Mr. Bush's War

News at Home

Mr. Carpenter is working on a book about American demagoguery. He is a columnist for HNN.

Last week a New York Times headline read, "Britain Sets Out 6 New Terms for Hussein to Avoid War." It should have read, of course, "Britain Sets Out 6 New Terms for Bush to Avoid War." After all, it is not Iraq's normally reckless kingpin who is prosecuting wholesale carnage in defiance of the United Nations; it is America's reckless kingpin doing that.

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Britain's prime and exceedingly miserable minister, Tony Blair, demanded, for one, that Hussein disown his weapons of mass destruction, however limited their geopolitical reach may be. Meanwhile, Mr. Bush is randy to procreate another generation of atomic insanity -- "mini-nukes" -- to bully any sovereign nation we choose (unless it, too, is atomically armed), and is quite willing to destroy historic alliances per Dick Cheney's macho vision, Karl Rove's political instructions, and his own creeping messianic complex.

From time to time Bush has disclosed confessionally that he is but God's instrument on Earth, destined to direct swarms of noble Christian men and women on a victorious Holy Crusade against the heathen Hussein. His eyes are fixated, dilated and glazed. Not a dram of reason can invade his mind; he is utterly tuned out. And it's noticeable, not only to his critics who populate most of the planet, but to his friends as well. As Paul Krugman reported -- not editorialized -- last Friday, "more people than you would think" from Defense, State, and Treasury "don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality."

There is a clinical term for this: psychosis.

So who is the more reckless kingpin? Bush or Hussein? After all that contemporary America has been through, it is a wretched thing that this could even be a valid question. Nevertheless by nearly anyone's standard of objectivity, valid it is.

Say what you will about sadistic Saddam, but this secularist born to dirt-poor farmers has managed to hold together opposing and hostile religious tribes as a nation and successfully thumb his nose at the world's only superpower for 12 years. Virtually everyone rides the hate-Hussein bandwagon with prodigious cause; still, you've got to admit his history demonstrates he has remarkable skill. Fundamentalist Bush, on the other hand, has managed in only 17 months to fracture domestic secular interests and turn the world's majority against us, thereby squandering unprecedented heights of domestic and international good will. That also requires skill, though of a different sort.

Is all this merely the result of dumb luck or bad fortune? Or maybe those Iraqi "liars and propagandists" poisoning the universal mind, as Ari Fleischer prefers to propagandize? Or is it, simply, good and bad judgment that comes into play? As you ponder the twosome's comparative recklessness, keep in mind these are not trick questions. Nor, for sure, are they laughing matters. Both Bush and Hussein scoff at accountability; both detest scrutiny; both demand blind loyalty -- and most horrifying, both have a groove on for brinkmanship and friends of at least one believe their man "has lost touch with reality."

In those extraordinarily rare public moments when Bush is expected to answer a question, he comes across as defensive, cocky and paranoid, all at once. In a commander in chief these qualities are more than just sad -- they're scary. In a commander in chief licensed to more weapons of mass destruction than any competing psychotic dictator could dream of, they are downright terrifying.

Add to this uneasy mixture the thought that throughout his comfortable life Mr. Bush has demonstrated a distinct, almost pathological indifference, if not hostility, to things of the mind. He had available the best educational opportunities to learn and grow, but chose to remain intellectually adolescent. And like many adolescents, with none of the requisite learning he haughtily professes all the answers.

Willfully ignorant, messianic, cocky, reckless, defensive, paranoid, out of touch with reality and in singular command of the world's greatest WMD machine.

Sleep well tonight.

Perhaps you'll dream about the constitution's 25th Amendment, Section 4, kicking in. The downside, though, will be the immediately following nightmare with Dick Cheney announcing the good news.

© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and

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More Comments:

Bob Jones - 7/19/2004

get a fuckin life you fuckin idiot,,,,PEOPLE LIKE YOU MAKE ME FUCKIN SICK

Jack Dempsey - 11/26/2003

What ever you may think of this nations,international trade laws,please ponder this:Low & fixed income seniors will soon be forbiden to buy perscription drugs in Canada,@ 1/3 the cost here in the U.S.A. Why then,are the lower,& middle class excluded from enjoying the free trade laws,that this administration,along with Wal Mart,General Motors,etc.have fought & died for.

Tom Gorman - 11/12/2003

Dear writer,

it is you who is the prized idiot, you have no idea what a stalinist is nor do you have any conception of the use of the word, in plain and simple terms, you are of extremely limited mental capacity and ingrained US idiot who cannot see the wood for the trees, often we say the country deserves the politician it get's.

Libertarian Larry - 3/25/2003

Thank you for your response with reasonable questions.

First, I do support the president's efforts (and so has congress) to defend the country. Defence is one of the few things allowed for in our Constitution. Realizing after 9/11 that the world has changed so much that real threats to our country can come from all over the world in many forms. If most of the world had our Constitutional form of government, then non-interventionism works. However, most of the world does not enjoy our form of government and the "outside" world is dangerous, it's like being in the wild, so we must be interventionist in some ways. When Clinton was being interventionist, I did not like it, however, the congress went along with him. I would prefer the world enbrace our Constitution and then reducing the threats to our country. I think that when the world sees our educational institutions, media, and many powerful politicians knock our country, attack it and blame America for the world problems, it refelcts badly on our country.

I don't buy the case that Saddam was brought to power by us and supported by us. Look at what their military is! It's all Soviet!, They have AK-47s, not M1-16s, they have T-72 tanks, not M1 Abrams, MIGs not F-18s, BMPs- not Bradleys, and Scuds. You don't seem to know the historical context in which we aided in minimal ways and complicity. At the time Iran and Iraq were at war, there was a greater threat to the world, the Soviet Union. Iran was also in control of Mulsem extremeists like the ones who have declared war on us. Our aid only kept them from loosing to Iran, the Soviet Union is really responsible for Saddam's army. Aparently the Russians contiune to help Iraq's army even with "Sancations".

What bothers me more about President Bushes spending, it money for a Perscription drug program, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Commerce, government retirement program (SSI), government health insurance (medicare), high taxes, taxes on dividends, support of government mass transit systems, government aid to the poor (any aid to illegal aliens). None of these things are in the constitution.

John Kipper - 3/25/2003

As a semi-regular reader of these posts, I have usually agreed your arguements, if not always with your articualtion of them. But this time you hit a grand slam! What an absolutely perfect squelch of this self-righteously vicious ass. Thanks for making my day.

Derek Catsam - 3/24/2003

Ahh, yeah -- that I agree with, though it was certainly not clear from your original point. Much of the anti-war critique (though why the anti-war crowd is being tarred as simply 'left" is beyond me) has been very slippery -- when their cocerns are addressed they come up with a whole new slew of criticisms that somehow were not even on the radar earlier. But they are playing a dangerous game with the korea situation -- they would reveal themselves to be rather intellectually naked if Bush got up andsai, "you know, the demonstrators are right when they ask 'why Iraq and not N. Korea.' The invasion of North Korea thus begins tomorrow."

David Donaldson - 3/23/2003

If supporting international diplomacy, the United Nations, the Kyoto protocol, the World Court, the Nobel Peace Prize committee, and the putting on trial of Milosevic is "isolationist", then maybe the warmongering chickenhawk Project for a New American Century and their wimpy apologists here are giving us a new dictionary, in addition to trashing 200 years of American democratic traditions.

It won't be hard to translate though. Just remember: President Bush "doesn't do nation-building", the second Security Council resolution vote "WILL take place" (Ari Fleischer), and Ariel Sharon is a "man of peace."

Herodotus - 3/23/2003

No, it's that if the Bush administration turns to North Korea after Iraq, it is not inconceivable that many of those who suggested that North Korea was a greater threat than Iraq and ought to be dealt with first will not hold to their position and be supportive of an activist policy against North Korea.

It's a bit like saying you support X rather than Y when in reality you don't support either, but want to weaken the chances that either would come to pass.

And it has gone quietly unnoticed that the position that the U.S. has maintained on the North Korean situation is that of a multilateral solution through the UN, and that the IAEA has indeed referred the matter to the Security Council. A move which the North Koreans, incidentally, pronounced 'tantamount to a declaration of war.'

Derek Catsam - 3/23/2003

So what of individuals and entities that support war in Iraq but not North Korea? Is that "isolationist prattle wrapped in faux liberal terminology?" Or is it just possible that North Korea, right now, is not a fight we are prepared for? Is it really isolationist not to want to fight a three front war? Is it really isolationist to recognize that the North Jorean soldiers lined up on the 38th parallel might pose a wee bit of a sticking poiunt to any action on our part? Is it really prattle to think that China just might play a role in considerations to oppose war in North Korea now or in the near future?

Herodotus - 3/23/2003

Somehow I get the sense that when the U.S. turns to dealing with North Korea you'll be opposing that too. We're getting tired of this isolationist prattle wrapped in faux liberal terminology.

Lt. Q - 3/22/2003

TK, Your implied theory about 1980 suggests a level of intelligence in a former B-movie actor beyond that displayed during his official careers.

Iran IS in the "axis of evil" (an absurd verbal concotion which makes even less sense now that we are doing what they wasted hundreds of thousands of soldiers' lives trying but failing to do in the 1980s) and it has nuclear ambitions, but it has not been defying UN disarmament resolutions for 12 years, so plausible and consistent pretexts are not readily obvious.

Tom Kellum - 3/22/2003

Did you intentionally leave out the next "villain" on the hit list? That would be Iran.

The only reason why Iran may be spared is because of the important role it played in the 1980 U.S. Presidential election.

Libertarian Larry - 3/22/2003

Arch did review the "Article", with as much dignity that it deserves. He just cut the crap and got right down to what it's really about.

Carpenter's "Mr. Bush's War" is not an article, it's an editorial. As such it doesn't need to bother with facts, just empty accusations and hateful comments.

Are you guys all history profs? I'd like to know where so I make sure my kids don't go to those colleges.

T. Herzl - 3/22/2003

Larry, your irrelevant remarks are difficult to fathom.

What part of your libertarianism explains your support for a president who is spending hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars to depose a Mideast dictator whose party was brought into power and later supported by billions of (mostly off-budget) American taxpayer dollars ?

Lieutenant Quentin - 3/22/2003

Interesting possibility, but not likely. What the "Project for a New American Century" and their ilk lack (besides common sense, a knowledge of history and moral scruples) is credibility. Finally "getting" the current bad guys is called for now in their script. The entertainment media can hardly wait. Creating replacements for today's villains is no problem, its being done right now in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Egypt as a little collateral side effect of this war and the associated efforts to gradually turn America into a kind of Likud-Israel writ large. Meanwhile, there's the Korean peninsula.

Libertarian Larry - 3/22/2003

Jeez, if President Bush is a "Pretzelbrain" with a MBA from Yale, then what is Gore, a "Moron", village "Idiot", "Shit for brains"? I thought Gore was just a college drop-out and George Bush was President of the United States.
That's the thing with the left, when you confronted with facts, respond with hate and emotion.
Why do you hate the President and Jews so much?

Tom Kellum - 3/22/2003

Thank you, Lieutenant Quentin.

Couldn't have said it better, myself. If I could have, and had thought to, I would have.

Just one tiny point, though: do you really think SH and OBL are going to take a hit? I know that RR's boys killed Ghadaffi's little girl, but I'm not sure but what SH & OBL might be more valuable to the Bunnypants crowd alive, rather than the alternative.

Clio - 3/22/2003

Guess again

Lieutenant Quentin - 3/22/2003

The American soldiers, Marines, marines, marinheiros, unspecial forces and their "embedded"see-nothing, hear-nothing, report-nothing entourage in the Mideast are not working for Haliburton or any other corrupt profiteer. They HAVE BEEN shipped off to fight in a hypocritical war which an incompetent president has blundered into. We are going to take out Saddam and maybe Osama, both of whom we helped create, and, in the process, create dozens of new Osamas and possibly a few new Saddams to boot, by stomping around arrogantly, clumsily, in defiance of American values and American traditions, without our oldest ally and without international sympathy. Lafayette, forgive us.

And poppies will grow in Flanders.

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2003

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Bill Heuisler - 3/21/2003

Mr. McRae,
Thank you for the recognition. I risked my life for Halliburton in the Sixties, before they existed. Prescient, huh? They won't let me reenlist now, but it's nice to know there are Americans like you and Mr. Kellum who appreciate our service anyway.
By the way, when you type, Marines, use a capital letter.
Bill Heuisler

Steven Muller - 3/21/2003

Yes, it's telling when HNN has to put at the top of the main page that they have articles from both the right and the left. Isn't the point of the website to have articles from the HISTORICAL side, not each of the two political sides?

John McRae - 3/21/2003

Eminent scholars ?
On THIS website ?? !!

Really, Mr. Kellum, you should not be making sick jokes at a time when brave marines like Bill Heuisler are risking their lives for Halliburton and the Project for a New American Century.

Richard Kurdlion - 3/21/2003

Watch and hear Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Sharon, compare them to George Pretzelbrain Bush, and then ask yourself who is really running this show, which could not be launched until after Labor Day, and which, 12 years after Papa Bush pulled down the curtain on it, could not be postponed even a more few months to allow Blix, Annan, and world public opinion a chance to decode the confused, bumbling belligerence coming out of Washington and Jerusalem.

Suetonius - 3/21/2003

For the Editors: do you pay Mr. Carpenter for this pieces?

dan - 3/21/2003

Good title; self-reference is usually the most accurate.

Disconnected fundamentalist religious fanaticism is the same, whether it is based on the christian or the muslim name for P R and recruitment purposes. None of it is based on the underlying religious texts nor on any reasonable interpretation thereof.

Religious fundamentalism, per se, is not bad. There are several excellent examples of principled religious fundamentalist life in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. You will notice exactly how many people they threaten each year.

dan - 3/21/2003

So that's why you didn't review the articel!

Joshua Edlin - 3/21/2003

The article's substance can't be refuted; it has no substance.

Carpenter makes one biased, unproven claim after another. The essence of the article states that Bush has a messianic, psychotic mindset. Of course, this is pure opinion and not a popular opinion at that.

Carpenter litters his arguments with personal attacks such as describing Tony Blair as "Britain's prime and exceedingly miserable minister" and Bush as "Willfully ignorant, messianic, cocky, reckless, defensive, paranoid, out of touch with reality." He accuses Ari Fleischer of spreading propoganda. He claims Bush has a "pathological indifference, if not hostility, to things of the mind" and calls him "intellectually adolescent". Clearly these are personal attacks that demonstrate Carpenter's inability to separate his personal biases from the facts at hand.

In fact, Carpenter presents very few facts in this attack piece. The only facts I can see are the headline of a New York Times articles, a demand made by Tony Blair of Hussein, the fact that Paul Krugman made some negative comments, and the comment that the U.S. has more WMDs than any "competing psychotic dictator".

This hardly counts as substance. Carpenter repeatedly proves that his comments have no relevance in history or politics. HNN should be ashamed to call him a regular columnist.

Tom Kellum - 3/20/2003

You must be very surprised that none of the eminent scholars here have been able or willing to engage you on the substance of your commentary.

It is a testament to the power of your logic that their only response has been mainly of the ad hominem variety.

E. A. Blair - 3/19/2003

Carpenter's screed is in the great tradition of Stalinist demagoguery. Never mind Saddam's methods, it's the results that count and he has done a wonderful job of keeping his country together. How many countries does it take to satisfy Mr Carpenter and others of his ilk? The UK, Australia, Japan, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and the new European democracies, including the only Muslin country in Europe, are all on our side. Soon Carpenter will have one less dictator to fawn over, but I am sure we can expect future columns to contain glowing accounts of the wonderful utopia that exists in North Korea. I'll bet he played "Gulag" as a kid.

Bill Heuisler - 3/18/2003

Willfully ignorant people eventually reveal flaccid mentality through stupid - and revealing - mistakes.

HNN's in-house fool wrote, "As Paul Klugman reported -- not editorialized -- last Friday, "more people than you would think" from Defense, State, and Treasury "don't just question the competence of Mr. Bush and his inner circle; they believe that America's leadership has lost touch with reality."
He then accused the U.S. President of psychosis.

Paul Klugman didn't report anything. James Klugman once wrote a 218 page piece of trash called "The Future of Man" published by the Communist Party of Great Britain. This poor HNN scribbler probably keeps the out-of-print Communist screed by his bed. Paul Krugman (with an R) might have written a highly insulting piece on our president, but HNN's sloppy house jester can't piggy-back properly or separate fantasies from reality.
Freudian? You bet.
Bill Heuisler

An Informed Herodotus - 3/18/2003

My dear Mr. Ersatz Herodotus. You haven't even bothered to read section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which has absolutely nothing to do with a president's death. What is most "offensive" is that you label a comment "treasonous" without having the foggiest notion of its constitutional foundation.
Please change your handle to Limbaugh or Fleischer. Either would be much more suiting and intellectually consistent.

Arch Stanton - 3/18/2003

I hate Bush. I really hate Bush. I really, really hate Bush. Let me tell you how much I hate Bush. Let me tell you some more about how much I hate Bush. Wait, don't go away, I'm not done telling you how much I hate Bush. I like talking. I like hearing myself talk. Yawn.

Stephen - 3/18/2003

Mr. Carpenter is an ignorant fool. Let's be blunt.

For years, it's become obvious that the Stalinist view of the religious faithful has been adopted by the western left. The argument is that the western left is "scientific" and therefore not simply crazy in the way that the Stalinists were. The leftist hatred of religion is, thus, rational.

I do not think that this is true. Mr. Carpenter is a closet Stalinist. The anti-religious crusade he is part of is cut from the same cloth as the Stalinists.

It isn't Prez Bush who's a woeful idiot. Mr. Carpenter is an idiot of catastrophic proportions -- the useful idiot so prized by the Leninists. Carpenter missed the primary lessons of the 20th century, and he wants to paint others as ignorant. Who helps you stick your feet through the holes in your jockey shorts in the morning, you moron?

Just for those of you who will write that I engage in little more than phony psychotherapy from a distance and name calling -- that is precisely what this idiot has done.

Herodotus - 3/18/2003

Mr. Carpenter's ridiculing of evangelical Christianity is offensive. He has a right to say it, but does HNN stand behind it?

And hoping that President Bush will die is treasonous.