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Mark Levine Headshot

George Bush is a Psychopath, and We Are His Enablers

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If there was ever any doubt that President George W. Bush is a
psychopath, his speech to the nation last night announcing an
increase of over 20,000 American troops in Iraq should have quelled
them.

According to the current psychiactric and psychoanalytic theory (and
to my late mother, a psychotherapist of forty years who treated her
share of disturbed people and pegged Bush as a psychopath during the
2000 election campaign), a psychopath or sociopath--the terms are
practically interchangeable--exhibits behavior that reflects a lack
of empathy or conscience, poor control of his impulses, and is
manipulative of others around them. He or she has no concerns for the
feelings of others and a complete disregard for any sense of social
obligation. Not surprisingly, then, someone with this illness is
egocentric, lack insight and any sense of responsibility or
consequence. Finally, their emotions are thought to be superficial
and shallow.

Is there a more accurate description of our President?

He invaded Iraq impulsively, and lied and manipulated the American
people and our political institutions to make it happen. He has
demonstrated no empathy with the thousands of dead and tens of
thousands of injured American soldiers, and more so for the hundreds
of thousands of Iraqis who have died because of the invasion and US
occupation. He has no regard for the desires of others-in this case
the American people, who have clearly let it be known that they want
the troops brought home, not sent to Iraq in even greater numbers,
and more specifically to the Iraq Study Group, which clearly advised
against such a path, particularly one involving only a relatively
small increase in troop strength. His egocentrism, as Paul Krugman of
the NY Times points out, is so great he cannot bring himself to admit
the mistakes behind the war, and he has refused to take
responsibility for the consequences of the disastrous occupation.

President Bush also lied, as the NY Times reveals, when he said that
the Iraqi Government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki, is behind the
plan. In fact, the Iraqis are quite wary of it.

In proposing such a relatively small increase, the President is
acting with callous irresponsible disregard for the soldiers under
his command and their families as well. In short, the President is
demonstrating a total disregard for his social and political
obligations as President.

The distortions continue. Mr. Bush also says that his new effort will
succeed where past ones failed because in the past the US didn't have
enough troops to hold areas once they were cleared of insurgents. But
he doesn't mention what we all know; that he was advised from the
moment our troops arrived in Iraq that this is precisely what would
happen if he didn't put a lot more troops on the ground. He didn't
put them there because he didn't care enough about Iraq, or American
soldiers to do anything that would jeopardize his delusional plan to
destroy and then recreate the Middle East in the neocon's image.

What's more, he blatantly misrepresents the facts in claiming that
"radical Islamic extremists" are the main group involved in
"creat[ing] chaos in the region." Sadly, the United States is the
main force behind the chaos in Iraq, which has been specifically
generated as a way to advance US policy objectives of more or less
permanent--in Bush speak, "generational"--war, in which the best and
indeed only answer to losing one war is to expand the war-front even
further, until the stakes are so high and the violence spread so wide
that World War Three becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and the
American people have no choice but to fight till the bitter end,
which as Bush warns us, will not come for decades and in a form we
still cannot imagine.

The President's speech also mentions new efforts aimed towards
increasing economic development and reconstruction. But he doesn't
mention that the entire system of US-sponsored economic development
and reconstruction in Iraq is rotten to the core and has been since
the day we arrived. It cannot be fixed because it was never meant to
help Iraqis, but rather enrich Bush Administration corporate sponsors
and supporters. More money will only mean more money to the thieves
who destroyed Iraq in the first place, which is exactly the Bush
Administration's intentions, yesterday, today and tomorrow in Iraq.

But by far the most dangerous predilection laid bare by the speech
last night was the President's ongoing propensity for large scale
violence. In the last week this has been most clearly demonstrated by
US attacks on Somalia, which our military refuses to provide details
about other than to claim it's all about stopping al-Qa'eda from
making Somalia a base of operations (as if that strategy has worked
in Iraq). Even more frightening, as William Arkin points out in the
Washington Post, n his speech Bush specifically threatened to attack Syria and Iran,
again in complete contradiction of the Iraq Study Group and the
wishes of the American people. And again, his threats are based on
lies-that Iran and Syria are involved significantly in smuggling
weapons into Iraq (the Brits have been searching for smugglers along
the Iran-Iraq border for months if not years and have found very
little evidence of any organized, government sponsored activities),
and it is well know that Syria has been cooperating with the US in
terms of intelligence about al-Qa'eda in and outside Iraq.

Given this reality, the President's ability to look squarely at the
American people--indeed, the world--and claim that America is the
best hope for the " millions of ordinary people... from Afghanistan
to Lebanon to the Palestinian Territories... [who] are sick of the
violence," demonstrates one of the most important traits of a psycho
or sociopath, the ability to lie pathologically, without a hint of
conscience, or of guilt or remorse at the consequences of these lies.

But what of the American people? Why are the vast majority of
citizens, including those who voted the Republicans out of both
houses of Congress, and including the Democratic legislators whom we
chose to replace them with, sitting by and allowing this to happen?
Sure, there will be a "symbolic" vote against further deployments,
but nothing will be done actually to stop the President. Instead, as
the editor in chief of one of the major inside the beltway
publications explained to me yesterday, the Democrats are perfectly
happy to sit back and let Bush bleed America dry in order to avoid
being blamed for losing Iraq in 2008. They, and the American people
who are doing nothing to stop them, will let thousands of more troops
die, wars spread to ever more countries, all to achieve the greatest
political capital for use in the next presidential election.

Behind this calculus is the the belief that the more American
soldiers that die in the next two years and the more of our tax
dollars that disappear, the greater the chance that Americans will
vote for the Democratic ticket come November 2008 because they will
blame the President. This may be true, but it is a spineless and
immoral truth that thoroughly blemishes a Democratic Party already
blackened with guilt for its enabling of the invasion to begin with,
not to mention the wholesale war on America's most basic liberties
and Freedoms in the last six years.

The American people are ultimately, and now primarily, responsible for
this reality, and we seem not to care nearly enough to do something
to fight it.

The President did say one thing right last night: "The challenge
playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military
conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time. On one
side are those who believe in freedom and moderation. On the other
side are extremists who kill the innocent, and have declared their
intention to destroy our way of life."

Does President Bush realize which side he is on? Do we realize which
side America has joined?