Does Bush Want to Win in Iraq?

08/31/2005 12:47 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In an earlier post on the Iraqi war, some responders felt that I was being irresponsible and naive to say "The Bush administration and its cohorts don't care if this war is won or lost." My reference was to the ongoing desire of the military-industrial complex, whose interests Bush faithfully serves, to keep expanding. I made the point that win or lose, our incursion into Iraq will increase militarism in America.

But the point could be bolstered in several more ways.
1. If President Bush really wanted to win, wouldn't he adequately armor our troops and send enough of them to do the job?
2. Wouldn't he have had a plan for the post-invasion conflict?
3. Wouldn't he have listened to Iraqi experts in advance, who knew precisely how the nation would divide into hostile factions.
4. Wouldn't he have tried to build a consensus in the United Nations and with the Democratic Party using more than a token show, followed by petulant willfulness to act on his own?
5. Wouldn't he have reasoned out the cause of the war to begin with?
6. Wouldn't he have guided the constitutional process that recently collapsed in Baghdad? The U.S. was begged to act as a friendly broker by both sides, a plea that went largely ignored until the waning hours, when it was too late.
7. Finally, wouldn't he know the difference between getting even with his father's old nemesis and conducting a war with the best strategic and tactical advice?

I trust the first-hand accounts from Paul O'Neil and Richard Clarke that this war was a foregone conclusion that probably preceded the attack on 9/11. Listening to those who can read psychological markers of character, Pres. Bush seems impulsive and inflexible. He wants to have his own way and is impatient with any process to get him there if it takes more than five minutes. He is averse to compromise and intolerant of discussion from other points of view. I will tacitly pass over his supposed religious ideology and the effect is has on his decision-making.

Such a person isn't good at follow-through. Having fulfilled his impulse to punish Saddam Hussein, Bush quickly lost interest in Iraq. Besides his extended vacations, we now hear that the administration has "reduced expectations" in Iraq, which is rhetorical back-and-fill for wanting out as soon as possible. The haphazard road to Iraqi democracy was little tended by this administration; on-the-ground reports tell us that U.S. officials simply took the attitude "Get it done as fast as you can" without any further counsel or plan.

I imagine that the war-making machine will "stay the course" in the technical sense of leaving troops in place for a long time in Iraq. Yet except for preaching to the Iraqi people that their old ways were abominable and the new way of America is ideal, Bush has shown no human interest in them.

In sum, his indifference to winning this war runs deep.