The Arrogance of Power: Iraq 10 years Later

As you probably know, this week is the 10th anniversary of the U. S.  invasion of Iraq.  Frankly, I don’t feel like writing about it, but feel compelled to say something, not just let it pass by.   Recent polls indicate two-thirds of us don’t feel the war was worth “the effort and cost”.   Iran seems the biggest winner, as Iraq used to be a counter balance to their strength in the region, but not now.   Beyond that point, I will leave it to others to go into the costs and gains  in two articles I link you to below.  However, I want to make a few points first about the use of national power in general.

M1A1 Abrams pose for a photo in front of the &...

M1A1 Abrams pose for a photo in front of the “Hands of Victory” in Ceremony Square, Baghdad, Iraq. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Arrogance of Power is a book by Senator William Fullbright, who became a staunch critic of the Vietnam War.   What he wrote regarding Vietnam seems equally applicable to the Iraq war:

“Power tends to confuse itself with virtue and a great nation is particularly susceptible to the idea that its power is a sign of God’s favor, conferring upon it a special responsibility for other nations – to make them richer and happier and wiser, to remake them, that is, in its own shining image. Power confuses itself with virtue and tends also to take itself for omnipotence. Once imbued with the idea of a mission, a great nation easily assumes that it has the means as well as the duty to do God’s work.”

You know the old expression “pride goeth before a fall?”.  The above is the pride.  Ignorance is what makes the fall hurt like hell.  The famed American diplomat Richard Holbrooke, whose  career stretched from Vietnam to Afghanistan before his death in 2010, once said something to this effect:  The makers of American foreign policy know very little about the countries they are making policies for.   He undoubtedly said it better, but that was the gist.

That is a jaw dropping statement from someone who was in a great position to know.   We emerged from World War II the most powerful nation on earth and we have often employed this power like the proverbial bull in a china shop, largely because our policy makers could only feel our power and not see the complexities we were throwing it at.

Former Secretary of State Collin Powell had an inkling about Iraq when he stated his now famous pottery analogy prior to the invasion.  We ” broke it” and owned it for most of the last 10 years, an analogy that could be extended to Afghanistan as well, only we still own that broken pot as much as we’re trying to give it back, still in pieces.

In contrast to Powell’s sense of complex problems awaiting to unfold in Iraq,  Dick Cheney said he expected the Iraqi’s to throw flowers at us when we invaded.  Some of that did happen, but only for a few days.  Then it became bombs thrown and IED’s buried.  That is the extent to which Mr. “Often-wrong-but-never-in-doubt” understood Iraq.  Not surprisingly, he remains certain to this day that invasion was the right decision given what he knew at the time.  However, many would argue he only knew what he chose to believe, dismissing all evidence to the contrary.

These days we don’t seem to have the money to be quite as powerful as we have been and I would say that’s a good thing, since the arrogance of power wheeled ignorantly tends to spring up whenever possible like crab grass in an Illinois summer.


Brad Knickerbocker assesses the costs of the war in Iraq War 10 Years Later:  Was is Worth It?.    His article links to another by Dr. Andrew Bacevich, “a West Point graduate who served in Vietnam, a career US Army officer who retired as a colonel, and a professor of history and international relations at Boston University.”  Also,… ” Bacevich’s son, a 27-year-old US Army 1st Lieutenant, was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb. ”

So, when Bacevich asks:  Ten years after the invasion, did we win the Iraq war?, he brings a unique combination of historical breadth and personal depth to the question.


Dick Cheney Unhinged

(EDITOR’S WARNING:   Unfortunately I have not been able to verify”Doctor” Aufderwahl’s credentials and am sorry to say, he might not have any.  When I asked him where he earned his various degrees, he said “home schooling.”  I would have scrapped the rest of this interview except some of you seemed interested in the first part, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to complete it. You can judge for yourself.)

Darth vader clock

Darth vader clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Me:   Let’s get back to Dick Cheney’s inability to see him self in the mirror.  That does make sense.  He says things with such certainty, and no self-consciousness, odd for a man who has been wrong about so much.

Dr.  Yes.  You know how people say:  “I took a good look at myself in the mirror.”  He can’t do that.  There’s nothing there to see.  That’s why he can use the word “disaster” for the Obama administration, unaware he’s the poster boy for the word.  He has only a tenuous grasp on reality at this point, only marginally sane. He’s not quite crazy enough to use the insanity plea if he ever goes to trial, but he’s got a big head start.

Me:  Hmm….   I just happened to think of his daughter and how much she is like him.

Dr:  Of course  she is.  She was cloned.

Me:  Once again “doctor” I have trouble believing….

Dr:  Really?  Do you ever listen to either of them speak; they both say exactly the same things.  EXACTLY.  I know it’s hard to listen to them, but do it once and you’ll see what I mean. Before a CIA buddy told me about the cloning, at times I looked for strings attached to her head, imagining Dickey boy above pulling them.  You know how the mind can play tricks on you?

Me:  Can you give me any proof of this?

Dr:  It is self evident.  If you can clone a sheep or a horse, why couldn’t you clone a Cheney?  We’re not talking Einstein or da Vinci here.  Except for a few body parts and younger looking skin, she and he are exactly the same.  When I see her, I think of a young Chenster wearing a skirt.  It’s unsettling.

That’s cloning.   Brain’s exactly the same.  No different, equally capable of appearing normal despite a mere sliver of contact with reality.   CIA did a great job.

For contrast, compare the McCains, John and Meghan.  They’re normal people.  She was born the old fashioned way.  They have real differences.  She does have a brain of her own.  Do you think if Meghan had been the one running for president she would have picked Sarah Palin as VP?  No way.  She wouldn’t lend that woman her lipstick.

Me:  Well, as crazy as it first sounded, cloning does makes sense.  But is there any way I could verify any of your story?

Dr:   Sure, I could put you in contact with an agent.  But then he’d have to kill you.

Me:  Oh………  well, maybe later then.

Dr:  But here is a warning to you.  Never stand close to the man.

Me:  Why?

Dr:   Well.  Think of it this way.  He has all of these contradictory forces inside which he can only hold together because of the vacant mirror and his snipped brain that allows him to only remember the good stuff, like our being welcomed as liberators in Iraq – like, what, for five or six days?  His life is a lie every single day and that has to take a toll.

For one thing, my penetrating psychiatrist’s mind tells me that his tough act is all a compensation for and camouflage of an ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED inner child, a little sissy girl really.  That inner child is a little sissy girl.  That’s why he has to always look so mean, so we won’t suspect he’s really a sissy girl inside.  It’s the same reason Saddam pretended to have nukes, he wanted Iran Inc. to think he was stronger than he was (*1.)

On top of that, despite all those efforts to hide the fact from himself, there remains an inkling of realization left deep, deep down in his cranium below the amygdala somewhere.  He knows he is not really the Darth Vader he pretends to be.  That tiny tot of his former self hates all this Darth Vader nonsense.

That true sliver of a self aches because he won’t get credit from history for the lion’s share of his life when he was a well respected public servant.   The big Dick  knows it subconsciously and it drives him farther to the dark side.  If he can’t get credit for being a good man, he will be one hell of a bad one, the “meanest man in the whole damn town.”  It sounds good, but in actuality he can barely function.

Me:  What do you mean.  I know he has heart problems, but what…?

Dr:  It’s hard for him to even get up in the morning, especially when he does one of those phony interviews.  He always needs to psyche himself up.  He wakes up a frightened sissy girl and so he has to puff himself up to appear the monster we regularly see.  It’s not all that easy.

A CIA buddy tells me he’s seen him (don’t ask me how) standing in front of that blank mirror repeating:  “Yes I can, yes I can, yes, I can…”.  You know, like the little engine that could.  Sometimes he marches in a little circle around the bathroom going “toot, toot.”

Can you imagine that smoldering cauldron that must be within, like a  volcano about to gush fire and brimstone, which he can neither see nor feel?  Imagine all the pressure of living that lie, while never clear what you are up to.  That’s why he keeps winding up in the hospital; his heart keeps popping like a button on a fat man’s suit.

That’s why you should never stand next to him.  He could BLOW! at any moment .  Most likely his heart, but it could also be his head.  It could start spinning around wildly like a tether ball on a stick.

Really, don’t get near the man.  At least, not when wearing nice clothes.

Me:  Thank you for your time and insights “doctor”.  One last question.  Whenever I see him, I get a little frightened as if he still has a lot of power.  He doesn’t does he?

Dr:  One thing not to worry about is the CIA’s cloning any more Cheney’s, not since he scapegoated them.  So, we won’t have to face a nightmare of endless Cheney’s screwing up the world wave after wave.  And, actually, he’s pretty washed up at this point.  Of course, that snarling visage can scare a grown man, so do what I do.

Whenever I see that venomous puss of his I imagine Cheney wearing a clown suit, you know with the  big red ball shaped nose, the huge shoes, floppy ears and goofy hair.  And I pretend he’s constantly beeping one of those loud irritating clown horns, so I can’t hear a single word he’s saying.   After awhile you’ll come to realize there is nothing to be afraid of.  He’s just a clown.

There is one thing to fear about him, though, in addition to that daughter of his.  All those other clowns who still believe what he says.

Me:  Well, thank you “doctor”…

Dr:  Oh, one more thing, did I tell you about the plan Dickie C.  and Saddam Hussein cooked up about becoming stand up comedians?   This is a doozie.   The Iraq War  was initially conceived  mostly as a publicity stunt to kick off their  tour.  Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans.  They were going to call their duo Husseny, but ……

Me:  Sorry to interrupt “doctor”, but we have run out of time.  Perhaps you can come back again and share more of your insights with us.  Thank you.


(*1)   Saddam’s pretending to have WMD’s so as to appear stronger to his enemies was reported from interviews with him after his capture.   And I don’t know where you can buy the Darth Vader clock, so please don’t ask.