Friday, February 11, 2011

Looking Back on Baghdad and Paths Not Taken

Pure, unmitigated, raucous, ecastatic joy on the streets of Cairo. The soldarity of the people deposed an entrenched strongman who had spent nearly 30 years consolidating his power.

Could it have been like this in Iraq?

Both President Bushes made sure this would not happen.

In 1991, following the American-led ouster of Iraqi forces from Kuwait, much of Iraq rose in revolt against Saddam Hussein's dictatorial rule. Yet George H.W. Bush, as commander-in-chief of U.S. forces, allowed Hussein to send helicopter gunships to suppress the uprising.

Twelve years later, George W. Blush recklessly blundered into an Iraqi intervention with planning so non-existent as to be criminally negligent. As Garrison Keillor noted, he was like Melville's Ahab - without the grandeur - hell-bent on sinking his own ship for his own incrutable reasons.

Charles Ferguson has documented much of this folly in his powerful 2007 dbocumentary No End in Sight. Unlike the ironic Erasmus, however, there is no praise; only justifiable blame for the clueless W, chicken-hawk Cheney, and arguably insane Rumsfeld.

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