As Criminologists Have Said...
"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing." - William Shakespeare, Macbeth
...for over a century now, the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime.
The endless George W. Bush legacy road show obliviously slouches its way toward Bethlehem during this holiday season, one wrapped up in secrecy yet presented to the Iraqi and American people as a gift of freedom, prosperity and democracy from Grand Bwana. It's the latter-day equivalent of Andrew Jackson riding on horseback to west of the Mississippi to see how the Cherokee Indians he'd betrayed through forcible displacement were faring.
It's a good opportunity to sum up Bush's legacy of failure in Iraq. The dissolution of the Iraqi army/creation of a ready-made insurgency; detention, torture and murder of Iraqis; contractor corruption; "Smoking guns", "mushroom clouds", "last throes", "greeted as liberators", "he tried to kill my dad", and, of course, the Big Kahuna of all whoppers Iraqi: "Mission Accomplished."
But is it worth it? We've flogged this war to death virtually from the beginning and to no avail. The incompetences, lies, apathy and corruption continues in both Washington and Baghdad. We will, in all likelihood, be in Iraq until the end of 2011, beyond Barack Obama's sunny assurance of a 16 month-long drawdown. So is it worth using Bush's last, sneaky visit to Iraq as a staging point for bringing up his failures?
As long as we have 146,000-149,000 troops and billions of our dollars invested there, the answer is Yes.
It's perhaps coincidental that an unpublished history of Iraq's reconstruction is being circulated among a tight circle of technical experts and policy makers during Bush's Napoleanic march through Baghdad.
In this biography of the greatest foreign policy failure of modern times, one of the most damning testimonies was given by Bush's first Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was quoted as saying,
“(We) kept inventing numbers of Iraqi security forces — the number would jump 20,000 a week! ‘We now have 80,000, we now have 100,000, we now have 120,000.’”
Kind of sounds like Enron inflating profits and keeping massive losses off the books so their shareholders wouldn't panic and sell before the company's top executives could. The identical mindset in both Enron's boardroom and the White House's war room is not coincidental.
And while it can't be reasonably conjectured that Bush has been anything but the dumbest guy in any room he's ever been in, it also can't be said that Bush had failed in his major, unspoken, rationale for diverting us from a momentarily successful war on terror and invading Iraq: That is, in bloating corporate profits for the likes of Blackwater, Halliburton, KBR, The Carlyle Group, Bechtel, the Parsons Group, every one of which and many more having failed and failed miserably in their stated objectives to the detriment of Iraqis and the American taxpayer.
And the "security pact" ratified by a deeply divided and desperate Iraqi national congress has to be viewed as the despicable act it is: A blind, lockstep insistence on continuing to occupy Iraq until almost the end of Obama's first term in the name of corporate profits that have been further bloated by cost-plus, no-bid contracts for companies that can no longer further his political career.
Again, I give you the unofficial, conspicuously unpublished history:
Among the overarching conclusions of the history is that five years after embarking on its largest foreign reconstruction project since the Marshall Plan in Europe after World War II, the United States government has in place neither the policies and technical capacity nor the organizational structure that would be needed to undertake such a program on anything approaching this scale.
Does this surprise anyone? The pack of upholstered jackals still loping across the White House lawn, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Treasury Department and even Blair House cannot adequately rebuild the country that's ostensibly undertaken the task of rebuilding Iraq's.
So let the shadow of this fool strut across the stage in the twilight of his public life. The posterity that history confers vacillates and alters its perception on almost all. History will be kinder as old scandals get blunted before hindsight regains its focus and realizes that this man is not merely one of history's greatest monsters but also perhaps the most blithe and indifferent. If the shoes thrown at him today in Baghdad are any indication, perhaps historians will get it right from the beginning.