The Thinker

You broke it, you own it

Earth to George W. Bush: no one made you invade Iraq. Rather you chose to invade Iraq. You broke it, so you own it.

Stop trying to shift the responsibility to the American people. Yes, it is true that Congress did authorize you to use force against Saddam Hussein, but only if you thought it was necessary for our national security. Congress did not say “go”. They gave you a qualified “go”. You made the judgment that there was an imminent threat to our national security. You said “go”. Therefore, you bear the responsibility for sending our troops into Iraq to contain a weapons of mass destruction threat that did not exist. You did so despite contradictory evidence. You did so despite the many sober expressions of caution and concerns from our closest allies.

Yes, and it was you who told us that Iraq was (and apparently to you still is) the central front on the war on terrorism, even though before the war we had only one despotic dictator with delusions of grandeur. It was you who linked, in your State of the Union address no less, Iraq, Iran (its enemy) and the wholly non-Islamic (but clearly wacked state) state of North Korea into an “Axis of Evil”. It was clear to everyone except possibly yourself that these three countries were not collaborating on anything.

You set the ball in motion. You made the decision. The buck stopped on your desk. You agreed to optimistic war plans that put insufficient troops on the ground and had no strategy for securing the peace. You are responsible for the debacle that followed. Colin Powell tried to warn you before going to war: you will own it. Not surprisingly, you want the American people to own your war. Leadership does not work that way. However, this is the way that weasels deal with big problems that are their fault.

You are sounding silly and shrill in your “major” speeches lately on the Iraq War. Your words belie the facts on the ground. The security situation is such that the Iraqi “government” must operate inside the U.S. protectorate state called the Green Zone or it would not operate at all. It has been proven ineffective at controlling the situation outside the Green Zone. Instead, we have the sad and sick reality of a country in chaos and anarchy. The plain facts are that no one controls anything in that country. However, anyone with an axe to grind can cause murder and mayhem with little chance of being held accountable.

You wanted to show the nation how virile you are. Instead, you have shown us just what a faux president you actually are. Because there is more to being president than making decisions. Being president also means being accountable for your actions. The American people expect that a president can recognize reality and when things do not go according to plan, will adjust forces accordingly to change the outcome.

However, you will have none of that. It is always “Stay the course” even though clearly staying the course has simply made things worse. By virtually every measure, Iraqis are worse off than they were before we invaded. Despite this, you keep seeing steady progress. You cannot recognize the obvious reality. You cannot even acknowledge the obvious truth that our mighty Army is disintegrating before our eyes. Clearly, we will not be able to sustain our troop strength in Iraq much longer anyhow, but you are heedless of the problem. Perhaps you expect that new patriots will spring up from the ground when needed. Is this your latest faith based initiative?

These are some of the reasons why your approval ratings are down so sharply. You are not a leader because only fools are following. American unfortunately has plenty of fools, but they are not in the majority. However, we do agree that the war on terrorism is hard work. So far, you have not shown much inclination to do the hard work necessary to change the situation. Why bother when it is easier to complain about how hard it is? You have, however, found plenty of time to go mountain biking and take extended vacations.

If you truly care about the War on Terrorism and our national security, you still have a few years left in your presidency to try to mend things. You can start by getting rid of the gang that led you into this war. This includes for starters Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice. Then you need to talk to moderate and sober members of both parties and develop a national consensus. You need new sober minded people with experience and pragmatic natures in your leadership positions. Sadly, this does not appear to be in your nature. Nevertheless, you can at least apologize to the American people for your failings. You screwed up big time.

There is little in the way of commitment for the War in Iraq or the War on Terror aside from throwing more money on strategies that have proven unsound. Commitment takes real resolve and real sacrifice. Resolution requires providing sufficient resources and the right people to handle the reality. Sacrifice involves giving up some of today’s pleasures in order to ensure a better, safer and more orderly tomorrow. You asked for neither. It is not surprising then that your support has always been halfhearted.

There’s no fool like an old fool.


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