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Thursday, December 01, 2005

THE WAR IN IRAQ: A FAITH BASED OPERATION

A while back I decided to make a change in my life. Weary in mind and body from numerous failed attempts to ascertain how George W. Bush's mind works and why so many people support him, I decided to try something new in the hope that it might lead to something approaching understanding. I decided to give Mr. Bush the benefit of the doubt with regard to the war in Iraq. A bold move, indeed.

After all, where do I get my information? The newspaper, the television, and the internet? Not particularly reliable sources at this point in time. Maybe the President's right, I thought. Maybe things are improving in Iraq. I mean after all, they have had two successful elections and another one is coming up in two weeks. The Sunnis are voting. Almost all the bloodshed is occurring within the relatively small Sunni Triangle. Maybe most of Iraq is stable. Maybe the Iraqi security forces are getting closer to being able to take over operations. Maybe schools are reopening, electricity is being restored, life is getting better for the average Iraqi. It seems unlikely that a medium like television, or what it has become—little more than a titillation feeding tube that rewards the viewer for watching commercials by parading a series of bloody, sexy, and/or disgusting images across the screen every few minutes—would suddenly become a source of accurate, reliable information capable of making sense of a complex situation. Besides, even if it could, why would TV make the effort to get the story of what's happening in Iraq right? I mean, what would be its motivation? Job #1 is selling soap to Joe Meatball and Suzy Housecoat, so get those reporters off the air and let's get back to supermodels eating bull's...oh, wait, what's that? An update on Jessica and Nick? We'll go with that.

So armed with my new outlook on Dubya, I started reading the transcript of the speech he gave yesterday. I have to say before I started reading, it felt pretty good, being all blindly-following and supportive and Patriotic. It takes all the pressure off. It was relaxing like that warm feeling in your ears after a swig of whisky. I could just sit back and nod in agreement with everything. What could be easier than that?

Damn. It wasn't to be.

I got through the first part OK. He started off with a joke. Fine. Not all that funny but at least it wasn't offensive. I got through the next part where he's thanking all the people for being there. Nice. That's polite. Barbara must be very proud.

I liked his breakdown of the three main groups of enemies that face the Coalition forces in Iraq:

"The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists."

Good. I get that. Know thy enemy. I like this. Very methodical, very logical.

But then he started talking about things that actually matter and my blissed-out daze dried up and blew away. My ears were still warm but not in a good way. By the time he concluded his assessment of the rejectionists, it was clear that Dubya was harshing my buzz bigtime.

Here's the thing about Dubya and ironically it's the thing that people either hate about him or love about him. It's that he knows what he knows. He makes up his mind on an issue based on how he feels and once that opinion is formed, you can forget about anything ever influencing it in any way ever again. Some call it faith, but I call it stupid.

Did I just call George W. Bush stupid? That's not very charitable of me. Let me put it another way. Dubya seems to be guided through life not by an ability to think critically but rather by an abstract set of rules that define situations in terms of good and evil. These rules most likely originated from a combination of sources including his church, his parents, and those who have helped trot him along through his political career. He is extraordinarily confident in his ability to use these rules to decipher complex situations and, when action is required, to distill them down to a choice between a right way to proceed and a wrong way to proceed. He never questions his assessments or their consequences. He never re-evaluates. Simply put, once his mind is made up, there's no changing it.

And so yesterday, despite the fact that only 35% of Americans approve of his handling of the war and 54% say the invasion has been a mistake, Dubya refused to adjust his view of how this conflict will end.





and finally this:



World affairs as complicated as the current situation in Iraq require more than this blind faith. Where are the new ideas? Where is the creativity? In the end, is mere perseverance our most effective weapon? What is victory, Mr. Bush?

2 Comments:

At 12/01/2005 9:48 PM, Anonymous said...

your last question is THE question. What is victory? great post!

 
At 12/03/2005 2:47 PM, Anonymous said...

Good assessment Tom. I guess our only solution is to vote in less than 3 years and hope the selection of candidates are more qualified. Democracy is a good thing, unfortunately sometime the wrong person wins. Fortunately we only have a finite period of time left with him. I hope he doesn't leave more of a mess for the next president whoever he or she may be.
Your cousin by marriage.
Philip

 

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