Iraq and Bush's superficial Presidency
The first Presidential election that I can remember was the 1932 contest between the incumbent, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. I was an 8-year old, and I rooted for Hoover to win. The reason: My cousin, who was my favorite playmate, was also named Herbert.
The same type of juvenile reasoning that induced me to root for Hoover 73 years ago apparently induced enough voters in the 2000 and 2004 elections to install George W. Bush in the White House. After all, Bush was for God and guns, he was against gay marriage, and he was the sort of guy—unlike those sophisticates Al Gore and John Kerry—with whom you’d feel most comfortable sitting down to have a beer.
The past five years have demonstrated that this same kind of superficiality and sheer incompetence characterize the Bush Administration. It has committed so many important domestic and foreign policy blunders that it seems certain to go down in history as the most incompetent administration that the nation has ever been saddled with.
The Iraq invasion was the most serious blunder. Most important, it has weakened the effectiveness of our high-priority war against terrorism by creating new battle fronts and new enemies. It has also alienated many of our allies willing to join us in battling terrorism.
More than 2,000 American troops have been killed, many more thousands wounded, uncounted innocent civilians have been killed, chaos reigns in Iraqi society, and many billions of dollars are being added to the nation’s massive debt load. Meantime, the once glorious image of America has been damaged around the world.
The initial justification for the Iraq invasion was an alleged imminent threat by Saddam Hussein to attack the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. Before going into Iraq, we had justifiably invaded Afghanistan. That’s where Al-Qaeda, the perpetrators of the 9/11 World Trade Center bombing, was harbored by the Taliban’s extremist Islamic regime.
But instead of concentrating on destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the U.S.invaded Iraq. Although it had become obvious that the WMD threat was a phony one, the Bush Administration claimed that the Iraq invasion was justified because Saddam Hussein had been Al-Qaeda’s collaborator in 9/11.
In effect, Bush was emulating the illogical belligerence displayed decades earlier by Lyndon Johnson, another macho Texan president. Johnson used a phony claim of a North Vietnamese attack on an American warship in the Tonkin Bay to expand what had been a U.S. military advisory mission in South Vietnam into a full-scale war against North Vietnam.
As any honest Middle East expert knew, it was inconceivable that Saddam and Al-Qaeda were allies, making it unlikely that Saddam had a role in 9/11. Iraq was a secular Muslim state, and its dictatorial leader was a hard-drinking whoremonger who violated Islam’s basic religious tenets. Al-Qaeda and its Taliban hosts were fanatic Islamic fundamentalists who regarded Saddam and his regime as evil infidels.
It was recently disclosed that the Defense Intelligence Agency submitted this very same analysis to the White House months before the Iraq invasion. It was ignored. The Administration continued to rely on a discredited claim by an informant that there was a working relationship between Saddam and Al-Qaeda.
And the rest is very tragic history.