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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

An Open Letter to George W. Bush

Dear George,

Four years ago today, you landed a jet on the USS Abraham Lincoln, stood under a banner that read 'Mission Accomplished,' and said, "In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." It turns out that prevailing takes a really long time.

Team Bush quickly realized that this whole photo op was a tremendous mistake and did what you always do when confronted with your own incompetence -- you blamed someone else. In this case, it was the crew of the ship. They put up the banner. Except, of course, that was one helluva weak argument and quickly fell apart:


White House spokesman Scott McClellan told CNN that in preparing for the speech, Navy officials on the carrier told Bush aides they wanted a "Mission Accomplished" banner, and the White House agreed to create it.

"We took care of the production of it," McClellan said. "We have people to do those things. But the Navy actually put it up."

In other words, you accidentally made the banner. There's a reason why Scott McClellan's no longer the Press Secretary. The Bush administration really requires a better class of liar.

But what's weird about this whole 'Mission Accomplished' thing is that it's kinda-sorta true. At that point, major combat operations had ended. There was a zero percent chance that Saddam Hussein would ever be back in power, so the mission was accomplished. The problem was that the idiot visionaries who make up the cult of the neocons were now faced with a reality you were totally unprepared for. It turned out that iraqis didn't so much like being invaded, that removing Saddam Hussein created a power vacuum that armed militias rushed in to fill, and that the arab world sympathized with the iraqis who fought on. Reality has a way of bitch-slapping you visionaries, doesn't it?

For a while, you tried to spin it. The people fighting weren't new groups created by the invasion, they were what Donald Rumsfeld called 'dead enders' -- Saddam loyalists who'd taken off their uniforms to blend in and fight on. Maybe you really believed it -- you'd been wrong about almost everything else. But it soon became obvious that these fighters represented political movements. Political movements that wouldn't have existed without the invasion. You'd taken a hellhole of a dictatorship and made it worse. That takes real talent.

Meanwhile, we'd put the war we actually had some reason for fighting on the back burner. The Soviet Union had lost in Afghanistan and we were treating it like it was no big deal. If the russians got their asses handed to them in Afghanistan, why were we treating it like an afterthought? The war that was the actual response to 9/11 has become the forgotten war.

So what have we accomplished since you stood on that flight deck four years ago today? One helluva lot, but unfortunately, none of it's good. We've managed to kill at least 62,760 iraqi civilians. That's a monstrous number. Remember how you felt when you learned that 3,000 people had died in 9/11? More than 20 times that number have been lost in this idiot war. 9/11 has been going on in Iraq every damned day for the past four years.

You tell me what that's supposed to accomplish, President Bush. You tell me how this can possibly improve the world. Blood runs in the gutters of Iraq more often than rain. It's a freakin' nightmare over there. The only people you've managed to free are the bloodthirsty morons with the politics of terrorists. I've already said it once in this letter, but it bears repeating over and over and over, you've taken a hellhole of a dictatorship and made it worse.

And that's pretty much it. It may not have been your original mission, but that's what you've accomplished. All you've really managed to do is to increase the sum total of misery in the world. In my mind, that's the only unforgivable sin.

Right now, there's an intervention going on, George. People want to take this war away from you. Let them. You've got a problem and we're trying to help. I know you've given up drinking. I don't know if you've got a program, but if you do, this should be familiar -- the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same result.

Isn't it obvious that we're not going to wake up one day and say, "I'll be damned, it worked?" What would be the event that happened that day? What is a 'win' at this point? If you can't tell me what a win looks like, you can't win. You say 'victory' all the damned time, but you never say what victory is. If you don't know what you're working toward, you can't possibly make any progress. That's what you call your logic.

And you keep turning to WWII as a historical precedent. Germany and Japan became model democracies, you tell us. The world is better for it. But it's revisionist history you're using as a model. Dictators exist to keep a lid on things. Fascism's entire reason for being was to keep a lid on communism. After WWII, in the words of Winston Churchill, an 'iron curtain' fell over half of Europe and we spent decades in a cold war. Contrary to common wisdom, WWII did not end well. Only half of Germany became a democracy, the other half fell back into totalitarianism. Communism was better than nazism, but not much.

Likewise, Saddam Hussein kept a lid on his own problem. His was a deep sectarian divide that's now turned into a civil war. There's not a lot you can do to stop that. It's a process you began.

What you need is an out. You've got one. Just sign it. Let us take the war away from you.

The World

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Photo released by White House