February 08, 2007

Random Thoughts on a Common Tragedy

In the early days of GWB's presidency, before the wheels of the Iraq began to wobble, the President often mentioned the comfort he took at all the prayers being said on his behalf. I don't think he mentions that publically much anymore. Did his reliance on prayer preclude post-war planning? (Say five times fast.) Everyone has seen the sign in the office cubical that says "Poor Planning on Your Part Does Not Make an Emergency on Mine" or words to that effect. Did Bush let the knowledge of the prayers of so many thousands of serious Christians for him make him too optimistic with regard to how Iraq would go? Was Jimmy Carter too fond of peace because of his faith and Bush too fond of war for the same reason? I hope he still trusts in the power of prayer; Lord knows discernment can't be just for saints.

The Iraq decision had an element of inevitability: Saddam knew Bush was well-armed but thought he had not the will to use it. Bush knew Saddam had the will but also thought he had the arms. The U.N. ceasefire had been violated over a dozen times but when someone tells an evil man "no more!" after repeated transgressions it's not suprising that the evil man doesn't think he's serious. There is a familiar predictability in the collision course between a good man wanting to give an miscreatant every opportunity to reform and a bad man seeing those opportunities as evidence of the good man's weakness. The irony with Iraq is that the world turned on the good man, not the bad man. They wanted the bad man's oil more than they wanted his disarmament, and in the end felt the good man was the greater threat. In the complex world we live in the bad man turned out to be the main check against another bad man - the leader of Iran.

And so it goes...and pondering that I sometimes wonder at, and feel amazed at, the lust which Hillary and O'Bama and McCain and Romney have for such a job as POTUS. In the history of recent presidencies LBJ started a war he could not finish, Nixon resigned in disgrace, Carter a one-term disaster, Bush the elder engaged in a war in the chronically dysfunctional Middle East, Clinton was impeached by the House, and Bush the younger continued his father's war in the chronically dysfunctional Middle East. Would you want to be president?

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