Sunday, July 30, 2006

A question from Barbara at The Mahablog:

...[Frank] Rich [writes today] that the simple answer to the question of why "the mission" in Iraq was such a failure is that the Bush Administration didn't care enough about Iraq or Iraqis to get the job right. And although I'm sure that’s true, it begs the question -- why didn't they care? We’ve heard time and time again that Bush "rolled the dice" and "gambled his presidency" on Iraq. You’d think he would have been at least mildly interested....

You'd think that if establishing a new Iraq was a priority for the Bush Administration, then the White House would have been energized and focused on the project. But, clearly, it never was. What's left? Oil, of course, and contracts for Halliburton. But I suspect there are other, more primal, motivations in the murky depths of the Bushie collective psyche. Bottom line, the Bushies invaded Iraq because they wanted to invade Iraq. But I don't think they are self-reflective enough to understand themselves where that desire was coming from. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

Well, I have a couple of theories, saome of which I've argued here before.

First of all, for a lot of these guys, the real enemy wasn't Saddam or Islamofascism -- it was that kid in the photo from 1969 with long hair and a headband and a fringe jacket standing next to a VW minibus with a peace symbol painted on the side. The Bushies took out Saddam, but their real enemy was the 1960s counterculture. Bush hated the lefties when he was at Yale, of course, and Rove began his move up through the front ranks of the College Republicans during the Nixon years. (Remember that to these guys there's no distinction between an anti-war radical from decades ago and, Lieberman excepted, a contemporary elected Democrat.) Rove knew the war in Iraq would divide the country thew way Vietnam did, and the way the war in Afghanistan hadn't -- thus, it was the ideal next step.

And the Republicans do keep beating Democrats in elections, so, by that measure, the Bushies are winning the war.

And speaking of Nixon, I think we've determined by now that Cheney has his own "real enemy" -- he's using the state of permanent war to get back at all the people who dared to curtail Nixon's executive power.

For Rumsfeld, of course, it's all about proving his theories about fighting modern wars with a lean (read: inadequate) force. He lives to demonstrate that he's right and other people are stupid. (No, he hasn't been proved wrong yet, I'm sure he'd say -- he'll be vindicated eventually, just you wait.)

And getting back to Bush: He's still trying to prove that he's not the no-'count brother. As long as the war goes on, he's a war president. He's taken seriously. He's not the infantile screw-up in the family. (He's also not his father after the troops came home in '91.) I think Bush would suffer a huge letdown if this war ever ended -- he might question his purpose in the world, and he's sure other people (read: his mother's voice in the back of his head) would, too. He needs this as a self-esteem builder. So let those kids die.

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