Pondering the Legacy of Our Smirking Commander
By Mary McIntyre
Before we offer ourselves up to be entranced by the beat of any more war drums, it would behoove us to assess the trustworthiness of our commander-in-chief.
In response to the recent questions regarding the reliability of intelligence substantiating Saddam’s possession of illicit weapons that have yet to be found, Bush has stated to the press, “The credibility of the country is based upon our strong desire to make the world more peaceful, and the world is now more peaceful after our decision.”
Okay. Let’s put aside the question of government intelligence and dare to apply our own intelligence for a moment to weigh his words against the reality of events.
The world is now more peaceful… ?
“Road map” lost on the highway to hell.
Despite this obvious acceleration of violence, Washington continues to insist that Al Qaeda has suffered serious setbacks, and scorns the idea that it was distracted from the “war on terror” by invading Iraq. The Taliban, for its part, has demonstrated its resurgence in the boldest anti-West attack since November 2001, through a recent suicide bombing that killed four German peacekeepers, an attack that took place while Afghanistan’s pro-American leader, Hamid Karzai, was in Britain receiving an honorary knighthood from the Queen. It looks as though the tattered “Road Map” has been lost on the blood-slick highway to hell, with both sides now vowing to fight to the bitter end, causing multiple attacks and numerous casualties on a daily basis. It is difficult to dispute that when you “connect the dots”(a phrase that so easily rolls off the tongues of our smug officials these days), the picture that emerges is not one of peace.
Taking “victory” for a spin.
Before returning to the question of government intelligence and the original premise for the Iraq war, let’s re-examine the spin that’s been placed on the word “victory.” Saddam Hussein is still conspicuously at large, rumored to be offering bounty to Iraqi loyalists for killing Americans. (Wow — I guess the toppling of the statue bearing his likeness in April wasn’t enough after all!) And circumstances foreseen by experienced, high ranking military personnel, but to which neocons running the Pentagon insisted on turning a blind eye, will now require an indefinite period of occupation.
According to Rumsfeld’s original plan, the150,000 US troops currently occupying Iraq were to begin withdrawing en masse by September. This looks less and less likely with each passing day, with tens of thousands of additional US troops in the process of being deployed, and peacekeeping having recently lapsed into active battle. The $80 billion Congress initially approved for the war is now seen as a paltry fraction of the amount that will now be required for the reconstruction of a country in complete ruin due, in large part, to Rumsfeld’s gross miscalculations.
Former Army Secretary Thomas White (whom Rumsfeld pressured to resign in May, following a series of disputes) asserts that the Pentagon continues to describe Rumsfeld’s applied strategy of troop reduction as successful, despite the magnitude of evidence to the contrary. And what is Commander General Tommy Franks’ opinion on how things have gone down? Tommy is saying little to nothing these days, except that he has decided to retire this July, and that he is not interested in being considered for the top Army job of chief of staff. Could it be that the war crimes being charged against him by Iraqi citizens in the Belgian court have rendered him speechless?
US motive: information… or agenda?
And return to the original question: how authentic, how reliable was the intelligence that provided the legal and political justification for the war on Iraq? There are really just two possibilities. First, that, in the words of Lt. Gen. Conway, the top U.S. Marine officer in Iraq, intelligence agencies were “simply wrong,” or, second, that intelligence was intentionally skewed by the administration to suit its own agenda. House Majority speaker
Tom De Lay continues to denounce the call for congressional hearings, asserting that we should simply accept the soundness of the president’s decision based on his “moral leadership.”
Many throughout the world have suspected all along that the claim that Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat by virtue of possession of WMD is a matter of US political convenience, manufactured to facilitate a war that would generate millions of dollars through profiteering, serving to antagonize terrorists and damage global solidarity in the process. Vanity Fair readers may have seen the brazen disclosure of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which seems to affirm this feeling. In his May 9 interview with the magazine, Wolfowitz stated that, “For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”
The effects of Bush’s “moral leadership.”
The same level of integrity is being exercised on the domestic front. Within two-and-a-half years, Bush has managed to convert a budget surplus into the largest federal deficit in history. The recently passed tax package promises to save Cheney, Bush and the cabinet hundreds of thousands of dollars personally, while feeding into our government’s projected future deficit of $44 trillion. Unemployment continues to climb. While Pentagon spending continues to surge, funding for healthcare and social services continues to vanish. Bush’s education program, “Leave No Child Behind” is now dubbed by educators, “Leave No School Standing.” The recent deregulation of the FCC pushed through by Michael Powell will greatly jeopardize our media’s diversity. Ashcroft’s PATRIOT Act II promises to further erode our civil liberties in the name of “national security.”
Faced with numerous questions, one thing is certain — the damage suffered by our country’s democracy through Bush’s “moral leadership” will be felt for generations to come.