Saturday, October 07, 2006


or: Who is That Sitting Next To Sulzberger?

Posted by olvlzl

What would happen if you made a really bad mistake at work and someone got killed? A mistake you had been warned about? You know that you would lose your job, your friends. There wouldn't be any question of getting a good reference. Your personal life would fall apart, you would be a pariah. And that assumes that you escaped criminal prosecution. You might be lucky to escape several years in prison. That's the way life is when you screw up royally. That's the way your life is when you screw up. It's not that way for the rich and connected. The ones who are in a position to really screw up royally.

It's hard to think of a person in the federal government who has advised doing something that has turned out to be a total disaster costing hundreds and thousands of lives, who has paid a real price for it. A lot of the time they advise going ahead into disaster when there are people who strongly advise against it. A lot of times the people advising caution are experts in universities; great scholars of long standing with decades of study, who have taken the bother of learning the languages. In many cases they, unsurprisingly, turn out to have known what they were talking about. The DC policy wonks who gave the bad advice typically work out of that intoxicating mix of theory, wishful thinking and the nest feathering that has nothing to do with the subject of action. It has everything to do with their speaking and dinner invitations and job prospects.

And when they get it catastrophically wrong what happens to them? They get promoted. The invitations don't stop. They're still dining among the Sulzbergers and the Grahams. They often end up with seats at the very same universities where the real and unheeded experts work. They are still consulted by the media in preference to the real experts. Connections count for more than scholarship with our great and free press. Eventually, now resting on their laurels as a "scholar" of the subject, they go back into the government.

In retirement a few of them pen their memoirs. A few of those will, the tide of opinion making it prudent, express their belated regrets for their tragic mistakes. They were victims of fate, no one could have done any better under the circumstances. I don't know about you but I think honor would have been better served if they had sat silently and taken their lumps from history.

But here is the real question. What are we to these people? Those of us who get killed in their disasters, those of us whose relatives and friends get killed, those of us who pay? Does it even register with the media, the heads of departments, the corporate boards, that these people have climbed on the bodies of real, bleeding people to rise to the top? Does it begin to dawn on them that they have proven themselves to be bunglers and thugs with nothing to teach the world except as bad examples? And YES, I do mean the Kennedy school at Harvard and Georgetown.

These are rhetorical questions, sadly. The answer is clear in their actions. We are nothing to them. To them We the People are things to be used and suckers to be milked. We are those who are to be gulled into paying for it. And don't get me wrong. I'm not just talking about we the working class of America. "We" means those of us on both sides who end up dead and destitute because of this March of Folly.

They will keep killing us as long as we let them, for as long as we allow the media to cover up for them. If they were exposed and their presence at those elite dinner parties became just a bit unseemly, a key part of the daisy chain of corruption would be broken.

We have to make criminal negligence a crime and a shame for the plutocrats and their publicity hounds. And by we, I mean we the used.

Note: So it does look like Henry Kissinger really is advising the Bush II regime on Middle Eastern policy. Remember Cambodia? If the Republicans win the election in November will Kissinger get another round of Christmas bombings in an expanded Iraq war?

I wrote this piece after reading about a round table Kissinger, Haig, Sorensen and Valente had participated in at the Kennedy School of Harvard University to discuss lessons of Vietnam. The obvious question is, why ask the people who got it so wrong? Shouldn’t the judgement of the people who got it right, many of whom are alive and living in Cambridge, have more credibility than megalomaniacs and hacks who got it disastrously wrong? Then I imagined the reception or dinner that was likely a part of the festivities. Harvard would have certainly had some kind of social occasion what with four A-list celebs to rub elbows with potential donors. Would any of the revelers give a thought to that pile of two million skulls shoved off to the corner?

Since this was originally posted last June I’ve heard that Douglas Feith holds positions at Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford simultaneously. Wikipedia says that this is how he sees himself:
Feith confided to The New Yorker in 2005, "When history looks back, I want to be in the class of people who did the right thing, the sensible thing, and not necessarily the fashionable thing, the thing that met the aesthetic of the moment.”