Monday 19 February 2007

General Odom offers an effective lesson for turning the tables on Iraq warmongers!

I suppose I'm not alone when I catch myself wishing I had more personal expertise in conducting effective public discourse (and dissent) during conversations with strident and articulate Iraq war supporters. Well, it is ironic indeed, but this week I received a couple of my greatest lessons ever for "finding my voice" and exercising appropriate moral authority -- by carefully observing how a well-known US Army General now handles just such opportunities via his writing and conversations! Consider the source:

Lt. Gen. William Odom is the former director of the National Security Agency and head of Army intelligence. Last week, he authored a widely discussed and excellent Op-Ed in The Washington Post -- headlined: "Victory is Not an Option." Odom unapologetically called for withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, rebutted every myth propagated to "justify" our continued occupation, and documented what he called "the gulf that separates President Bush's illusions from the realities of the war." (I highly recommend you read that - and if you skip it now, by the time you finish what is below I guarantee you will want to!)

When an analysis this scathing and accurate is written by a West Point General, a Reagan Republican member of the (right-wing) Hudson organization, one can only find grim satisfaction with the near certainty that Bush and his ilk will forever dwell in the pit of the cess pool of history. I found the William Odom article to be rational, lucid, sweeping, and refreshing. Bush/Cheney are digging their heels in because to admit defeat would likely increase the momentum towards their impeachment.

Though not all feel free to say so, those with some of the greatest military expertise in our land are now feeling the imperative that Congressional authorization for continued funding be curtailed, and the troops brought home. It galls me that Congress (particularly the Senate, as I interpreted the news from last night) lacks the spine though to do it. So thousands more of our soldiers (and countless more Iraqis) will be losing their lives and limbs as the administration tries to buy two more years so Bush can blame defeat on the next President! In love and war, that which starts with a big lie usually ends up in disaster.

The Bush-Cheney White House have proven wholly incapable of absorbing wisdom from any other source but themselves. Here you have Lt General Odom on the right making good sense. You have General Wesley Clark from the center-left also presenting good ideas considerably overlapping with those of Odom. The Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group offered collective wisdom, much ignored. Yet Bush-Cheney can find no place for themselves on this common ground.

Today Glen Greenwald -- from his recent new perch at Salon in his blog entitled "Unclaimed Territory" -- offered some excellent insight on what can be learned by the rest of us from General Odom in actual dialogue with a prominent leader of a neo-con think tank which influences the conservative masses. I've excerpted a few of Greenwald's introductory paragraphs leading into one of the best lessons on dealing with a warmonger that I have read in recent times:

"Last week, Gen. Odom was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt on his conservative talk radio show and it is a truly extraordinary interview. Hewitt is a Bush-loving lawyer who recently helped to form "The Victory Caucus" -- a group of bloggers (and Frank Gaffney) devoted to battling against those whom Hewitt and his comrades smear as the "White Flag Republicans" (Republicans who oppose the "surge")...

"Needless to say, warrior Hewitt meekly suppressed all of his "surrender" and "white flag" accusatory smears when confronted by the anti-war General, and Odom provided a great clinic for how the warmonger mentality of Hewitt and the Bush administration can and should be scornfully dismissed.

"The entire Odom interview (and his Op-Ed) ought to be read by every Democratic consultant and anti-war politician. So many war opponents and Bush critics feel compelled to express their opposition defensively and apologetically. It is common to hear them -- especially political figures -- prefacing their war opposition by bending over backwards to assure everyone that they are patriots, that they care about the troops, that they want to protect America, too -- as though those matters are legitimately in doubt.

"But observe how Gen. Odom is not the slightest bit concerned by Hugh Hewitt's smearing tactics, how indifferent he is to the task of trying to persuade Hewitt that he really is a patriot. It is Hewitt's judgment and allegiances which come into question, not Odom's.

"Perhaps his status as a General means that he is not worried about being accused of traitorous or cowardly behavior, but no American citizen who opposes this war or future ones ought to be concerned by that. It is war opponents who have been defending this country's interests and who are therefore in the majority. And it is war supporters -- "the Victory Caucus" -- that have done incalculable damage and who therefore need to be relegated to the fringe.

Greenwald's excerpts from Odom's crushing of Hugh Hewitt illustrate how to make the case:

(You will need to scroll down a bit on that column for Sunday, Feb. 18 found here.)

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