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The Bush Legacy
First, the short version, by Tom Tomorrow:

I got us into this clusterfuck and by god, I’m keeping us there.

For the expanded version (sorry, Crid!), we turn to Keith Olbermann:

Before Mr. Bush was elected, he said nation-building was wrong for America.

Now he says it is vital.

He said he would never put U.S. troops under foreign control.

Last night he promised to embed them in Iraqi units.

He told us about WMD.

Mobile labs.

Secret sources.

Aluminum tubes.


He has told us the war is necessary:

Because Saddam was a material threat.

Because of 9/11.

Because of Osama Bin Laden. Al-Qaida. Terrorism in general.

To liberate Iraq. To spread freedom. To spread Democracy. To prevent terrorism by gas price increases.

Because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.

Because — 439 words in to the speech last night — he trotted out 9/11 again.

In advocating and prosecuting this war he passed on a chance to get Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.

To get Muqtada Al-Sadr. To get Bin Laden.

He sent in fewer troops than the generals told him to. He ordered the Iraqi army disbanded and the Iraqi government “de-Baathified.”

He short-changed Iraqi training. He neglected to plan for widespread looting. He did not anticipate sectarian violence.

He sent in troops without life-saving equipment. He gave jobs to foreign contractors, and not Iraqis. He staffed U.S. positions there, based on partisanship, not professionalism.

He and his government told us: America had prevailed, mission accomplished, the resistance was in its last throes.

He has insisted more troops were not necessary. He has now insisted more troops are necessary.

He has insisted it’s up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would not be necessary.

He has trumpeted the turning points:

The fall of Baghdad, the death of Uday and Qusay, the capture of Saddam. A provisional government, a charter, a constitution, the trial of Saddam. Elections, purple fingers, another government, the death of Saddam.

He has assured us: We would be greeted as liberators — with flowers;

As they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course; we were never about “stay the course.”

We would never have to go door-to-door in Baghdad. And, last night, that to gain Iraqis’ trust, we would go door-to-door in Baghdad.

He told us the enemy was al-Qaida, foreign fighters, terrorists, Baathists, and now Iran and Syria.

He told us the war would pay for itself. It would cost $1.7 billion. $100 billion. $400 billion. Half a trillion. Last night’s speech alone cost another $6 billion.

And after all of that, now it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Democrats, Republicans, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November and the majority of the American people.

How did anybody buy into this? Is it because he looks like a cowboy people want to have drinks with? Because he makes the fundies feel safe that they won't have to believe that hoohah about the Grand Canyon being millions of years old?

And, finally, who here is a reformed Bush believer? Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Posted by aalkon at January 16, 2007 8:09 AM

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He's Peter with video... If he just explains it patiently enough, eventually we'll have to understand.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 7:24 AM

I disagree, but that doesn't mean I'm not laughing.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 16, 2007 7:33 AM

I was an Iraq supporter, though not a Bush believer. It was more the utter lack of serious on terrorism on the part of the Democrats that led me that way. This is not a matter for the FBI and the UN. And I still think that course would have been worse than the present one.

Our problem with Islamic radicals is much more than either a police or a military matter. It's a matter of civilizational confidence, which we are fresh out of, for some reason I can't quite understand.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at January 16, 2007 8:27 AM

Todd is my hero.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 8:31 AM

No more Saddam, no more Republican majority -- I guess I got what I wanted. Pity about that whole civil war thing, though.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at January 16, 2007 9:48 AM

> Pity about that whole civil
> war thing, though.

There was a better plan? A memo tucked under the jacket of the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, maybe?

We paid regime change, we got regime annihilation. Not the best deal we ever struck, but maybe not the worst.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 9:56 AM

Tom Tomorrow AND Keith Olbermann? Well then, it must be true.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at January 16, 2007 10:30 AM

I'm clearly not getting something that some people (see Crid and Todd above) seem to understand clearly.

I know I'm risking a "GRRR!" or some such from Crid for this, but I just don't see much connection between overthrowing Saddam (which may have been an independently worthy goal) and fighting radical Islamic terrorists. I'm not saying there was no connection, just not much of one. Iraq was in the Middle East. Most terrorists come from there. Iraq is a mostly Muslim country. Most terrorists are Muslim. However, very few (if any?) of the terrorists that have attacked the U.S. or our interests appear to have been from Iraq (this is off the top of my head, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong). We just picked Iraq because it was an easy target: Americans already knew Saddam to be a bad guy, and Iraq was weak militarily, and isolated from other countries. Low-hanging, oil-rich fruit. And we had to do something because we couldn't get the people who attacked us on 9/11. I think this is about the best I can do for a connection to the war against Islamic terrorists. Maybe someone else can improve upon it.

Crid, you ask for a better plan. How about this: If we wanted to be rid of Saddam so badly, why not assassinate him (and his sons, too, just for good measure)?

Posted by: justin case at January 16, 2007 10:52 AM

Did you mention this is Jan '03?

Have faith: Gates, Baker, Scowcroft and Kissinger all admire this approach to foreign policy, and are ascendant in public esteem.

Go figger.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 10:59 AM

Justin, it goes like this: the mid-east is a mess and that's the basis for the appeal of radical Islam. Therefore, if we can clean up one of those countries and turn it into a liberal democracy, it'll be an example to show other countries in the region a way forward, rather than the way backward (radical Islam).

Too bad it didn't work. It remains to be seen if any kind of modernity is compatible with Islam. So far the indications aren't encouraging.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher at January 16, 2007 11:23 AM


Paid FOR regime change, mention this IN Jan '03...

(More to come)

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 11:27 AM

Maybe this was all a preconceived plan in order to have a reason to attack Iran, the original target.

Posted by: The Mad Hungarian at January 16, 2007 11:27 AM

I didn't say there was a better plan; I was just acknowledging those who have to pay for it. Being evil is no excuse for being impolite, after all.

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at January 16, 2007 12:04 PM

You can tell what is important to a people if you look at what they are willing to fight and die for. In the middle east it is God's law, not man's law or freedom or McDonals, given the right to vote they will vote every time for their religion. Then of course want to force that religion onto everyone else.

Posted by: -x- at January 16, 2007 12:07 PM

> In the middle east it is God's law

Naw, that's just the form the power-grabs take over there. It's always something.

There's nothing new under the sun. So to speak.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 12:14 PM

Shit, I wouldn't fight and die for McDonald's either. In 'n Out, on the other hand...

Posted by: Paul Hrissikopoulos at January 16, 2007 1:47 PM

And yes Paul, point taken, my balls weren't shot off during the invasion or later events....

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 1:50 PM

I love Todd's phrase "civilizational confidence".

We seem to be lacking, the Europeans seem to be going negative, and the Iraqis are an absolute black hole.

I find it interesting that GW gets lots of criticism, and the Iraqis get little, especially from the American Left. Whenever I ask, I'm told to shut up and sit down, 'cause GW is in the dock and he requires full attention.

I'm thinking that years of Baath socialism and tribal Islam has taught everyone that everything comes from above, just wait awhile and your turn will come, so until then don't pick up the trash, don't do anything to improve public life, and to get attention put your head under a car tire at the nearest parking lot.

Posted by: doombuggy at January 16, 2007 1:52 PM


How many of you are so mad at Mr. Bush that you didn't notice the contradictions in the Tom Tomorrow piece? If you had generals say, "too few", then "too many", would you keep them? Come to think of it, do you know anything about the military aside from "they use guns and bombs"?

If there is one thing I hate about political issues, it is the mindlessness of those obsessed with a person, like that which insists that GW is a criminal mastermind one day and a drolling idiot the next. Emotion easily beats reason badly enough to run it off.

Meanwhile, few of us running our mouth about how stupid Mr. Bush is could fly an F-102 and not die trying; we still ignore Congress and focus on one guy because it feels good.

Posted by: Radwaste at January 16, 2007 2:14 PM

> because it feels good

It probably does.

But i think it's mostly about economics. When things are running with relative smoothness in America (a standard of fantastic luxury and safety in human history), people have only so much attention to give to the weasels in Washington who are squandering our dollars and the lives of our children. So it's easier to concentrate on the one guy you hear about every day. This happens to be the same personage to whom NBC News (etc.) can afford to assign a full-time reporter.

Americans sincerely believe the President is a leader. It's whack. Hating the guy in that office is not only a badge of participatory citizenship, it's a convenient sump for the rage you feel from the wife not having given any sexual attention for the last seven months. Nobody's ever going to ask what you'd looked forward to having that guy do.

You're completely right about the military, though.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 4:11 PM

Todd, it’s been well documented how seriously Bush took terrorism before 9/11, as in ‘OK, fine, you’ve covered your ass.’ And what did Iraq have to do with 9/11 or Al Qaida? Yes, nothing at all. Hard to tell how not invading could have been worse, for us or for the people of Iraq.
Much more dying on a yearly basis, more torture, the water supply just went out (600 public service workers have been killed to date)…And we sure aren’t low on civilizational confidence; we just invaded a sovereign nation to bring them our civilization, convinced we’d be greeted with flowers.

Saying, the middle east was a mess before, so nothing we do can make it worse, is like saying, this guy has a broken leg, so if we chop it off, then set him on fire, it really makes no difference.

Yeah, Crid, there was a better plan than invading, and our intelligence services were screaming it to Bush – it was called ‘not invading.’ Islamic terrorism has grown by leaps and bounds since our invasion, and an entire new generation of Iraqis is learning to hate our guts – what part of that don’t you get?

And Justin, don’t fear the Crid ‘grrrr,’ the last guy he did that to may have hurt himself laughing, or rolling on the floor, but that’s about it.

Radwaste, which generals are you thinking of that are now saying ‘too many?’ They all seem to be saying, including a little-known one named Petraeus, that the current surge won’t be enough to secure fucking Baghdad, much less the entire country.
Yeah, I can tell you a few things about the military –
They want better armor.
They want better vehicles.
They want their full veterans’ benefits back.
They’d like to think that they’re fighting for something positive, not to make the country they invaded into a theocracy.
And none of you junior field marshals talking grimly about the necessity of this war are fighting it.

We are focusing less on Congress because the majority of people who’d been running it for the last 3 years and calling anyone who raised objections to them ‘traitors’ and ‘terrorist sympathizers’ got thrown out on their asses, with public objection to the war as a leading reason.
I’ve never heard anyone describe Bush as a ‘mastermind,’ no matter how much they hated his guts. We all pretty much agree he’s dumb as a bag of hammers. We’re focusing on HIM now because he seems to believe he’s a monarch in a democratic nation, and that he can prosecute this war by fiat, when his approval is under 30% and public support for how he’s running the war is in the low teens.
Not being able to fly a 102, which Bush can’t either (he was piloted), has exactly nothing to do with taking a position on this war.

Posted by: Cat brother at January 16, 2007 5:37 PM

Looks like you're at about six and a half months there, fella.

> convinced we’d be greeted
> with flowers.

There 'tis, you're blinded by the hatred. You know, when I see someone drinking coca-cola on the street, I don't presume that any particular commercial --maybe with a polar bear, or multiracial hillside singers, or whatever they're using nowadays-- is what did the trick. Sometimes thirsty people just want sugar. But lefties seem always to know which particular "*Lies!*" are the ones that fueled popular support of invasion. No one is ever allowed to think it was simply worth doing no matter who was in the White House. 'No!'", say the lefties. 'The problem is That Guy! And even if we can't pretend to have thought about it before hand ["it was called ‘not invading’",] we're can see the future now, and Earth will be Heaven again when Bush is gone!'

> our intelligence services
> were screaming

They were a few years too late to be taken seriously, even if they weren't so transparently, pathetically, ignobly self-interested. And it's still too late, and for the rest of my life, it will be too late. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em with a stick.

> They want

Excellent use of grade school rhythms... Like Olbermann, but without the straw-colored backlights and flashframe bumper graphics.

> We all pretty much agree he’s
> dumb as a bag of hammers.

He's got tragic faults, but I (apparently alone) assert the problem is not raw candlepower.

> (he was piloted),

Wikipedia says (on multiple pages, as across the web): "He performed Guard duty as an F-102 pilot through April 1972, logging a total of 336 flight hours[1]."

Don't hate.

Posted by: Crid at January 16, 2007 5:58 PM

>...Islamic terrorism has grown by leaps and bounds >since our invasion, and an entire new generation of >Iraqis is learning to hate our guts...

This is an example of the "civilizational confidence" we don't have. We're still the good guys here. Terrorism is still wrong, no matter what we do. Don't give them a pass just to assuage your self hatred.

We gave the Iraqis a chance at a better life. We sacrificed soldiers and money for their benefit. That they see fit to kill each other and destroy their infrastructure says more about them than about us.

Posted by: doombuggy at January 16, 2007 7:02 PM

But lefties seem always to know which particular "*Lies!*" are the ones that fueled popular support of invasion. No one is ever allowed to think it was simply worth doing no matter who was in the White House.

Ends and means crid, ends and means

And radwaste your showing yourselfto be a moron once again - the generals who said more troops BEFORE the invasion were fired, any one remember Shenseki?

and the DIFFERNT commanders who are NOW saying the surge is not enough are also being replaced.

So tell me dumbass, how is anything going to be different in iraq when bush is doing the same thing he always does - just in case you are to stupid to know what he's doing I'll tell you

He is ignoring anyone who gives him advice.

Seriously what the fuck does a failed BUSSINESSMAN know about combat operations compared to generals with decades of experience?

Posted by: lujlp at January 17, 2007 12:29 AM

I was never a Bush supporter, but I'm pro muslim-removal.

Crid has the best point here - we as a nation have been so mired in self-loathing since the fifties that we've lost three wars because of it. And we're going to lose our entire civilization as well.

That cat feller ought to cut back on the kool-aid. all those lies ain't good for a man.

and lujlp - I'd wager that a businessman has as much experience in combat operations as those generals. How many of our present-day generals have seen combat in a real war?

Posted by: brian at January 17, 2007 4:27 AM

That was Todd Fletcher's point, but if you write enough comments you get credit for everything

Posted by: Crid at January 17, 2007 5:50 AM

Brian, not sure what lies you're talking about. About the military? Easy enough to check, on multiple sources, re body armor, lack of sufficient fighting vehicles, lack of sufficient manpower, the fact that intelligence services both warned Bush about impending attacks and told him that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
Pro-Muslim removal? Charming. Substitute 'pro-Jew removal' or 'Pro-Christian removal,' see how that sounds. Are you for removing Muslims from countries that are, you know, theirs? To where? And to be replaced by whom?
And what the hell are you all talking about, 'lack of national confidence?' Lost 3 wars? Unless you equate national confidence with 'be willing to nuke North Korea and North Vietnam,' no, I don't see it. We have a president who literally thinks he talks to God, the Big Fella, and we invaded a sovereign nation on false pretenses, thinking they'd be so grateful they'd greet us with flowers. No lack of confidence there.
And now we have more terrorists, and the people are worse off than they ever were under Saddam. If Bush was colluding with Bin Laden, working down an Osama Wish List, he couldn't have done it better. More terrorism now, and for the next few generations, due to our ill-conceived invasion and the fucked-up way it and the 'reconstruction' of Iraq were pursued.
Yes, Crid, it's NOW too late to save the Twin Towers, because the people in charge didn't want to listen to them. Go ahead and shoot that messenger.
Wikipedia is hardly complimentary to Bush's National Guard time, when he bravely protected Texas from the Flying Viet Cong.
Anyone playing along, read and reach your own conclusions. But yes, at one time, he could fly a 102. Which means zero point nada, as far as being able to plan and execute a war.

Posted by: Cat brother at January 17, 2007 7:33 AM

Catbrother wrote, "Pro-Muslim removal? Charming. Substitute 'pro-Jew removal' or 'Pro-Christian removal,' see how that sounds."

How about 'pro-Nazi removal'?, or 'pro-Japanese Imperialist removal'? How about 'pro-criminal removal'? Or is everybody equal and unassailable?

Posted by: doombuggy at January 17, 2007 7:36 PM

Really brian, you are saying that bush has as much experince as generals with decades in the military?

Men and women who have spent their lives leading men in combat operations from their first assigments as leutenits and captins leading platoons and squadrons.
Leaders who have learned to coordinate hunndereds and then thousands of combat troops, support troops and suplies.
Men and women who have sacrificed decades, if not their whole lives, for the saftey of this country.

Are you seriously telling me that these men and women who have spent their entire careers being trained to lead soldiers know LESS than a man who failed at damn near everything he ever tried, simply because he holds a temporary POLITICAL office?

How fucking stupid are you brian?

Posted by: lujlp at January 18, 2007 1:09 AM

"How many generals have seen combat in a real war?"

ARE YOU KIDDING?? All of them!! If by "real war" you mean WWII, conventional, tanks-across-the-plains war, the reality is, that kind of war is not part of our modern warfighting. It could make a comeback at some point in time, but from the Korean War onward, it's been asymmetric, or guerilla, warfare.

Check Petraes's resume. Check Shinseki's. Check Tommy Clark's. You simply do not become a General Officer in combat arms without combat experience.

And when you're bombed out of bed with mortar fire or find yourself in mid-air from the IED that just lifted your hummer off the ground, it sure feels like "real war." And you command troops according to unique battle circumstances, not based on some kind of doctrine that instructs you to move under fire depending on whether or not it's a "real" or "declared" war. Try to tell anyone who's been engaged in any form or fashion of enemy combat, be it from an organized tank formation or a ragtag bunch of fanatics with weapons and conviction, that what they saw was not "real war."

How do I know? Eight years as an Active Duty Army Officer. I commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, then left the Army because there's nothing worse than being used as pawns by incompetent and disinterested civilian leadership, and seeing friends killed in the process. Rumsfeld was a disaster. Bush appointed him, then obstinately stood behind him (rather than truly take responsibility for a job poorly done), while evidence of Rumsfeld's catastrophic leadership failures piled up almost as quickly as the bodies.

And as for troop buildup? Too little, too late, period. Just more targets on the ground. The Cheese stands alone on that one.

The intelligence personnel who strongly recommended against the Iraq invasion (or tried to interest the Commander-in-Chief on the cultural dynamics and likely consequences) were fired, reshuffled, or shouted down, just like any military leader who spoke truth to power over the choir of yes-men. Rumsfeld told his General Staff that the next person he heard talking of a post-invasion plan would be fired on the spot.

Blame Bush? Damn skippy.

Posted by: Kristen at January 18, 2007 8:14 AM

I hear grumbling that Iraq is going on forever.
Take a look at the latest post in Baghdad Burning and get some reality.
I'm amazed that the "talking points" on the war still distract people.

The Iraqis think it's all about the oil.
See, if you destroy governments, there's nobody to bother you when you put in bases to hold oilfields. I think that was the PNAC theory anyway.

In Afghanistan, opium farmers have their poppies destroyed.

In both cases the livelihood of the people is being destroyed. Of course they fight : like cornered rats. Starvation is a miserable way to go : might as well do some target shooting.

Americans don't empathize much with desperation. That and hatred go a long ways towards explaining how the people - who outnumber U.S. troops how many to one ? - can make life hell for a foreign invader. ( It isn't as if Afghanistan, in particular, hasn't had practice )

Posted by: opit at January 18, 2007 7:10 PM

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