November 30, 2006 - Issue 208
Pretending November 7th Never Happened
It Is Time To Ask The Question:
Is George Bush Sane?
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I am not the first to say that, since daybreak of November 8th, much of Washington, D.C. and its satellite media have been engaged in an effort to insure that in reality nothing changes in regard to Iraq, in an effort to pretend, that is, that November 7th never happened. There are legislators and pundits, even some new Democratic legislators apparently, telling us, as with Viet Nam, that more American troops are what is needed. There are people warning us, as with Viet Nam, that disasters are aborning if we pull out. There are people telling us, as with Viet Nam if memory serves, that we should set timetables to get out. There are people like Bush telling us, as with Viet Nam, that we must stay the course. As was confirmed in recent days, the Iraq Study Group met with the Pretexter-In-Chief so that he could pitch them not to go off the reservation, and his pitch was stay the course. There are people saying, as with the South Viet Namese government, that we can get out only when and after the Iraqi government becomes effective, which, again as with South Viet Nam, will obviously never happen. We have people saying we should enlist Iran and Syria -- now former members of the former axis of evil, apparently -- to help us end the disaster in Iraq, the disaster which they helped create, from which they benefit, and for which there is no known reason for them to want to bring to an end. (One might even say that the current American administration of bullies and cowards, who ran and hid from Viet Nam and who keep their families safe from Iraq, first called Iran and Syria names but now have to beg them for help. Nice people, these bullies and cowards. Smart too.) There are leading Democrats saying (pace November 7th) that impeachment of the Pretexter-In-Chief, for his crimes and lies, is off the table.
There is one thing that there is none of, however, or at most very little of. As with most of Viet Nam, there is no hot shot pundit or Washington big shot saying get out of Iraq and get out now. That would be the real change, and that is why we are not hearing it. The rest of what we are hearing is just one variation or another on the theme that, for one purported reason or another, nothing will really change: under the variations we will be in Iraq anywhere from another year to another five years -- or more.
There are some other things we are not hearing, or have begun to hear only on very rare occasions because they would be a sea change. True, we have begun to hear, now and then, complaints that the big shots don’t send their own family members to run the risks of war; they only send other people’s family members. That this simple fact has finally begun to penetrate the thick headed media and public consciousness is an improvement over previous brainlessness. And we do hear the first stirrings of the very beginnings of consciousness that this has been an aggressive, warlike country since at least 1898, probably since 1846, or even much earlier in regard to the American Indians. These are the first stirrings of the beginnings of a realization that we are a western hemisphere last-half-of-the-19th-century-and-first-part-of-the-20th-century Germany, not a peaceful Sweden or Switzerland. These stirrings of beginnings do mark a potential sea change in the American viewpoint. One wonders if the stirrings will outlast Iraq.
But though we do see a change in prior thick headedness about the big shots’ family members and the first stirrings of reassessment regarding national aggressiveness, we do not hear other crucial points. We do not hear, for example, that our position in the world improved greatly after we got out of Viet Nam, instead of getting worse, as doomsaying warmongers predicted. To hear this would encourage a departure from Iraq, which Washington and the pundits are determined shall not occur, so we don’t hear it. Relatedly, we do not hear that war is the most debilitating thing, the most morale-destroying thing, that can befall a nation, even if it is good for the economy, or at least not bad for it, and even if it is fought by only a small slice of the population, who bear the burden for everyone. For politicians and pundits to state this obvious truth would again encourage departure from Iraq, so again we don’t hear it.
Nor do we hear any recognition of the fact that leaders, politicians, journalists, lawyers, the man in the street, anyone, can dream up hypothetical scenarios of terrible things that will happen unless we do this or that. This technique is called a parade of horribles, is a staple of lawyers, and was one of the ways we got into the Iraq mess in the first place -- the parade of horribles was of the awful results that would arise if Saddam were allowed his supposed WMDs. One does not hear that the parade of horribles technique, as a mode of analysis, is far more often wrong than right, and is what the let’s-stay-in-Iraq crew is relying on now in regard to the benefits to, and actions of, Iran and Syria if we were to depart Iraq. But exposure of the parade of horribles mode of analysis and its usual wrong headedness would encourage departure from Iraq, so we don’t hear it exposed.
There is, of course, one horrible that already is happening in Iraq, and, because it is happening, and is worsening, is not a mere matter of imagining a possible parade of horribles. That is the constant, enormous, religiously based killing, what NBC News now deigns to call a civil war though other news media lack the guts to buck the administration on this. Because this is happening and is increasing, is driven by religious feuds that have existed for over a thousand years, and is no figment of imagination, it seems fair to assume that it won’t get better if we depart. It will only remain the same or get worse. The sensible thing, therefore, as said here innumerable times, is to divide the country into three areas corresponding to religious preponderance, give people a few months to move if they want (as hundreds of thousands are already doing), and then get the hell out of the country. But only a few of the Washingtonites and pundits are for this course of action. For it too would enable a rapid departure from Iraq, would enable, that is, a rapid change in accordance with the electoral dictate of November 7th. And change in accordance with November 7th, as said, is not what is desired by the people who run this country and want to pretend that November 7th never happened.
I was among the very first writers to say that George Bush is incompetent, a view which now has become virtually a drug on the market. This writer may be the only one to also say, and surely there are at most only a few others who say, that except for being venally crafty in politics, Bush is stupid as well as incompetent. But until very recently it never occurred to me to question whether Bush is sane. Yes, he kept on and on in Iraq, but one chalked this up to the fact that he is by nature stubborn and, besides, is a spoiled brat who always got his way in life (despite his constant incompetence) because of who his family is and who therefore cannot accept that he will be thwarted.
But as with all of this writer’s other opinions about Bush, simple facts are causing a judgment to be made. Bush has constantly been saying we will stand down when the Iraqi army can stand up, and he is quoted as saying just yesterday that “I’m not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete.” (Remember “Mission accomplished” a few years ago?) Apparently, from what one reads, for the mission to be complete, the Iraqi government must produce a stable country -- maybe even a democratic one, although the latter desideratum may have gone by the boards.
But to think that we or the Iraqi government can create a stable Iraq seems vastly out of touch with the facts on the ground, with the ever increasing violence, more than a millennium of religious hatred, and the hatred of Americans. (One is speaking now, as Bush does, of a unitary Iraq, not a country divided into three nations according to religious preponderance.) To think that we or the Iraqi government can create a stable Iraq is so out of touch with what has been happening on the ground for years, and recently has been getting even worse, that one literally has to question the sanity of somebody who propounds it as a goal. In everyday life, someone who refuses to recognize the reality, who refuses to recognize the actual facts of the world around him, and who instead lives in a dream world in his head, is regarded as not being sane, as being, to use the blunt words, insane or crazy. Why is it different when it is a national leader who refuses to recognize facts in the world and instead lives in a dream world in his head?
The horrible thought is that we have been taken into and kept in Iraq by a guy who is not quite right in the head. His life has shown elements of lack of balance you know, and other countries have had leaders whom we regarded, or have come to regard, as not quite right in the head for one reason or another. (I really don’t have to mention names, do I?) So why should it be impossible that our national leader, too, is a bit “teched,” as they say, or maybe is more than just a bit “teched.” Refusing to recognize the facts of the world, after all, and instead living in a dream world in one’s head, is not the model definition of sanity.
National Affairs is a regular BC column.