By: Zach Mitcham
The Banks County News
May 12, 2004
Father-son relationship a factor in war decision
Few things cut to the soul as much as a persons relationship with their dad. Thats true of little kids and adults alike. Every son wants approval from his pop.
So I read with interest this week about what George W. Bush said to Bob Woodward about his relationship with his father, George H.W. Bush.
Of course, the father and son are unique in sharing the presidency of the United States and sending this country to war with Iraq. Thus, their relationship carries historical weight and global significance.
And while its simple-minded to reduce the current war in Iraq to a father-son issue, its naïve to say that the relationship had no bearing on our current presidents decision-making regarding war.
We all remember that the legacy of the elder George Bush was, primarily, that he didnt finish the deal in Iraq, didnt get Saddam out of power.
Whether or not you think this was a mistake, its hard to deny that Bushs explanation of why he stopped the first Gulf War when he did is quite prophetic in light of the current state of Iraq.
In the book A World Transformed, co-authored by the former President Bush and his senior national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and published in 1998, the elder Bush stood by his decision to stop short of removing Saddam.
Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs, wrote Bush and Scowcroft. ...We would have been forced to occupy Iraq and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would have instantly collapsed, the Arabs deserting in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable exit strategy we could see, violating another of our principles. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different and perhaps barren outcome.
This past week, along with an article about the prison abuses in Iraq, The New Yorker Magazine published a review of Bob Woodwards Plan of Attack, a book detailing the lead-up to the Iraq war. The book includes in-depth interviews with the Bush Administration, including Bush himself.
In the books epilogue, Woodward recounts a taped interview with the president in which the younger Bush says he cant remember a poignant moment with his father.
I cant remember a moment where I said to myself, maybe he can help me make the decision, said Bush. ...You know, he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to.
That interview may reveal a firm religious conviction, but it also shows a true father-son strain.
And while we engage in countless, tired arguments related to the war, the Bush father-son relationship seems overlooked as a mere footnote in relation to the politics of our current war.
There have been many other things to look at, such as whether there were really weapons of mass destruction, whether Saddam really intended to attack us, whether we should listen to the United Nations, whether the war had anything to do with oil, whether supporting our troops meant keeping them alive and at home or whether it meant supporting their cause, whether the war made us safer from terrorism or actually served as a distraction from the pursuit of Al Qaeda, making us more vulnerable.
Ultimately, Bush took us to war on his beliefs, on a gut decision.
Many praise that, lauding his boldness, his conviction, adding that we must simply have faith in him as a leader and anything less is a betrayal of national unity in the post 9/11 era. Others believe he was reckless and led us into peril and that blind support of that decision is to turn your back on moral rightness and forsake future peace.
Certainly, there was prayer involved in his decision.
But there was also the earthly father involved, whether directly or indirectly in that decision process.
Consider that if successful in Iraq, the younger Bush could at least in part redeem his fathers legacy for falling short of getting Saddam. He could bridge a distance with his father by getting the man who attempted to kill his dad. In getting Saddam and reforming Iraq, he could even exceed his father in history as the more bold and daring president the stronger of the two, the one who consulted a higher power and had the faith to follow his conviction. If successful, he could ultimately be the Bush president who was right.
No doubt, there were many considerations in going to war. Like I said, its overly simple to reduce the war to an issue of father and son.
But to exclude that father-son element from the decision to go to war is to portray George W. Bush as a robot, as purely analytical. Even if its subconsciously, those motivations to correct his fathers mistake, redeem his dads legacy and, in the process, gain his dads approval, had to factor into that gut choice he made for many other fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
May 12, 2004
What Would Mama Do?
Im sure youve all seen those bracelets and T-shirts with WWJD (or What Would Jesus Do?) on them. I have to admit that phrase does pop into my mind as I think about how to handle difficult situations.
Another phrase that pops into my mind is What Would Mama do? Its gotten easier as Ive gotten older to handle hard times in the graceful way that my mother would. I dont always succeed but I sure do try.
I think more people need to think about what Jesus or their mothers would do before they react. The recent road-block I hit when trying to get some public records was one example of how not to act.
While its true that copies of public records dont have to be available for three days, access should be allowed. The public has the right to look at these records right away. Not allowing this to happen because you dont like someone just isnt right. It certainly isnt how my mother brought me up.
Im disappointed a lot by how some of our politicians act. While the public sometimes only sees the actions they take, I sometimes get a first-hand look behind the scenes. I see the jokes and childish games that some politicians play. I dont like it. Its certainly not the way my mother brought me up.
As Mothers Day passed, I had even more time to reflect on the importance of Mama in my life. I hope everyone took the time to thank and honor the woman who raised them. Some of the things I thank my mother for are raising me in church, teaching me the importance of prayer and putting God first in my life, loving me unconditionally and believing that I can do anything. These are things that every mother should strive to do for their children.
Being a mother certainly is not an easy job. I dont have any children but I get to be a part-time mother to my nephew. I baby-sit for him sometimes and take care of him whenever I can help my sister and brother-in-law.
Discipline is the hardest thing for me, as Im sure it is for many parents. Sometimes you just want to laugh or give them a hug, but you have to tell children no and discipline them. Some parents dont realize the importance of discipline and it comes back to haunt them as their child grows up.
Im glad my mother did discipline us and teach us right from wrong. Its probably why I take time to think What Would Mama Do before I take irrational actions. Thanks to my Mama and all the others who give their children a good foundation on which to grow and learn.
Angela Gary is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News. She can be reached at AngieEditor@aol.com.