Sunday, October 26, 2003

The Bush administration's single-mindedness in the face of all common sense was the reason for the United States' unilateral invasion of Iraq. We (American troops and taxpayers) are now paying the price, both in dollars and blood, for the hawks' intransigence. At the time, critics claimed that the Republican administration was so hell-bent on going to war that they used information (however dubious) to fit their pre-ordained conclusions rather than letting the information drive the decision-making. The tail wagged the dog. In fairness, it's worth noting that for the most part, the spineless, cowering Democrats in Congress did little to oppose the insane way the unilateral invasion was carried out.

Now the occupation part of the conquest is proceeding with far more difficulty than most of the gung-ho American public expected , the Republican hawks who drove the invasion are feeling the heat. This despite the fact that the occupation is going more or less in line with what any clear-headed historical analysis would've predicted. The administration led the public to believe we'd somehow be exempt from history. The public now feels duped.

The Intelligence Committee of the Republican-controlled Senate is preparing to issue a report scapegoating the CIA for exagerrating the case for war. This is a bit like the United States condemning Iraq for having weapons of mass destruction.

But the Senate report is very convenient. CIA chief George Tenet is a holdover from the administration of Bill Clinton, so detested by conservatives. By scapegoating a guy appointed by a Democrat, the GOP is trying to deflect attention from the real reason for the war: expanding American economic influence in the Arab world.

I don't expect the American public to be fooled by this shameless shell game. Already tricked once, the public is unlikely to take things about Iraq at face value again. They know who wanted the war. They know drove the case for war. They know who included deceptive information in important speeches. They know similiar revelations are embarassing the Blair government in Britain.

Even if you believe the report is straight-shooting, it still calls into question the president's increasingly bad judgement. If it was all George Tenet's fault, President Bush is the one who decided to maintain him as intelligence chief when he entered the White House.

But, the hawks convinced Americans that we wanted this war, that this self-imposed obligation was necessary for our "national security," that it was so imperative that we had to say "F*** the rest of the world." The hawks are now surprised that the support was a mile-wide and an inch-deep, even though it was always likely to be so as soon as events exposed just how flimsy the evidence was.

In the time after 9/11, the administration was lauded for its decisiveness. It was congratulated for standing by tough decisions they thought were necessary even though they weren't popular. Now, in the face of scapegoating, fingerpointing and blame shifting, even that rare admirable quality is quickly fading into the sunset.

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