Kick Some Arab Butt

During the first presidential debate, Bush was asked about pre-emptive military action. In defense of his pre-emptive strike on Iraq, he said, "the enemy attacked us."

Kerry jumped on this, saying, "Saddam Hussein didn't attack us. Osama bin Laden attacked us. Al Qaeda attacked us," and went on to criticize the administration for relying too heavily on Afghan warlords to prosecute the campaign in Afghanistan.

The president responded, somewhat petulantly, "Of course I know Osama bin Laden attacked us. I know that." But, this response doesn't explain why he blurted out, "the enemy attacked us" to justify Iraq in the first place. Is it possible that at heart he really doesn't distinguish one group of Arabs from another?

Unfortunately, I think this is broadly true of Americans. Whatever the justifications they use now, the administration originally justified the war on the basis of WMD, and the war was extremely popular among Americans. When the WMD didn't appear, and it became clear that the intelligence was hyped, Americans continued to support the war. Support has slowly eroded, but it is taking a long time.

I couldn't figure out at the time why more people weren't outraged. We had been misled into a war, and few seemed to care. But, Americans in general never supported the war for the reasons the administration gave. They just wanted to kick some Arab butt, and which particular set of Arabs got their butts kicked wasn't a concern.

This is consistent with the theory that Bush is politically like a Guy in a Bar. He works from gut reactions, makes up his mind early (he likes to say he's "decisive") and isn't interested in complex analysis.


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