Each day the occupation of Iraq goes on, the situation for most Iraqis gets worse. The trend is unmistakable, and has persisted through each of the many “turning points” announced by the Bush administration and its handpicked Iraqi clients, and then duly reported by a still overly deferential establishment media. Consider the following: In August 2006, the New York Times reported that “the number of daily strikes against American and Iraqi security forces has doubled since January.” The Times quoted “a senior Defense Department official who agreed to discuss the issue only on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak for attribution” as saying, “The insurgency has gotten worse by almost all measures, with insurgent attacks at historically high levels…. The insurgency has more public support and is demonstrably more capable in numbers of people active and in its ability to direct violence than at any point […]

Will the Democrats Blow It Again as They Did in 1986?

A Republican Party on the ropes, bloodied by a mid-second-term scandal; a resurrected Democratic opposition, sure it can capitalize on public outrage to prove that it is still, in the American heart of hearts, the majority party. But before House Democrats start divvying up committee assignments and convening special investigations, they should consider that they’ve been here before, and things didn’t turn out exactly the way they hoped. It was twenty years ago this November 3rd — exactly one day after the Democrats regained control of the Senate after six years in the minority — that the Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reported on the Reagan administration’s secret, high-tech missile sale to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, which violated an arms embargo against that country and contradicted President Ronald Reagan’s personal pledge never to deal with governments that sponsored terrorism. Democrats couldn’t believe their luck. After years of banging their heads on Reagan’s popularity […]

The reported North Korean nuclear test, occurring in a mine shaft in a place called Kilju, was pretty much on the opposite side of the earth from the United States, yet it felt very close, almost as if it had occurred here, or maybe, in that peculiar way of atomic explosions, everywhere on earth at once. (For one thing, the pictorial representations of the seismic shocks radiating outward from the ground zero to measuring stations all over the globe reinforce this feeling.) There is something about nuclear explosions that collapses distance. Americans felt the effect immediately after Hiroshima.  Truman had said, “We thank God it has come to us instead of to our enemies.”  But many also instantly felt that American cities, too, were at risk, or soon would be. James Reston of The New York Times wrote, “In that terrible flash 10,000 miles away, men here have seen not […]

The common wisdom circulating in Washington these days is that the United Statesis too bogged down in Iraq to consider risky military action against Iran–or, God forbid–North Korea. Policy analysts describe the U.S. military as “over-burdened” or “stretched to the limit.” The presumption is that the Pentagon is telling President Bush that it can’t really undertake another major military contingency. Added to these pessimistic assessments of U.S. military capacity is the widespread claim that a “new realism” has taken over in the administration’s upper reaches, that cautious “realists” like Condoleezza Rice have gained the upper hand over fire-breathing neoconservatives. Ergo: No military strike against Iran or North Korea. But I’m not buying any of this. Just as an empire on the rise, like the United States on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, is often inclined to take rash and ill-considered actions, so an empire on the decline, like […]