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April 05, 2002
Inside Bush's Head

By Ayam Ismaili


I don't know that anyone can figure out what's in Bush's head lately. But rather undertaking an analysis of the complex issues that should be swirling in his head with regards to the Middle East, I'm going to stick with the most likely and therefore most basic thoughts that he is likely to be having.

First and foremost, the man is in over his head. While slick Willy was morally repugnant and you couldn't trust him with your daughter, the man clearly had the intellect to deal with complex issues. Bush doesn't. Think back, way back to high school when they had the different tiers of classes: honors, advanced, regular, school, skills, and special. Bush might have made it to school-level on a good day. Now think about some of the kids in skills level and then think of them running the country. Ah America….. it's the greatest. Now intelligence isn't the end all be all of being a good leader, but it sure helps. So lets keep it simple.

With 911, it was very straightforward for Bush. The U.S. was not at war with anyone. Radical foreigners kill thousands of U.S. civilians in World Trade Center. Americans want justice. Osama, Al-Queda, and Taliban are the guilty parties. Bomb the hell out of everyone and send in the special forces. U.S. Good. Terrorism bad. Poll numbers skyrocket. No worries about international politics. No need for historical knowledge. Slam Dunk.

Now, I don't want to underestimate the resolve it took to get through 911. The whole country was in a state of shock, losing sleep, and feeling pretty bad. Bush did a pretty good job and he deserves some credit for how he handled things. At least he didn't fire off a couple of missiles in the first 2 days in the direction of Iraq and start feeling good about himself like slick-Willy might have. He, or somebody in the cabinet, thought first and then unleashed the hell of the American military machine.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a whole different ball of wax, one that Bush is not well suited to handle. Throw in Hussein and a dozen Arab countries and Bush doesn't know what to do. He struggles and finds two words "Axis of Evil" and "Terrorism". The first one makes him look like a fool around the world as people scratch their heads and try to figure out what the heck is he talking about. But "terrorism" is a slam dunk, right? Wrong, because Bush has only been looking at the Mideast since he's gotten past the Presidential Election. He doesn't see what the rest of the world has seen in the last 50 years. Remember that Bush couldn't name many international leaders a few years back before he was elected. So Bush may not have ever known who Ariel Sharon was until he met him in person on his trip to Israel. You know how it is, you meet a guy you never heard of before, he shows you the whole country making jokes and being polite. If you didn't know that he was responsible for the massacres of hundreds of Palestinians, you'd think he was a good guy. Well Bushy probably didn't know and first impressions are everything.

So Bush is thinking really hard on this and he tries to make it simple. Hey this guy Sharon that was my tour guide 4 years ago, he seemed like a GOOD guy. They didn't let me go talk to Arafat, so he must have been a BAD guy. The U.S. is GOOD and Terrorism is BAD. Suicide bombing is BAD, that's easy. Israel has an army, and I like armies, especially tanks. Armies can never be terrorists. Army GOOD. Israel GOOD. Palestinians bomb so they are terrrorists. Terrorists BAD and therefore Palestinians BAD. Israel GOOD. Palestinians BAD. This is easy.

So Bush keeps saying terrorism. When he is on his ranch and his handlers haven't prepped him, he keeps saying terrorism thinking its going to have a magical effect. Suddenly, as the real Bush appears we remember all the jabs about his IQ and international knowledge and we realize that if just left to George, we are really screwed and so is the rest of the world. The rest of the world is waiting for Bushy to catch up. For him to understand the subtleties between terrorism and resistance. For him to understand, the concept of state terrorism that his handlers refer to as "collateral damage". And he's getting really mad at these suicide bombers. Don't they know what they are threatening every time they set off another bomb. Not the Peace Process, that's small time stuff. Bush was primed to bomb the heck out of Iraq and every time another bomb goes off and another tank rolls into an occupied territory, his plans get pushed back further and further.

Now Bush is dead set in his plan and he'll do whatever it takes to get to bomb Iraq. That's were the waffling comes in. When the suicide bombs were happening, that was pushing his plan back. Condemn the attacks. When the tanks started rolling in and the war escalating, any support Bush might have gotten from the Europeans or the Arabs dissipated. So now Bush wants his tour guide friend Ariel to cool it for a little while, just long enough to bomb Iraq again. When the President of the United States decides to execute a master plan, the last thing he wants to do is wait.

That's pretty much what I think is going on in Bushy's head. The problem I have with reporters is that they are making it too difficult. Too many variables and too much thought process for George. They are thinking about how intelligent people like themselves would think, not how George is thinking. Sure, you could make some complex argument about how Bush is weighing the influence of Israel on his chances of being re-elected, remembering what happened last time when dear old dad got a little tough on Israel, of evaluating the threat of terrorism spreading as a risk to the peace and prosperity of the U.S., of the media reaction for any condemnation of Israel, and a host of other educated considerations. But those are the responsibility of his handlers, not George. For George, lets keep it simple.

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