By Matthew Rothschild on March 22, 2006

OK, Bush finally fessed up: U.S. troops are going to be in Iraq after he’s out of the Oval Office, a day that can’t come soon enough.

At his press conference on Tuesday, Bush let slip that it’s going to be up to “future Presidents” to decide when all the troops can come home.

Hey, let the next one deal with it.

But I’m glad Mr. Mission Accomplished all but confessed that he’ll never be able to accomplish the mission.

That should encourage more Americans to demand the withdrawal of our troops.

As he’s done so many times before, Bush suggested that there’s another turning point coming right up: this time, the formation of the so-called unity government.

But that’ll be as effective a turning point as all the other ones: the capture of Saddam, the killing of his sons Uday and Qusay, the handing over of power by Paul Bremer, the formation of the provisional government, or the two elections the Iraqis have had.

Which is to say, no turning point at all.

And as often as Bush used the words “strategy for victory” or “making progress” or “I’m optimistic” on Tuesday, those are just so many mirages in the sands of Iraq’s civil war.

Speaking of, Bush let slip that U.S. soldiers may be put in the middle of the civil war.

While he was careful to say, “Our job is to make sure the civil war doesn’t happen,” he added, “But if there is sectarian violence, it’s the job of the Iraqi forces, with coalition help, to separate those sectarian forces.”

It’s that phrase “with coalition help” that promises to compound disaster.

Domestically, Bush lashed out at those who are calling for impeachment or censure, not-so-subtly warning Democrats of the nasty commercials they can expect. “They ought to stand up and say the tools we’re using to protect the American people shouldn’t be used,” Bush said. “They ought to take their message to the people and say, vote for me, I promise we’re not going to have a terrorist surveillance program.”

Bush said this right after he denounced “needless partisanship,” which is quite a trick.

And he was being dishonest, as his habit.

For, as Russ Feingold has repeatedly pointed out, Bush’s Democratic critics aren’t suggesting that he shouldn’t be able keep tabs on terrorists, but only that he should follow the law and get a warrant when he’s also keeping tabs on Americans here at home.

But Bush wants to boil it all down to: Do you want to fight the terrorists, or not?

That’s his default response to everything now.

To the NSA scandal.

To the critics of the Patriot Act.

And to those who are calling for a withdrawal from Iraq.

But as his transgressions mount, and as his Iraq disaster unfolds, that default response is persuading fewer and fewer Americans.

You can only browbeat people so long.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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