Friday, October 08, 2004

 

Why? Cause he's George Bush, that's why

Let's see...John Kerry changes his position on Iraq, so John Kerry's a "flip-flopper."

George Bush keeps coming up with new justifications for invading Iraq in the first place, which makes him...strong and resolute?

This is beginning to resemble to old legal joke about "pleading in the alternative" ("My client didn't do it, your honor. But if he did do it, he's very sorry and he won't do it again.") First we invaded because Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Then it was because he was on the verge of acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Then it was because he was a mean ol' nasty dictator (that one was and is true, but it has been true since he seized power in 1968; it was no less true in the 1980s when we sided with him in his war with Iran, and it was no less true in 1990 when April Glaspie more or less winked and told him he could occupy Kuwait).

Now that the Duelfer Report has completely exposed for the lie that it was and is the notion that Saddam either had or was about to acquire WMD, George Bush has a brand-new explanation: The invasion was to stop Saddam from exploiting the UN's eminently exploitable "oil for food" program. That the program had been thoroughly corrupted, I don't doubt. That Saddam was taking the money its oil sales generated and using it to build new palaces and adorn existing ones - that sounds pretty much like the Saddam Hussein we all knew and loved.

But here's the thing: if that's the justification, why was it never mentioned prior to the invasion? Devon M. Largio, a student at the University of Illinois, published a thesis in 2003 entitled, "Uncovering the Rationales for the War on Iraq: The Words of the Bush Administration,Congress, and the Media from September 12, 2001 to October 11, 2002."

Largio writes: "Moving to those rationales, twenty-seven rationales for the war were used at one time or another, and, of the sixteen rationales that emerged before the final phase of research, thirteen appeared in later phases. Thus, the campaign for the war on Iraq was broad and there seemed to be a great deal of continuity between the phases. To further explain this idea, five rationales were prominent in all three phases: war on terror, prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, lack of inspections, removal of the Hussein regime, and Saddam Hussein is evil. In addition to those five, another rationale was used very prominently throughout the phases: liberation of the Iraqi people. It was a popular rationale for Don Rumsfeld, as he mentioned the reason in all three phases, and eventually appeared in many other officials’statements, as well."


No mention, as far as I can tell, of the corruption in the "oil for food" program.

If John Kerry is fair game because he supposedly has taken multiple positions on Iraq, what does that do to George Bush? He has been consistent only on one thing: Take out Saddam Hussein. From the beginning of his presidency, that has been the only thing he has truly cared about (that and tax cuts for the wealthy). He came into office wanting to overthrow Saddam and he has pursued it to the exclusion of almost everything else (including worrying about Al Qaeda). But he has never been honest with the American people and the rest of the world about his justification; that has never been the same from one speech to the next. Each time one justification is exploded, he has another. But what he's saying now is not what he's saying then, and he's counting on the public's short memory, and his ridiculously overblown, self-initiated reputation for being a "strong leader in the war against terror" to keep anyone from focusing on that.

But it's not that hard. The reason is simple: he wanted to take out Saddam Hussein because he wanted to take out Saddam Hussein. Maybe he wanted to turn Iraq into a shining democracy, the 51st State. Maybe he wanted US access to their oil. Maybe he wanted to remove a threat to Israel. Maybe he wanted to turn it into "terrorist flypaper" (not something the Iraqis wanted, mind you). But his stated reasons have been exposed for the thin fabrications they were. So now it's reason #28 (or maybe he's up to #38 or #48 or #108 for all I know).

The war is not going well, mainly because Bush never had the slightest interest in what would happen the day after he got to dress up and play flyboy and declare "Mission Accomplished" (and I know he didn't actually say those words on the aircraft carrier, but he didn't object to being photographed with that enormous banner right behind him - you think that was an accident?). He wanted his victory and he didn't care what he had to say to get it. And then, as it always does, his attention span wandered.

And he's getting away with it, as he always does. Why? Why is this man, uniquely among all people on Earth (other than those fortunate enough to work for him), never held accountable for his uncountable errors, mistakes, and disastrously poor decisions? Why does he act as if it's almost lese majeste even to bring this up? 220 years ago, the Founders wondered if they should give the new American state a king. Under George W. Bush, that's close to what we have.

And he can flip-flop as much as he likes secure that no one will think to challenge the "strong leader." But pay attention, boys and girls. That "strong leader" is a slick con artist, running the old shell game on you. Bust one scam and he's right onto the next one without a hitch, shamelessly pretending he never tried to flimflam you the last time, expecting you to believe him rather than the evidence of your own eyes and ears. Don't be fooled. Don't play his game. Decide for yourself what the justification for invading Iraq really was, and if it was really worth the cost and carnage. This country is not a monarchy, and George W. Bush is not the king.

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