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Pacea care plictiseste & Razboiul care ucide

George H.W. Bush Was So Bored by Peace He Wanted to Quit

Jon Schwarz

A new biography of George H.W. Bush is getting a lot of attention, mostly because of Bush’s criticism of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But there’s another revelation from Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush that is considerably more important and far-reaching.

Bush, according to the account in the New York Times, “suffered from a post-victory despondency after the Persian Gulf war of 1991 — a ‘letdown’ over no longer being involved in such a huge endeavor.”

“On March 13, 1991, just two weeks after Iraq capitulated in the gulf war, Mr. Bush fantasized in his diary about calling it quits after a single term,” the Times reported.

Quoting from Bush’s diary: “Maybe it’s the letdown after the day-to-day” 5 a.m. calls “to the Situation Room; conferences every single day with Defense and State; moving things, nudging things, worrying about things, phone calls to foreign leaders, trying to keep things moving forward, managing a massive project. Now it’s different, sniping, carping, bitching, predictable editorial complaints.”

That’s right: Bush was so bored without a war to fight that he considered retiring rather than slog through another dreary day of being President of the United States.

What’s even more important, and even more frightening, is that it’s not just Bush. It’s most of official Washington, D.C. that finds peace unbearably dull, and war the only thing that lends zest to their gray lives. In August 1990, as the mobilization for the Gulf War began, R.W. Apple Jr. wrote in the New York Times:

The obituaries were a bit premature.

There is still one superpower in the world, and it is the United States. … Washington is not the backwater that it seemed to some when the action was all in the streets of Prague or at the Berlin wall. …

In a hot, humid month when much of Washington is on vacation, there is a rush of excitement in the air here. In news bureaus and Pentagon offices, dining rooms and lobbyists’ hangouts, the fever is back — the heavy speculation, the avid gossip, the gung-ho, here’s-where-it’s-happening spirit, that marks the city when it grapples with great events.

”These days, conversations are huddled,” said Stan Bromley, the manager of the Four Seasons Hotel, where King Hussein of Jordan stayed. ”People are leaning closer together. It’s serious business.”

And this goes for the British political world too. Lance Price, Tony Blair’s deputy communications minster, wrote in a memoir that Blair was stimulated by killing Iraqis, in Blair’s case in Operation Desert Fox in 1998:

“I couldn’t help feeling TB was rather relishing his first blooding as PM, sending the boys into action. Despite all the necessary stuff about taking action ‘with a heavy heart,’ I think he feels it is part of his coming of age as a leader.”

David Cameron’s government was unhappy enough about this truth leaking out that when Price’s book was published in 2013 it forced him to rewrite this passage.

It’s all just further proof that Adam Smith was right was he wrote this in The Wealth of Nations 239 years ago:

In great empires the people who live in the capital, and in the provinces remote from the scene of action, feel, many of them, scarce any inconveniency from the war; but enjoy, at their ease, the amusement of reading in the newspapers the exploits of their own fleets and armies. … They are commonly dissatisfied with the return of peace, which puts an end to their amusement, and to a thousand visionary hopes of conquest and national glory from a longer continuance of the war.

Regular people hate war, because they pay the price. But powerful people love it. That’s why there’s so much.

It’s postpartum depression. You push and you push to give birth to a healthy bouncing baby war, and then its over…

It’s not only Bush. It’s the mindset of modern civilization’s leaders. A great example would be:

It’s pouring rain outside. Suddenly a leak explodes in a torrent of water flooding into your living room. During the course of the following whatever period of time you make repairs, perhaps too hastily…

Once done you sit back and relax. It never occurs to you that during this time of “peace”, you could be making foundational repairs that have long been overdue in order to make “life” more enjoyable for all who reside in your “home”.

Instead you become bored missing the adrenaline rush you felt, hammer-in-hand, while you made combat with Mother Nature’s best.

Meanwhile, the foundation continues to crumble from lack of attention, and the hasty roof repairs do little to prevent another crisis down the road…

Clearly one must be a little insane to even consider wanting to hold such power. At the very least history shows only sociopaths and psychopaths ever end up doing so. With very, very few exceptions.

War has always been about profit, usually for the elites of societies. Every war is a struggle over access to assets no matter how it is wrapped up, it asserts who is boss and who should shut the fuck up and lay down submissive (often permanently, stretched out long six feet under).

There is no excuse for it, even a defensive war is a failure of diplomacy and suitable counter-measures. We have given too much power to our elites, it has made them profoundly intoxicated with the poison of power and now they think they can have it all.

coram nobis
This, from the Guardian’s latest story on HW’s memoir:

Perhaps the most alarming revelation to emerge from the new Bush biography is the elder man’s recollection that while Cheney had been his defence secretary, he had commissioned a study on how many tactical nuclear weapons would be needed to eliminate a division of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard.

Apparently the answer was 17, though a more profound conclusion is that Cheney was a more dangerous figure than anyone knew. It adds weight to reporting by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker that Cheney also contemplated the use of low-yield nuclear bunker-busters against Iran’s underground uranium enrichment facilities.

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