The road to delusion

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Blogg, Oct 30, 2006.

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  1. This does not surprise me but I still find it deeply depressing that the most powerful nation on earth can be led by a complete and utter moron.;jsessionid=1N551X2JIAC5BQFIQMFCFFWAVCBQYIV0?xml=/news/2006/10/29/wbush29.xml&page=5

    Niall Ferguson, Sunday Telegraph

    "Only a minority of voters will read Bob Woodward's best-selling State of Denial, it's true, but those who do will be staggered by the picture he paints of an administration hobbled by a combination of delusion, ignorance and obstinacy. Early on, in Bush's first term, Richard Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, characterised the decision-making process in Washington as FUBAR (F***** Up Beyond All Recognition). How right he was.

    The president after 9/11 was deluded by the notion that he had been divinely "called", just as his father's generation had been called to fight the Second World War. Believing he was "here for a reason", Mr Bush Jr was open to the argument that invading Afghanistan was not a sufficient response to the "Islamofascist" version of Pearl Harbour.

    Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defence, also wanted another war: one that he, rather than the CIA, the State Department or the Joint Chiefs of Staff, could control; one that would prove his theory that the US military could be run like an armed version of the computer company Dell. Mr Rumsfeld deluded himself that Iraq fitted the bill.

    George Tenet, the director of the CIA, deluded himself that the intelligence on Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction provided a "slam dunk" case for war.

    The neo-conservatives with whom Mr Rumsfeld surrounded himself, notably Paul Wolfowitz and Doug Feith, deluded themselves that American forces would be welcomed as liberators, as their forefathers had been in Paris in 1944.

    Mr Cheney deluded himself that a new government could be formed for Iraq by the discredited exile Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress.

    As head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Paul "Jerry" Bremer deluded himself that he would be to Iraq what Douglas MacArthur had been to Japan, purging the civil service and disbanding the army, measures that led directly to the 2004 insurgency.

    It's not that expert advice was unavailable about how many troops would be needed to police post-war Iraq (between 300,000 and 500,000). It was simply ignored. As were the warnings of those (including the president's own father) who feared a civil war in Iraq if Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Bad news from Baghdad was hushed up. When no WMD were found, the subject was hastily changed. As the violence escalated relentlessly in 2005, Mr Cheney went on CNN to declare: "I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

    We're not leaving," Mr Bush told Republican congressmen seven months later, "[even] if Laura [his wife] and Barney [his dog] are the only ones who support me."

    According to Woodward, Mr Bush once complained bitterly about the difficulty of finding a reliable Iraqi to lead the new democratic government in Baghdad. "Where's George Washington?" he exclaimed to his chief of staff, Andy Card. "Where's Thomas Jefferson? Where's John Adams, for crying out loud?"

    This is a question many Americans have been asking themselves about their own leadership deficit, as the debacle of Mr Bush's second term has unfolded."
  2. Blogg,

    Hardly a balanced article - I'm sure you could find something similar lavishing effusive praise on Bush and the Republicans. No personal views one way or the other but you've got to hand it to the US - still the only superpower now and for the foreseeable future.

  3. Difficult to be comfortable with the concept of a half wit being in charge of an unplugged toaster let alone a (or rather the) Superpower.

    The article is clearly not Bush fan mail. But even Republican voters are starting to worry and that is not a good sign at all in the run up to their mid term elections.

    Always brings on panic, trying to go for that "big win" and real bad decisions made for all the wrong reasons.
  4. People were thinking all of this before the 2000 elections, it was reiterated for many Americans in the debacle of those elections and patently clear in 2004.

    I predict that in the non too distant future the governor of Florida will be nominated to stand for the Republicans
  5. Niall Ferguson is no lightweight historian, having read a couple of his works. Very strong on economic data to support historical stances.

    My prediction he's destined to be the leading historian of the next twenty or so years, and will eclipse the Hastings and Keegan et al in terms of quality and style.

  6. I'm new to this - and no not a journo. Have n't read Woodward's book but have seen a number of reviews. If you need any further depressing about what it is we are shackled to, read "Fiasco - the American military adventure in Iraq" by Thomas Ricks covering 2000-2006. I ask myself 3 questions having read it:

    - Did we/do we realise how culturally and structurally ill prepared the US system (military as well as political) to succeed on the route they have chosen for themselves and us ?
    - Is there a book out there waiting to be written about our own strategic and operational military failings, and if so are we going to be expected to believe that it was all somebody else's fault ?
    - Are we really sensible tying ourselves to a system so structurally unsound ?

    I would add a few more points. I have great admiration for the bravery and sacrifice of the average US soldier, just as I do for own lads. So this is not just more easy US-bashing. But if the evidence and argument of this book run 50% true then our extraction from Iraq should lead to a very much more cold blooded assessment of where our interests lie. My blood simply runs cold at the thought of British soldiers being entrusted to the care of this utterly dysfunctional system on future military adventures. Only two US generals come out of it well, Gens Petraeus and Matthis, and both have been relegated to training jobs rather than commands. Even had they been in charge or listened to, the sheer momentum of US political infighting, be it Office of Sec Def, Whitehouse, State, Pentagon, Joint Chiefs, Army, coupled with the lack of military cultural adjustment to the whole concept of conflict complexity, doomed this to failure from the outset.
  7. While Keegan and Hastings are military historians and Ferguson ranges more widely, you may know that there are some stirrings about him that seem to be a bit more than academic jealousy and bitchiness.

    Specifically, about how much his books owe to the researches of a supporting team. Just look at how many big books he's cranked out in a still relatively brief career. He's always been media-savvy and he certainly goes down well in the States but his current prominence may not have foundations that last.

    He may may adroit enough to ride his wave for the twenty years you suggest. Like AJP Taylor he may take knowledge and understanding forward as much by propmpting rejoinders that reject or advance his work as by his work alone.

    Modern historians have been criticised for knowing 'a lot about a little'. Synthesis and overview help make the past accessible to those of us (like me!) who want to know 'a little about a lot'. However, Ferguson's popular 'lot' and (possibly provided) 'little' are neither unassailable in the longer term.

    I've got no beef with the guy other than I think he's a bit over-rated. I will admit to not having read anything by him but that is simply because I have yet to be convinced he has anyhting particularly original to say. I am open to persuasion but has he, for example, got the originality and insight of Paul Kennedy, whose 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers' used the past to get the present, and immediate future, so right for the 1980s?
  8. May I recommend Colossus by Ferguson.

    I would say the this work represents a powerful construct thoughout, that might reframe your understanding of the US. If it isn't original in its inception few have argued it so brilliantly and introduced the pillars to ensure the idea strengthens.

    I don't doubt he's riding a populist wave e.g. War of the Worlds, which naive acolytes like myself refuse to buy, but historians must find platforms, even if they include the Daily Torygraph.

    As far as researchers are concerned then the smartest writer users gofers for leg work. I remember using a young business undergrad during academic studies who did all the crunching and collating, which boosts your output tenfold. The concept remains the author's.
  9. See also Peter Ridell in The Times today:,,17129-2429432,00.html

    "What should, however, be examined are the appalling failures in the running of Iraq since the fall of Saddam. The repeated insistence by Mr Blair that Iraq is better off without Saddam, and that the insurgents have to be beaten, is a wholly inadequate response to the continuing bloody shambles in Iraq.

    British policies have been well-intentioned, but Mr Blair cannot escape responsibility for the many errors of the Bush administration (just look at the devastating accounts in Fiasco by Thomas Ricks or State of Denial by Bob Woodward). It is a shameful story that will, and should, tarnish the reputation of all involved.
  10. Cut to scene of warming hands by fire.

    From the crowd: "You were one of his followers?"

    Huddled red-tied figure: "Me, never met the man"

    Crowd: "Yeah, it were 'im." "No, you're mistaken" "That's 'im" "No..."
  11. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    Except he can't as he was not born in the US.
  12. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    Eeerr! Son of George bother of Dubya?

    Are you getting mixed up with Arnie in Kalifornayee?
  13. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    He's not bad, but he doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. For example, in "The Pity Of War" he praises the German Army for being far better soldiers than the British and French, based on comparative casualties... ignoring that for most of that war, the Germans were in concrete dugouts on the defensive with the Allies trying to push them back.

    His economics is good, but his military analysis is a bit patchy.
  14. Keen observation. He definitely loves his abacus. Another voodoo pin into my accountant's dummy! muhahaahaha