by Walter C. Uhler
I won't be watching President Bush's "State of the Union" speech tonight. And I'll studiously avoid reading about it tomorrow. Not because Bush is a lame duck - thank God for that. But, because he a megalomaniac and a pathological lair.
You know how it works. Whether it's your friend, relative or acquaintance; whenever you've reached the conclusion that he/she is an inveterate liar, you simply stop listening to him/her, because he/she has lost all credibility and respect.
Actually, Bush never had my respect. Instead, I marveled over how a punk child of privilege could drink and bluff his way through mediocrity and failure - whether it be in college, the Texas Air National Guard, private enterprise (oil, baseball) or as governor of Texas - and still emerge with the belief that "God wants me to be President."
Once in office, America's psychopathic president began to plot the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Why? Because, Saddam was "the guy who tried to kill my dad." Unfortunately, while obsessing about Saddam the psychopath blew off intelligence indicating that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorists were preparing to strike the United States.
Of course, the psychopath then concealed his own personal negligence ("As a leader, you can never admit a mistake."), behind a puerile vow to "rid the world of evil" and a barrage of lies about Saddam Hussein. Thus, in the two years following the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration made some 935 false statements about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda. Bush made 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction and 28 about Saddam's ties to al Qaeda.
Unfortunately, behind his lies was a psychopathy feeding off willful self-delusion. Thus, according to Rev. Pat Robertson, who met with Bush in Nashville on the eve of the invasion, Bush "was the most self-assured man I ever met in my life…like a contented Christian with four aces."
Robertson had deep misgivings about the war ("The Lord told me it was going to be, A, a disaster and B, messy."). Thus, he told Bush: "Mr. President, you better prepare the American people for casualties." To which the psychopathic president responded: "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties." [Alan Cooperman, "Bush Predicted No Iraq Casualties, Robertson Says," Washington Post, Oct. 21, 2004]
Moreover, only a psychopath would pump his fist, as if kicking a game winning field goal, just moments before announcing that he had given the order to send America's sons and daughters into harm's way in Iraq. "Feels good," Bush said.
What the psychopath didn't know, however, was that the other psychopath, Saddam Hussein, was making his own plans for Bush's invasion. He ordered the reproduction of "more than three thousand copies of the film, Black Hawk Down" - the film documenting the chaos in Somalia that caused American forces to flee from that country. Saddam had the copies distributed "among senior figures in the military, the Baath, the Mukhabrat, and a new home guard, the Fedayeen Saddam." The tape was accompanied by some very simple instructions: "Create chaos." [Geoffrey Perret, Commander in Chief, p. 352]
Shortly after the invasion, Senator Biden questioned Bush's smug optimism about events in Iraq: "Mr. President, how can you be so sure when you don't know the facts?" Bush put his hand on Biden's shoulder and responded: "My instincts. My instincts."
Notwithstanding such instincts, widespread looting ravaged Iraq in April 2003. It was a critical indicator. According to George Packer, the looting told Iraqis "that they could fight against us and we were not a serious force." [Packer, The Assassin's Gate p.138]
Yet, within weeks of the looting, America's psychopathic president was standing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln telling the country that, as far as Iraq was concerned, it was "Mission Accomplished." Proud of his accomplishments, on June 4, 2003, the psychopath even boasted to Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas: "God told me to strike at Al Qaeda and I struck them, and then He instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did." [Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies, p. 1] As the military historian, Geoffrey Perret, has observed: "This is the language of no other commander in chief in American history." [.p 375]
In July, the psychopath would feel compelled to challenge the insurgents. "Bring 'em on," he told them from the safety of his office in Washington DC. Accepting the challenge, in August the insurgents blew up the Jordanian Embassy and the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
The blossoming insurgency caused the gloves to come off, which meant that torture became the order of the day. According to Professor Perret, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld "were making sure that torture would become inevitable and systematic." [p. 371]
Predictably, our psychopathic president denied that the U.S. was engaged in torture. But, a November 14, 2005 edition of Frontline, showed an army interrogator, Anthony Lagouranis, who asserted that torture occurred all over Iraq. "The infantry units are torturing people in their homes. They are using things like burns. They smash people's feet with the back of an ax head. They break bones, ribs … serious stuff." [Ibid, p. 372]
By November 2003, America's defeat in Iraq had become so etched in concrete that Israel's former prime minister, Ehud Barak, gave Cheney the benefit of his experience as a career soldier: "You cannot win an occupation. All you can do now is choose the size of your humiliation," [p. 377]
Obviously, choosing the size of his humiliation comes easy to a psychopath. Bush has pulled it off by trumpeting so-called "turning points" - one after the other.
The first turning point was the fall of Baghdad, with its staged toppling of Saddam's statue. The second was the capture of Saddam Hussein in December 2003. The third was the election of January 2005 and the installation of a new government tasked with writing a new Constitution. The fourth was the referendum on that constitution in December 2005 and the fifth was the election of a permanent government in early 2006. [p. 382]
And that's precisely what America's psychopathic president will do this evening, when he proclaims that turning point number six - the surge - has finally allowed America and Iraq to turn the corner.
Yet, were you to read Geoffrey Perret's recent book, Commander in Chief: How Truman, Johnson, and Bush Turned a Presidential Power into a Threat to America's Future, you'd find that he believes that Bush's invasion of Iraq constitutes "the greatest strategic blunder by a leader of a Western democracy in nearly two hundred years." [p. 363]
It strengthened Iran's position in the Middle East while enhancing China's throughout the world. It has rendered the U.S. incapable of dealing with the world's environmental problems and has taught developing countries that they do not need nuclear weapons now to deter the U.S. - just the wide distribution of assault weapons and explosives, the creation of an embryonic network of insurgents and a willingness to create chaos.
Finally, "nobody wants to be dependent on an America that talks loudly about how indispensable it is, yet stages coups, makes threats, overthrows governments, democratic or not, and kills many of the world's poorest people, to the amusement of some generals." [pp. 388-89]. Such is the state of our union.
Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).