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Karen Kwiatkowski Headshot

Drunk on Power?

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George W. Bush has me worried. Recent press conferences, more than ever before, reveal to the world that the "leader of the free world" is dazed and confused. Republican candidates facing elections this fall worry with me about our addled President. Then I watch Condi and good old Ambassador Burns talk about all the wonderful, helpful, fine things they are doing to resolve the current fiasco and humanitarian crimes in Lebanon and near the Israeli-Lebanese border. They, too, seem dazed and confused.

Meanwhile, as Lebanon burns literally and figuratively, as we finally get to talk to some of the 25,000 Americans who made their treacherous way from Lebanon under fire and without coherent State Department warning or assistance, and as Iraq sinks ever further into lawlessness and moral nihilism, American internet, newspapers, and TV commentators are massively obsessed with the Mel Gibson story.

What Mel Gibson did and said when he was arrested for drunkenness and reckless driving may be news of a certain type. Entertainment Tonight probably covers this kind of thing as well as any. But a certain undeniable truth has emerged from this episode, naturally from the Colbert Report. When people are drunk, they do indeed tend to say what they "really" think, in all of its ugliness.

Do we reform the alcoholism, or the person? Ideally, both types of reform will happen for Mel, and for all people who hold and promulgate hateful and wrongheaded addictions and beliefs.

The Mel Gibson case gives me an idea. Let's get George W. Bush drunk. Just one time, physicians standing by, solely in order to find out what he really thinks about what's happening in the Middle East, and what he wants to happen. Clearly, we didn't come to Iraq, build bases, and manage their petroleum industry in order to share the good news of democracy. Obviously, we didn't support the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in order to improve the image of the United States in the Arab world, or to strengthen any existing secular democracies there.

Let's take this further. Condi and Nick Burns have remained remarkably evasive and unclear -- let's buy them a drink, or two or three. Just to find out what they really think, and what they are really hoping to accomplish.

While we are at it, why not round up the adjuncts over at the American Enterprise Institute, the National Review Online, and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and have a big party? With lots of alcohol. These groups serve as the domestic flagbearers of an interventionist, occupationist, force-based, and costly American foreign policy in the Middle East. Why not find out what they really think about American power, the Constitution, rule of law at home and abroad, and Arab democracy?

These groups are filled with well educated, sophisticated, and savvy people. They have been very good about identifying and measuring hatefulness in the world. They have an outstanding record of trying to understand those who oppose the policy program they support. They work hard to eliminate the kind of anti-Semitism we too often see around the world. Yet, their foreign policy prescriptions have consistently delivered the exact opposite of what they advocate, at great cost to all sides.

Enquiring minds want to know, as we do with Mel Gibson, what these influential actors really think, and what they really want for this country. I think that alcohol -- consumed in excess by the right people in Washington just prior to their next press conference or morning show appearance -- could help Americans understand what this administration is really doing with their defense dollars.

After -- and only after -- such a drunken orgy of policymaker truth-letting, our foreign policy can go into rehab. Americans have certainly lived with the pain, the hiding, the excuses, and the tears long enough.