December 1, 2005
Writing in today's New York Times,
Bob Herbert observed: "There's a disturbing remoteness to President
Bush," that has reduced him to "little more than a bundle of talking
points." Reduced? Anyone even remotely familiar with the life story of
this 43rd and worst of all American presidents knows that George W.
Bush has never succeeded on his own.
Yes, he normally puts up a good, if false, front that initially fools
most people until they are compelled to examine his actual performance.
But make no mistake, Bush's string of failures—both of character and
performance—would have long ago disqualified anyone else lacking his
family's political and financial clout in our American plutocracy. As
Senator Joseph Biden observed, Bush never worked to correct his massive
flaws because "he always had someone there—his family or friends—to
bail him out."
But, like America's evangelicals, we should have taken Bush at his word
in 1999, when he smugly asserted: "Nobody needs to tell me what I
believe. But I do need somebody to tell me where Kosovo is."
Unfortunately, too few of us failed to state that what he was offering
us—a core of ignorance and incompetence, especially in foreign affairs,
shrouded by faith in Jesus—was inadequate for presidential decision
making. As a consequence, America not only got a President to whom God
supposedly confides, but also a President who permitted a cabal led by
Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and a handful of Zionist neocons to show him
where Iraq is.
Now—given his debacle in Iraq—it should be obvious to all
Americans that even confiding with God doesn't compensate for Bush's
Yet, wasn't it vintage Dubya yesterday, when he revealed his "National
Strategy for Victory in Iraq?" Although it's not much of a plan, it's
the type of plan he might have considered more than 32 months ago, when
he gave the go-ahead for the illegal, immoral invasion that led to our
current quagmire in Iraq. But that's precisely the point! Although God
supposedly instructed Bush to attack Iraq, a competent president would
have planned to win the peace after winning the war, and would have
planned his exit strategy BEFORE commencing his war.
The "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is a "day late, dollar
short" piece of propaganda, which serious Americans should disregard on
two counts. First, after one dismisses the flowery rhetoric about
freedom and democracy (certain to persuade only those who have never
seriously studied either) and the numerous misleading examples of
partial recovery from the very devastation that American forces have
inflicted upon Iraqis, the "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" is
as dishonest as the earlier crap about Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) and ties to al Qaeda that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld,
Rice, and Powell flung in the collective face of America more than 32
Dishonest? Yes, Bush's document contains no explicit admission that
America's very invasion, its very occupation, and the continuing
presence of American forces have transformed Iraq into the primary
front where international terrorists learn their trade. Neither does it
contain an explicit admission that America's very presence causes
Iraq's insurgency to grow and gain strength. Nor does it address
American plans for permanent bases in Iraq
It presents mealy-mouthed generalizations about the "many
challenges" that confront America's occupiers rather than hard facts,
such as the fact (recently provided by Congressman John Murtha) that
"insurgent incidents have increased from 150 per week to over 700." It
also fails to admit that America's invasion precipitated a civil war.
Yet, that's the conclusion of esteemed (Ret.) Army General, William
Odom. "We created the civil war when we invaded; we cannot prevent a
civil war by staying."
Bush's document also is silent about the corrosive impact his costly
occupation has had upon America's military. Again, General Odom speaks
with well-deserved authority when he observes: "I think the Army is
already broken." Congressman Murtha seconded General Odom's view,
today, when he said, "the Army is 'broken, worn out' and may not be
able to meet future military threats to the country's security."
Finally, Bush's "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq" says nothing
about "the tension between the Bush administration and senior military
officers," which General Odom has concluded to be "worse than any he
has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam." As
Seymour Hersh wrote in the 5 November 2005 issue of The New Yorker,
"Many of the military's most senior generals are deeply frustrated, but
they say nothing in public, because they don't want to jeopardize their
In a word, it's a dishonest piece of propaganda written to reverse the
growing and correct American perception (long believed by much of the
rest of the world) that George W. Bush is a reckless warmonger who
ranks with the worst of all American Presidents.
Here's Bush's problem: The American public, traumatized by al
Qaeda's despicable terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, wanted to
believe the Bush administration when it claimed that Saddam Hussein:
(1) was involved in the 9/11 attacks, (2) had significant ties to al
Qaeda, (3) possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and (4) was
willing to share them with international terrorists. Consequently, (5)
Saddam needed to be "taken out." Fortunately, because American troops
(6) would be treated as liberators, (7) the invasion would be a
cakewalk requiring only a short occupation and little post-invasion
Now, after some thirty-two months of watching the situation in Iraq
degenerate into a quagmire, a majority of Americans have concluded that
the Bush administration was wrong—and perhaps lied—about each and every
one of its seven claims.
But while the American public has allowed its views to be influenced by
facts—even if belatedly—President Bush has not. And that's the second
reason why Americans should pay no attention to his "National Strategy
for Victory in Iraq." It's based upon pure faith!
His record as a candidate and as President richly supports the
conclusion that no set of facts can compete with the faith Bush places
in his faith.
Judging by his own statements Bush subscribes to a definition of truth,
which is identical to that postulated by the 19th century Christian
philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard. In 1846 Kierkegaard wrote his
Concluding Unscientific Postscript To The Philosophical Fragments,
which contained the following (and now famous) definition of truth: "An
objective uncertainty held fast in an appropriation process of the most
passionate inwardness is the truth, the highest truth attainable for an
That's what Bush meant in 1999, when he asserted: "Nobody needs to tell
me what I believe. But I do need somebody to tell me where Kosovo is."
That's also what he meant on March 7, 2001, when he told Treasury
Secretary Paul O'Neill, "I won't negotiate with myself." (And O'Neill
was only stating the obvious, when he subsequently observed: "All sound
analysis is about negotiating with yourself.")
Putting aside the obvious objection that the passionate
appropriation of objective uncertainties can yield gross
abominations—after all, Hitler truly believed that the '"Jewish
question" required a solution—does the passionate appropriation of
objective uncertainties render the appropriator incapable of telling
lies? Does such a person get a pass, even when everyone else concludes
that he must have known that what he was saying was not true? For
example, don't we all believe Bush lied when, on July 14, 2003, he
asserted: "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he
wouldn't let them in. And therefore, after a reasonable request, we
decided to remove him from power."
In point of fact, don't we all know that Saddam allowed the inspectors
back in? And don't we all believe that Bush knew that Saddam had
allowed the inspectors back in? How wouldn't he know? Moreover, who
doesn't know (except, perhaps, a lying or ignorant Bush) that it was
the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq (before the
inspectors could complete their work), as well as its advice to leave,
that persuaded the inspectors to depart?
Readers of Ron Suskind's excellent New York Times Magazine
article, "Without a Doubt" (October 17, 2004) will recall Bruce
Bartlett's troubling observation about Bush. Although a Republican and
former adviser to Ronald Reagan, Bartlett nevertheless said: Bush
'truly believes he's on a mission from God. Absolute faith like that
overwhelms a need for analysis. The whole thing about faith is to
believe things for which there is no empirical evidence. But you can't
run the world on faith."
Unfortunately, Bush's faith also fosters nefarious political tactics. As New York Times
columnist, David Brooks, revealed on the September 11, 2005 edition of
The Chris Matthews Show, "from its earliest days, the Bush
administration adopted a policy of shielding itself from political
damage by never publicly admitting any mistake—even if it meant lying
to the media and the American public."
But an even more nefarious tactical advantage was revealed when a
senior adviser to Bush told Ron Suskind that guys like Suskind were
"'in what we call the reality-based community,' which he defined as
people who 'believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of
discernible reality.'" Then he added: "'That's not the way the world
works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own
reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you
will—we'll act again, creating new realities, which you can study too,
and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors …and you,
all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
Is there anyone out there who can't envision an Adolf Hitler or
Joseph Stalin implementing such evil, totalitarian practices? For me,
it's simply the second reason to refuse to take Bush's "new" strategy
seriously. It's simply one more "new reality" that "history's actors"
want us to study.
Why attempt to sort out this bogus document when we know both the
dishonesty inside it and the totalitarian tactics behind it? And, if
it's true (as "current and former military and intelligence officers"
have told Seymour Hersh) that Bush "disparages any information that
conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding," then there is no
alternative for us fact-based folks—other than pressuring Congress to
remove him (and the nefarious Cheney) from office by way of
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).