Tuesday, June 21, 2005

How not to be a great president

Russ Baker reminds us of his earlier article concerning a series of interviews that Houston journalist Mickey Herskowitz held with George Bush in 1999. Baker quotes Herskowitz referring to Bush:

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999. It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, '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."

The idea was circulating in Republican circles that you needed a small successful war - but not a quagmire - to have a successful Presidency. You pick a small defenseless country, kill a lot of innocent civilians, and all of a sudden you're George Washington. Bush's father apparently disagreed with the war only because he feared, correctly as it turned out, that it would turn into a quagmire.

While this is interesting, and backs up the idea that the attack on Iraq was inevitable, it is also a little dangerous to think that the attack is entirely George Bush's fault. We shouldn't ignore the role of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld, the neocons, the lobbyists for Israel, and the military-industrial complex. The attack on Iraq was inevitable for the entire Bush Administration, and isn't just George Bush's mistake.