I recently compared the war in Iraq to a bad Hollywood movie: green-lit for all the wrong reasons, way over budget and with no end in site. But in this B-movie the horrors come off the screen and unleash hell. Even Saddam mocks us from the grave. This week The New York Times has reported that images of his hanging are making him a martyr.
You would think the last three years would have sobered the President’s ambitions. But reflection, apparently, is a trait only for lesser mortals. Tonight he stood before the American people to unveil his long-awaited new plan for Iraq. He looked worn, the wrinkles on his face now cutting deep creases. The firebrand President of 9/11 was long gone. Or was he?
Bush painted the war in Iraq as “the ideological struggle of our time.” Bush sounded so sober that you could barely hear him calling for an increase in the size of the military, nation building exercises, 20,000 more troops in Iraq, and a carrier strike force to deal with Iran. Put President in the corner and he gets even more dangerous.
Bush’s plan could have come right out of the American Enterprise Institute. In fact, it probably did. The neoconservatives seemed very pleased. You can see how their eyes glow when they talk of battalions and brigades, like little boys preparing plastic, green army men for a back yard invasion. After their 2006 defeat they announced, in the words of Rush Limbaugh, that they were done "carrying water" but the most disturbing thing to me is that these people are still taken seriously. Maybe the greatest injustice is that these water boys are still given a chance to influence the team to such a powerful degree. They should be viewed in the same way we view Pat Robertson: insane.
Last week the AEI produced a publication entitled "Choosing Victory: a plan for success in Iraq" which called for a troop escalation. You might as well call it Plan 9 from Outer Space. These are the words from the water boys; the people who helped bring you an ill-conceived war, which has led to the deaths of thousands and the creation of a Sunni martyr, are now offering you their plan to correct it all. And the President is right there with them.
Bush’s plan flies in the face of public opinion and comes from a place where every problem has an easy solution. But here is an intractable problem. The President’s 2003 invasion has created a possible haven for terrorists, strengthened Iran, caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis, thousands of Americans, and blown $400 billion dollars. And here he is speaking of widening the war, of using more military force. We should all be going to bed terrified.
The President is a living example of what happens when you fight extremists with extremism. Bush has not used self-reflection. He has not tempered his view one bit. Having committed so much already, his thinking is that just a little more will do the job. C.S. Lewis once wrote that it is not the evil person we should worry about, but the crusader causing destruction. That person cannot be reasoned with. That person will never stop.