FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

War Timing and Opportunism

By suggesting that the insurgents in Iraq are playing US electoral politics, the Bush Administration convinces few voters, but does invoke scrutiny of its own motives. In October, the President, Vice President and press secretary Tony Snow all claimed that insurgents Iraq timed their attacks to influence the US midterm elections. While admitting he had no proof to support his claim, Dick Cheney told Rush Limbaugh on October 17, the argument “made sense to me”. Two weeks later he told Fox news “I think they are, very, very cognizant of our schedule, if you will.”

For Cheney, the very feel of truthiness made it correct. Ironically, using this administration’s standard of evidence, one might postulate a compelling notion that the Bush Administration itself timed the invasion of Iraq for electoral gain in 2004.

By early 2003, Administration hawks thought they could fashion and invasion of Iraq at minimal cost and maximum political benefit by the end of the year. A month before the invasion, Donald Rumsfeld estimated the war “could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.”

The Sunday before the invasion, Cheney declared on Meet the Press: “My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.” Examples abound of administration officials promising that the invasion would require few troops and that Iraq’s oil revenue would pay for its own reconstruction.

The race to war despite global protests urging restraint, the presence of weapons inspectors in Iraq and the opportunities for practical diplomacy indicated a sense of urgency on the part of the Bush White House. The massive February 15, 2003 world-wide protests were so powerful that the New York Times dubbed global public opinion “the world’s second superpower”. Protestors in more than 700 cities on every continent (including one in McMurdo Station, Antarctica) warned this administration not to rush headlong into a reckless war of aggression. The Bush Administratoin ignored them and continued to manipulate intelligence to justify an invasion.

The time line to war would have given the administration and its Congressional allies nearly a year to crow about their triumph before the 2004 elections. Iraq liberated, our troops showered with flowers, and democracy sweeping the Middle East, would silence Democrats and doves. Indeed, they would fade into political irrelevance. Bush and his inner circle had faith in a kind of “Sunshine Doctrine” behaving as if the sun shined out of their posteriors. Once the unconvinced people saw the light, they would follow indefinitely the neocon blueprint for a social reengineering of the Middle East. Less than two months after the invasion began, President Bush, costumed in a flightsuit, landed on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln: major combat operations had ended, mission accomplished.

This taxpayer funded political stunt worked to provide campaign imagery for the 2004 general elections. Bush began the war as a triumphant Caesar Augustus; three years later, he has reemerged as Emperor Nero. But the Administration’s Pax Americana served its purpose. Using the image of wartime leader, Bush won reelection. The self proclaimed wartime leader with a Republican majority in Congress. Had Iraq not begun disintegrating before the November 2004 elections, the margin of electoral victory could have been even greater. White House political strategist Karl Rove would have had the “perfect storm” for an electoral blowout in 2004 with coattails long enough to usher in a stunning über-majority in Congress.

As early as 1999, Bush told his erstwhile campaign biographer Mickey Herskowitz about his father’s mistake in the first Iraq war:

“My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it….If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Circumstantially, the 2003 invasion linked to the 2004 electoral timeline, but no solid evidence has yet surfaced to show that key administration officials actually plotted it that way. But as Cheney said, it makes sense. By 2006, the Bush Administration’s toxic mix of arrogance, hubris and chutzpah poisoned US policies and reduced the administration to a global laughing stock. The neocons reached too high to in their quest for global hegemony and, like Icarus, came crashing down.

By suggesting that the insurgents in Iraq are playing electoral politics, Bush only invites scrutiny of his own political machinations. Perhaps, an investigation might be opened to determine whether White House political operatives had practiced the very manipulative techniques they now attribute to the Iraqi insurgents.

SANHO TREE is a research fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He can be reached at: stree@igc.org

 

 

More articles by:
September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail