FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Bush Wants This War

by PETER LEE

“Why does a dog lick its own balls?” the joke goes. “Because he can.” And so the justification for the Iraq war has drifted from urgency to necessity to facility, and now simple gratification.

The new selling point for the invasion is that it will be easy and painless. That $200 billion isn’t real money–it’s just government budget numbers. And the thousands of dead aren’t real lives–guaranteed 99% foreigners. And it’s good for the economy. It is hard to take Bush’s war seriously as retribution against the murderers of 9/11, or an episode in an eternal crusade against terrorism, or even as a struggle to protect us against disgruntled Arab dictators. It’s just business as usual for the world’s only superpower.

In fact, in the uneasy calm after Bush’s U.N. speech as U.S. diplomats worked the phones and criss-crossed the globe to twist arms and grease palms for America’s assault, there was a depressing realization that nothing mattered, that Bush’s decision to attack Iraq was a private affair, made long before 9/11, and that the real world, the people in it, logic, and a sense of decency are simply irrelevancies to be contemptuously bulldozed by Washington’s money, arms, and mulish intransigence.

To understand the war fetish, perhaps we have to look beyond 9/11, beyond the Middle East, even beyond the precious black crude, to behavior that seems to be genetically coded into Republican administrations since Ronald Reagan’s time. You might remember Reagan invaded Grenada on rather dubious grounds, sending a message to the Russkies (and anybody else who might stand in the way of America’s imperial prerogatives) that the U.S. had shaken off its Vietnam malaise and was back, taking names and kicking ass. Bush I continued the tradition, invading Panama to put the kibosh on our proxy-turned-whipping-boy, Manuel Noriega, and putting Nicaragua and the rest of Central America on notice that the gringos were back in their backyard heavy with armament and attitude.

From this perspective, Bush II is simply working from the same playbook. In this case, the marginalized, militarily impotent, nuisance strongman to be brutalized by U.S. forces is Saddam Hussein. The only difference is, the country’s a little bigger and the stakes are a little higher (all that oil). And in place of the Monroe Doctrine (which, we might remember, has justified pre-emptive military assaults against our little amigos in the Western Hemisphere for 200 years), we have the Bush Doctrine (pre-emptive military assaults everywhere).

It’s now abundantly clear that war with Iraq was on the agenda from the moment Bush was elevated to office. The war fit very well with the new administration’s knee-jerk repudiation of all things Clinton (peace process in the Middle East, globalization, diplomatic yack-yack, treaties, the U.N., touchy-feely bullshit in general) and would show the world that the only superpower was back in the war business big-time. Putting the Middle East oil fields in play with a chance to seize Iraq’s reserves (and wash away any opposition and the consequences of the inevitable errors or miscalculations with a tidal wave of crude) was no doubt a strong, additional incentive.

Sept. 11 was seized upon by the warhawks as a great opportunity to accelerate the Iraq agenda. Ironically, while the world granted America unlimited license to bomb, arrest, detain, and mislead in the name of justice, reconciling the facts of Sept. 11 with the White House’s pre-existing, brutishly simplistic desire to give Iraq a good ass-kicking proved to be an intellectual burden too heavy to bear. And so the justifications of the war have grown more extravagant and unrealistic, and the rebuttals to reasoned concerns more flippant and unpersuasive.

It is almost amusing to hear the escalating frustration in George W. Bush’s voice as he is compelled to come up with complex rationalizations and forced to schmooze with Democrats and foreigners in order to do something that should be as simple and natural as shooting holes in roadsigns from a pickup–pounding the daylights out of some designated-victim regime so the world remembers to crap its pants in fright anytime it sees the American flag.

There are reasons for invading Iraq. And pretty much all of them under Bush’s bomb-happy scenario are bad ones. But that’s just the point. The White House is demonstrating that facts, logic, domestic and world opinion, and international organizations offer no protection against American violence. Bush wants to show the world, war on Iraq may be mean, it may be stupid, it may be dangerous, it might be deadly, it might even be catastrophic to our security and interests, but even so, he wants to say, interrupting his genital lavage on the Oval Office carpet and favoring us with an angry snarl, I’m doing it BECAUSE I CAN!

Even those of us who don’t get our foreign policy from bumper stickers and Harley-Davidson t-shirts don’t remember losing lots of sleep after Grenada and Panama. So it’s tempting to look the other way and just grumble in the kitchen a little bit about the human, civil, and diplomatic risks of dropping the hammer on Hussein. We might even feel a guilty frisson of pleasure basking in our government’s badass aura of reckless, pitbull invincibility.

But this time it is different. September 11 did change things, proving that the our no-cost empire is a delusion promoted by bloodthirsty and greedy bureaucrats. There is a tremendous human and social cost to America’s unilateral projection of power across the globe, and it is borne both by the people of the world and the citizens and residents of the United States. It is not borne, or even acknowledged, by vicious and cynical leaders who look at the problems of the world and see only the opportunity for another war.

It is sobering to consider that, on the anniversary of September 11, George W. Bush’s eyes brimmed with tears for the victims of 9/11, his mouth was filled with the obligatory platitudes of his speechwriters, but his heart and mind were filled with thoughts of war on Iraq. It is time for the nation to pull this feckless leader, and the world, back from the abyss, stop the war with Iraq, and turn the efforts and resources of this country from the manufactured threat of Saddam Hussein to the real challenges of justice, security, and prosperity facing our world.

PETER LEE writes for Halcyon Days. He can be reached at: halcyondays@attbi.com

copyright 2002 PETER LEE

 

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 24, 2017
Anthony DiMaggio
Reflections on DC: Promises and Pitfalls in the Anti-Trump Uprising
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Developer Welfare: Trump’s Infrastructure Plan
Melvin Goodman
Trump at the CIA: the Orwellian World of Alternative Facts
Sam Mitrani – Chad Pearson
A Short History of Liberal Myths and Anti-Labor Politics
Kristine Mattis
Democracy is Not a Team Sport
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Mexico, Neo-Nationalism and the Capitalist World-System
Ted Rall
The Women’s March Was a Dismal Failure and a Hopeful Sign
Norman Pollack
Woman’s March: Halt at the Water’s Edge
Pepe Escobar
Will Trump Hop on an American Silk Road?
Franklin Lamb
Trump’s “Syria “Minus Iran” Overture to Putin and Assad May Restore Washington-Damascus Relations
Kenneth R. Culton
Violence By Any Other Name
David Swanson
Why Impeach Donald Trump
Christopher Brauchli
Trump’s Contempt
January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Mark Schuller
So What am I Doing Here? Reflections on the Inauguration Day Protests
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail