on a mission from God?(Forgive me for stepping out of our non-serious world of campus politics for a moment, this article/issue seemed to warrant it.)
The New Yorker this week features a disturbing article about the War in Iraq. The article reveals a quiet controversy over US plans for replacing ground soldiers with bombings, US Generals' increasing frustration over not being able to get through to the President, and the disturbing depiction, by top pentagon and administration officials, of a President who is religiously and ideologically so rigid that he cannot respond to reality. Hersh has done some of the best reporting on the war, (breaking the Abu Ghraib story, for instance) and this is an absolute must-read. If you're short on time, or learn better through multimedia, you can watch this interview with Hersh from CNN: windows media and quicktime.
The article's depiction of the President is downright frightening. So that people read it, I'm going to leave it all on the front page. READ THIS(emphases are mine):
Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.The President's religious convictions have been widely reported (he told a newspaper when he was running for Governor of Texas that he had a long debate with his mother and Rev. Billy Graham about whether or not someone who doesn't accept Jesus could go to heaven: they both said yes, he said no). But, until now they have mostly just been cause for skepticism or adoration, and their links to his decision-making process only hinted at. If this depiction is true, however, we have a problem in this country that goes so far beyond partisanship and liberal/conservative that it boggles the mind.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.
“He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ” He said that the President had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice-President Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” the former defense official said. Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”
NOTE: If you're interested in learning more about President Bush's religious convictions, I highly recommend this Frontline documentary: "The Jesus Factor."