"Why hasn’t Congress told Bush and Cheney that they will both be instantly impeached if they initiate a wider war?" - Paul Craig Roberts
Why indeed. Congress may not believe that an attack on Iran is immanent, even though they may believe that an escalation of the war is inevitable. In any case Congress has no intention to impeach Bush, he has suddenly become far too useful. At the moment while the possibility of an actual strike is very real, it is also part of a strategy of bluff to destabilize Iran. This is giving the Iranians a chance to sort out their internal problems and rejoin the 'symbolic order' of the world community under a benevolent and forgiving US hegemony. Should this fail, and there is not reason that it should not, there is an insurance policy that policy is Bush himself. How? The 'establishment' knows and has known since little after Bush was first elected that Bush is dispensible. It is also true, however, that every President is dispensible, but most make themselves relevant or are made relevant by their policies. Bush's vacuous performance before 911 - when he effectively 'phoned in' his obligations, made it clear to everyone that this man treated the US presidency as at best a bothersome delegation to 'people who know better' like Cheney and Rumsfeld. In this way Bush is one of the most 2 dimensional characters of all time, serving much the same purpose as the cardboard cut out presidents on the street that you can have your photo taken with. After 911 Bush was momentarily seen as relevant, a rallying point, and this he did well, but like all of his policies domestic or external there was and is no follow through - at all. Using the political capital handed him by 911, a great president could have done great things, some presidents would have been catapulted to greatness, Bush as befits his character has been revealed as what he is rather than what he projects. Even those who inturn saw their chance to manipulate him into furthering a long term 'strategic' agenda, those who rushed to fill the vacuum of power, were inturn suprised and fooled by the ineptitude of the ideologues that have chosen to consider night, day and day, night, and that have been Bush's only guide through this alternate reality of 6 (and counting) lost years. However, those that abandoned Bush in 2005-6 have returned to reanimate him into further mischief.
In the novel Fail Safe, set at the height of the Cold War, US General Black is ordered by the President to drop a nuclear bomb on New York, in response to a US weapons system malfunction that destroys Moscow. The US president orders this to avoid an all out nuclear confrontation with the Soviets and ofcourse the ensuing doomsday. As General Black maneuvers his B-52 over New York he makes sure that it is only through his volition that the bomb is dropped, "No other person will touch an instrument during the release' he says, ' You may look up or you may close your eyes. You are accomplices and I would be dishonest with you if I said otherwise. But the ultimate act is mine." Iraq has eaten away at the very soul of this presidency, this administration, it has eaten it from the inside out, leaving a hollow shell, cardboard thin. Blair is teetering as we speak largely because of Iraq. However now others have discovered another use for Bush, as Cheney and the Neo-cons did before them and still do. The Bush presidency is finished, it has been finished since the Rose Garden Press conference in October 2006, and arguably long before that. This was made tangible by the 2006 Mid Term elections, though this only confirmed the frustration of the American public. The enormity of the swing against Bush has not been digested by some who don't appreciate the gerrymander that had been put carefully in place since Bush's appointment. Bush is now more dispensible than he ever was, and therefore because of the circumstances that he or should I say others have put in place he is now more useful than at anytime in his life.
Bush is the black bull. Bush believes he is riling against Congress and the 'establishment' by being stubborn over his boutique war in Iraq. Congress, however, has no real intention at all of refusing Bush at this point. It doesn't mean to say that a Democratic Congress will not at the same time politically point score from every Bush 'mis-step' while at the same time ushering him down a path that they would wish on no one else. It is the ultimate triangulation. Bush is unwittingly moving in the direction that others are tacitly, even decietfully leading him. Bush is the black bull. Bush is the fall guy. If an attack is to be launched on Iran as tacitly demanded by Israel, Saudi, the State Department, by Contra, by the Iranian Hostages and America's humiliation, by an Iraq War that has taken a life of its own, by history, then it is Bush that will be made to do what others would rather not contemplate doing. As Zbigniew Brzezinski said recently, perhaps a little niavely in the larger scheme of things, but quite appropriately for Iraq, 'the scariest conspiracy is that there is no conspiracy'. This follows from what Philip Gordon calls the 'accidental revolution' in foreign affairs that the vacuum of power known as the Bush presidency ushered in. The idea that war with Iran is immanent and perhaps inevitable is not as a result of a grand Machiavellian scheme but of foreign policy that is in freefall, that has literally taken the US in tow and wont let go. A foreign policy which oscilates between destructive pragmatism and blind ideology. If war is to escalate it will not directly be as a result of US intentions, but as a result of the Iraq folly taking on a life of its own.
However, if this is so, who better than Bush at the eye of the storm? The opportune opportunist? If an attack has to be made indeed who better to make it (and it is arguable that it is in the world's and region's best interest that the attack is made - if only to pre-empt Israel from inflaming the situation and the region even further) than Bush who has absolutely nothing to lose? Who else is more compromised in US presidential history other than Nixon? Who else has the same public standing as Nixon? Nixon, however, despite his personal failings was not a fool, nor were his policies wafer thin, and nor did he hold back from delivering on them. Bush is persona non grata in the eyes of the people, the US political establishment and history. All of whom are willing Bush on.
Only Nixon can go to China, only Bush can attack Iraq, only Bush can attack Iran. Iran is his pennance for his folly, for his stupidity, however, it is also his ultimate if only redemption. The ultimate manipulation of a 'dead man walking' of his character flaws and his vacuous self. It is the reward for his folly, for his hubris offered him by the Gods of another era. Rewarded to an opportunist who had less right to claim the Presidency than anyone in memory and whose sole reasoning was that it seemed to him a right of birth. Bush is being manipulated to do the dirty work that no one wants to do, that is politically and internationally unpalatable, and that no one wants to talk about at cocktail parties at the White House. That sort of talk is reserved for think tanks, whose main focus is to compromise the world into fitting their particular ideologies.
As I have said, Bush has always been dispensible, but now this dispensibility is an asset, his only one. Having squandered America's 'moral' legitimacy, Bush can be made to do the dirty work pertaining to America's 'strategic long term interests' as Kissinger has recently been at pains to reiterate the importance of before a Senate committee. The irony here is that Cheney and therefore Bush have been taking advice from the world's former and foremost amoral pragmatist - Dr Henry Kissinger. For Cheney this advice just reinforces his own opinion which never strays far from the bottom line. Cometh the hour cometh the man, and while that applies to Bush, it applies doubly to Kissinger. The 'Cheney Presidency' (Cheney has, for all intents and puroposes, been the one who has provided the adult supervision over this dysfunctional White House) has unleashed the foriegn policies that have brought the US to this brink. This short term no-win situation, this 'no good options' state of affairs is custom made for a man of Kissinger's means of negotiating, or should I say manipulating, the world. Anything and everything is dispensible now, even more must be sacrificed for the 'long term strategic interests' of the US. At this point, the otherwise defunct Bush presidency offers a two year window of opportunity to further remodel the Middle East. Where many see the edge of a chasm, other more conservative pundits see a rare opportunity to remake the region and the world if not in their own image, in an image more agreeable to them. They also see real strategic plusses to the current situation, not least of which is the US's effective control of the region's oil. Some argue that the forces of 'creative instability' have already been unleashed and therefore should be allowed to play out, no matter what the cost in life. They argue that it is not so much a matter of what the Middle East will look like if nothing is risked, but rather what the West will look like should it fail to take the initiative and reshape the struggling and often recalcitrant Muslim world to its advantage.
In other better circumstances, perhaps the effects of pursuing these long term goals could be ameliorated. In the current hysteria there is no other way. It is interesting how the public will accomodate changing realities, even if they do not necessarily support these changes. Slowly over time, one can imagine a public being primed for the authoritarianism of a dictatorship, for commiting war, for committing genocide. All in small steps, as changing or manipulated circumstances become the new reality. This manipulation is nothing if not a loss of liberty, evincing the gap between knowledge and belief.
David Brooks writes of one key difference between the legacies of Vietnam and Iraq, and that is "When you look further into the future, you see that the next president's big efforts will not be about retrenchment, but about expansion. They'll be about expanding the military, expanding the diplomatic corps, creating new interagency bureaus that will give America more nation-building capacity. In short, the United States has taken its share of blows, but the isolationist dog is not barking. The hegemon will change. The hegemon will do more negotiating. But the hegemon will live." Unlike Vietnam, this time there are important resources involved. In the end with regards to Vietnam there was only pride - in both cases, of course, many lives. Perhaps because of scarce resources, and a rival giant on the rise, Americans are getting comfortable - and perhaps complacent - with the idea of 'empire'.
In the meantime, Bush will take the fall for the 'Cheney presidency' before it completely unravels. Time may still defeat this final desperate act, of a desperate administration unconscionably bereft of the most basic skills of diplomacy let alone the skills of government. Many are willing to continue to suspend their disbelief in the administration that cried wolf (cried Wolfowitz?) once too often, as even as Bush stumbles from pillar to post, political point scoring is easier than a turkey shoot on the Basra to Baghdad highway. At the moment however, there is still time for Bush to be cast as the tragic anti-hero, as others were puppets of fate, Bush 's cavernous failings have pushed him from mistake to mistake to tragedy. This has nothing to do with morality, or at least that morality that sees the light of day. This is a dark morality for a dark purpose of maintaining power. This is the underside of greatness, one of the pillars upon which the grand ideas such as freedom and America are built. This administration has chosen to see things as they want them to be rather than what they are. Ironically neocon Douglas Feith recently attempted lamely to deflect findings against the competence if not disingeuity of the Bush Administration saying that the findings reflected ''confusion about the way policy and intelligence officials relate to one another in the real world.'' The results in real time have been catastrophic in terms of human life alone. However one should also ponder upon the real reasons for the war and the Pyhrric victory for Iraq's resources, and consider whether the cost was worth it. It is not certain that Bush will return to the reality of the world populated by living subjective beings and not chess pieces as the neocons tend to want to believe. If Bush condescends to return to the reality that the rest of the world suffers, it will be uncomfortable for him, perhaps too uncomfortable, that is why he will not. Unlike General Black in Fail Safe there is nothing noble or selfless in Bush's actions, he is sure to be damned by history, as he has been in real time. However, like General Black, Bush is the sacrifice, Bush is the black bull, only he doesn't know it yet. Perhaps he never will.
Of course none of this is real.
'Mr President, this is Major Callahan. The mission has been accomplished. The four bombs have exploded at 5000 ft above New York. General Black has killed himself with his suicide kit.'
'Thank you, Major, it is something I ---expected.'
- Fail Safe