When the going gets tough, George W. Bush digs deeper into the cocoon of ignoramous conservative journalism, hunkering down for a lengthy chat with die-hard administration loyalists from inside the print media universe. As Mike Crowley notes, you can’t get this much raw transcript of Bush without a good dose of hilarity. You also can’t get this much Bush without noticing that, like Rick Santorum, the President of the United States is conducting national security policy under conditions of truly frightening ignorance and dangerous analytic errors.
Here’s Bush on the Israel-Lebanon War: “Iran empowered Hezbollah, Hezbollah takes the attack, and — which creates an interesting dynamic, and it gives us an opportunity to fashion kind of — an alliance of reasonable people headed toward a clash — all kinds of different ways, by the way — with extremists and radicals.” It’s easy to get distracted by the fact that Bush doesn’t seem familiar with the English language and miss the fact that beneath the garbled syntax Bush is making a clear — and utterly incorrect — factual claim here that the upshot of the war was to cement an alliance between the United States, Israel, and moderate forces in the Arab world.
He calls John Abizaid “one of the great thinkers” and attributes to him “this construct: If we leave, they will follow us here . . . As a matter of fact, they’ll be more emboldened to come after us. They will be able to find more recruits to come after us.” He seems unaware that his National Intelligence Council has concluded the reverse (IISS in London, too, along with, I think, just about everyone). In a hilarious reprise of his earlier Lebanon remarks he enjoins the government of Syria: “do not destabilize Siniora . . . helping the Siniora government is in this country’s interests and it’s a priority.” We, um, had our local proxy ally strangle the Lebanese economy and launch airstrikes against its basic infrastructure and military facilities, but stabilizing the government there is a priority?
It goes on and on like this. The President, it seems to me, entered office in January 2000 utterly ignorant of foreign affairs and has spent the past six years filling in the blanks with pleasant illusions and straight-up misinformation.