Karl may have left the building, but the Rovewellian tradition lives on in the Bush White House. It's the week before Dave and Ryan's All Star Iraq Review comes to town, and already we've been treated to a secret presidential visit to Anbar province, yet another thwarted terrorist attack, and Katie Couric making goo-goo eyes at General Petraeus. Among the latest Dubya talk to come from Mr. Bush is his "success is not no violence" remark made on Tuesday to the Associated General Contractors of America. Stripped of its Dubya-negative, Bush's sentence reads, "success is violence." Supposedly, that wasn't exactly what he meant. Supposedly, he was trying to say how the "success" he was describing had to do with making Iraq like America, where violence is "down" to a level where "people feel comfortable about living their daily lives." What exactly did he mean?
Even White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, when asked later at a press conference what an acceptable level of violence might consist of, had to say, "That's a very good question. I don't have an answer."
It's not every day Tony Snow says something like that (Heh!).
Down Is Up
Snow wasn't completely at a loss for explanations, though. Earlier in the press conference, he too compared Iraq to America, saying, "Washington for many years was the murder capital of the United States of America. I believe we are still able to do our jobs. Now, really what he's [President Bush] talking about--he's talking about that."
No one in the White House Press Corps pushed Snow to elaborate on the Washington-Baghdad analogy. Nobody asked where the D.C.Green Zone was, or how many mortar rounds had fallen on the Lincoln Memorial in the past few months, or how many car bombs had gone off in cabinet members' motorcades lately. Maybe it didn't occur to all those world-class reporters to ask those sorts of things. Or maybe they're just numb from all the cockamamie analogies and other absurdities on Iraq they've heard from Snow and the rest of the administration echo chamberlains.
Or maybe, when you get down to it, they know good and well that "success is violence" was precisely what Mr. Bush really, really meant.
War Is Peace, Success Is Violence, Staying Is Going
The Bush administration's rhetoric on Iraq has sounded crackers for quite a while now, but lately it's become downright bull-goose looney. During his latest Mission TBA (to be accomplished) photo opportunity in front of hand-picked adoring troops in Anbar province, Mr. Bush caused pundits worldwide to make the sound of one jaw dropping when he said, "General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have said that if the security situation continues to improve the way it has, we may be able to achieve the same objectives with fewer troops."
Two things in that statement are worth noting: 1) The decider managed to defer responsibility for the decision to Petraeus and Crocker and 2) he didn't bother to specifically mention what the "objectives" were. That’s because he doesn't want to be held to specific objectives when it turns out the ones he accomplishes aren't the ones he said he was going to achieve. He's been burned that way before. Remember when the objective of the surge was to secure Baghdad? It's funny how the "center of gravity" became Anbar when the Baghdad thing didn't work out.
Here's another funny thing: Mr. Bush is trying to sell a continuation of the troop increase based on the improved security situation it has supposedly provided. But he's also saying that if we let him keep the extra troops in Iraq a while longer, and they keep doing the same job they've been doing, we won't need the extra troops there any more. But if it's the extra troops that have provided the security, how will we maintain the security without them? Is there a political solution around the corner after all? Not according the recently released Government Accountability Office report, there isn't.
None of it makes any sense, but that doesn't matter, because the administration isn't really trying to present a coherent reason for staying in Iraq. It's trying to persuade us, with a completely emotional argument, that a host of horrible things that will happen if we leave, and as far am I'm concerned, they're not doing a good enough job of scaring us. They need to give us more grisly details.
Here Is There
See, if we leave Iraq, then what will happen is all those Sunnis fighting Shias, and the Shias fighting each other, and al Qaeda egging everybody on, and the criminals and the crazies and everybody else who's lighting Iraq on fire right now… Well, they'll stop fighting each other and join up so they can come and fight us.
First thing they'll do is, they'll all get together and load themselves on board the ships of this big old navy they've got. They'll fight their way through the Persian Gulf and the North Arabian Sea and a bunch of straits and the Pacific Ocean, sinking all of our aircraft carriers and submarines and shooting down our whole Air Force along the way. They'll squeeze through the Panama Canal, and then steam up the Gulf of Mexico into the mouth of the Mighty Mississippi, then they'll bomb what's left of New Orleans with the nukes the Iranians will give them.
They'll keep sailing north, land at Saint Louis, tear down the Arch and set up base camp in the new Busch Stadium. From the Gateway to the West they'll split into two groups, half heading off to California by wagon train and the other half sailing the fleet north to Minneapolis where they'll kidnap Garrison Keillor and cut his head off before they take the Erie Canal to the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and conquer the Atlantic Seaboard.
As they establish their occupation of the entire United States and let us vote in a new unity caliphate, they'll simultaneously rage full-scale regional war in the Middle East and take control of the world's entire oil reserves, committing historic levels of genocide in the process.
You got to hand it to those evil-doers: They know how to fight them over here and over there!
And the longer Mr. Bush can fool enough of the people into believing that, the better the chances are he can keep his woebegone war in Iraq going long enough to stick his successor with the blame for losing it.
So as far as Mr. Bush is concerned, violence is indeed success; the longer he can keep the violence going in Iraq, the more successful he'll be in achieving his real objective.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword, ePluribus and Military.com. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books, ISBN: 9781601640192) will be available March 1, 2008.