We've heard for years that Papa Bush had good reasons for "failing" to pursue Saddam Hussein and bring him down. But yesterday, an email from a friend made me do the shake head and sigh, sigh, sigh thing. I hadn't seen Bush the Elder's own words. Here's the email, in its entirety:
In his memoirs, "A World Transformed," written five years ago, George Bush, Senior, wrote the following to explain why he didn't go after Saddam Hussein at the end of the Gulf War. Read the rest.
"Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible....We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq....There was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles.
"Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish.
"Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."
If only his son could read.
Indeed. What's your first mental picture when you think about Bush reading? Quick! Yup. Mine, too.
Many, many years ago, when jobs were plentiful and workers were scarce, a local corporate giant decided to revise the job description for its assembly-line workers. One of the earlier requirements was that an applicant must be able to read and comprehend directions. The revised version dropped "and comprehend." I leave you to connect the dots.
Junior is the apple that fell far, far from the tree, and apparently injured his core in the process. While there is much about Papa that is disturbing in an oil-basted, crony-connected, clubby way, he seems to have a streak of decency and the ability to reason. The contrast could not be more stark. Not for the first time, I wonder what kind of conversations take place these days when the patrician patriarch and his loose-cannon boy-child spend time together.
Bush the Elder must have believed at some point that he would die a happy and fulfilled man. He must have thought there would be a grand Bush legacy accompanying the ongoing Bush dynasty. Well, a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the presidential library. Turns out this president doesn't read. He doesn't comprehend. He doesn't listen. He doesn't care. And so it is that we're saddled with the cowboy from hell.
Know what, Junior? Sometimes father does know best. Just sayin'.