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Der Tag

The Day is here: between executive and Congress and between West and East

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 10, 2007.

Sometimes, even the most pacifist among us realize the inevitability of a coming conflict, years before it happens. Previous to World War One, the German Navy and British Navy were so sure they were going to have a war over European hegemony that German officers would toast to Der Tag! The Day. The declaration of war so they could prove their superiority in combat, no doubt guaranteed by God’s preference for their flag. They would do this informally with British officers as well. It was understood. It was coming, fueled and propelled for forces beyond control, and that’s all there was to it.

There was that same sense of inevitability between Japan and the United States in the 1930’s, although both sides were so racist and ignorant of the other they each thought it amusing the other team felt they could win. There never was that same sense between the Soviet Union and the United States that I felt, and we’ve never felt it with China, either. I’m not talking about individuals, but a sense within the population as a whole of an inevitable conflict.

I dare say there very definitely has been one in the United States regarding Iran and Islamic nations in general, and in those nations as well. After Iran took hostages in the 1970’s from our supposedly sacred embassy, there was a lot of anger that did not find expression in then President Carter to the voting public’s satisfaction, and hence Reagan. Partially as a result of Reagan, it would be asking too much of a country whose high school graduates cannot find their own nation on a Mercator projection to flense distinctions between Iraq and Iran, Morocco and Malaysia, Sunni and Shia, but there certainly is a sense that these uppity Ragheads, as they’re so charmingly called on talk radio, need a good thrashing in the worst way. That might be how Islamic media encapsulates by reduction the mood in the US street, just as our often idiot media tries to catch a sense of the Arab street when considering Palestine, which crawls with Arabs, and Iran, which doesn’t. But facts aren’t important. It’s a mood, a sense of history’s direction.

Today is Der Tag of another sort. Tonight, our beleaguered President Bush has to come face to face with his most monumental failure. Everything he told us about Iraq – why we had to fight, what would be accomplished by so doing, how the war would go – was not just incorrect, but a lie, which he hoped would be negated by an easy victory. In a conservative America of adherence to the Constitution, this should not have happened. The Congress is supposed to prevent this sort of thing, to have utilized its powers of oversight and purse, but it did neither. Ever since Korea, the Congress has ceded important war powers to the executive, and its most important responsibility – the declaration of war – has vanished. The new Democratic Congress has briefly heaved and stormed about all this, but when Senator Biden, now a doomed Presidential candidate, edged up to the topic of Congress taking back its constitutional powers as required, he backed off, framing the issue in terms of leaving the soldiers in the field with no cab fare home. Shameful.

So tonight Bush has to justify what has happened and justify why we should support him in his decision. Apparently, although not officially announced, he will demand twenty thousand more troopers on the ground so that, in the fourth year of the war, we might at least control Baghdad. It’s too few, too late, and too bad.

And what’s really annoying about this, above all else, is the sense that a war with militant Islam’s nations was inevitable and maybe necessary, and by rushing it, waging it badly, and then, it seems, losing it, Bush has united and emboldened an enemy beyond measure. He may have felt Der Tag’s approach, he may actually be proven correct in the long view – and he takes refuge in that – but his administration’s monumental incompetence and waste and corruption and stupidity negated it all. And now, we approach the conflict between President and Congress within the constitution with more trepidation than Muslim terrorists, because far more is at stake. If we lose the first, we have nothing to fight for in the second.

Traditionally, the side with most bombast about Der Tag, and glories in it, and cannot wait, always loses. The Confederacy, the British in our Revolution, the French in Indochina, the Japanese, the Germans in two wars, Saddam, and various French dictators from Napoleon to Boulanger…..all lost. Bush is certain of victory, so maybe even the Bidens will stiffen and fight. We are also fortunate that so many Muslim clerics have been predicting inevitable, god given victory over an enemy they cannot define any better than Bush can his. As in every war, it’s the least incompetent that wins. The executive has for six years been fortunate in its enemy, the bootlick Congress, and hopefully that will now end. We are even more fortunate that the militant mullahs and clerics of Islam are, thus far, even more incompetent than Bush.

So. A toast to Der Tag. May it end well.