Is Bush Doomed?
Jude Wanniski
January 17, 2004


Memo To: President George W. Bush
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Like Father Like Son?

Dear Mr. President, you probably did not know it, but back in the fall of 1991 I wrote a letter to your father, warning him that he faced almost certain defeat in his re-election bid because of his decision to abandon his "read my lips, no new taxes" pledge at the 1988 GOP convention. In the letter I suggested that the one chance he had to avoid defeat would be to fire his Treasury Secretary, Nick Brady, who had been key in selling you of the need for the unnecessary tax increase. Your dad just couldn't do it, Mr. Brady being a close, close friend. But that would have been the only way to let the American people know that he really did learn a lesson and would not stray again into the land of broken promises. When there was no apology of any kind, Pat Buchanan soon stepped into the void and challenged your father in the GOP primaries. The next thing you know, a small state Democratic governor won the 1992 presidential election.

The public opinion polls still indicate you have a lead over any Democrat who might face you this fall, Mr. President, but I think you know Iraq may well be the equivalent of the "read my lips" problem your father had in '92. Today we heard the report that the 500 mark was surpassed in the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq. Sometime before November, we must expect the number to exceed 1000, as the Iraqi insurgents seem to be getting better at bringing down coalition aircraft. There are already calls for you to "apologize" to the American people for warring against Iraq when it now must be admitted that Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction, no ties to Al Qaeda, and was not an imminent threat to anyone. I'm not suggesting you do exactly that, but as with my letter to your father, I think the American people would accept a general house-cleaning of those in your administration who coaxed you into the war. It would have to begin with Vice President Cheney, I'd guess, because those who manipulated you into the decision could not have done so without Mr. Cheney.

The headline on this piece, "Is Bush Doomed?," was on a commentary that appeared this morning on several internet sites, written by syndicated columnist Paul Craig Roberts. I don't know if you have ever spent any time with Craig, but you surely know he is not a liberal Democrat. He's a Virginian who was Jack Kemp's chief economist back in the 1970s. He succeeded me as associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page in 1978. And he was Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Tax Policy in the early Reagan years. He's also specialized over his long career in political/military issues and was a resident scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in recent years. His assessment, I'm afraid, is that you are not going to be re-elected on the path you are on now. I'm also afraid that, like your father, you will stand by those who got you into this mess instead of cutting them loose, and that Craig will be right. Another small state governor will most likely wind up President a year from now.

Sincerely and respectfully, as always,


* * * * *

Is Bush Doomed?
by Paul Craig Roberts

January 17, 2004

Fear must be coursing through President Bush's veins as he realizes the Iraqi trap in which the neocons have placed him. Bush is caught between an Iraqi civil war and a wider insurgency.

Desperate to extricate himself from the weekly carnage well before the November election, Bush can neither deliver on his promise of democracy via direct elections nor impose his plan for an Iraqi assembly elected indirectly by caucuses.

If Bush delivers on his democracy promise, the Shi'ites with 60% of the population will be elected, and the country will break out in civil war. If he tries to water down Shi'ite representation with his plan for an assembly elected indirectly by caucuses, the so far peaceful Shi'ites are likely to join the violence.

If the Shi'ites become violent, the insurgency would be too large to be contained by our present occupying force. Moreover, the outbreak of a general rebellion in Iraq would spill over throughout the Middle East where unpopular secular rulers are sitting on a smoldering Islam. Our puppet in Pakistan would likely bite the dust. Israel would then face countervailing Muslim nukes.

If you think more US troops are needed now in Iraq, imagine how many more would be required to deal with a wider conflagration. Where would they come from? The US military is already so thinly stretched that soon 40% of the occupying troops will be drawn from the National Guard and reservists, resulting in tremendous disruption in the affairs of tens of thousands of families.

Pilots and troops are shunning the cash bonuses offered for reenlistments. The troops recognize a quagmire even if their neocon overlords cannot. The only source of troops is the draft.

A Shi'ite insurgency that brought back the draft would deprive Bush of reelection. A civil war with the prospect of a Kurdish state would bring in the Turks. On January 14 Turkish prime minister Erdogan said that Turkey will intervene in the event of Iraq's disintegration.

The Shi'ites and the Turks are forming an alliance as both have the same interest in maintaining the geographical integrity of the Iraqi state. The US could come dangerously close to military conflict with a NATO ally.

All of this was perfectly clear well in advance of the ill-considered invasion. If Bush wasn't smart enough to see it, why didn't his National Security Advisor or his Secretary of State? How did a handful of neocon ideologues hijack US foreign policy?

Bush did not campaign on a neocon policy of conquest in the Middle East. There was no public debate over this policy. The invasion of Iraq was the private agenda of the neocons.

Why have the neocons not been held responsible for their treason in abusing their presidential appointments to substitute their personal agenda for America's agenda?

Bush has been the neocon's puppet for so long that he is now stuck with responsibility for their horrible mistake. With no way of his own to get out of his trap, his arrogance toward the "irrelevant" UN and our doubting allies has disappeared. Come bail me out, he pleads.

Bush, desperate to be extricated before doom strikes him is experiencing a reality totally different from the chest-thumping of neocon megalomaniacs, such as Charles Krauthammer, who declared the US so powerful as to be able to "reshape, indeed remake, reality on its own."

Bush now knows that he lacks the power to deal with the reality of Iraq. Indeed, Bush cannot even deal with his own appointees.