Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bush Blowhards at War

John McCain made an interesting statement in Ohio yesterday complaining about the Bush administration's rhetoric in the war on Iraq.

"Stuff happens, mission accomplished, last throes, a few dead-enders. I'm just more familiar with those statements than anyone else because it grieves me so much that we had not told the American people how tough and difficult this task would be."

"The American people"--What's McCain talking about? Of course the American people weren't prepared for a long occupation. The Bush administration itself was unprepared for the war. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Rice were all addicted to their own tough-guy posturing. Saddam was a "pushover." American troops would be "greeted with flowers." Iraqi population had a "highly educated," "secular," population. Oil revenues would pay for the war. We'll be "out by Christmas." "Freedom is on the march." Bush's people believed that "Mission Accomplished" banners meant that the mission was already accomplished. That's why they did no planning, didn't commit enough troops, didn't seal off the borders, and didn't destroy the weapons caches until it was too late.

The second fact about the Bush administration is that they didn't have the political courage it took to win the war after things got tough. By summer 2004, the Mahdi army uprising in Najaf and the insurgent takeover of Fallujah should have let everybody know how difficult the Iraq occupation would be. But the Bush administration did not have the courage to go back to Congress and the American public to ask for more troops, more money for economic reconstruction, and a generally higher level of commitment in Iraq. Instead, the Bush administration and surrogates like Joe Lieberman worked out the rhetorical trick of claiming that every escalation of the insurgency was a sign of insurgent "desperation" and their ultimate demise. That's what Cheney meant by his "last throes" comment. Ultimately, the Bush administration tried to talk the insurgency to death rather than defeat it.

Perhaps the American military could not have stabilized the situation in Iraq even with higher levels of troops and resources. However, the blowhard spirit and political spinelessness of the Bush administration ensured that the occupation would wind up in failure.

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