Falling Dominos and Failing Presidencies

by DAVE LINDORFF

 

There was a word missing from President Bush’s pathetic State of the Union Address. That word was “domino.”

With all his arguments for continued war in Iraq now exposed as lies and shams, our “war president” and would-be generalissimo has fallen back on the same last straw that Tricky Dick Nixon clutched to the end of his sorry presidency: the domino theory.

As Bush the Lesser put it last night, to a skeptical Congress and an even more disbelieving American public: “If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists backed by Al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country, and in time the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.”

Sound familiar?

It should. Back in the Vietnam War days, we were told that if Vietnam “fell,” then Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia would “fall,” and who knows what other countries after that, like a chain of dominos–leading, the hoary argument went, right back to America.

Of course, it didn’t quite happen that way. Vietnam won its war against the U.S. The indigenous revolutionaries of Laos, the Pathet Lao, defeated the CIA-backed royal government in Laos, too, but in Cambodia, it was the U.S., not Vietnam, which spread the war to that neutral kingdom, by overthrowing the existing government and setting up a vicious right-wing dictatorship under Lon Nol, which was later ousted by a Maoist movement, the Khmer Rouge. But that nominally communist government was no ally of the Vietnamese. It was indeed the Vietnamese who rescued the Cambodian people from the genocidal Khmer Rouge, who ended up, incredibly, being backed by the U.S.

Thailand and Malaysia, of course, were never at risk of “falling.”

The domino theory made no sense in Southeast Asia in 1970, and it is equally ridiculous in the Middle East today. It is simply the last desperate ploy of an administration that is terrified about having to face the reality that the U.S. has lost its war in Iraq.

* * *

Digging Himself a Bigger Hole on Global Warming

While we’re at it, let’s mention the president’s energy plans, if they can be called that. The biggie would be his pledge to cut gasoline consumption by 20 percent. Two points here. First of all, it turns out that if you read the fine print, he wasn’t talking about cutting gasoline use from current levels by 20 percent, but only about cutting future projected use in 2017 by 20 percent. That would really mean he was not talking about cutting gasoline use, or imports, at all since gasoline use is projected to rise nearly 20 percent over the next decade. Furthermore, he said he wanted to achieve that so-called “reduction” not by making cars more efficient, but by increasing the amount of ethanol in our gasoline. This would have precious little impact on the climate change which the president finally, for the first time in his life and his presidency, publicly admitted to be a serious problem, since ethanol 1) takes a tremendous amount of energy (and carbon emissions) to produce and 2) produces carbon emissions when it burns. (Not to mention that cars burning an ethanol/gasoline mix actually get worse mileage than cars burning 100% gasoline.)

Meanwhile, the president said nothing about reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which are at least as serious contributors to global warming as are automobiles.

The real joke came when Bush called for a doubling of the size of the National Petroleum Reserve, that giant hole down in Louisiana’s salt domes, where the U.S. has pumped vast quantities of crude oil (and taxpayer dollars) to create an artificial oil patch. The tax money that would go into doubling that huge hole, and into buying oil at upwards of $50/barrel to fill it up, might be much better spent drilling steam holes into the earth’s crust to make large numbers of geothermal generating plants which could replace some or all of the coal-fired generators around the country, thereby seriously reducing America’s carbon emissions–and producing clean electricity which could, besides lighting our homes, power a new generation of electric or hydrogen-powered cars.

Oops. I guess that’s not an idea that would be real popular with the oil industry or the coal industry.

My bad.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“,
co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire