Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Essential Reading on the Bushies: Mark Danner in NYRB

Mark Danner on the Bushies:

TomDispatch - Tomgram: Mark Danner, How a War of Unbound Fantasies Happened: Consider, for example, these words of Donald H. Rumsfeld... the day after President Bush fired him:

It is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success. It's clear that in Phase Two of this, it has not been going well enough or fast enough.

Such analyses are not uncommon from Pentagon civilians; thus Dov Zakheim, a former Rumsfeld aide, to a television interviewer later that evening:

People will debate the second part, the second phase of what happened in Iraq. Very few are arguing that the military victory in the first phase was anything but an outright success.

Three years and eight months after the Iraq war began, the secretary of defense and his allies see in Iraq not one war but two. One is the Real Iraq War -- the "outright success" that only very few would deny, the war in which American forces were "greeted as liberators"... and then... what? Well, whatever we are in now: a Phase Two, a "postwar phase" (as Bob Woodward sometimes calls it) which has lasted three and a half years and continues. In the first, successful, Real Iraq War, 140 Americans died. In the postwar phase 2,700 Americans have died -- and counting. What is happening now in Iraq is not in fact a war at all but a phase, a non-war, something unnamed, unconceptualized --unplanned.

Anyone seeking to understand what has become the central conundrum of the Iraq war... must see beyond what seems to be a simple rhetoric of self-justification and follow it where it leads: toward the War of Imagination that senior officials decided to fight in the spring and summer of 2002 and to whose image they clung long after reality had taken a sharply separate turn.

In that War of Imagination victory was to be decisive, overwhelming, evincing a terrible power -- enough to wipe out the disgrace of September 11 and remake the threatening world.... [Ron] Suskind... in The One Percent Doctrine... in spring 2002....

The primary impetus for invading Iraq, according to those attending NSC briefings on the Gulf in this period, was to make an example of Hussein, to create a demonstration model to guide the behavior of anyone with the temerity to acquire destructive weapons or, in any way, flout the authority of the United States.

In the great, multicolored braid of reasons and justifications leading to the Iraq war one might call this "the realist strand," and though the shape of the reasoning might seem to Gerson to stand as far from "democracy building" and "ending tyranny" as "power politics" does from "idealism," the distance is wholly illusory, dependent on an ideological clarity that was never present. In fact, the two chains of reasoning looped and intersected, leading inexorably to a common desire for a particular action -- confronting Saddam Hussein and Iraq -- that had been the subject of the administration's first National Security Council meeting, in January 2001, and that had been pushed to the fore again by Defense Department officials in the first "war cabinet" meeting after the September 11 attacks...

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now.

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