Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Richard Cohen: Bush Remains in Iraq Because No One Can Prove We Can't Win

Richard Cohen, who has a murky (at best) history within the liberal blogosphere, has an excellent Op-ed in today's Washington Post discussing Bush's "troop surge." Cohen, in an attempt to explain why Bush won't listen to anyone but himself, hits the nail on the head.

"In Iowa, during the 2000 presidential campaign, Bush answered a question about why he so ardently supported capital punishment. He offered a number of reasons, but one -- deterrence -- prompted me to raise my hand and ask a follow-up: But, sir, there is absolutely no evidence that capital punishment is a deterrent. To my astonishment, Bush conceded my point: 'You're right. I can't prove it. But neither can the other side prove it's not.'

Ponder that answer for a while. What it means is not just that Bush embraced a famously irrational way of thinking -- the logical fallacy often called 'proving a negative' -- but in this case he used it to overwhelm all evidence to the contrary. Once you know this, you can appreciate what Bush means when he calls himself The Decider. It means that evidence, arguments, proof and logic cannot be conclusive when, as is often the case, the president proceeds on what can be called a matter of faith. I am not referring here just to religion -- although surely that is paramount to Bush -- but to supremely secular matters of state: when to go to war, why go to war and when to remain at war. In Bush's mind, the bad guys will lose and the good guys will win and Iraq will become a democracy. This will happen not because Bush can prove that it will but because nobody can prove it won't.

This is why we are in Iraq today and why we are going to stay there. All this time, it did not matter that Iraq was going to hell, or that the terrorists were never there in the first place, or that weapons of mass destruction were never present, or that Saddam Hussein had no role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, or that democracy for Iraq was never really in the cards -- none of that mattered, because nobody could prove otherwise. All the things Bush believed were true because you, rational fool that you are, could not prove them false."

This is precisely why we're in Iraq, and why we're going to continue being there until some other President in years to come decides enough is enough and brings our men and women home.

Bravo to Richard Cohen for so succinctly explaining Bush and all of his failed policies.