Saturday, October 11, 2003

Pay attention to your daddy
My buddy Alan, a librarian in New York, sent this with the subject line “The elder Bush had some brains, at least.” I suppose we should file this under the theory of certain skills skipping generations. Excerpt from "Why We Didn't Remove Saddam" by George Bush [Sr.] and Brent Scowcroft, Time (2 March 1998):

While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs.

Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome.

I keep coming back to the feeling that the current Bush is, next to Nixon, the president who most requires long-distance psychoanalysis to understand. Is it really possible to think about the two Iraqi wars without Oedipus coming to mind? And is it right that 300 plus Americans should die (not mention Iraqis, British, and Spanish), the US should destroy it’s international goodwill, and plunge itself further into debt just so this shallow frat boy can act out his parental issues?

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