Thursday, August 30, 2007

The History Mash-Up, or Bush's Vietnam Redux

Five days ago I attempted to corral and correlate my thoughts and those of a few others in response to a brain-twisting speech on warfare and history from President Bush, and ultimately I found my efforts, though accurate, fell short of the mark I was hoping to make.

The overwhelming collision of factual errors, misconstructions and misrepresentations of history itself were not simple to catalog and comment upon.

Thank goodness for the insightful overview and spot-on analysis from Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings. I'll include some quotes from the post below, but I do hope you find the time to read the entire post:

Before getting to the details, let's consider the overarching premise: that the choice we now face is whether to keep fighting and ultimately prevail, or to withdraw and abandon the Iraqis to their fate. As I see it, this premise is completely false. If we keep fighting, there is no reason whatsoever to think that we will "prevail", and every reason to think that we will simply sacrifice a lot of American and Iraqi lives for nothing. If we withdraw, we will abandon the Iraqis to their fate, and that is a horrible thing. But a lot turns on whether you think that there is anything we can do to avoid the bloodshed that will follow our withdrawal. I do not think that there is. If I'm right, then unless we are prepared to remain in Iraq until the end of time, we will, at some point, have to leave, and that bloodshed will probably follow.

If staying in Iraq will not lead us to "victory", but will only postpone the consequences of our withdrawing at a terrible cost both to us and to the Iraqis, then the decision before us looks very, very different. But Bush does not stop to consider this possibility. He frames the question in a way that ensures that the only possible answer is the one that he wants, and then, surprise, he gets it.

But Bush's fundamental assumption about the nature of our choice is not just false; it's a profound evasion of his own responsibility. I think it would have been very difficult to create a functioning, legitimate government in Iraq, difficult enough to make invading a bad idea even without all the other reasons to oppose it. However, I also think that success was not impossible. That it is impossible now is largely this administration's doing. They never, ever appreciated the magnitude of the task they had taken upon themselves, the care and concentration and resources that it would require, or the consequences of getting it wrong. They dismissed the plans of others, and forbade their own people to plan. They allowed an insurgency to develop and to arm itself from stores of weapons that they never bothered to secure. They did not send in enough troops to ensure basic security to the people of Iraq, and ridiculed those who suggested that this might cause problems down the line. They made catastrophic decisions -- disbanding the Iraqi army that our soldiers are now risking their lives trying to reconstitute, imposing a de-Baathification regime that the Iraqi parliament is now trying and failing to undo -- and they made them in a careless, thoughtless way that still takes my breath away.

And now, when all this carelessness and stupidity is having its inevitable effect, Bush pretends it doesn't exist. The only way we can fail, he says, is if the American people and their representatives withdraw their support -- ignoring completely his own role in making failure inevitable. And he adds that if we withdraw our support, that will constitute a failure of will and an abandonment of the Iraqi people -- ignoring completely both the extent to which his administration abandoned them from the outset, and the extent to which Americans' support of withdrawal reflects a loss of confidence in his administration and its basic competence."


If he had any shame, he'd be hiding under a table right now, wishing the earth would swallow him."

1 comment:

  1. OXYMORON12:57 PM

    Am I overreaching or is everything Bush said was part of the foundation for the argument for not removing Hussein by force to begin with?
    Part of the probem with the comparison of Iraq to the occupation of Japan and Germany is the lack of a worse occupying force just across the border or Sea of Japan. The
    West Germans for whatever greivances it may have had with the Allies faced Soviet occupation without our forces there. Japan knew the Chinese with the anger from their occupation and the Rape of Nanking wouldn' mind some revenge and after the Soviet declaration of war against japan halted by Hiroshima the Japanese , I would argue hastened to agree to the security of American Forces on the islands.
    In Iraq the anology is the Sunnis, who fear genocide by the Shia's who are loosely allied with Iran. So they are coming along with us to some degree. Now I imagine BushCo is looking for a Israeli/ Saudi approved version of Saddam and things will look a lot better soon.