First I want to thank you for granting our main wish for 2006: the
humiliating defeat of the RoveBushCheney cabal in the midterm election. And
for removing the robes of war-power from Donald Rumsfeld. (On the other
hand, Bush replaced him with Robert Gates, another company man willing to do
the bidding of his masters.)
But now I'm hoping you and your elf friends will be willing to crank up the
ol' political workshop this Christmas to grant us the following dozen wishes
1. Please send the President some brains. He's preparing to "surge" 20,000
to 50,000 U.S. troops to Iraq "temporarily," to help control the situation
in Baghdad. Anyone with any knowledge of urban guerrilla warfare (and only
17% of Americans think "surging troops" is an intelligent idea) knows that
there is no such thing as "temporarily" in that kind of war.
And there's no longer any good chance of America "controlling" what happens
in Iraq. It's a bloody civil war and we'd better get out while the getting
is good. Counting on a "surge" to turn the tide is little more than fantasy.
Powell said as much a few days ago.
2. Please send Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi some courage. Reid says his
Democrats could accept such a "surge" in U.S. troops to Iraq as long as
"temporary" means two or three months. Have Reid and Pelosi already
forgotten that the Republicans lost the midterm election because they wanted
to prolong the Iraq War and the Democrats offered hope for an alternative?
But prolonging the war with constant infusions of American troops is
loony-tunes, which is what "temporarily" would mean in practice. It didn't
work in Vietnam, it won't work in Iraq.
(Is it possible that Reid is playing a little rope-a-dope? He may know that
Bush's "surge" plan requires at least a year or two to get into full
operation, so the incoming Senate Majority Leader can seem to be cooperating
with Bush while knowing that Bush will reject his two-month suggestion. But,
if so, it's a dangerous game Reid is playing, being willing to risk the
Democrats' moral reputation like that. Better for the Democrats to stick to
being the Opposition Party, rather than appear to be selling out to the
unpopular, immoral GOP plan.)
DEMS COULD USE SOME SPINE
3. Please send the Democrats some backbone. They need to stand tall for what
they believe in and for what the voters sent them do do.
Instead, the Democrats seem to be regressing, behaving as if they're still
the timid minority party, worried about being called "unpatriotic" unless
they support Bush's war. They now control the Senate and House, and thus are
in position to set the legislative agenda. That agenda should be led by
getting U.S. troops out of Iraq as soon as possible -- not in 2008 but
starting to pull them out now. Putting more troops in would turn a tragedy
into a catastrophe.
If the Democrats follow Reid and new House Intelligence Committee chair
Sylvestre Reyes by buying into any part of the BushCheney surge-plan for
Iraq, they will lose the moral high ground and in the popular mind will be
blamed along with Bush for the Iraq disaster. Not a good way to go into the
2008 presidential race.
4. Please send the Iranians some smarts. Sponsoring a convention of
Holocaust-deniers makes the Iranian leaders seem lunatic. And barely
cooperating with the United Nation's nuclear inspectors makes those leaders
seem like they're hiding something. It's almost as if they want the U.S.
and/or Israel to bomb them, so they can become the "martyred" leaders among
the Muslim Middle East. (Interestingly, over the weekend Iranian voters in
local elections moved away from Iranian extremists and overall
favored the more moderate candidates.)
NEEDED IN MIDEAST: COMMON SENSE
5. Please send the Israelis and Palestinians some common sense.
Israel's prolonged (brutal) occupation of Gaza and the West Bank doesn't do
the Jewish state any good; it fact, it endangers Israeli security. Much as
they might like it to be so, the Palestinians are not going to disappear
from the scene. Israel should pull back to its '67 borders, remove its
settlements from Palestinian territory, and negotiate significant treaties
with a new Palestinian state, even if it's ruled by leaders Israel (and the
U.S.) don't like.
Similarly, the Palestinians, regardless of which faction rules, must come to
realize their children and grandchildren will know no stability and security
until they reluctantly concede that the Israelis aren't going to disappear
either and therefore a peace must be made, somehow.
If Israel and Palestine were able to begin to make peace -- with the Bush
Administration seriously helping in that effort -- the tension level would
go down throughout the region. Local disputes would remain local, not
necessarily get translated into apocalyptic Muslim vs. the
JOBS AS ANTIDOTE TO TERROR
6. Please send jobs to the poor and downtrodden around the world, especially
in Iraq and Palestine. Idle hands, as the saying goes, make for mischief. If
heads of family have jobs and are earning money for their families, they
will have more self-respect and more of a stake in the society, and thus
wouldn't be as interested in bombing it and tearing it down.
But Bush in Iraq, for example, made sure that the young men in that society
would not be permitted to participate in job-rich "reconstruction" projects,
and thus had even more reasons for anger. And the Israelis daily humiliate
the Palestinians, destroying their farmers' olive groves and often keeping
other workers from their jobs in Israel -- not very smart.
Do both sides really prefer war, since that's what they know how to do, and
back away from negotiations, since peace is messy and requires more creative
thinking? Sure does look like it.
VOTING, ROVE & RUMSFELD
7. Please send Americans a real, reformed voting system. Even my
after-school boys' club could count votes better, and with more honesty and
transparency, than adult Americans voting for Congress or the President. We
boys all wrote down our votes for our leader on a piece of paper, dropped
them into a box, and tabulated the winners with everyone watching; something
similar happens in France, Germany, Canada, et al., with no major problems.
Don't adult Americans know how often e-voting computers mess up and are
vulnerable to hacking and manipulation by programmers? Middle-schoolers
already know that. But America's ruling circles pretend that the situation
is not that dire. The result is that increasingly more Americans, and a
healthy slice of the world community, believe that U.S. election results are
not on the up-and-up.
The remedy is simple enough. Junk the computer-voting process, currently
controlled by three Republican-supporting corporations, and institute
verified paper ballots, tabulated by experienced civil servants as observed
by party representatives.
8. Please throw Karl Rove out of the White House and Donald Rumsfeld into
jail. Rove has been up to his ears in voting fraud for years and in the
outing of a covert CIA agent, and Rumsfeld was responsible for lying to get
the Iraq War started and for authorizing torture of prisoners in U.S. care,
which is a war crime and should be treated as such.
KIBBLE FOR TONY, PLEASE
9. Please send Tony Blair to a kennel for the rest of his term. The British
prime minister was such a lap-dog to Bush, giving him cover for his reckless
policies in Iraq, that he should be placed where he would feel most at home,
amidst all the other neutered poodles. Either there or to The Hague, where
he could stand trial for war crimes along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bush, Rice,
Hadley, Cambone, Feith and friends.
10. Please send hope to the victims of the wholesale genocide in Darfur in
the Sudan. As in Rwanda in years past, the West looks the other way when the
victims are black Africans. No way this slaughter would be tolerated for
this long if the victims were Europeans. And so many of the violence victims
in Darfur are children deprived of parents in the bloodbath, boys kidnapped
into serving as soldiers, girls raped and/or enslaved by the marauders.
11. Please send America a better crop of candidates for high public office.
Sometimes it seems that most of those running are wealthy fools or
demagogues, power-driven and morally corrupt; candidates with integrity and
vision and a genuine caring for the public appear to be few and far between.
Given the enormous sums of money it takes to fund a campaign for office
these days, it seems only the wealthy can run; why not bring the gift of
public financing of elections, too, while you're at it?
12. And finally, send the internet some long-awaited protection from the
forces of government authority across the globe -- but especially in
America, where Newt Gingrich and John McCain are leading the charge --
angered at what they cannot control. The internet is perhaps the last
bastion of free speech on the planet right now, and that effective tool of
democracy must be preserved and made to flourish.
Thank you for all your past presents and jollyness. Make Christmas this year
one of peace, justice and hope for all around the world.
Thank you. And enjoy the cookies and milk we left for you under the tree.
Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, a poet-playwright and Ph.D. in government &
international relations, has taught at universities in California and
Washington, worked as a writer-editor with the San Francisco Chronicle and
currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: