During the Iraq War, Bush was pushed on by the Pentagon briefings based on religious madness. George playing the role of the Emperor. I would prefer to compare George to Pontius Pilate, a sad historical figure acting in a wrongful execution, spurned by the elite and the masses.
Lost Dreams, Lost Armies, Jihadi States, and the Arc of Instability
(TomDispatch) – As Iraq was unraveling last week and the possible outlines of the first jihadist state in modern history were coming into view, I remembered this nugget from the summer of 2002. At the time, journalist Ron Suskind had a meeting with “a senior advisor” to President George W. Bush (later identified as Karl Rove). Here’s how he described part of their conversation:
“The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued.
‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.'”
As events unfold increasingly chaotically across the region that officials of the Bush years liked to call the Greater Middle East, consider the eerie accuracy of that statement. The president, his vice president Dick Cheney, his defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and his national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, among others, were indeed “history’s actors.” They did create “new realities” and, just as Rove suggested, the rest of us are now left to “study” what they did.
NY Times article by Ron Suskind: President George W. Bush, A Messianic American Calvinist (Oct. 2004)
Donald Rumsfeld’s Judgment-Happy, Scary, Biblical Defense Briefing Art
(Gawker) – This isn’t crazy, or terrifying: alongside Robert Draper’s GQ piece on Donald Rumsfeld being called out by former colleagues, they’re running covers of his White House morning defense briefings. You have to see these.
Draper notes that the briefings were “a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House.” You have to wonder: was Rumsfeld sitting over a well-to-do Department of Defense intern, going through loads of pictures and trying to decide what colors he wanted which quotes to be? Or did he do it himself? Either way, these things have more in common with the Zodiac Killer than anything any kind of defense briefing should even remotely look like. Graphic designers, turn away. These aren’t pretty, in so many ways.
Coverage in my diary – Fucking Sad … Criminals Indeed.
We still view the east from the Crusaders’ battlements
(The Guardian) – By chance I reached Krak a day before David Miliband spoke about this to the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies. “Ruined Crusader castles remain a poignant monument to the malign violence of the middle ages,” he said. “You can’t teach morality with a sword.”
His old boss, Tony Blair, once mocked this way of thinking as “the doctrine of benign inactivity”. In a new book, John Burton, Blair’s former constituency agent, says, “It’s very simple to explain the idea of Blair the warrior. It was part of Tony Blair living out his faith.” In the prime minister’s eyes, Iraq “was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil”.
Miliband’s careful, informed intelligence is a thousand miles from Blair’s bombastic certainties, and from Donald Rumsfeld’s manipulative intelligence briefings. Those documents, we learned last week, were decorated with biblical quotations. “Their arrows are sharp, all their bows are strung; their horses’ hooves seem like flint; their chariot wheels are like a whirlwind,” says one, from the Book of Isaiah. The soldiers of Krak must once have seemed like this.
The jargon on the March 2003 document’s cover is 21st century – the strapline reads “Top secret/HCS/ComintOrcon, NofornExdis/X1, X6″ – but the mentality comes direct from Richard the Lionheart and, if the Book of Isaiah describes the restoration of the land of Israel, then how auspicious the fight.
These intimations of continuity matter even now that Obama is president and Britain is out of Iraq. Krak is a reminder that the Iraq invasion was not some one-off madness, conjured up by President Bush and his zealot henchmen, among which Blair must be counted. It was an unhappy and unwitting continuation of history. Western politicians have found it comforting to blame extreme – or as the Home Office likes to put it, “radicalised” – Islam for the recent flaring of conflict (though it has never gripped Iraq) but the underlying image is of barbarians at the gate.
Lest We Forget …
Speaking of morals and conscience in the 21th century. Just watched part of a documentary on Al Jazeera about the Salvadorization in Iraq. Policy set by Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld, executed by Gen. Petreaus with the mention of two mystical figures: Jim Steele and Special Forces Colonel James Coffman. Because the training of a new Iraqi police force was nor effective in a surge of Sunni led terror attacks, the Pentagon decided to train “police” commandos drawn from the Shia community and belonging to the Sadr militia. These death squads of terror, torture and murder were very effective to start a full-fledged sectarian war inside Iraq which is still raging. One Sunni city that suffered greatly was Samarra, where the mosque with the golden dome was bombed.
Posted earlier in TarheelDem’s diary – Who’s Lying? Brennan, Obama or Both?.
See also my diary – President Obama Nixes Close Foreign Policy Advisors (Sept. 2013).