Acceptable Outrage

Surely, somewhere, someone has compiled all the changing reasons for the War in Iraq. By that I mean how it started out to be about an imminent threat to the U.S. — smoking guns, mushroom clouds — that was not imminent; then about finding weapons of mass destruction that weren’t there; then about establishing a democratic government; then about training enough Iraqis to maintain their own civil order. And now the goal has devolved to just reducing violence to an “acceptable level” so that we can declare victory and leave.

As Jeff Feldman says, the acceptable level of violence in for most Americans is zero.

Jeff quotes a bit of an interview of Bush by Charley Rose, which I believe is the same stuff to be heard in the video I posted yesterday.

GWB: I mean, there is an acceptable level of violence in certain societies around the world, and the question is, you know, what is that level? And that’s where the experts come in.

They’ve got experts for deciding what levels of violence are acceptable?

I — you know, you and I can’t determine that sitting here in New York, but we can — we can ask people’s advice upon that; David Petraeus would have an option on that. Ryan Crocker, our ambassador in Iraq.

Notice it doesn’t occur to him to ask an Iraqi.

But it’s a very interesting way of putting the question, and — because all — there is an acceptable level of violence in all societies, even our own.

CR: And where do you —

GWB: Even though all violence is to be abhorred, nevertheless, there is — you know, there’s certain violence — levels of violence that people say, “Well gosh, I can go about my life, I’ve got [unintelligible]”

In other words, reduce the level of violence until it’s just a nuisance.

I keep thinking of what John Kerry said in 2004 about terrorism becoming a nuisance. Here’s a snip:

In the interview published on Sunday, Kerry told New York Times reporter Matt Bai, “As a former law-enforcement person, I know we’re never going to end prostitution. We’re never going to end illegal gambling. But we’re going to reduce it, organized crime, to a level where it isn’t on the rise — it isn’t threatening people’s lives every day, and fundamentally, it’s something that you continue to fight, but it’s not threatening the fabric of your life.

The wingnuts went absolutely ballistic over this. I think Kerry should have thought this out a bit more carefully before he said it. It’s one thing to go on about your life knowing that there’s illegal gambling going on somewhere, and quite another to live with a threat of suicide bombers. Certainly the possibility of terrorism can never be reduced to zero, and maybe Kerry was trying to say that the goal is to make terrorism a remote enough possibility that we aren’t constantly worried about it. I can’t imagine it ever being just a nuisance, however.

But here’s Bush thinking there’s some level of violence to which people can adjust. “Well gosh, I can go about my life, I’ve got [unintelligible],” in spite of there being corpses in the street. There may be a point at which people become numb to violence, but adjusting? I don’t think so.

The Bush-Rose interview continues,

GWB: Well — and by the way, if the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory. In other words, if you say, you know, “I’m going to judge the administration’s plan based upon whether they were able to have no car bombings in Baghdad,” we will have just given — because car bombings are hard to stop — or suicide bombings — very hard to stop. We have just given al-Qaeda or any other extremist a significant victory.


And that’s one of the problems I face in trying to convince the American people, one, this is doable — in other words, I wouldn’t have our troops there if I didn’t think this is, one, important, and secondly, achievable. But I also understand on their TV screens, people are seeing horrific bombings, and they’re saying to themselves, “Is this possible? Can we possibly succeed in the face of this kind of violence?” And that’s where this enemy — the enemy of moderation has got a — you know, they’ve got a — they’ve got a powerful tool in [unintelligible]

Actually, I’m not seeing horrific bombings on my TV screen. Compared to what part of the Vietnam War we used to be able to watch on the nightly news, Iraq is nearly invisible. We hear about it more than we see it.

Along these lines, Eugene Robinson has a great op ed in today’s Washington Post called “Lost in the Fog With Commander Guy.”

In Tipp City, just before his reminder about the Oval Office rug, Bush said success in Iraq would be defined as “a country that is stable enough for the government to work, that can defend itself and serve as an ally in this war on terror, that won’t be a safe haven, that will deny the extremists and the radicals.”

But that doesn’t necessarily mean an end to bloody suicide bombings, he added. “Think about that: If our definition is no more suiciders, you’ve just basically said to the suiciders, go ahead.”

Yeah, think about that.

Speaking to the contractors’ group Wednesday, the president elaborated: “Either we’ll succeed or we won’t succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that’s what we’re trying to achieve.”

What is the man talking about? What “parts of our own country” experience violence remotely comparable to that in Iraq? Is he serious?

Sheltered and delusional would be a better guess.

13 thoughts on “Acceptable Outrage

  1. How about sadistic? Check out his penchant for torturing animals when he was a kid, his torture of pledges to his college fraternity, his death penalty record when governor of Texas, his comment about Carla Fay, his ‘skit’ in the Oval Office when WMD’s hadn’t been found…

    Remember his deer in the headlights look when he got the news of 9/11? That was all about, and only about his fear for Georgie’s personal safety – goes right along with the sadistic personality. (My lord, he requires an escort of 14 vehicles to accompany him on his recreational bicycle rides in Maryland.)

  2. Sounds to me like he’s thinking about the old, wild west — part of his faux cowboy thing. (He’s so delusional.)

  3. What we need in this country is to be able to have a vote of no confidence. What are the chances of getting such a law passed? Or just because other countries have it, there’s just no way to do that because it would be un-American?

  4. Bush is a desperate man grasping at straws. I’m not sure whether he’s trying to convince himself or an audience, but his lame justifcations just aren’t cutting it. If it weren’t for his arrogance..I’d pity him.

    an apple a day keeps the doctor away…and a verbal jab a day at Bush keeps me morally fit and satisfied…better therapy hath no man!

  5. My fave:
    “I’ve got [unintelligible].”

    I don’t know what response to use first: “No shit, Sherlock”? “Dude, you were always unintelligible”? Or maybe “(Smack!) Stop your fuckin’ mumbling and end the goddamn war.”


  6. Well, I grew up in Kansas where tornados are a fact of life. They kill, they maime and they destroy. Just like the threat of fires and earthquakes are a fact of life in California. During pioneer days, the pioneers got used to all sorts of “nuisances”, like those ‘pesky’ native Indians and later on, people like John Brown.

    I have lived in areas of the nation where there was an auto accident that killed somebody every day. I live in an area of the nation now where it seems like I hear about a murder about every day. I live in a nation where its “acceptable” to the NRA for Cho to have guns and destroy 30 lives because “It’s the cost of freedom.” “Don’t take away my freedom because of his psycho actions.”

    Ultra conservatives want the “free market” to police itself and think that it will because of “dollar power”. My cat died recently and it wasn’t pretty. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the poisoned pet food played a roll. It affected her kidneys. The FDA is now trying to figure out whether thousands or even millions of Americans are going to be exposed to dangerous chemicals because of the thousands of chickens and hogs that were fed the tainted pet food. To some, this is just a “nuisance”. Our government is in control of corporate heads of power – the fox watching the hen house and there is nothing we can do about it.

    The tenacity of life is awesome to behold and its amazing how adaptive people can be. Look how adaptive we’ve become to slasher flicks and slasher video games, for instance. For Israelis, suicide bombers might now be a nuisance. I recall seeing suicide bombings on CNN every day for months. Why don’t we see those any more? Did they solve their problem somehow?.

    Bush is saying a certain level of violence is acceptable in Iraq. How can it not be if we are to pull all our troops out? How can it not be if we are not willing to call a draft and send in more troops? When we leave, don’t you think Iraq will erupt into total civil war? How can Democrats support one humanitarian cause like Darfur, and not support keeping the Iraqis from all-out civil war? I just don’t understand it. On the other hand, how can we keep sending the same soldiers back and back and back? What is wrong with us?

    Sorry to ramble, lots on my mind.

  7. I meant to say, government agencies are being controlled by a corporate, business mindset where anything that diminishes profit is bad, such as rules and regulations that protect the public.

    I’m not a Bush supporter, quite the contrary, I’m totally fed up to the point where I’m about to give up. So much is wrong and how, how to fix it? Can it even BE fixed?

  8. I’m curious about whether an acceptable level of violence is more or less people than were killed under Saddam. Of course, under Saddam you could greatly improve your odds, and in all likelihood get by unharmed, if you just avoided saying anything about the government. In today’s Iraq, however, that doesn’t seem to be sufficient.

  9. Unfortunately, in this country, there’s an “acceptable level” of stupidity. There’s also one for violence – witness our movies, music and TV show’s. Maybe President Stupid is getting reality confused with fiction. He is, after all, proving that truth is stranger than fiction.
    As for the Democrat’s (and I’m one of them), we need to learn to frame reality better. We “won” the “War” year’s ago. We are now “occupiers.” We don’t need to “end the War!” We need to end the “Occupation!!!”
    Nancy, Harry, and all of the presidential candidate’s, stop saying “War.” Say “occupation.” Every nationalistic idiot in every country wants to win a war. Almost every idiot in every country knows there’s no way to win an occupation.
    Did we “win” the occupation in WWII? No, we won the war!!! Our post-war occupation involved rebuilding Europe and Japan. There were no insurgents because they saw that we tried to improve their post-war lives. We also had enough troops. Can the same be said for Iraq? NO!!!
    If our policy after WWII was the same as this mis-adminstration’s, we would likely have faced the same problems. Do you really think that former Japanese soldiers, who accepted death as part of military life, wouldn’t have been glad to kill others and themselves (in the process) if we didn’t have enough troop’s and didn’t work to rebuild?
    We won the “Iraq War.” Our “troops” won the “War!” What we now have is an “Occupation!” We are now “occupiers” – horrible, arrogant, and incompetent ones, at that.
    Remember, it’s not, “end the war,” it’s “End the Occupation!!!”
    Rinse and repeat. Over, and over, and over again…

  10. BTW Maha,
    I fogot to mention that your analysis of psychopath’s was spot on!
    Bush is the living and breathing definiton of the word. My fear for my country is only topped by my fear for our world…
    But, fear is what they bank on (see the GOP debate). And, while I’m afraid, I fight back. And not just by writing missives on blog’s. I was an active member, and speaker, at our local Peace Rally in March. I’m and active member of Untied for Peace with Justice. I’m allied with other groups.
    Please don’t just sit by people. Do something! Write something. Protest. Write letters to politicians and newspapers. Every little bit helps.

  11. Mr Bush is a liar, but he is not good at it . The truth seeps through.
    The “acceptable level of violence” in Iraq is acceptable so long as it stays out of the green zone.My “conspiracy” theory is Bush wants the Iraqis to tear each other apart until the fighting stops, or at least tapers off to the point where he can declare victory and usher the major corporations into plum positions in the “New Iraq”.
    I’m amazed that Bush has gotten this far without being impeached, and I’m further amazed that the rest of the “free world” has not imposed sanctions on our country for Bush’s outlaw antics.

  12. Any one who sets up business in Iraq is going to die an early death if not from the violence, then from depleted uranium that permeates that land since the war 1991 and now. A geiger counter would probably go off at 10,000 feet above the land.

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