Stephen Saperstein Frug
Wed, 28 May 2008 11:45 EDT
Andrew Sullivan, writing about McClellan's new book is most taken with the fact that McClellan claims that Bush intentionally ignored the WMD evidence, saying "if the president intentionally ignored data refuting the existence of Saddam's WMDs, he should be impeached."
Frankly, the fact that Bush did this is old news; and impeachment is the least of the appropriate responses -- a war crimes trial would be called for. (I sort of thought Sullivan was farther along than this, actually.)
What struck me was the reason that McClellan gave for Bush's desire to go to war, which led to this "intentional ignoring" of evidence in the first place:
In Iraq, McClellan added, Bush saw "his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness," something McClellan said Bush has said he believes is only available to wartime presidents.
Of course, this isn't really news either:
But McClellan's admission is further confirmation of this.
"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."
It's worth pausing to reflect on what this really means. Bush went to war -- in part, let us say for the sake of argument -- to be "seen as a great leader... as a commander-in-chief", to "have a successful presidency", "to create a legacy of greatness".
It is almost impossible to overstate the evil of this.
People died -- hundreds of thousands, most likely more than a million Iraqis; more than 4000 Americans -- for Bush to be seen as a leader. To have a legacy. (And how many more Iraqis have been made refugees, been wounded, had their lives otherwise destroyed? How many more American soldiers have been injured beyond recovery?)
They died for his gain. For his image. For his "greatness".
He took actions, knowing that many people would die -- for that. For gain: for glory. (Even if he didn't know how many... an assault that kills people, with malice aforethought, is charged with murder for each person killed, even if the assailant didn't intend to kill quite so many as all that.)
This is the morality of Raskolnikov -- murder as greatness. Death as greatness. It's the morality of a stock villain: to kill the innocent for power or greatness or glory. Except Bush has gained a far larger legacy than most of those who set out to do so by means of other's deaths.
I'll say it again: for Bush's "greatness" -- hundreds of thousands, probably millions, have died.
If murder is the greatest evil, aggressive war is its most powerful form: the death of others for profit or pleasure or greed or ambition. This is what Bush has done. What so many others eagerly helped him do.
Of course Bush should be impeached -- for this, among so many other things. But really, impeachment wouldn't even be a beginning of a reckoning for his crimes -- something that, for those who don't believe in a literal hell, is probably impossible in this universe. But to put him on trial for the most colossal form of murder there is -- aggressive war, a "crime against peace" -- is all that we can do, here, on Earth. It is what must be done, for the least scrap of justice to be achieved.
In my original conception of this post, I was planning on including some of the images of the Iraqi dead -- murdered children, people blown in half, row upon row upon row of flag-shrouded coffins. For that is what Bush has done -- that is his legacy. But the truth is, I'm weak. I don't have the stomach for it.
But Bush should look at them: should be forced to look at them, in the course of his trial for "crimes against peace". And as a just sentence, perhaps he should be forced to look at nothing else for the rest of his natural life. Just bodies blown to bits in pursuit of his "legacy of greatness".
And he's not the only one, by a long shot.
The murder of more than a million: that is Bush's "legacy of greatness". The least we can do is make sure he reaps the full consequences of that legacy, as much as human action allows.