Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The reason for war? A "successful" presidency

On 20 June 2005, Russ Baker's article "Why George Went to War" appeared on the Guerilla News Network site GNN.tv. I followed a link to the article because I really have been wanting to know the motivation behind the early plans to invade Iraq that the Downing Street Memo illustrates. My own altruistic theory for the President's motivation to oust Saddam was that he wanted to finish the mission that his father had begun but had been unable to complete. I even pictured Bush Sr. saying to his son something like "Please go back and finish the work. The people of Iraq deserve it." I could understand a loyal son being motivated to perform a task that would repair and enhance his father's standing in the panorama of history. I could understand that. I thought the motivation was a little too narrowly confined to one family to commit an entire nation to war, but I understood it as a nonetheless noble motivation.

("Always a 'however' there is, hmmm?," as Yoda might say.) However, Bush's motivation is stated simply in Baker's article:

“No president could be considered truly successful without one military ‘win’ under his belt.”

Too much information. Way too much.

So, how credible is Russ Baker? From GNN.tv:
Russ Baker is an award-winning independent journalist who has been published in the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, The Telegraph (UK), the Sydney Morning-Herald, and Der Spiegel, among many others.
Okay, so who is GNN.tv?
GNN was co-founded by Stephen Marshall and Josh Shore in the summer of 2000. The partners first joined forces at MTV...when they finally realized that the mainstream networks would never allow their hi-impact brand of television content and design to reach prime-time. (More)
Okay, so maybe this is a reasonably credible source. I noticed that Baker's article updates his GNN article from 27 October 2004 in which he interviewed Houston Chronicle journalist Mickey Herskowitz, the original ghostwriter for Bush's autobiography A Charge to Keep in 1999, so I clicked the link to the original article and right away read this:
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade…if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
So much for my thinking altruistic thoughts about the President. Not only did he not care about enhancing his father's legacy, he distanced himself from him by saying "I can do better than he did."

Unbelievably, Bush led us into war simply because he wanted to win at the game of presidential chess, an extremely complex version of chess that rich men play. It's in the same league as polo, which is a version of hockey for those who can afford a string of polo ponies.

Presidential chess. And as of today, 1,723 American pawns have been removed from the chessboard.

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