Tuesday, July 08, 2003

So if Bush did lie, why isn't it more of a scandal? Why isn't Congress investigating him, as Parliament is with Tony Blair?

The run-up to the war in Iraq was probably the one and only time it was ever interesting to watch C-SPAN. Not because of the robust debate over going to war in Congress (there wasn't any) but because of the occasional snippets from the British Parliament, where members of Blair's own party were grilling him about his justifications for war. And Blair, to his credit, defended himself. He laid out his case for war in a forceful and straightforward way that no U.S. official has yet done. He staked his career and the future of his government on the idea that war was justified. That's why he now has to insist, in the face of all evidence, that weapons of mass destruction will be found. If they aren't, he's done.

But it doesn't matter for Bush. Because Bush never gave us the same reason twice for invading Iraq. First it was that Saddam sponsored terrorism and was cozy with Al-Qaida. Then it was weapons of mass destruction. Then the "liberation" of Iraq from tyranny. Now the vision of a pro-U.S. democracy as a beacon for the Islamic world. No matter that the first two were patently false, and the latter two pure neo-con fantasy. Bush knew that it didn't matter, that ultimately Americans and their representatives didn't care. They didn't need to have a case made to them for the rationality of war, since the decision was made on fundamentally irrational grounds.

It was about revenge. Americans had been hit and they wanted to hit back and didn't really care all that much who they hit. Bush knew it.

The widely discussed poll showing Americans thought Iraqis attacked the World Trade Center has been trotted out as evidence of American ignorance--an ignorance exploited, and encouraged, by the Bush administration. But now I wonder if it's more of a revenge fantasy playing itself out. "Target: Iraq" CBS tells us--an object of hatred has been given us, and however we have to rewrite history to justify it to ourselves is okay with us.

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