Weisberg on Bush
February 4, 2008
The greatest summary of Bush’s war-type thing I’ve read. Some points he makes:
“Without the anthrax attacks, Bush probably would not have invaded Iraq.” I must say, that’s a new one. Read on, brothers and sisters, and he’ll convince you kinda.
“Cheney himself chose not to be vaccinated [for smallpox. You’ll get it in context].”
“Libby and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had long been interested in their friend Laurie Mylroie’s unified field theory of terrorism [if you don’t know who that nut case is, you don’t want to. Suffice it to say she’s the Chomsky of Neocons].”
“In another administration, there would have been various checks on this kind of collective delusion. A Kennedy, a Nixon, a Clinton, and a George H. W. Bush all would have considered evidence to some degree.” Ah, the days of Nixon.
“For the congenitally pessimistic vice president, transforming the political culture of the Middle East can’t have been more than a castle in the sky, a long-shot best-case scenario. But the vice president surely recognized that the grandiosity of the neocon vision of a new Arab world would resonate with the president.”
“Had he been someone capable of acknowledging error, Bush’s misjudgment in invading Iraq might have been mitigated by skillful improvisation.”
“He should have blocked, reversed, or at least understood the significance of Paul Bremer’s two first and most disastrous orders, to disband the Iraqi army and bar those with Ba’ath Party connections from serving in the government. (Bush later told author Robert Draper that disbanding the army wasn’t his policy, and that he wasn’t sure why it had happened.)” Oh, hi.
“This obstinacy has been evident in his personnel practices as well as policy choices. The more the media demanded Bush yield up a head—CIA Director George Tenet, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales—the longer that person was likely to be staying around.”
My favorite: “[In 2004 Bush Sr.] gave him a memo that Scowcroft had asked him to pass along about Iraq. The president glanced at it before throwing it aside, telling his dad, “I’m sick and tired of getting papers from Brent Scowcroft telling me what to do, and I never want to see another one again.” With that, 43 [said ‘boo hoo,’] stalked out of the room and slammed the door behind him.”
“It is hard to believe that anyone other than Bush and his speechwriters, who seemed increasingly to be making his foreign policy, thought about the issue of democracy promotion in such shallow, utopian terms. [More about that in a sec.] Within a year, no one in the administration other than Rice wanted to talk about the Freedom Agenda. This idea did the impossible: it caused Dick Cheney and the State Department bureaucracy to agree about something, namely that the president’s policy was a pipe dream. The dissonance between Bush’s message and his cavalier attitude toward civil liberties discredited him as a moral messenger.”
“The final irony of Bush’s foreign-policy crackup was the way it vindicated his father’s choices. Not “finishing the job” and taking ownership of Iraq in 1991 now looked like an act of wisdom. Not making a triumphal speech when the Berlin Wall came down appeared as shrewd management of a dicey situation, which advanced the practical cause of freedom more than a provocative speech would have. Appreciating the value of stability sounded like maturity. Avoiding needlessly bellicose rhetoric seemed like common sense. As the historian Timothy Naftali writes in his generally admiring 2007 biography of George H. W. Bush, “As the younger Bush’s own presidency limped to an end, many missed the elder Bush’s realism, his diplomacy, his political modesty, and, yes, even his prudence.” [It would have been prudent if you hadn’t voted for Nader.]
But read the whole thing. The first chapter’s on the NYTimes website, but it’s booooring. Just begat, begat, begat.
Kaplan in his new book follows up on the Utopian theme:
“Finally, the world might be a more peaceful place if every nation were free and democratic (or all alike in some other way). It’s merely utopian to believe that this someday might happen; it’s folly to base policies, as Bush did in his second term, on the premise that this utopia is imminent.”
“There is no Universal Man marching inexorably down a common path to freedom.”
Justin Sullivan has the last word, in Purity, the song in the far right sidebar, and here:
Across the flatlands
We came out of nowhere special
Like a peasant revolution –
Makeshift weapons in our hands
We crashed the gates so hard
We’d never heard that kind of sound before
And braced ourselves for victory
And the spoils of the land
Defences melt away
Before our frozen blank surprise
From the palace now we stare
Into a million waiting eyes
Oh, in case you thought this post would be devoid of Jew content, here’s the first comment on the Newsweek website. A perfectly common example of the comments – particularly the incomprehensibility – you will find in almost any politics post on the internet:
“Besides the attack on Iraq being a Bush War with Cheney in control, I’d say that for a great part it was the notion of putting Israel ahead of our own country with manipulations by Wolfowitz, Perle, Libby, Hadley, Kristol [Ah! All Jews! Run for the hills! Hide your daughters! Wait, he forgot Weisberg!] and all the others who signed that first letter to Bill Clinton about attacking Iraq and deposing Saddam Hussein.
Later this guy chimes in. Watch how he goes from making some kinda reasonable statements, to totally nuts when he decides to talk about “Zionist Jews,” back to sanity:
“What an appalling indictment of this sad excuse for a leader of men, a President of our poor Republic. The story appears to be done with some sympathy for the man if not the peoples he has destroyed, the nation that is in shambles, a world facing its greatest crisis with opposition rather than leadership from America.
“It is equally appalling that so many GOP leaders have been equally poor enablers of this corruption. The failure of the news media, the rise of Fox propaganda outlets, the implementation of American Fascism have flowed from George, adding to the misery of America and the world. Of course the acceptance by George of the Zionist propaganda and his exuberant support of their illegal, immoral, and deadly practices both in their “nation” [because it’s only hypothetically a nation, or perhaps a provisional one], within the “occupied” [are they not occupied?] territories, and especially their invasions of neighboring states by the Zionist Jews in Palestine have made a mockery of George’s grandiose schemes.
“It is a shameful indictment of the peoples of America that such a shallow, ill-prepared, and incompetent man could be elected and reelected to be our leader. It continues to be an indictment of the once respectable Republican party that the current crop of aspirants are no better than George in more than one case are much worse!”
YAO-MAN FOR PRESIDENT!