Yesterday's post about the levity during Bush's press conference drew this response...
The President's attitude is indicative of this whole war - most of us have no connection to it (we don't have any soldiers in our family or circle of friends). Pres. Bush may mourn the lives lost today, but he has no personal attachment to these soldiers.
I think that's such a poignant statement, especially because it points out that "most of us" are in the same boat as Bush, forgetful of the seriousness of the warbecause we don't have any close ties to the people losing their lives. And the blame goes both ways. Bush is able to get away with treating this war lightly because American citizens don't hold his feet to the fire and tell him to stop kidding around. Conversely, Americans take this war less seriously than they should because the whole Bush administration approach is to act like everything is going perfectly.
But let's face it, this whole war was a giant mistake. The reasons that led us to start it turned out to be false. And now that we're there we're having a pretty rough time. That's not to say we aren't making progress, but more Americans are dying than anyone expected, so it's fair to say things are rough.
To which Bush says: "The world is a safer place without Saddam Hussein in power." But that isn't the question! There are hundreds of leaders in the world that put the security of the US at risk, from Prime Ministers to Warlords to Priests. The real question is: Was taking out this particlar leader a task worthy of 1400+ lives? And the answer to that is no. You have to think, what would the American people have said if that's how this whole thing was presented to them at the beginning. "Are you willing to have 1400 soldiers die in order to take out Saddam Hussein?"
And that is why Bush has decided to change the central goal of his administration from a practical one to an idealistic one, from American security to freedom.
Before Bush's inauguration speech, those soldiers had died because of a questionable policy decision. But according to the new agenda they died for "freedom," which is a lot easier for Americans to swallow.
But Bush knows he can't put the "freedom" of citizens around the world ahead of American security, so he says that American security depends on freedom around the world. Which is hogwash.
American security depends on preventing nuclear weapons from getting into the wrong hands, and that means that America will have to win the cooperation of some shady leaders and tyrannical regimes (like Iran and North Korea), not overthrow them. But talking about negotiating with tyrannical regimes doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy the way talking about freedom and liberty does.
Just to play devils advocate, it is possible that our invasion of Iraq has given us more leverage in negotiating with Iran and North Korea. I don't know enough about foreign relations to comment on that, but I'll allow that it's possible.
Still, these conclusions remain firm:
1) Even if the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein in power, that does not mean that Bush made the "right decision." It just means things may work out despite his mistake. If I'm a quarterback and I throw an interception, and then the guy who intercepted the pass fumbles, and then my team recovers and runs for a touchdown, that doesn't mean I might the "right decision" when I passed the ball.
2) The idea of freeing the world from tyranny is ridiculous. Bush's job is to keep Americans safe; sometimes that may mean overthrowing a tyrant, sometimes that may mean negotiating with one.
3) Bush needs to wipe that smirk off his face. Save the antics for Air Force One and the golf course.