Chestnuts Roasting in an Iraqi Fire
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor, The Crisis Papers
November 28, 2006
(The following pre-war transcript of a conversation between Bush,
Cheney, Rove and Rumsfeld cannot be verified. But it passes the smell
test; see what you think.)
Cheney: It works like this, Mr. President, based on the "fait accompli"
Bush: I don't speak French, Dick.
Rove: It means that by simply doing it, one makes something an
"accomplished deed," an "irreversible fact."
Bush: I'm still lost.
Rumsfeld: What Dick and Karl are trying to say, sir, is that it doesn't
really matter how we get the U.S. engaged in Iraq, though we do think
we've come up with a winner: Saddam has "weapons of mass destruction" that
he can use on American citizens and on our allies in the region --
chemical, biological, nuclear, he's got them all.
Bush: He does? Nobody told me.
Cheney: Well, no, he doesn't really have them. That'll just be our excuse
for launching the invasion. It'll scare the bejusus out of everyone, and
Rumsfeld: And that's where "fait accompli" comes in. You see, sir, it
doesn't really matter whether Iraq does or doesn't have those terrible
weapons -- or whether we can trick the public into believing there's a
relationship between Saddam and 9/11 -- since our boots will be on the
ground. The war will be on. There will be no turning back, an
PIN THE TAIL ON THE PATSY
Bush: But the American people may feel that we fooled them and got them to
approve a war based on false premises. We'd be in big trouble if that
Rove: Don't worry. When wars begin, Americans always rally around The
Leader; nobody wants to be "unpatriotic" in support of our brave young
troops. Besides, if that kind of oppositon were to surface later, we can
always say it was the fault of those analysts at the CIA and State
Department who fed us bad intelligence. We didn't make any mistakes -- it
Bush: Just like for 9/11, right?
Cheney: You got it. But, again, how we got into the war is not the point;
what Rummy is talking about is, if we have to, playing pin the tail on the
the patsy. The point is that by using the concept of "fait accompli," none
of that matters. What matters is the accomplished fact that we will have
invaded and occupied Iraq -- for their own good, of course.
Bush: But I'm sure I'll be asked by some nosy reporter whether, if we made
a mistake in how we got in, why didn't we just say so and back our way out
of that situation?
Cheney: Well, the cold truth is that we don't want to get out of that
situation; we got in for very good geopolitical reasons, and we're going
to stay as long as we can. This so we can control the oil flow, have
military bases from which to operate in the Middle East, help our ally
Israel, and engender a mass movement for democratization in the region --
that is to say, install U.S.-friendly governments in those lands where
things are shaky for us at the moment.
Bush: But I can't say any of that to the American people. They wouldn't
understand, and we'd be in big trouble in Congress. Maybe even risk
WHAT CAN BE SAID
Rove: Exactly. You won't say any of that, Mr. President. What you can say
is that regardless of how we wound up in Iraq -- leave it vague like that
-- our troops are going to be faced with a life-or-death situation and
must be supported. And why, sir?
Bush: I know the answer! I know the answer! It's the old "fait accompli."
Our occupation is a fact of life, we have no choice now but to fight on
Rove: And if we don't stay the course, what would happen, sir? Remember
Bush: Then our brave young men and women would have died in vain.
Cheney: Right! You got it on the first try!
Rummy: In order that those brave young men and women will not have died in
vain, we must send more brave young men and women to die for them.
CUTTING-AND-RUNNING IN BUSINESS
Bush: This all reminds me of the oil business back in Texas. When my
companies started to go under, I went to my Daddy and his Saudi friends
who lent me heaps of money to keep the companies afloat. When that didn't
work, I went back to them and borrowed some more. And when worse turned to
worst, I sold the outfits and left the mess for the new owners to deal
Cheney: I get what you're trying to say, sir, but in such situations good
businessmen cut their losses early and get out. Not a good analogy to use
in public. In this war, we definitely want to stay.
Rove: But the beauty of it is that we can accuse anybody opposed to our
war effort as "cut-and-run" defeatists, traitors who "won't support the
troops." The Democrats will be forced to play along or risk being smeared
with the "unpatriotic" brush, accused of doing the work of "the
terrorists." Believe me, those Democrats will cave like the pansies they
Bush: I heard a phrase once. Something like "pulling our chestnuts out of
the fire." The Democrats would have to help us out or face the political
Cheney: That's it again, sir! You are so sharp.
ALWAYS RIGHT ALL THE TIME
Bush: "Pull our chestnuts out of the fire." I love that! If the Democrats
don't reach in to help, then America's nuts get consumed in the flames.
The Dems have to help as good, patriotic citizens. You guys are so clever.
Cheney: The only thing we ever have to worry about is the war going so
badly someday that virtually everyone -- the generals, the press, the
Democrats, the bloggers, everybody -- agrees that it was a big mistake and
it's time to get out. We Republicans could possibly lose a midterm
election, say, and the Democrats could take over and decide it was high
time to end the conflict. And we Republicans would be blamed for a failed
war. It's so unfair!
Rove: Won't happen. This will be the right war at the right time in the
right place -- with no other Superpower on the planet to stop us, and
nothing but towelheads with old rifles to fight us. With veteran
national-security honchos like Rummy and Dick in full charge of events on
the ground, we can only succeed. It's shock & awe time, baby. In war, as
in domestic policy, we'd rather people fear us and obey than love us and
dissent. We'll make sure that the Democrats will stay a powerless voice in
the political wilderness. Besides, because our friends make the voting
machines and count the ballots, there's no way the Dems can take over
Congress -- unless there were to be a sea-change in the body politic, and
that'll never happen while I'm in charge.
Cheney: Anyway, even if the absolute worst were to happen -- that we FUBAR
the post-war occupation and civil war breaks out -- we can always agree to
share some of the responsibility of the failed policy with the Democrats.
They're so hungry to get back into the political-power game that they'll
jump at the chance to be players. Then, when they sign onto our Iraq
"compromise" plan, they'll be dead ducks for the next presidential
election: In the public mind, the Democrats will be tarred along with us
on Iraq. That would negate the war issue, and we can slide Jeb right into
the White House.
Copyright 2006 by Bernard Weiner
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught
government & international relations at universities in California and
Washington, worked as a writer/editor at the San Francisco Chronicle for two
decades, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org).
To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org .