I’m not sure my estimation of George W. Bush is quite low enough to believe this really happened:
“Kick ass!” [General Ricardo Sanchez] quotes the president as saying. “If somebody tries to stop the march to democracy, we will seek them out and kill them! We must be tougher than hell! This Vietnam stuff, this is not even close. It is a mind-set. We can’t send that message. It’s an excuse to prepare us for withdrawal.”“There is a series of moments and this is one of them. Our will is being tested, but we are resolute. We have a better way. Stay strong! Stay the course! Kill them! Be confident! Prevail! We are going to wipe them out! We are not blinking!”
On the other hand, Sanchez has no reason to make that up. Either way, though unusually juvenile in its phrasing, the underlying sentiment is typical of what I’ve called the Green Lantern Theory of Geopolitics — the conservative conceit that willpower is the crucial variable in making our national security policy work. Thus, when resistance to national objectives is encountered, instead of dealing with them pragmatically the resistance is seen as a test of will. Since it’s a test of will, the most important thing becomes not resolving the issue in a productive way, but demonstrating the implacability of our will. When strategies motivated in this manner fail to achieve their goals, that merely shows the need for more will because to change strategy at all would send the wrong sort of message about our resolve.