George W Bush
It’s always worth listening to what people say. Sometimes they say exactly what they mean.
In fact, they often do, but we’re so busy trying to make sense of their actions that we don’t listen.
Bush told us over and over why he and his administration wanted to invade Iraq, but most people ignored it because it sounded too simple, too callous, too naive. Still, there it was.
It wasn’t because Iraq was a threat. It wasn’t to establish democracy there. It wasn’t even for the oil. It was to provide terrorists with targets over there so they wouldn’t want to attack us here at home.
Yes, it was illegal, foolish, shortsighted and phenomenally stupid. But there you have it, straight from the president himself. They honestly believed they could draw terrorists to Iraq to be defeated in combat, and that this would make America safer.
They didn’t think through reconstruction, troop security, humanitarian crises, rival sects and factions, radicalization of the population, or making Iran into the dominant regional power. They didn’t because those things were secondary to killing all the terrorists, which they honestly believed was possible.
Once the terrorists (or “bad guys,” to use actual Bush Administration language) were gone, peace and democracy could grow, and America would be seen as benevolent liberators.
It’s foreign policy as written by a third-grader. It’s hard for us to accept because there were people actually educated in foreign affairs in the White House. (Cheney and Rumsfeld, career politicians, were distinctly not among them, by the way.) Yet that is the only consistent rationale or justification the president gave after the invasion started, or after the mission was “accomplished.”
The fact that ideologues that are mentally eight years old still have a modicum of power, and could perhaps regain the presidency again, is one of the most terrifying things I can imagine.