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President Bush and Iraq: Historic Vision or Tactically-Challenged, Oil-Drenched Folly?

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David Brooks, a conservative columnist I've come to respect, wrote a striking piece in Wednesday's edition of The New York Times entitled, "Ends Without Means" (it's TimeSelect-available only, alas – I coughed up a buck to read the print edition). He describes spending time in close proximity to President Bush recently as a small group of (conservative-leaning, I believe) journalists got some face time with our Commander-in-Chief.

"Let me just first tell you that I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions," President Bush says, and Brooks sizes up the President and declares that far from the eager-to-please politicians that he usually encounters, Bush "…is the most inner-directed man on the globe."

Bush takes the long view, it seems, a strategic thinker secure in his belief that the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq will one day be hailed by historians and all free peoples as an essential chapter in the eventually victorious war campaign against terror. Unfortunately, as Brooks goes onto explain, Bush's self-confidence and personal magnetism dim when discussing the drudgery of day-to-day tactics and operations. In alluding to the fact that less than global resources have been applied toward this "global struggle," Brooks ends by stating that, "…the sad truth is, there has been a gap between Bush's visions and the means his administration has devoted to realize them. And when tactics do not adjust to fit the strategy, then the strategy gets diminished to fit the tactics." He then finishes with a final ominous two words: "Or worse."

This is not a particularly new assessment, of course, merely a cogent analysis and interesting in that it comes from one of an increasingly vocal group of conservative thinkers, writers, and pundits who are now sharpening their criticism of how Iraq is being handled.

What I found to be most startling was a single sentence in David Brooks' piece.

Writing about Bush's explanation of his vision, Brooks states that, "He asked us to think about what the world could be like 50 years from now, with Islamic radicals either controlling the world's oil supply or not."

With everything that's happened over the past three-and-a-half years, it's a bit difficult to recall the run up to the war, the cries of "No Blood For Oil!" from the left, and the sharp rebukes and calls to patriotism from the right. That the Iraqi people would greet us as liberators and that Iraqi oil would surely pay for the costs of the mercifully short war, and so on.

And it's fascinating that, what with all the talk of a "freedom agenda" and democracy in the Middle East and all its wondrous benefits, that the President would circle back to speaking about access to oil, particularly from such a speculative and futuristic standpoint.

Further, isn't it none too disturbing to believe (or at least to know that the President of the United States believes) to assume that we will be as dependent on foreign oil 50 years from now as we are now?

That, perhaps, we are being forced to engage in a protracted and bloody and costly and destabilizing war now so that our grandchildren can freely reap the benefits of further depleting the Earth's finite resources? Could it have been a slip of the tongue, the President being museful amongst right-thinking writer types?

On the same editorial page in the Times, Bob Herbert questions the character of the American people, wondering what happened to a country now ruled by fear, that invades nations based upon shifting notions and theories (Vice President Cheney, let's remember, on Meet the Press announced that he would do everything exactly the same way again if he could), and seeks to negate the rights, constitutional and otherwise, for "terror suspects."

It's a good question.

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  • Nancy

    It’s a slip, all right: a slip that reveals the REAL reasons for the Iraq war & who really calls the shots on G.W. Bush, and it turns out the left was ‘right’ all along: it is indeed American blood for oil profits. Good ol’ Dubya: he just can’t lie to save his life. As in all other aspects of his life, he’s totally incompetent & inept at carrying out lies, which is probably a good thing, if only he didn’t need to lie to try to cover up his misdeeds in the first place.

    I found it revealing that Brooks assessed Bush as “the most inner-directed man on the globe”. Inner-directed. As in, he sees & hears nobody else, pay no attention to the opinions of others, takes no advice from others, learns nothing from his mistakes, refuses to admit error, ad nauseam. Anyone with these traits most certainly shouldn’t be outside of an asylum or better yet a prison cell, let alone running a country as president.

  • dee

    Hopefully, after the elections, which I’m doubtful will be fair but that’s another issue altogether, they can begin Impeachment proceedings. This guy is the worst president ever. Americans have to stop listening to king bush and stop being so scared.

  • http://www.blogger.com Georgio

    Like I said in other posts …I like him to make speeches because it reveals what he really is..A LUNATIC !!!!

  • SHARK

    Bush’s comment about oil in 50 years sounds like the one he made to Matt Lauer the other day:

    “They’re tryin’ to KILL your family!” [ohh, a junior high debate tactic!]

    In that interview, Bush proved that he a fucking Motard. It’s almost unwatchable, and makes me cringe for the obliterated international prestige of this once-great nation.

  • SHARK

    E. Berlin: “…Further, isn’t it none too disturbing …to know that the President of the United States believes) …that we will be as dependent on foreign oil 50 years from now as we are now?”

    Disturbing for us.

    Not so for the Bush twins and their future progeny.

    …Especially if the GOP removes that pesky “death tax” from hindering American Aristocracies.

  • SHARK

    BROOKS sez Bush “…is the most inner-directed man on the globe.”

    So is Charles Manson.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Georgio – The strategy certainly seems to be to make Bush as public as possible in quotable/filmable situations. The Rove playbook is always take weakness (Bush, Iraq, competent leadership) and turn it into strength (the reverse is also true, of course).

  • Nancy

    What I fail to understand is how people fall for that Rovian tactic. It’s as transparent as a baggie; it’s as if they can’t remember what they KNEW for a FACT 3 seconds previously.

  • Bill B

    Then there’s this gem from the Katie Couric interview the other day.

    “You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.”

    Sometimes the truth squirts out. He doesn’t seem hip enough to recognize, on the fly anyway, when something pops into his head that he thinks will bolster a particular point he’s trying to make, to filter it though his other related public pronouncements.

    ————————————————

    A few other thouughts.

    **What happened to all the pre-invasion propaganda attempting to tie Iraq with 9/11?

    **I don’t know, but just maybe that’s because prior to the mess you created in Iraq there was no connection to terror other than Hussein making payments to the families of suicide bombers in Israel.

    **I don’t see how it’s that hard to make a case for a connection now, but he’s the one who’s “working hard” at “hard work” so who am I to quibble.

    Now in fairness he made this statement in reference to the idea that a destabilized Iraq coupled with US failure would “embolden” terrorists.

    Too bad that thought didn’t cross his and his administrations collective mind when they disregarded all the advice from those in the know that said they’d need more troops and a plan for the peace.

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    I have to point out that there is a HUGE difference between a ‘war for oil’ – meaning going into Iraq to seize its oil – and a long term war to stabilize the region to make the oil supply safe. If Bush is to be believed we’re doing the latter not the former, which means that those who call it an outright oil grab are still wrong.

    But that said, I’ve been working from the assumption that 50 years from now we’ll be using little or no oil at all.

    Dave

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    I don’t think it’s an “outright oil grab” but I still find the assertion — that it was stated in just that way — to be disturbing.

    Now, if from the beginning, one of the stated goals of the war was to make sure that our supply of oil remained safe and that was used to push resolutions through Congress, the UN, etc. then it would be a little different.

  • dee

    I don’t think oil was the only reason, but it definately had something to do with it. Killing for oil is absolutely horrendous first off. I would never support a war to safegaurd oil. Let’s see the tradeoffs are a human life or a black natural resource. I think a human life should trump the want for oil. We could safeguard oil and not by using military force, if let’s say we offer more incentives for them to sell it to us, just a thought. Secondly, In the king’s reasoning for going to war, for gaining support to go to the war, oil was never mentioned, because most would not support a war for that reason. Therefore the king lied to us. At the very least come clean about why you went there. You owe us that at the very least. Be honest. I can think of nothing worse than being tricked into going to war. Tricked to die. He needs to step down.

  • Arch Conservative

    Well maybe if you moonbats let us drill in ANWAR we wouldn’t have to have “war for oil” which by the way this isn’t.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    I had no idea moonbats blocked drilling in a former Egyptian president. I’m no expert, but odds are there’s no oil in there.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com/ Michael J. West

    Ohh, Arch. You, of all people, calling me a moonbat would bounce right off me even if I was convinced that any of your comments on this blog were serious, which by the way they aren’t.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Arch makes a potentially true point… though of course it’s hilariously preposterous !

  • http://www.elitistpig.com Dave Nalle

    Good one in #14, Suss. I always thought Sadat was a little oily too.

    Dave

  • PeterJ

    I never understood how people bought into Bush, Cheney, or any of this crew. They all have the earmarks of liars; Bush’s stammering naivete, Cheney, litterally talks out of the side of his mouth, everything about these people, from the very start, before I was familiar with them ( I know, it seems like they’ve been around forever) I had them tagged as liars, swindlers. Now I think I know.

    Growing up on the streets in a large city you pick up some traits, like little survival techniques that you don’t even realize that you have. I gave that some thought and I found that I’ve very rarely been wrong in my assessment of someones personality. I’m not saying that I’m smarter than anyone, not at all but if your daughter is getting married you should find someone with street smarts to meet the guy first.
    It doesn’t take me long to figure someone out, a liar? a drunk or druggie? a woman beater, bum, in just a couple of meetings I can tell almost anything I need to know. Sometimes it doesn’t even take that long but I’m rarely wrong.

    These guys? I don’t know haw anyone can buy their line of shit. Theyr’e no better at lying than a faith healer pulling chonks of pig entrails from some poor cancer stricken person’s gut. OUT YOU DEMON DISEASE!! OUT IN THE NAME OF GOD I SAY!!

    And the people buy it,, one and all. HERE take my house!! Make me walk again!
    What the fuck is wrong with people? They just absolutely love being lied to.

    I long for the day when Bush & Co. are in court belittled, being called to task, cited for their crimes, treason, genocide, conspiracy. All of you holier than thou FOLKS,ahe,ahe, will be pissin yourselves, as I will be but for different reasons.

    Face it, your president is a very bad man.

  • RogerMDillon

    Eric,

    I wanted to address an issue you raise because I don’t think the assumption you make is completely accurate.

    You quote Brooks quoting Bush,

    “He asked us to think about what the world could be like 50 years from now, with Islamic radicals either controlling the world’s oil supply or not.”

    Then follow that up with your thoughts,

    “isn’t it none too disturbing to believe (or at least to know that the President of the United States believes) to assume that we will be as dependent on foreign oil 50 years from now as we are now?”

    That is a disturbing prospect, and I certainly don’t see Bush having the leadership and drive required to get the country off oil, foreign or domestic, but even if the US is no longer dependent on foreign oil, that doesn’t mean the rest of the world won’t be, making his statement still accurate.

    I don’t know the long-term energy plans of countries like China and Russia are, but it’s very likely that they and others will continue funneling money into the hands of the Islamic radicals if the world doesn’t make a paradigm shift in regards to energy.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Well, I was just speaking in terms of the US, Roger, so I think that my interpretation was accurate. Others can feel free to take issue with that interpretation, of course.

    Other countries are actually doing a lot on the alternative fuels front — I believe Brazil does not need to import oil for automobiles, for instance.

    In any event, the US is the world’s foremost consumer of energy so any positive changes that we make will have a great impact on the world.

  • SHARK

    McDillon: “…I don’t know the long-term energy plans of countries like China and Russia are, but it’s very likely that they and others will continue funneling money into the hands of the Islamic radicals…”

    When an “oil crunch” hits China, within about 6 months — every Islamic in the Middle East will either be dead — or speakin’ Mandarin.

  • SHARK

    “I had no idea moonbats blocked drilling in a former Egyptian president.”

    Sussman, no shit; you are SO clever!

  • SHARK

    Nalle: “I have to point out that there is a HUGE difference between a ‘war for oil’ – meaning going into Iraq to seize its oil – and a long term war to stabilize the region to make the oil supply safe.”

    Like the difference between a drug addict killing his dealer and taking his stash

    -vs-

    A drug addict trying to clean up his drug dealer’s neighborhood so he can safely visit and score.

    =======

    ESSAY QUESTION:

    Explain another, BETTER solution — and how it might relate to defining the REAL problem.]

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Shark… From my article

    Why was the plan sidelined in 2003?
    Bush needed/wanted/craved/coveted reelection in 2004, and, without big oil’s financial backing, that was simply not going to happen. Can you imagine the outrage in Houston when they caught wind of the White Houses’ plan? They weren’t about to let “good ole’ boy” Bush interfere with their own plans to completely suppress Iraq’s oil reserves, because if they were released, those record-breaking, obscene, and unimaginable oil company profits that everyone’s so outraged about lately (except rich Republican stock holders that is) would evaporate in mid air; that’s why!

    It’s not to get oil, it’s to control oil…

  • Zedd

    The problem:

    1.Bush has no historical context to draw any conclusions from. He has no interest in becoming informed about anything that would render any conclusion on his part based on any historical context. Therefore making any projections would not suite is scope of interest.

    2. One would have to again be aware of the issues at hand, historical, economical, political, religious, military, etc. in order to formulate a tactical of any sort. There again…. we are lacking… no go in our fearless leader

    3. Folly….. Yes.

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