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Bush Is Cutting and Running Because Karl Rove Can Count

by Woody Woodpecker Saturday, Nov. 29, 2003 at 11:32 AM

Nothing quite says "Blow off" like a George W. Bush promise. Pick an issue, any issue. Democratizing Iraq, liberating Afghanistan, preserving Medicare, protecting the environment, honoring free trade, funding education, caring for veterans, balancing the budget, any issue except those hallowed tax cuts -- on every one Bush called what seemed a determined play and promptly ran a misdirection. BushSpeak is more than amusing malapropisms or a looking glass of mental dishevelment. It is the most cynical politics ever practiced from the Oval Office.

1-24-03: News at Home

Column: Bush Is Cutting and Running Because Karl Rove Can Count
By P. M. Carpenter
Mr. Carpenter is a historian and syndicated columnist.

The president announced last week that Iraqis "need to know that [America is] not going to cut and run." Accompanying that pledge was this: "We believe they have the capacity to run their own country."

BushSpeak mavens instantly recognized the abrupt change in policy. America is about to cut and run while Bush knows Iraqis can no more run Iraq than the Reverend Al Sharpton could carry Idaho.

Nothing quite says "Blow off" like a George W. Bush promise. Pick an issue, any issue. Democratizing Iraq, liberating Afghanistan, preserving Medicare, protecting the environment, honoring free trade, funding education, caring for veterans, balancing the budget, any issue except those hallowed tax cuts -- on every one Bush called what seemed a determined play and promptly ran a misdirection. BushSpeak is more than amusing malapropisms or a looking glass of mental dishevelment. It is the most cynical politics ever practiced from the Oval Office.

Because its numbers are slipping, the administration's purported mission to emancipate Iraq and thus reorder the Middle East has been reduced overnight to pacifying red states in America and humoring the blue ones. Bush is cutting and running because Karl Rove can count, making modern Iraq the first instance of a fledgling nation having been murdered by arithmetic.

By next summer, just as the presidential campaign enters its critical laps, Iraq will be as absent from W's vocabulary as Osama bin Laden. Victory will have been declared -- "Mission Re-Accomplished" -- and the country forgotten.

The prospect of a free, stable and democratic Iraq emerging from the political desolation imposed on it becomes remoter the nearer U.S. elections draw. In a mad dash to get this electoral loser behind him, Bush has morphed into a cross between Fast Eddie Felson and Rube Goldberg. Iraqis are to form a government before bothering with a constitution, although constitutions, generally, first spell a few things out -- like the form of government they're constituting. Iraqis are then to create a national leadership before bothering with national elections.

This way, minorities' rights -- such as those of the less-than-timid Kurds -- are left in constitutional doubt, everyone's left wondering about the working balance between Islamic and secular law, and top national officials have no legitimacy whatsoever. Tick, tick, tick ….

Meanwhile, the president may want to offer BushSpeak tutorials to his own military commanders. As he did again last week, the former likes to say that "Iraq has become a new front on the war on terror." Yet as Bush is selling that story, we've got Major General Charles Swannack announcing his 82nd Airborne Division is fighting not terrorists, really, but "mostly … locals" loyal to Saddam. Many locals deny this: "I am fighting for my country -- not Saddam Hussein -- to get rid of the infidels. Very few people are fighting for him," said one guerrilla to the Associated Press. Nevertheless, Swannack's assessment presents a problem for the White House, in that it discounts the administration's deliberate conflation of "terrorists" with indigenous Iraqi forces simply battling a foreign military occupation.

And that ain't gettin' right with BushSpeak. No way, no how. The administration insists all combatants in Iraq be labeled "terrorists," since terrorists have become, in the American mind, synonymous with al Qaeda. Consequently the false Bushian link of al Qaeda and Saddamites is maintained. However unwittingly, the general's careful distinction helps destroy that fallacy.

If Charles Swannack prefers not to end his military career supervising latrine-cleaning in the Aleutians, he would be wise to drop references to his own perception of reality. We are winning a war against universal forces of terrorism, Charlie, not subduing locals trying to oust an occupation. The latter raises all manner of sticky questions about international law. Put a sock in it.

In any event, as presidential politics heat up by next summer, we already will have cut and ru… -- strike that -- have won the war. Bush simply will have declared a substantial victory and proclaimed that pro-western Iraqis are in charge, with the assistance of just a "few" U.S. troops, no matter what the actual count. All without having improved a thing -- except W's political odds at home.


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© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and buzzflash.com.
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