The Blame Game

Mission AccomplishedWhen my five-year old daughter accidentally does something wrong she is in the habit of saying, "Look what you made me do!." In response, I try to explain to her the concept of personal responsibility, of free will, of taking credit or blame for one’s actions. I suspect that it is a lesson that most parents teach their children at an early age.

My daughter’s protestations came to mind when I heard the President’s latest speech seeking to defend his Iraq policy.  The President laid blame at the feet of Saddam Hussein for the chaos in Iraq. According to the official White House transcript, the President said:

These are the kinds of tensions Iraqis are dealing with today. They are the divisions that Saddam aggravated through deliberate policies of ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence. As one Middle East scholar has put it, Iraq under Saddam Hussein was "a society slowly and systematically poisoned by political terror. The toxic atmosphere in today’s Iraq bears witness to his terrible handiwork." 

For the sake of argument, let me agree with the President that Saddam Hussein’s policies created the conditions for sectarian strife in Iraq. If that is and was indeed the case, why did the Administration not anticipate this sectarian strife? Why trot out this argument now? This argument is wholly inconsistent with what we were told before the war – that it would be a cakewalk, bed of roses, etc. If we grant the President the benefit of this argument, then the Administration appears completely unprepared and incompetent, now by its own admission, in dealing with post "Mission Accomplished" Iraq.

It seems to me that in trying to find someone, anyone, to blame for the debacle in Iraq, the Administration has finally and inadvertently admitted failure and defeat. I think it is long past time that the Administration accepted the reality in Iraq and its role in bringing about that reality. There can now be no doubt that the invasion of Iraq was ill conceived; and the decision to invade Iraq and unleashing the very predictable sectarian strife and responsibility for that decision lies solely at the feet of the President and this Administration.

I have the same hope for this Administration that I have for my five-year-old: that they accept responsibility for their actions.



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7 Responses to The Blame Game

  1. proximity1 says:

    Whence and how came the war—-

    I propose for your background reading the following; to read and distribute liberally:

    At the following link,

    please find a page from which you may down-load the text of a
    recently much-noted paper, “The Israel Lobby”, by Professor John
    Mearshiemer of the Univ. of Chicago and Professor Stephen Walt of
    the Kennedy School of Govt. at Harvard.

    In it you’ll find fascinating and too-little-known details on the background
    of the war: who pushed for it, how they did it and why.

    I urge that you read it and pass it along to all on your mailing lists who
    are interested in the political background of this war and much about what
    we have to expect in the months and years ahead unless things change.

    An abridged version is available from the London Review of Books site :

  2. JReid says:

    …and if the U.S. now says Saddam created these conditions, how did they not anticipate the possibility of sectarian strife, and then carefully consider whether it was worth removing the one thing forcing Iraq to hold together: the authoritarian regime of Saddam Hussein. Had they thought it through, and the latest round of documents released in the UK suggest Bush dismissed the idea of sectarian fighting, they might have come to the conclusion that given the lack of a security threat to the U.S., the entire enterprise simply wasn’t worth it…

  3. Mash says:


    That is the corner the Administration has painted itself into with this new pass the buck talking point. If they knew about the possibility of sectarian violence and went ahead anyway, they were wreckless. If they knew and simply did not grasp its significance they were incompetent. Incompetent or wreckless, either way their argument is an admission of utter and complete failure of policy.

    – Mash

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  5. Mike Meyer says:

    In the 1880’s (yes 18) Deutchebank financed the Berlin to Baghdad RR (Murder on the Orient Express) TO GET THE OIL. (read your pre WWI history) George and Deadeye went to Iraq TO GET THE OIL. This summer they’ll go into Iran (same as Germans in WWI) TO GET THE OIL. No amount(absolutly none) of reasoning, knowledge, and/or commonsense would have or will stop them from going TO GET THE OIL. Sadly it didn’t work then it won’t work now. (commomsense) Therefore it’s a huge waste of life and limb and our TAXDOLLARS. I’ve asked myself ” Why should I pay these people for failure?” Now I’ve found my answer, maybe you might want to ask yourself the same question.

  6. Mash says:

    I actually don’t think it was primarily about oil for Mr. Bush. It may have been for some quarters in his Administration. It wasnt about oil for the neo-cons. It was about proving a theory. Iraq was a test case for their vision of a unipolar world. Unfortunately, for all of us, especially the Iraqis, their theory was hubris and when the rubber met the road, it all went to hell.

    But I fear that for Mr. Bush it may have been something more than cold calcualtions. I think he is convinced he is doing God’s work. Sure, he was used by others in his Admin for their own agendas. But, I think for him, it was about fulfilling a prophecy and no amount of evidence (or lack of evidence) was going to convince him otherwise. When God is your copilot, you are pretty much not going to listen to anything.

    So, the oil interests, the neo-cons, the xenophobes, they all used Mr. Bush. And he was happy to play along because God told him to do it. That’s my best guess. And that’s why I think we are in very dangerous times.

    And, our taxes, our soldiers’ lives, deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis are all inconsequential and easily justified by blind faith in the divine mission.

    So what I’m saying is, basically, we are all screwed unless some grownups take over soon.

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