Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Divine Mission

Seymour Hersh has an article in the latest New Yorker discussing the possibility of a drawdown of US forces in Iraq. These plans depend on two pure fantasies. First, that newly trained Iraqi forces can take over the fight and second, that the insurgency isn't growing.

What plans there are involve the use of increased airstrikes to support the Iraqification of the combat forces. This is highly unlikely to be effective against the insurgency but it almost guaranteed to increase the already unbearable levels of Iraqi casualties.

But Bush will hear nothing of the grim realities of the situation and will not even consider real withdrawal, regardless of what Murtha, fellow Republicans or the American people have to say, because he believes he is on a mission from god.
Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding

Bush's closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush's first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President's religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that "God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President's belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; "Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that he's the man," the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
By modern standards of rationality, this is simply insane. Bush is divinely incapable of recognizing that we are losing the war, that we have already alreadly lost the war. The top generals are now too afraid to tell him the truth for fear of retalliation. Hersh suggests that they are now using intermediaries such as congressman Murtha to make the grim reality on the ground more public. However, reality isn't making much progress by that route either. After Murtha called for a pullout, Bush just ramped up the rhetoric,
"The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. . . . If they're not stopped, the terrorists will be able to advance their agenda to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, and to break our will and blackmail our government into isolation. I'm going to make you this commitment: this is not going to happen on my watch."
And even senior defense officials describe his response in religious terms,
'The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,"” the former defense official said. "He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage 'People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.'" He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. "They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway."
The only thing about Hersh's description that does not quite ring true is his claim that Bush believes it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq. Bush fairly obviously does not have much interest in democracy even in this country. He famously joked, "If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." Looking at what he has done over the last five years, it hardly seems like he was joking. Still, I have heard Hirsch make this claim several times before. So perhaps Bush does use the word, but what can it possibly mean to him? Conquest and subjugation to the will of god of which he is the chosen instrument?

Certainly, Cheney and others in the administration do not share this religious fantasy. They are just in it for the loot and power, but like George, they lack any concept of limits.


Hersh also has a really good interview on today's Democracy Now!.


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