All the President’s Disablers

I’m republishing the following piece for the readers of this new blog.

A response by Con George-Kotzabasis to:

All the President’s Enablers by Paul Krugman
The New York Times July 20, 2007

The fundamental principle of power and of any political activity is that these should never be any appearance of weakness. Niccolo Machiavelli

The eminent professor of economics Paul Krugman who ditched his solid professorial chair for the ephemeral glitter and celebrity status that accrues from being a peer pundit of The New York Times, ridicules George Bush, in his latest article, of a misplaced confidence that verges to a “lost touch with reality”. Confident to bring in Osama dead or alive, confident toward the insurgents “to bring it on”, confident that the war will be won, when the latest report of the National Intelligence Estimate is so gloomy about the prospects in Iraq and the war against al Qaeda that would make even the most optimistic of Presidents to have second thoughts about his policy, but not George Bush. Krugman states, “thanks to Mr. Bush’s poor leadership America is losing the struggle with al Qaeda. Yet Mr. Bush remains confident”. Such a stand “doesn’t demonstrate Mr. Bush’s strength of character” but his stubbornness to prove himself right despite the grim reality.

But Krugman saves his main grapeshot to fire it against the Republican doyen Senator Richard Luger and General Petraeus both of whom he considers to be the “smart sensible” enablers of the President. He argues that while Senator Luger knows, and indeed, acknowledges, that Bush’s policy in Iraq is wrong, he nonetheless is not prepared to take a strong stand against it. And he cleverly in anticipation of the September report of General Petraeus that might be favourable to the situation on the ground as an outcome of the surge, he launches a pre-emptive strike on the credibility of the general by quoting extensively from an article the latter wrote in the Washington Post on Sept. 26, 2004, whose assessment about Iraq at the time was overly optimistic if not completely wrong. In the article the general wrote, “that Iraqi leaders are stepping forward, leading their country and their security forces courageously” and “are displaying courage and resilience” and “momentum has gathered in recent months”. It’s by such implied non sequiturs that our former professor attempts to discredit General Petraeus. Just because he might have been “wrong” in the past it does not follow that he would be wrong also in the future. And Krugman caps his argument by saying that because of these “enablers” of the President, “Mr. Bush keeps doing damage because many people who understand how his folly is endangering the nation’s security still refuse, out of political caution and careerism, to do anything about it”.

But how serious are these strictures of Krugman against the President and his so called enablers? Let us first deal with the optimism of Bush and his confident statements about the war in Iraq and the struggle against al Qaeda. Krugman is lamentably forgetful that when the President committed the U.S. to take the fight to the terrorists he stated clearly and unambiguously that this would be a generational struggle. And in this long war against al Qaeda and its affiliates and those states that support them, he was confident that America would prevail. Hence all the confident statements of Bush were made in the context of a long span and not of a short one as Krugman with unusual cerebral myopia made them to be. His argument therefore against the President’s optimism and confidence, which he ridicules with the pleasure of one “twisting the knife”, is premised on a misperception. Moreover, did Krugman expect that the Commander-In-Chief of the sole superpower not to have expressed his hopefulness and confidence to the American people, when they were attacked so brutally on 9/11, that the U.S. in this long war would prevail? And is it possible that our pundit to be so unread in history and not to have realized that in all critical moments of a nation’s existence it’s of the utmost importance that its leaders rally their people against a mortal threat with statements of hope and confidence, as Winston Churchill did in the Second World War, that the nation would be victorious against its enemies? Would Krugman have the President of the United States adopt the gloom and doom of the so called realists as a strategy against al Qaeda, its numerous franchises, and the rogue states that support them by sinister and covert means?

Indeed, the liberal’s and The New York Times’  “Bush derangement syndrome…has spread” not only “to former loyal Bushies”, to quote Krugman , but to more than two thirds of the American people thanks to this ignominious coterie of  all the President’s disablers of the liberal establishment, and its pundits, like Paul Krugman. The paramount duty and responsibility of the media, being the Fourth Estate in the political structure of a democratic society, at a time when a nation faces and confronts a great danger from a remorseless and determined enemy, is to morally mobilize and rally its people behind their government and their armed forces that are engaged in war. In the present defensive pre-emptive war–the latter as a result of the nature of the enemy and his potential to acquire nuclear weapons–that has issued from the aftermath of 9/11 and the cogent convincing concerns of the Bush administration of a possible nexus in the near future between al Qaeda and its sundry affiliates with rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction and nuclear ones, and the portentous and abysmal danger this would pose not only to the U.S. but to the world at large, the media has a “sacred” obligation to unite the American people behind its government of whatever political hue. No errors of judgment or mishandling the planning of the war by the Bush administration can excuse the media from abdicating from this historical responsibility.

There is no fogless war and no one can see and perceive and measure correctly all its dimensions. And the frailty of human nature further exacerbates this inability. But no Churchillian confidence in one’s actions and strategic acumen throws the towel because of mistakes. One corrects one’s errors and keeps intact his resolution to defeat the enemy with a new strategy. (And one has to be reminded that the greatest scientific discoveries have been built on a pile of mistakes.)  It would be an indelible obloquy to one’s amour propre to even consider that these uncivilized obtuse fanatics, and seventy-two virgin pursuers, could come close to conceiving a strategy that would defeat the know-how and scientific mastery of Western civilization and its epitome the United States of America. Only a lack of resolve of its politicians and its opinion-makers, as a result of their fatal embrace with supine populism, appeasement, and pacifism, could lead to such shameful and historic defeat.

America at this critical juncture of its historical and Herculean task to defeat Islamofascism in a long, far from free of heavy casualties, painstaking arduous war  needs a wise, imaginative, and resolute political and military leadership that will overcome all the difficulties and imponderables of war and will strike a decisive lethal blow to this determined suicidal enemy. The new “Surge” strategy of the resolute Bush administration implemented by that “superb commander”, according to his troops, General Petraeus, seems to be accomplishing its objectives. Two prominent and vehement critics of Bush Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack of  The Brookings Institution who had accused the President of mishandling the war, after an eight-day visit in Iraq talking to high officials now believe that we are fighting in “a war we just might win”. And Petraeus, like a stronger Atlas, is pushing the rise of the sun of victory in the up till now dark sky of Iraq. Hence, the courageous actions and sacrifices of U.S soldiers in Iraq are not wasted and will be written with adamantine letters in the military annals. At this momentous noteworthy victory all the President’s and the nation’s disablers will be cast into the pit of ignominy by history. 

I rest on my oars: your turn now…   

                   

In Greece Political Midgets on High Wire Act

By Con George-Kotzabasis—November 02, 2011-11-02

Political midgets, a la Papandreou, have chosen to take the risk of the high wire act by this proposal of the referendum. Hoping that the people will vote for the lesser of two evils, i.e., accepting the debt deal as formulated in Brussels last week and rejecting default and departure from the euro zone. At a time when strong leadership is a prerequisite for diminishing the crisis that Greece is facing, Papandreou abdicates his own and passes it to the people through this future referendum. It’s as if the polloi had somehow a better knowledge and understanding of the critical dimensions of the economic situation and could provide a better solution to the crisis than the expertise of the economically and politically savvy.

Once again politicians, who are more concerned of holding power than of the future of their own country, are ready to prostrate themselves before and pay homage to the idol of the Demos. Papandreou facing in Parliament a no-confidence vote and the ousting of his government promptly announced a referendum that would decide the future of the country, hoping that this would allay the anger and opposition of the people against the austerity measures, imposed by the EU, and at the same time put an end to the disarray within his own government that itself stems from the revolt of the people. It’s clever politicking to avoid defeat and save for him the prime ministership. But he is doing this at the expense of the future well being of the country, as it would take years for Greece to recover from the shock of a default if the electorate voted for it, which is highly likely. This is no less than the revisiting of the ‘sinful’ genius of his pere who himself was the preeminent progenitor of the economic ills that Greece is presently plagued with. The fils merely continues , like father like son, the ‘sins’ of his sire in a more acute form and projects them into the future.

World Bank president, Robert Zoellick said that “if voters reject the plan, it’s going to be a mess.” Economists claim that the immediate effects of a default would probably be a 20 percent to 30 percent drop in domestic demand and a fall of 5 to 10 percent of domestic product. Evangelos Venizelos, the Finance Minister, and his deputy broke ranks and opposed the referendum, saying it would jeopardize Greek membership in the euro zone. Ilias Nicolakopoulos, professor of political science and close to the governing socialist party, stated that a “referendum would put the country in danger of blowing everything up.” In contrast, Henry Ergas writing in The Australian, on November 3, 2011, “Greek Vote a Banana Republic Moment,” praises Papandreou for having the “balls” to propose the referendum, and compares him to the gutsy warning of Paul Keating’s “Banana Republic.” He says, that “to call a referendum on the austerity program is hardly irrational. But he adds the caveat, “true, it is a gamble, and a risky one.” Nonetheless, “the best hope of what comes next must lie in securing a genuine popular mandate.”

Regrettably, however, Papandreou’s proposal of a referendum does not rise from his “balls” but from his impotence. Unable to lead and convince the country, as a weak leader, to accept the inevitable “scenario, Greece must face a lengthy period of austerity and structural reform,” Papandreou passes this leadership to the impassioned people to decide whether to accept or not this scenario. Professor Ergas’ quote of Sophocles, “truth is always the strongest argument,” though generally accurate, is misplaced in the context of a long corrupt electorate that the fiscal profligacy of past governments accustomed it to indulge in ‘free suntans’ in sunny Greece. In such circumstances, the only truth that this pampered electorate will accept is the continuation of these free suntans at public expense. And that is why they will vote NO to austerity measures and thus turn the referendum into an ogre for the future economy of Greece.

Fortunately the proposed referendum like the balloon it was fizzled out within twenty four hours. Under external and internal pressure Papandreou reneged his proposal and withdrew it. Tonight (November 4, 2011), he places his fate on the lap of the god, parliament, on a confidence vote. Even if he survives by the smallest margin his prime ministership is foreclosed.