11/29/2006 04:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

What If, Just What If, Bush isn't a Complete Idiot?

Suppose, for a minute, that Bush and his war advisers aren't simply bullheaded boobs, feckless fanatics, or delusional dunderheads (the proposition strains credulity, I realize, but bear with me). Let's go down this path, as a thought experiment.

Imagine that Bush well knows and privately concedes everything about the Iraq War that his critics, both Democrats and Republicans, are now screaming at him.

Maybe he knows that "victory" in the war is totally out of reach, even as he publicly insists upon it. Maybe he knows, looking at all of the data in front of him and hearing his advisers state the obvious, that Iraq has in fact descended into civil war or all-out chaos.

Maybe he isn't oblivious to all the corruption, double-dealing, profiteering, ruthlessness, and murderousness now showcased on a daily basis throughout Iraq.

Maybe it has truly sunk into his Alfred E. Neuman "What, Me Worry?" persona that all of his previously stated goals for post-Saddam Iraq are now in shambles.

Consider, for a moment, that he might be pursuing an agenda beyond mere ego and arrogance and idiocy.

The U.S. military hasn't been aggressively patrolling the streets of Baghdad of late. Recent reports suggest that they might be pulling out of al-Anbar province altogether. Sure doesn't look as if the purpose of the U.S. troop presence is to "stabilize" the country anymore. Pull back, lay low, and bide our time. In the meanwhile, let the Shiites kill the Sunnis and vice versa (an official version of Rush Limbaugh's recent call to let civil war proceed unabated). Let the bodies pile up. The Bush Doctrine at this point: Who cares? (Those dead Iraqis are but commas in the Book of History anyway.)

So why stay there? Sometimes you can tease things out by indirection, assuming that they do indeed follow and reveal some logic (a big if in this case, granted). Bush has never pledged that the U.S. would someday leave Iraq altogether, as an ultimate goal. Methinks those military bases are there to stay. "Completing the mission" and "achieving victory" are Bush code words for keeping a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq, a base for future operations.

And for oil. Bush and Cheney, as wily and wangling ex-oil executives, aren't simply going to walk away from those vast oil reserves without a fight.

Let's face it: Bush has no intention of leaving Iraq, but he isn't going public with his ulterior reasons. This is not now a War on Terror, if it ever was--and I suspect he and his advisers know that. This is U.S. imperialism--a geo-strategic land and oil grab. The War on Terror has been a pretext--all along. Shifting conditions on the ground have refuted our various claims for being in that country and exposed them, if after the fact, as false. We have no reason to be in Iraq anymore--the truth becomes bare--except for oil and military bases.

What the above suggests, to my mind, is not that George Bush is a savvy and tenacious strategist but, rather, that he doesn't really give a damn about Iraqi lives as such (please, don't dispatch a quivering Papa Bush to tell me that Junior is a good and decent man with honorable intentions). Warfare can be "justified" only if it is an absolutely necessary evil. Alas, George Bush, in that regard, is abusing his office as Commander-in-Chief and has accomplished little but to cheapen human life around the globe. I think those sad efforts should be seen, however, as more deliberate than bumbling.