Box that Bush Made
February 1, 2003
By Mike Shannon
all the lousy reasons to go to war can there possibly be one
lousier than to save face? Tragically, we may end up in a
war that is totally avoidable for that very reason.
Reasonable people may argue the how and why, but no matter
where you align yourself on the political spectrum very few
would question that Mr. Bush has gotten himself into one heck
of a spot. He has managed through his repeated use of fire
and brimstone style rhetoric, simplistic reasoning -- due
to an over reliance on his not-very-well-seasoned "gut" --
coupled with a slavish adherence to an agenda based more on
ideology that geopolitical reality, to box himself into a
degree that is a marvel of ineptitude. Watching him attempt
to squirm his way of his self spun web would be amusing except
for the very real possibility that he will blast his way out.
For when it comes to Bush vs Hussein, the Sequel, he has left
himself very few other options.
It is possible that Mr. Bush has left himself with no escape
route for the simple reason that he feels no need for one.
If this is indeed the case that would indicate that he sees
war as the only legitimate course of action in this matter.
Accepting his own oft stated belief that he considers war
as the last option as truthful, then one can only assume that
the present predicament he finds himself in is not by design.
And he has no one but himself to blame.
Many have compared the events of September 11 to be the moral/military
equivalent to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. While there
are any number of differences, I concur in principle. Both
were not only grotesque violations of our national sovereignty,
they were unforgivable assaults of the very precepts of human
civilization. As such, they both warranted a united and forceful
Had Mr. Bush chosen to initiate a broad scale assault on
Iraq in conjunction with the attack on Afghanistan, in the
weeks immediately following That Day, resistance to his call
to arms would have been minimal. Instead, he and his council
of advisers chose to take a more cautious approach. While
this may very well have been the more prudent policy, it has
allowed a potentially irreversible cooling of emotions to
take place. A change in the Zeitgeist that has left Mr. Bush
scrambling to "make his case" ever since.
According to CNN, Mr. Bush's State of the Union address was
the 138th time he has discussed Iraq in a public speech in
the past 18 months. And while he will most likely gain the
benefit of a boost in polls taken immediately after the speech,
it will in all probability be short-lived. In stark contrast,
the day after Pearl Harbor FDR gave one speech -- lasting
all of about three minutes -- that galvanized a nation for
war like no speech in American history ever had, before or
since. Mr. Bush on the other hand finds himself still scrambling
to convince a majority of Americans -- and even more so, a
majority of the international community -- that war against
Iraq is both valid and necessary.
While it may be easy to criticize the tactics -- seeing how
the litany is ever growing and changing, I have long since
lost track of which of Mr. Hussein's many despicable faults
is the one which warrants our declaring war on him -- and
the very strategy itself, you must give credit to Mr. Bush
for his refusal to take "no" for an answer. Although, we have
reached a point in the process where it is difficult to determine
if this intransigence is based on strength of conviction or
a firm understanding that if he were to change his mind he
would have hell to pay politically. Of course, there are any
number of people who would applaud him for backing away from
the pit of Hell that is war, and recommitting himself to finding
a nonlethal solution to this problem. However, as much as
Mr. Bush would welcome the adulation such a move would bring,
he fears the retribution from those on the other side of the
debate even more.
Even he, in a quiet moment of self reflection, would be forced
to admit that his vaunted Bush Doctrine is in tatters a mere
15 months after it was unveiled. The pronouncements of who
are the enemies of America and how and when they would be
dealt with that were delivered with such dogmatic intensity
and manichean finality, have now been shown to be hollow rumblings
of a not so grand strategy. Having already decided to basically
ignore Iran and placate North Korea, if Mr. Bush were to roll
over on axis member number three, Iraq, the Doctrine would
be rendered for all practical purposes, null and void.
The one weapon that Mr. Bush can still draw upon is the nearly
omnipotent power of the American Presidency. Not only does
his every utterance still garner front page notice, at the
end of the day the decision -- that is of course if you accept
the pusillanimous abdication by the members of Congress of
their authority to decide when and why the young men and women
of the United States of America go to war, as mandated by
the Constitution -- remains his to make. It is becoming ever
more likely that he will make the decision to send our youth
off to kill and be killed once more. If the results of that
decision play out as forecast by his ever optimistic legion
of apologists would have us believe they will, then Mr. Bush
will have done more than conquered a demonic foe, he will
have saved his Presidency. If, as is more likely, the worst
case scenarios are the result, the casualties of the battle
field will surely be joined by more than a few prominent ones
in the political arena.
You may contact Mike Shannon at email@example.com.