posted by January 11 at 20:44 PMon
In addition to the worrisome stuff about Iran and Syria, this is the important quote from Bush’s speech last night:
Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.
There’s a theme that has fueled the GOP since its resurgence under Reagan—a magnetic theme that continued to carry them right up through Bush’s win over Kerry in 2004. The GOP is the macho party.
They’ve been able to tap this theme because of the powerful myth they created about Vietnam. Despite hardcore shit like the Phoenix program, and the tons of napalm, and the relentless bombing, and over ten years of warfare, the word is: We didn’t give it our all in Vietnam. We held back. No, we were held back.
That storyline turned Democrats (the party associated with the anti-war movement) into wimps. And it turned Republicans into righteous macho men, who have some ass kicking to do.
(This theme was formalized at the height of the Reagan revolution with the Rambo movies, which, if I remember right, were about a Vietnam vet returning to Vietnam to kick some ass. Subtle.)
Bush, obviously, tried to stoke this theme last night. “There were too many restrictions on the troops…”
Here’s my worry: If he’s shut down, the “We were held back” resentment will play out all over again in a backlash against Democrats. If not in ‘08, too soon still. Remember— the Vietnam War was unpopular too. But in a direct way, that defeat gave way to Reaganism…Gingrich…Bush. With the legitimate war against al Qaeda still on our agenda, a backlash against “defeatism” won’t be so hard for Republicans to exploit.
So, am I advocating allowing Bush to send 21,500 more troops to Iraq as a partisan bait and switch so the country can finally learn a lesson from this failure—even though more Americans and Iraqis will die?
Fuck. I’m not that cynical or macabre or depraved. Am I?
But here’s the thing. I do kind of want Bush to send his troops and watch as nothing changes. We will finally see his foreign policy—GOP foreign policy—discredited. (Yes, I know it’s already been discredited, but Bush has provided an opening to discredit it on GOP terms. He’s provided an opening to discredit the definition of the party.)
He’s on record now saying he was held back. He wants to “surge.” And so, he has set up the machismo myth to be exposed. Imagine a year from now if things look the same. Who will Bush blame?
The GOP will be clutching a meaningless trump card.
I want this war over. I want the blowing up to stop. But more troops or less troops, it’s going to be bloody for a while anyway. So, could it be worth it, in the long run, to let Bush play Rambo and unwittingly fuck his party’s defining myth?