Bush at War – Reaction #3

In chapters 5 and 6, we see just how long the Bush administration has planned for the current war in Iraq – since 9/11. They waited about a year to threaten, then another half year to take action, meaning that this was an issue to be extra cautious about and they knew that they wouldn’t have very much support. Woodward mentions the possibility of Saddam launching a “terrorist strike or even a limited military strike on U.S. facilities,” but how likely and possible was this? There were only dubious hints that he was one of the many behind 9/11, most of which have been disproved, and just about the only connections are the facts that he was glad they happened and he’s Middle Eastern. The U.S. and the Bush administration knew this, but it wasn’t necessarily for reasons of world safety that we wanted to oust him – he’s just a horrible person to be in charge of a country; he’s a tyrant over what he can control and his sons are no better, seemingly even worse. Even now that U.S. forces have infiltrated many facilities in Iraq, no WMDs have been found. Iraq has very little means to be a terrorist state, but it’s a very bad place to be a citizen while Saddam’s in power. The U.S. just likes to be like Bill Gates, giving to the needy so those who might resent us a bit for our power/wealth and how we use it are appeased, not to mention that it makes the American conscience feel better. One might wonder how Operation Iraqi Freedom is charitable to the Iraqi people if so many are dying in the crossfire – our hope is that the sooner a new government is instituted in Iraq, the better, even at the cost of a few lives if it means improving the lives of the rest.

One thing that’s really struck me about this book is Woodward’s use of personal anecdotes – on the very first page, we hear about CIA Director George Tenet’s background like he’s a character from a novel, and in chapter 6, he recounts how Condoleezza Rice cried at “The Star-Spangled Banner” playing at Buckingham Palace, and don’t forget about Powell’s “don’t break down” note to President Bush mentioned on the next page. These little injections of interest make a potentially dry read more interesting, but is there any objectivity being lost here? Well, Woodward started out with a Bush-centric focus to begin with, so there isn’t any more objectivity lost than what he”d started with. The book has a very American, maybe even Republican tone with the pokes at flaws in Clinton’s lax policy on terrorism. The news media and Bush himself are like this in a way too – CNN & Co. repeat stories that people want to hear, like Jessica Lynch’s recovery and Michael Bloom’s death, until they”re sure everybody’s heard them at which point they try to find something else, while Bush always mentions God being on our side since no divine creator could possibly support terrorism from a Christian standpoint. Even on Yahoo! News U.S. edition, the most popular stories are of U.S. soldiers being welcomed and fed by Iraqi civilians; the French edition’s most popular stories are of all the Iraqi casualties. It’s always been hard for people to be objective.

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