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The Blame Game

November 17, 2005
by Michael Shannon

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The argument that the Bush administration did not polish that's the nicest word I could think of the intelligence concerning Iraq's capabilities in the weeks and months leading to the onset of hostilities is preposterous.

Every speck of information on the subject which has reached the light of day since then has been directly supportive of the notion that a very small group of people came to the conclusion that the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the taking control of Iraq, was not only a good idea, it was a necessary one. It also shows that they then did everything in their power to sell that idea, regardless of any and all evidence to the contrary of its merit and in doing so used every trick in the book. How anyone can deny this is beyond me.

If you are in the ever-diminishing minority that believe Bush was on the up-and-up concerning Iraq, you most likely base some of your continued support on the fact that you are having a hard time believing that an American president could foul up so completely.

But you have to keep this in mind when you ask yourself how Team Bush could have gotten it so wrong: Bush and his boys were counting on a win. No matter what history would prove later on - that there were no WMDs, that Iraq was not even in the ballpark on a nuclear weapon, that there was no Iraq/al Qaeda connection, etc. was not a concern.

And if you look at it from their point of view their lack of concern makes some sense. They knew that the Iraqi army was a shell of its former self. They knew that contrary to Tony Blair's absurd claim that the Iraqi army had vast stockpiles of chemical weaponry that they could bring to bear on the battlefield within 45 minutes, that Iraq did not have any such capability. They knew that the pitched battles between massed forces would be totally one-sided in our favor. And that the war would be over in weeks. In all of this, they were correct.

Had Iraq immediately settled down upon cessation of "major combat operations" and quickly rebounded economically, socially and politically, all the pre-war sins would have been washed away. Which, truth be told, had it all gone according to plan would have been a beautiful thing. The war itself would remain as vile as all wars are but at least it would have been of a very short duration. Unfortunately there was a sizable percentage of Iraqis who had a different plan.

The war in Iraq has become an albatross for George Bush. Mr. Bush wanted to be known as the War On Terror President, but instead he has become simply the Terrible President. A fact that more people are coming to grips with on a daily basis.

The collapse in confidence in Bush, verified by polls across the entire socio-political spectrum has both been fed by and is triggering a whole new wave of open skepticism about every aspect of the Iraq war, opening up sores that the Bushies thought were long behind them. The task in front of them now is exponentially harder than the task they set for themselves in the selling of the war in the first place. Now they have to do it to people who know they are making it up as they go along.

As it becomes increasingly obvious that people aren't buying it this time around and the negatives keep skyrocketing on Bush the guy has gone from a 90% to a 36% approval rate since 9/11 - he has responded by going into attack mode. Two speeches in the past week were both very bitter in tone and content. Mr. Bush, utilizing his singular gift for inverting reality, was in particularly good form.

John F. Kennedy once said that "victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan." That has been turned upside-down by George Bush. When things were going well, Bush was more than happy to strut into the spotlight. That was him alone on the deck of the Lincoln, not him with a bipartisan group of Congress members, nor even a group of his closest supporters in his own party. No, it was just the Boy King George, parading like the returning conquering hero. Ego run completely amuck.

Now he's not only no longer strutting about, he has switched to the argument that "it wasn't just me!" Now that things have been going lousy in Iraq for almost three years, he is looking to spread the blame as far and as wide as possible. For a guy who had the cojones to campaign as a "uniter not a divider," he has done a remarkable job of driving a schism through the political landscape.

If he was a uniter, the minute he gets off the plane from his Asian trip he would call a conference where he would take two or three dozen members of Congress, with maybe some private sector big shots thrown in, to Camp David and say, "we're not leaving until we come to a consensus on Iraq."

But he won't do that. He will most likely do what he always does. He will lash out at those who question him, he will continue to seek the council of people who helped get him in this mess in the first place and he will continue to avoid making the hard choices that need to be made. And American GIs will keep right on dying.

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