Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush's Magical Ignorance

Words really fail to portray the depth of ignorance in President George Bush's plans for Iraq. Bush says there is “no magic formula for success in Iraq,” yet he continues to use magical thinking in his deluded plan to escalate the occupation of Iraq. Bush has ordered the troops to escalate their involvement in the already ongoing Iraq civil war. While the USA may be able to establish itself as the strongest militia in Bagdad, that strategy can only work as long as troops remain. Even if the neighborhoods are pacified by USA occupation, as soon as the occupying troops leave the civil war will resume. Thus Bush’s plan is not a magic formula for victory but a mundane formula for continued occupation and proxy dictatorship.

Buddhism analyzes three core poisons of human thinking: greed, hatred, and ignorance. Of these, ignorance is the primary source.

Greed is unchecked attraction toward things. Hatred is unchecked aversion toward things. Basic ignorance is a fundamental misunderstanding of what things are that leads to our unchecked attractions and aversions. Attractions and aversions are natural in the moment to moment mental processes, but ignorance makes it possible for us to believe that greed can actually be satisfied greater acquisition and hatred can actually be quenched by greater revulsion.

For example, when we are hungry and taste something agreeable, we are naturally attracted to it and want a second bite. If the serving dish is full, we may eat until we are satisfied and stop, or we may be carried away by our ignorance and continue eating past the time of satiation and gorge until we are sick. Or we may create a life style in order to guarantee the unlimited supply of that good tasting stuff and let no one else stand in our way.

Such is the path of greed in Iraq, where insatiable desires based on the ignorant delusions of grandeur and power lead Bush into believing that just 20,000 more troops can make the difference between victory and failure in Iraq.

There are several kinds of greed, hatred, and delusion at work here.

One kind of greed is the simple to understand greed for war profits. The privatization of the war from the very beginning is an example of this. The number of USA “civilian” contractors and the outrageous profits they have been given attest to the fact that money is a major motivating force for our engagement. The weapons makers too are raking it in. An economy that relies on production of unnecessary goods also relies on the destruction of those goods so new goods will be bought to replace them, and there is no better production-destruction system for profits than war weapons and materials.

Another kind of greed at work is the global political game playing over the production of oil and gas resources. This is at work throughout the world causing havoc.

Bush's basic ignorance continues to be shown in his sanctimonious version of magical thinking, when he says he is engaged in "the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their intention to destroy our way of life." This is ignorance at its most basic level of defining one's own postion as "good" and defining anyone who opposes oneself as "evil extremists." This type of ignorant magical thinking is at the root of Bush's complete failure in foreign relations.

A mixture of greed, hatred, and delusion can be found in Bush’s basic fear of failure. He really wants to “win” in Iraq and fears “failure.” He is greedy to win where his father only fought to a stalemate. He has a false Christian's hatred of Islam and sees himself as engaged in a righteous crusade. He has the ignorance of not understanding the human nature of a people under foreign occupation. He can't imagine the type of insurgency that would occur in Texas if foreign troops were occupying Dallas.

Of course he is so deluded that he doesn’t already see that the result of over 600,000 deaths of Iraqis is already failure. But he also imagines that instituting “democracy” in Iraq will be a victory. This is particularly ironic when his own war is not based on democratic principles. He had been in control of the propaganda machine at the beginning of his war with his lies and so manufactured consent for the invasion. However, as the truths have come out, as US troops continue to kill and to die, and as the Iraqis continue to kill each other, the propaganda machine has broken down and the public has clearly made its will known through the democratic process.

However, Bush will have nothing to do with democracy here in the USA. Ignoring both the Congressionally appointed think tank known as the Iraq Study Group and the November election results, Bush continues to press on in the name only of democracy. Iraq is not Japan or Germany, in which the occupying troops were faced with a cohesive society that was able to be given control of their country using their preexisting social structures for a relatively stable transition to self rule. Germany had its democratic electoral history that had been derailed by Hitler and so the democracy train there could be put back on the tracks easily. Japan kept is Emperor as a major source of social stability and with his blessing the society was able to move further in the direction of popular democracy.

But in Iraq, the complete failure of prewar planning for post war Iraq has been amply and tragically demonstrated. Bush toppled a dictator, but he did also toppled a society. From disbanding the Iraq military to allowing the looting of museums and hospitals and the complete destruction of infrastructure, Bush created his own failure.

Iraq under Saddam Hussein was not a stable society. The USA had supported Hussein’s dictatorship, and in fact years earlier had supported the overthrow of Iraq’s fledgling democracy. Saddam Hussein ruled over a fractured society that kept conflict at bay by his iron hand of totalitarian control.

The fatal flaw in Bush’s plan from the beginning is that instituting another government by foreign occupied control is by definition not a democracy. Until the Iraqis institute their own government they will never have democracy. And they will never be able to institute their own government, with or without a civil war, until the USA occupation has left. While Iraq is occupied by foreign troops and the government is dependent on those foreign troops for its existence, that government by definition is a dictatorship. So the USA had created the illusion of democracy, yet simultaneously has actually created a dictatorship.

20,000 Troops Under the Sea of Ignorance

Now, Bush’s “new way forward” is just another propaganda sales pitch for the a “new and improved” detergent. A next installment of a prime time war movie that should have been cancelled several seasons ago. Whether Bush sends in 20,000 or 200,000, there will never be enough troops to win this kind of war of insurgency by citizens. There are only a few possible outcomes and all of them lead to failure of the USA occupation. The insurgents might continue to fight and make casualties so costly that the USA will have to leave. Or the insurgents will realize the short term odds are against them so they will simply bury their weapons until the occupying troops leave and then once again begin the civil war. Or the Iraqi government will develop into a reliable dictatorship under US tutelage. None of these real options include the delusional hopes of President Bush that our troops can create democracy.

What Bush’s plan actually plans to do is have the USA escalate its involvement in the ongoing civil war. However, by doing so, Bush guarantees that the side we support now, will lose as soon as our troops leave. Thus, to continue to prop up the side we support now we will have to have an ongoing continued occupation. That is no plan at all. It is only magical thinking and more lies from Bush.