Daily Archives: November 15, 2003

In or Out of Iraq: The Bushies Ponder

While there isn’t much doubt at this point that there is a deep division in the Bush Admin over Iraq, the exact nature of the split hasn’t been clear. Turf battles? Power politics? Personality clashes? Or something deeper, more fundamental?

On the Brookings Institution website, they make available an article by two Senior Fellows (first printed in the Financial Times) that takes a pretty good whack at defining the core of the war inside the WH, and if they’re right, things are even worse than we thought.

While President George W. Bush insists that “America will never run,” a fierce debate is raging just below the surface of his administration over when and how America should exit from Iraq. The debate pits those who favour a massive effort to turn Iraq into a beacon of democracy for the Middle East against those who want to concentrate the US mission on defeating insurgents so American troops can return home.

IOW, Bush is lying to us again: the argument isn’t over whether or not to exit, it’s about when and how. The players in this war are all too familiar. On one side, The Donald and The Dick, for whom security is All: defeat the “insurgents” and get out, preferably before the election. On the other, The Wolfe and Perle The Pearl, who–lost in the wooly wilds of Neocon Fantasy Land–actually think they can make the whole region into America East. The authors, Ivo Daalder of Foreign Policy Studies and James Lindsey of the Council on Foreign Relations, call the two factions “assertive nationalists” vs. “democratic imperialists” (the later is, of course, an oxymoron, although they don’t seem to have noticed), and if their analysis is correct, neither side is playing with a full deck. Take the “democratic imperialists”:

[T]he democratic imperialists believe America can be secure only if the rest of the world is remade in America’s image. Accordingly, they favour deploying ever more US troops and spending ever more money to create a stable, democratic Iraq. Their model is postwar Germany, where a long-term military occupation and the Marshall Plan created the conditions for a free, democratic and prosperous Europe with Germany at its core.

If Iraq isn’t Viet Nam, neither is it post-war Germany with a country in rubble and a population that expected to be not just occupied but plundered. And the CPA Reconstruction effort is certainly not the Marshall Plan, which Truman insisted be transparent and accountable while Halliburton and Bechtel are patently neither. These guys are reality-challenged, apparently, imagining themselves in some heroic re-incarnation of 1946 with themselves in the starring roles.

But this isn’t a John Wayne movie and wishing doesn’t make it real. Unlike the brief, weak German resistance to the Occupation Forces, the Iraqi resistance is growing, not diminishing; where a majority of exhausted Germans accepted the Occupation as inevitable, the Iraqis–even the hand-picked Governing Council–want the US to give their country back, and increasing numbers of them are willing to fight to make that happen. Unlike the reconstruction effort overseen by George Marshall, the Iraqi reconstruction is treated by Bechtel and Halliburton as little more than a cash cow, an opportunity for massive profit-making through cut-rate work and steady overcharging given to them by a compliant, unquestioning govt in exchange for their huge campaign contributions. If there are similarities here, they’re superficial at best.

The “assertive nationalists” are just as out of it:

They believe America’s security demands, foremost, the defeat of its enemies and the elimination of the threats they pose.After the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks, Saddam Hussein’s ties to terrorists and his appetite for weapons of mass destruction made him an un-acceptable risk. He had to go.

What ties? On closer examination, all of Ahmad Chalabi’s carefully-built fictions about Hussein as the center of the world-wide terrorist network have dissolved into the thin air out of which Chalabi made them. And the WMD’s? Didn’t exist. Hadn’t existed for 10 years or more because it turns out the UN inspections worked. Rumsfeld and Cheney are revealed as over-reacting paranoids, little kids terrified of imaginary monsters in the closet while ignoring the very real snake curled around the bedpost.

And these fantasists are making the decisions? Give me strength. This is like a war between Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch over control of Scrooge McDuck’s make-believe fortune. Isn’t there anybody in this Administration with some tie to reality, however slight or tenuous?

Where does Mr Bush come down in this debate? He has occasionally used the rhetoric of democratic imperialists, notably in last week’s stirring speech before the National Endowment for Democracy. But his longstanding disdain for nation building, lacklustre interest in the reconstruction of Afghanistan and initial failure to push his subordinates to generate a plan for rebuilding Iraq all mark him as an assertive nationalist. His recent bid to speed the training of Iraq’s police and security forces to reduce America’s military presence is further evidence of this.

He talks like a DI and acts like an AN. Confused, I guess you’d have to say (and where’s the surprise in that?). We’ll get no help there.

Don’t think about this too much or try to make sense of it. You can’t. There isn’t any. This is Bizzarro World, everything is upside down and backwards, and nothing is real.

Don’t blame me. I didn’t vote for the SOB.

Oh, right–the country didn’t either. The SCOTUS elected him. Blame Bill and Tony. Having second thoughts yet, guys?

(Thanks to Just One Minute.)