicking him while he’s down"?

WTF, now the truth of a matter is somehow kicking the liar while he (Libby) is down? It takes no horse (high or otherwise) to kick a liar with the truth. Gawd, these slimy GOPher jerks are too delusional for words.