Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bush and Iraq: a Metaphor

It's old news that George Bush thinks God speaks to him. I saw this comic today and I thought it was a perfect metaphor for what goes on in Bush's head. Just replace "instincts and subconscious" with "God" and "Obi-Wan" with "Billy Graham":

If only Bush were as smart as the stick figure. In actuality, Bush would insist NG4 is a legal move, would accuse any officials who disputed his move of being cowards, would modify the chess rulebook with a pen, would imply the editor of the rulebook is a traitor, and would replace all chess officials with members of his Texas staff.

Sean Hannity would broadcast interviews round-the-clock with a group called Chessplayers for Truth, The New York Times would feature an article on the front page called "Chess Rulebook Was Incorrect, Officials Say," by Michael Gordan, and FOX would display the text, "Are Liberals too Wussy to Play by the Rules?"


Sadie Lou said...

What do you suggest would turn the war in Iraq around? What would satisfy you at this point? Just out of curiousity.
And why is the situation of Iraq, different than the situation in Darfur?
I realize that Bush made some whopping mistakes--one of which being the reasons he told us he was going to war with iraq but I guess I'm having a hard time understanding what it is that you find to be so fundamentally stupid about the whole thing. Are their any benefits to us being there?

Jewish Atheist said...

What do you suggest would turn the war in Iraq around?

I think the war is already lost. All that's left is causing as little harm as possible when we exit. From my understanding, the least bad options left are installing another brutal dictator or dividing the country into three.

And why is the situation of Iraq, different than the situation in Darfur?

In Iraq, it's our fault. Or at least, it's the fault of the Bush administration. The war may have been winnable at some point, but we probably lost it by failing to plan or prepare for the reconstruction.

Anyway, the point I was getting at with my post is that Bush thought (according to The Guardian, at least) that God told him to invade Iraq. What really happened, of course, assuming that God does not speak directly to George W. Bush, is that he told himself to invade Iraq. Just like the stick-figure who "was told" to play knight to g4.

Sadie Lou said...

A senior White House official has denied that the US president, George Bush, said God ordered him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.
A spokesman for Mr Bush, Scott McClellan, said the claims, to be broadcast in a TV documentary later this month, were "absurd".

That was from the Gaurdian too.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie Lou:

I'll certainly admit it might not be true. I can't say I'd necessarily trust the Palestinian sources even if they weren't working through interpreters. On the other hand, to blindly accept anything McLellan says as fact is absurd.

The comic is relevant to all those who believe that God talks to them directly, that God inspires them, that the Bible 100% means one thing, etc. It gets at the whole idea of lending credence to part of your consciousness by assuming it comes from outside yourself.

If it doesn't apply to Bush in particular, I apologize.

beepbeepitsme said...

God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers

Nabil Shaath says: "President Bush said to all of us: 'I'm driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, "George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan." And I did, and then God would tell me, "George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …" And I did. And now, again, I feel God's words coming to me, "Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East." And by God I'm gonna do it.'"

littlefoxling said...

great post.

Random said...


Seriously, put your anti-Bush prejudice aside for a minute and answer this question - do those reported words honestly sound like anything you've heard Bush say? (if you say yes, can you please link to quotes? many thanks). Or do they sound more like something you fairly regularly hear Arab politicians say?

It's obvious what happened here (assuming the Palestinians are not flat-out lying) - Bush said something fairly anodyne about how his religious beliefs guided his policies (which I can imagine him saying) and this got distorted when it passed through interpreters and the cultural prejudices of his audience. Heck, if you read a more detailed account of the incident (like this one) it's clear that this is what the Palestinians believed happened too.

One final point - I hate to be snarky, but I thought it was only us religious types who were supposed to believe stuff we badly wanted to be true on the basis of inadequate or no evidence, and you atheists were supposed to hold yourselves to a higher standard than that?

And as for Iraq, I take it you haven't seen any of the news stories showing "the surge" might actually be working? I don't blame you if you haven't - whereas the media is happy to report every last terrorist atrocity, this sort of thing is apparently less newsworthy than Britney's latest haircut:-/

Jewish Atheist said...


I wouldn't be surprised if it were true or false. I can see either one. As I wrote above, I have no reason to take the Palestinians at their word even without translation/telephonesque issues.

And as for Iraq, I take it you haven't seen any of the news stories showing "the surge" might actually be working?

That would be amazing news. I think I'll wait until someone other than a Republican stooge says so, though. :-) Especially if he says it's working because Baghdad is somewhat pacified due to the surge. Nobody denied that would happen. Obviously throwing 20,000+ troops into a single city will have a short-term effect. The question is whether the surge can help in the long term.

Patrick Ruffini is an online strategist dedicated to helping Republicans and conservatives achieve dominance in a networked era.

Random said...

Oh come on JA - are ad hominem attacks really the best you can do? Here's a tip for you - just because somebody is a Republican doesn't automatically make him a shill or a liar. Check the links in the article - or is Omar of Iraq the Model who actually lives in Baghdad and is also optimistic a republican stooge too?

In any case, that article has no significance other than being the first reasonably sourced one I found. If you want something more high-profile, here's The Economist (who are so foamingly right wing that they endorsed, erm, John Kerry at the last presidential election...) also being cautiously optimistic.

beepbeepitsme said...

Do I think Bush would say something like that? YES. It is not as if he is reticient about his god belief.

"I trust God speaks through me. Without that, I couldn’t do my job." - President Bush, quoted in the Lancaster New Era, during a private meeting with an Amish group.

"The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is certain. Freedom and fear, justice and cruelty, have always been at war, and we know that God is not neutral between them." - George W Bush speech to Congress, September 20, 2001

"This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."- George W Bush stepping off the presidential helicopter on Sunday, September 16, 2001,

"Tyrants and dictators will accept no other gods before them. They require disobedience to the First Commandment. They seek absolute control and are threatened by faith in God. They fear only the power they cannot possess -- the power of truth. So they resent the living example of the devout, especially the devotion of a unique people chosen by God."- George W Bush quoted from Freedom From Religion Foundation, "Bush's Holocaust Remarks Distort History, Scapegoat Freethinkers" April 25, 2001

"I really appreciate leaders from around the globe who have come to share in prayer with us today. It reminds me that the Almighty God is a God to everybody, every person."- George W Bush, quoted from "President Bush Addresses the 51st Annual Prayer Breakfast" (February 6, 2003)

"I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for president."- George W Bush, quoted from Aaron Latham, "How George W Found God," George Magazine, September, 2000

"The Iranian regime is evil. They are bad. Iran is run by a paranoid club of intolerant men who think God talks to them and them only." -George W Bush (July 19, 2005)

Jewish Atheist said...

Oh come on JA - are ad hominem attacks really the best you can do?

You know as well as I do how easy it is to pluck partisans from either side to "analyze" the same data to mean completely different things. Here's one taking the opposite side from a lefty who's a lot more prominent than your righty. I would never point to that as proof of anything.

Even your Economist (a right-of-center magazine I respect) article admits it's way too early to predict success:

To predict success would be extremely rash, however. The bloodshed still continues apace. A suicide bomber, presumably a Sunni, killed at least 40 people at Baghdad's Mustansiriya University, a stronghold of Shia factions, on February 25th. Iraqis say that insurgent snipers are still active, often firing from mosques before disappearing into back alleys. The newly beefed-up troop presence may reduce some forms of violence, such as multi-car Shia raids on Sunni districts, but is less likely to deter Sunni suicide bombers.

I'll be as happy as you if the surge works. I'm simply going by what the overwhelming majority of experts argued before the surge. A large majority argued a surge wouldn't help and a minority argued we need a much bigger surge. As far as I can tell, there were maybe half a dozen people in the world who thought a surge of 20,000 troops was a good idea. Maybe those half-dozen were right, but I doubt it. We'll see.

beepbeepitsme said...

Talking about god.

” Your cause is right. God is on your side. ” - Former American National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski rallies Mujahadeen "freedom fighters" to "do jihad" against the then Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

(Somebody forgot to tell them to only fight the Russians.)

Sadie Lou said...

Random said...
or is Omar of Iraq the Model who actually lives in Baghdad and is also optimistic a republican stooge too?

End of conversation.
Random, thanks for posting that article on the surge.

Jewish Atheist said...

I don't see anything in what Omar said that's particularly relevant:

Omar of Iraq the Model spots a B-1 Bomber in the skies of Baghdad for the first time since the end of the major combat. On the ground, Omar writes that the signs that Iraqis are getting serious about security are more palbable. With the help of Compstat-like technology, security forces are cracking down at checkpoints (even ambulances are getting stopped) and getting nimbler about locating them strategically so the terrorists don't know what to expect.

Sounds exactly like one of the dozens of Israeli crackdowns on Palestinians... effective while in place and things go back to normal when they're lifted. Except in Baghdad, they're less effective.

Sadie Lou said...

Wait. You have to go read the comments section of Omar's latest post. And this is a quote from Omar's post in January of '05

From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!
Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.
....How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

and Omar remains true to this 2 years later with his recent posts. American frequently get in on the comments section and try to wrestle the finer points and bash Bush but overall, you can't ignore that this man is happy with the results thus far and excited about the future.
The media reports are the real brainwashers-focusing on the suicide bombers and deaths.

Jewish Atheist said...

Ok, so one Iraqi blogger is optimistic. That's good, I guess, but hardly proof that the surge (or war) is working.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

i meant to say, jesus gets another black eye

Random said...

"I don't see anything in what Omar said that's particularly relevant"

Did you actually go to Omar's blog?

Some quotes:

"(February 19th) Although attacks happen here and there, the general feeling is still closer to hope and appreciation of the plan than pessimism. More families are returning to the homes they were once forced to leave, and we’re talking about some of the most dangerous districts such as Ghazaliya and Haifa Street.
Al-Sabah reports that yesterday alone 327 families returned home and that the scene of vans loaded with furniture of refugees leaving Baghdad is no more. There were times when the average was around 20 a day. The 327 figure brought the total to more than 500 families across Baghdad."

"(February 23rd) More occupied mosques are also being returned to their original keepers and earlier today Sunni and Shia worshippers gathered to hold joint prayers in several places in Baghdad as we saw on TV.

Last week, Maliki made his first public appearance on the streets of Baghdad when he visited the area of Palestine Street in Resafa the day that followed the bombings in the New Baghdad district. The same day general Aboud Qanbar, the commander of the operation walked in Haifa Street.
These public appearances are apparently part of a PR campaign to show that senior officials are not afraid of leaving the green zone anymore, and frankly this has left a good impression among the public."

"(March 2nd) Numbers are always useful in assessing results of any effort, and the numbers so far are on the good guys’ side. I read today that the count of various death squads’ victims for this month is one half that of January, and little more than one third that of December of last year. This comes from the official figures reported by the Baghdad morgue.
The other number that’s become one of the important parameters for assessing the situation in the Baghdad is the number of displaced families that have returned to their homes since the beginning of Operation “Imposing Law.” This one too is giving a positive sign. The last official count by the authorities brought the total to little over 1,020 families in just two weeks according to Baghdad paper al-Mada."

"(March 4th) Violent incidents are still decreasing in number and impact in Baghdad. Yesterday for instance the only reported incident was the abduction of an adviser to the minister of defense by gunmen in western Baghdad. It was less than 24 hours until the security forces succeeded in freeing the abducted general and arresting 4 of his captors."

And it's not just one blogger, check out his blog roll. Iraqi Atheist for example -

"(February 18th) The New Security Plan

Good heavens. The last three or four days were probably the calmest in Baghdad ever since the war. I say calmest because I honestly don't remember the last day it felt this safe. Even bullets are not being fired into the air, people respect the iraqi army and government. Is that even possible?"

Oh and to change the point I really don't think you have any right to call Ruffini an extremist if you are prepared to cite with apparent approval Juan Cole.

Jewish Atheist said...


I hadn't read his blog. That does sound promising.

Oh and to change the point I really don't think you have any right to call Ruffini an extremist if you are prepared to cite with apparent approval Juan Cole.

I wrote specifically that I would NOT point to Cole's article as proof, which is why I said you shouldn't point to Ruffini's.

Jack's Shack said...


Random said...

"I wrote specifically that I would NOT point to Cole's article as proof, which is why I said you shouldn't point to Ruffini's."

Fair do's - sorry, I didn't realise that's what you were trying to say. Just to stress though, I pointed to that article because it was the first one I found that pointed to his sources so you could examine them yourself and see if they bear load being put on them. If an author does that, then it's less important whether or not you approve of him (not that I have any particular reason to believe that Ruffini is untrustworthy - I don't, something I would bereluctant to say about Juan Cole).

beepbeepitsme said...

While a % of people in Baghdad see the US and its allies as occupiers of muslim land, there is going to be bloodshed.

I don't know what % that is and I don't think that anyone does. But the Middle East has always been difficult for foreigners to impose their will upon. Just ask the Ottoman Empire, The British Empire, France, The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

maya said...

I love XKCD! XD

and FOX would display the text, "Are Liberals too Wussy to Play by the Rules?"
Too true. You've gotta love FOX.