The Bush administration's chief propagandist is still spinning webs. In an interview with Michael Abramowitz of the Washington Post, Karl Rove said that there is little talk in the White House these days about young Mr. Bush's legacy, but there's one thing he's certain of. Bush's greatest impact on future presidents will be his doctrine of "preemptive war."
The doctrine, according to Rove, "says if you train a terrorist, harbor a terrorist, feed a terrorist, you will be treated like a terrorist yourself. And then the corollary of that, which is that we will not wait until dangers fully materialize before taking action."
Abramowitz notes that Dick Cheney recently told ABC News "I think history will regard us as having made good, sound, solid decisions."
I think history will regard Cheney and Rove as having heads full of snakes.
Abramowitz also points out that others have a more pragmatic view of the Bush II legacy.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser in the Carter administration, said the next president will be forced to discard the most "extreme policies" of the Bush administration if he or she hopes to regain American influence in the world, and to abandon Bush's vision of Islamic extremists as on par with the Nazi empire or the Soviet Union at their zeniths.
The next president, he said, "will have to make serious readjustments with rationality."
The rational assessment of the Bush administration will be that it didn't make any sound decisions, and that preemptive war, especially when conducted by a sole superpower against a much weaker opponent, is sublime folly.
Any war is a risky undertaking, and unnecessary risks are not the kinds of things rational political leaders should undertake. On a necessity scale of zero to 10, repelling an invasion by a neighboring country ranks a 10. Invading a country halfway across the world based on pan-fried intelligence and Imperialistic ideologies rates several places to the right of the decimal point.
Intelligence, especially strategic intelligence, is an iffy thing at best. The ability to accurately determine a potential adversary's capabilities through advanced surveillance technology and intentions is limited. Graham Greene's Our Man in Havana (1958) and John le Carre's The Tailor of Panama are two excellent spy novels--written by former spies--that demonstrate the frailties of human intelligence. When you subject intelligence to manipulation by political ideologists with a war-centric agenda, as happened with Iraq--and that threatens to happen again with Iran--you have a recipe for perpetual fiasco.
What's more, as our Iraq excursion illustrates, preemptive wars overseas that involve invasion and occupation based on fuzzy intelligence grind one's land forces into sandbag fill, and it's intuitively obvious to anyone who isn't a Cheney-class compensated psychopath that pursuing a policy that destroys your means of pursuing it is, in layman terms, just plain crazy.
Hatters, Hares and Lemmings
Rebuilding America's Defenses, the Project for the New American Century's neoconservative manifesto published in September of 2000, stated that…
…the United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein. (Page 14.)
The 9/11 attacks gave the Bush administration neocons (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Feith, etc.) the "new Pearl Harbor" they needed to carry out their delusional Strangelove strategy.
Rather than rebuilding America's defenses, the neocons have put our military bow and barrel down in a sand dune. And yet, incredibly, the likes of Rove and Cheney insist that they have created a template for the success of future U.S. policies.
By any rational measure, these guys are nuttier that a pecan orchard, but some theoretically sane Americans still listen to them and take them seriously. Maybe the psychiatric field should come up with a new term for people who still cling to the Bush agenda--"compensated lemmings."
The celebrated 20th century logician Bertrand Russell said that "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."
I'm not the wisest guy in the world, but I had doubts about the Bush administration when it came into office. I was vaguely aware that he was backed by a neoconservative cabal who had wild ideas about forging a 21st century American empire through armed force, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up when Dick Cheney started talking about restoring the power of the presidency. But what the heck, I figured. The system is too strong, too well established, for a group of wild-eyed ideologues to lead us down the road to aggressive fascism. Silly me.
Six years and change later, the fanatics and the fools who still follow them have turned the United States of America into a militaristic oligarchy with theocratic underpinnings. Our foreign policy is a shambles. Our instruments of power--military, diplomacy, economy and information--are broken. Rule of law is a "quaint and obsolete" notion, and the Constitution itself has become a non-binding resolution.
The lasting legacy of the Bush administration will be that the only thing we have to fear is the people who govern us.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.