Monday, September 18, 2006


The Decider: Blistered on Democratic Undergrounds Top Ten List. Here's number 8.

The Bush Administration

In George W. Bush's first presidential debate with Al Gore in 2000, the following exchange took place:

MODERATOR: New question. How would you go about as president deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force, generally?

BUSH: Well, if it's in our vital national interest, and that means whether our territory is threatened or people could be harmed, whether or not the alliances are -- our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force.

Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear. Whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be.

Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win. Whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped.

And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy. I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don't think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we've got to be very careful when we commit our troops.

The vice president and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. So I would take my responsibility seriously.

Yes, believe it or not, back in 2000 George W. Bush insisted that the U.S. military should only be used if "the mission was clear," if there was an "exit strategy," and that he would take this responsibility "seriously" and be "very careful about using our troops as nation builders."

But for those of you who are scratching your heads at Bush's anti-nation-building comments given his new-found penchant for spreading democracy across the Middle East at the barrel of a gun, don't worry - he never really intended to build a nation in Iraq.

Last week the Washington Post reported:

After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans - restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance - but had applied for a White House job - was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2-year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors.

Yes folks, "the mission was clear" all right - it was to line the pockets of Republican party cronies at the expense of innocent Iraqi civilians and American troops. I'm glad Bush is taking his responsibilities "seriously."

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