Friday, January 12, 2007

The magic touch

It is never a good thing to have a president on a mission from God, as we see with Mr. Bush's chutzpotic (I have been waiting for a chance to fuse chutzpah and despotic into a single word, and our President, sadly, gives it to me) unilateral decision to raise the stakes in Iraq. Bush has always been able to brazen his way out of trouble, but the last time it really worked flawlessly for him was the 2000 election, when he gambled that he could take office by simply acting as if he had won. And sure enough, he has been living in the White House ever since.

So at this point I think this habit is hard-wired into his administration. A message from the American people, delivered by the last congressional elections, can't compete with the message of past successful effrontery. He believes, and has believed all along, that magical thinking creates its own magic.

What his magical thinking envisions, and what he may have in fact created, is a situation where the country may be boxed in, and either we have to accept what everyone must regard as catastrophe--in this case, coming home from Iraq with nothing to show for it but 3000 American dead, 650,000 Iraqi dead, plus civil war and anarchy in a failed state we have left behind--or double down, and widen the war to Iran, which is what I think he wants to do, and, unless he is deterred by Congress and the public, what he is probably going to do.

The fact that it seems insane should not make us worry any less. Look at his history. And look at the signs. We have a recently published story--and perhaps it is not just based on rumor--that we have given the Israelis the green light to conduct a nuclear strike on Iranian nuclear facilities. The Israelis have denied any such plans, but of course they have denied for years that they even have nuclear weapons.

We have our raid a couple of days ago on an Iranian consulate. We have ramped-up saber rattling, demanding the Iranians stop supplying the insurgency, and a plan to place more American troops along the Iranian border. (The absurdity of the idea of a largely Sunni insurgency being funded and supplied by Iran is a fine point that will be lost on a public, and possibly on Congressional foreign affairs oversight, where an important committee chair does not even know the difference between Sunni and Shia.) We have aircraft carriers being deployed to the region, and Navy aircraft obviously are not going to help secure the streets of Baghdad. So what are they for?

Allow me a moment of dystopian imagination, here. (Hopefully it will turn out to be as mad as George Bush and all his march-hare neocons.) If his plan is to box us in to a situation we can't retreat from, a military confrontation with Iran certainly fits the bill. Once that spirals out of control, we are committed for another few years--and we certainly don't want to change ruling parties in the middle of a war, do we?--until that war becomes, itself, another disaster, larger and uglier and more dangerous for both our security and our civil liberties even than the Iraq war has been.

I think that's were George Bush imagines his legacy to lie. He thinks that God will pull this thing out of the fire for him, and if it takes a bigger fire for God to consider personally stepping in, well, hey...

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