There is a thought I have run across once or twice in the past several months that seems to be missing from the general debate regarding the upcoming war to remove the current Ba’athist regime in Iraq. This is simultaneously disturbing and understandable. Disturbing in that it appears rather simple and straightforward to me. Understandable because where politics are concerned western peoples tend to immediately discount the simple and straightforward analysis, eschewing directness in favor of more convoluted explanations taking in to account all sorts of conflicting and esoteric political motivations.

The thought? That the current President of the United States is more intent upon accomplishing a task he views as absolutely necessary to the security of his nation and the world, than he is upon securing his reelection in 2004.

I had this reinforced over the past few days as those dedicated to maintaining the processes of the UNSC to the detriment of the world in general and the Iraqi people in particular have maneuvered to ensure a nineteenth Security Council resolution on Iraq fails before it could come to a vote. When I see this and I listen to the unhappiness of those who understand the necessity of war and the glee of those sworn to maintaining the status quo I have to realize that many, many people who claim to have an encompassing world view have missed that one fundamental fact. George Bush has already decided that the time has come. The new resolution move served two purposes- an attempt to provide additional political cover for the United Kingdom, and a distraction to keep those determined to protect the current world order safely ensconced in the illusion that they actually have something to say about it.

I am not entirely delighted that events have unfolded as they have. There was a time not so long ago when I entertained the hope that other western nations would come to understand that the time had come to begin eradicating the brutish thug-ridden cesspools dotting the face of the earth. Unfortunately there is still a deeply entrenched cadre of nations whose view of world power includes recognizing regimes whose sole claim to legitimacy is that they have managed to rape, plunder and slaughter their way to the top of the rock pile in their tiny corner of the planet. How supposedly liberal and sophisticated polities can countenance such attitudes in this modern age is almost a mystery to me. Almost.

4 Responses to “Determination”

  1. I shall play, for the moment, devil’s advocate, MD. While it is indeed true that Bush is doing the right thing in moving toward a final showdown with Saddam, opinion polls of americans are uniformly in favor of intervention. True, the rest of the world seems mostly dead set against action, mainly because it is the USA who’s the main shaker and mover here ( ), but Bush knows who votes for him…

    Naturally, this assumes that the US military performs up to GW-I and Afghanistan standards. A reversion to Vietnam-style military idiocy, or perhaps a simultaneous crisis in NK, could turn voter opinion. The latter is more likely than the former, and both are to be fervently prayed against…

    Don’t get me wrong: I’m in the group firmly behind the POTUS. There are two kinds of political leaders: Politicians and Statesmen. The situation doesn’t permit us to use your (valid) observation to **prove** what kind of leader Bush is. However, it is very pertinent in the case of Mr. Tony Blair, whose actions in the face of opinion polls in Britian show him as a true Statesman in the tradition of Thatcher and Churchill: Doing the right thing, even if it’s wildly unpopular.

    Not that Bush doesn’t listen to the polls. However, I believe it was Steven Den Beste, or a columnist at NRO, who said that, while Clinton used polls and focus groups to determine policy, the Bush adminstration uses polls and focus groups to deterine how to COMMUNICATE their policy.

  2. I kept my musings short by avoiding a deeper analysis of why I believe the Bush Presidency faces the strong possibility of a single term. There is the economy, which is most often the strongest predictor of Presidential elections. While I expect the economy to loosen up once the war is concluded, I suspect that the real upturn will come too late to provide a boost to the President’s campaign. Offsetting this is the President’s continuing personal popularity- so long as he remains likeable to the people he may be able to weather that particular storm.

    The next issue is the war and its aftermath. I fall in to the “short war” camp, but I am not convinced that it will be as relatively bloodless as previous campaigns. The reality is that if the Iraqis mount any kind of determined defense and allowing for even a modest deployment of chemical agents, American casualties could mount quickly in to the five-digit range. Iraqi casualties could easily exceed that by an order of magnitude in the worst-case analysis. That is the gigantic wild card of this war- what will the American public’s reaction be? One can count on the press to linger over such numbers long, long after the war is concluded so long as the story has legs.

    As for North Korea, I am inclined to agree with those (including Mr. den Beste) who believe that brutally warped regime is gasping its last- there is not much to d but to wait for the collapse and hope there is not a last, spastic eruption of violence before the inevitable conclusion

    I concur with your position that Tony Blair has shown as much or more statesmanship and determination to do what he knows must be done. Furthermore he has done so while working in a parliamentary system where his rule could be ended at virtually any time.

  3. I am no great fan of Bush, but I actually agree with you.

    As I said in a facetiously worded post on Asparagirl’s comment board, if Bush wanted to perpetrate a war just to maximize his chances of reelection, he’d stall until summer 2004, after the Democratic primary season. That would virtually guarantee the nomination of Howard Dean on a wave of Democratic anti-war sentiment, and his subsequent crushing defeat in the event of a short war.

    Bush shows no signs of stalling that long, so I’d argue that the war is not an election ploy.

  4. The above comments were all originally posted on 03/06/2003 before re-posting here.