Had it been written by a no-account, no-name journalist I would have ignored it.
Written by a distinguished journalist like Michael Kinsley for a widely circulated publication like Vanity Fair, the article requires attention.
Kinsley’s title gives the game away: “How the Bush Wars Opened the Door for ISIS.”
Which means, don’t blame Barack Obama for the current state of Middle Eastern affairs. And, be sure not to blame people like me who opposed both Bush administrations and fawned over Barack Obama.
Kinsley offers something of an isolationist take on it. He does not begin with Bush the Younger’s Iraq War but with Bush the Elder’s invasion of Kuwait in 1991. (Of course, he says nothing about the role Congress played in either.)
In his words:
It has been an unbelievable 25 years since George H. W. Bush started us on the adventure that still isn’t over in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are American soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East right now who weren’t even born when Bush the Elder declared the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait to be an intolerable situation and sent roughly half a million Americans halfway around the world to reverse it.
Kinsley bemoans the fact that Kuwait was not and still is not a democracy. He has nothing to say about what the world would have looked like if Saddam Hussein had taken control of Kuwaiti oil. He does not even consider the possibility that, had America’s leader been following Kinsley principles, Saddam might well have decided to move south to take over the oil fields of Eastern Saudi Arabia.
Kinsley does not consider reality because he is selling a fictional account whereby the only reason George W. Bush (and the American Congress, lest we forget) declared war on Iraq was Oedipal: he wanted to finish what his father had started.
True enough, George W. did propose something of a democracy agenda. Truer still, democracy has not broken out in the Middle East.
And yet, one wonders what a President Kinsley would have done when faced with the intelligence, agreed to by all major Western intelligence services, that Saddam Hussein was amassing weapons of mass destruction.
By now we know, or we think we know, that the intelligence was faulty. But, had you been president, what would you have done?
Now that we know that the war was predicated on bad intelligence, the rationale for being in Iraq, Kinsley opines, has vanished. This suggests that we should now pretend that it never happened.
But if the war was a mistake, even an innocent or well-intentioned mistake, any justification for staying on and on has disappeared as well.
Obviously, thoughts like this caused President Obama to abandon Iraq. How’s that one working out, Mike?
We will mention it in passing, because Kinsley blinds himself to reality, that, between Gulf War I and Gulf War II, we suffered the terrorist attack on 9/11.
Apparently, it does not count in the Kinsley calculus. To his mind, all of those crazy Muslim terrorists are really a bunch of nondescript clowns. Who can tell the difference between them all?
In Kinsley’s words:
Where did ISIS come from? What ever happened to the other Middle East groups we used to know? Where is al-Qaeda? How about the Taliban? Does anyone remember the mujahideen? If you do, you’re really showing your age. The mujahideen were the freedom fighters we armed and trained in order to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan—a shrewd bank shot, everyone agreed, until, after the Soviets slunk away, we counted the leftover Stinger missiles in the freedom fighters’ broom closet and realized that many were now in the hands of unfriendly elements. And a lot of the mujahideen had gone with them.
So, they are all a joke. 9/11 was a really big joke.
For Kinsley’s information, al Qaeda is alive and well and prospering. The Taliban is alive and well and flourishing. And let’s not forget Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran, a leading state sponsor of terrorism. We might even note that the Obama administration is doing its level best to facilitate Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. It does not seem to care about the threat those weapons pose to Israel, to Europe and to the U. S. A.
Allow Kinsley to make his point:
And it is also to note how fast the cast of characters in this drama can change, amid the anarchy we helped create—which is another reason not to leap to the assumption that anything further we might do would be of help.
Note well: he is saying that it’s all a drama. It’s all theatre. There is a shifting cast of characters, but none of these personae could possibly be of a threat to America. Apparently, Kinsley has forgotten 9/11.
When it comes to assigning blame, Kinsley is clear: it’s America, and particularly the Bushes, Elder and Younger, who are responsible for this anarchy.
Everything would be so much better if Bush the Elder had done nothing when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
And, we know that without the interference of the United States, the region would be peaceful and prosperous and democratic. And we also know, as the Obama administration seems to believe that all the problems in the region have been caused by Israeli settlements.
Where have you heard that before?
Why, it’s the Islamist rationale for the mess that the Middle East has become. Terrorists do not need to take any responsibility for their actions and for their failure to bring peace and prosperity to their people. The fault, Kinsley says, lies with the Bush family.