Karl Rove’s long-awaited departure from the White House makes sense, and not just because he really does need to spend more time with his family. Rove is a strange guy. And I say that not because of the rapping he has taken from his critics, but because of his own rapping.
But that’s just my opinion. Fact is, we are now Roveless.
Despite his unusual pasty whiteness and the political angst Rove created, George W. Bush benefited greatly from Rove’s hard work and intellect. Affectionately known as "Turd Blossom," we do know Rove was a trusted inner circle guy.
But there is another Rove — perhaps a bit less trusted within the inner circle. Three things come to mind, and I believe they matter when we consider Rove’s departure and what it means to the country.
Remember the run-up to the 2004 re-selection of George W. Bush as President? Well, Rove understood a bit about conservatism. He understood how Republicans everywhere were being tarnished by connection to the Bush foreign policy — which is to say Dick Cheney. It turns out, for most people, thinking about Cheney in his ber-vice presidential offices is like taking a deep hearty whiff of a turd blossom. The real Turd Blossom knew this, and suggested some political directions that didn’t include Cheney. His actions behind the scenes offered insight into the perverse extremity of Cheney’s foreign policy prescriptions, even among his own team.
Then last summer, Karl Rove cooperated fully with the Fitzgerald investigation, that concluded with felony convictions for obstruction and perjury for Cheney’s close friend and chief of staff, Scooter Libby. Many of Rove’s critics hoped that he himself would be indicted. Many believed Rove too had committed crimes in his dealings with either investigators or Congress. Didn’t happen. Bush’s recent commutation of Libby may be seen as loyalty rewarded, as well as a slap in the face for Rove, who certainly helped seal Libby’s legal fate and write a key part of the Bush-Cheney legacy.
Finally, Phil Giraldi, in his regular feature "Deep Background" for The American Conservative revealed several months ago that within Bush’s the inner circle, it was Karl Rove who had been consistently serving as the anti-Cheney with regard to expanding the Middle East quagmire into Iran. It seems Rove understood that nearly five years of killing people, destroying infrastructure and practicing creative puppetry with regional and factional leaders in Iraq wasn’t working — and probably shouldn’t be complicated by attacking the neighbors.
Where’s Condi? The sustenance of foreign wars is generally a Boy’s Only Club. While Condi may be allowed into the treehouse, nothing compares to having a tough Turd Blossom in your corner when Cheney has that big old "f&** you" look on his face.
Karl is leaving. Gonzalez isn’t, not yet anyway. Our idiot of an Attorney General is bravely undergoing all the hazing our petrified Congress can muster, something Bush understands and finds gratifying. Gonzo didn’t work with the enemy against Cheney and Libby. Gonzo was a team player. Gonzo stays.
Karl’s departure leaves Bush to oversee his daughter’s upcoming wedding, and Cheney to finish his neoconservative mission. That mission is to solidify American military bases and presence in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Kuwait and Qatar — and maintain it in Turkey, in order to deal with the last upstart in the region that would politically challenge both our will and that of our biggest little military ally in the region. The $30 billion in aid over the next ten years represents just the military aid we provide Israel, not the economic, and it represents a 25% increase over the status quo.
Our other friends weren’t left out, either. Congress funded all our little despotic helpers, with Egypt receiving $13 billion over ten years, and Saudi Arabia sharing around $20 billion in military aid with some of the other Gulf states.
$63 billion over ten years isn’t that much. When we went into Iraq in 2003, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that on the high side, the occupation of Iraq would cost $48 billion a year, and last about 18 months. That’s about $63 billion, nothing really.
Except, our occupation of Iraq — so far — has set American taxpayers up for a $2 trillion bill. Cost of war.com, looking only at explicit military expenditures, shows us at half a trillion. All that and still no clean water or electricity in Baghdad.
Roveless now, Clueless worries about his fashion sense, and what he will do after he is no longer the unclothed emperor of the free world and just another guy wondering what jeans to wear. But Hopeless has a plan.
In order to prevent a serious discussion of how and when U.S. forces should leave Iraq, and to prevent the horror of what the occupation is doing to the Iraqis and to our fighting Americans from permeating the national mood and mindset, we need an excuse to stay. We need a justification for those expensive bases we built and equipped in Iraq, without a status of forces agreement, or any legal standing to retain them.
Now, Stu Bykofsky says we ought to have another 9-11 to unify the country behind the President and his war on terror. Stu says that would "help" us. It would probably help Cheney complete the neoconservative mission, and secure for the next three decades our political and military occupation of Iraq. But Cheney may not even need another 9-11.
Dick "Hopeless" Cheney saw a ray of sunlight when Rove announced his departure. With Congress corralled and patiently waiting for the next imperial command, no one stands in the way of Cheney’s desired strikes on Iran in the name of "fighting terror," and endless, mysterious neoconservative war in the Middle East.
LRC columnist Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D. [send her mail], a retired USAF lieutenant colonel, has written on defense issues with a libertarian perspective for MilitaryWeek.com, hosted the call-in radio show American Forum, and blogs occasionally for Huffingtonpost.com and Liberty and Power. To receive automatic announcements of new articles, click here.