Banks County Opinions...

MAY 12, 2004


Column

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 person’s relationship with their dad. That’s 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 it’s simple-minded to reduce the current war in Iraq to a father-son issue, it’s naïve to say that the relationship had no bearing on our current president’s decision-making regarding war.
We all remember that the legacy of the elder George Bush was, primarily, that he didn’t finish the deal in Iraq, didn’t get Saddam out of power.
Whether or not you think this was a mistake, it’s hard to deny that Bush’s 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 Woodward’s “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 book’s epilogue, Woodward recounts a taped interview with the president in which the younger Bush says he can’t remember a poignant moment with his father.
“I can’t 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 father’s 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, it’s 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 it’s subconsciously, those motivations to correct his father’s mistake, redeem his dad’s legacy and, in the process, gain his dad’s 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.

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Column

By: Angela Gary
The Banks County News
May 12, 2004

What Would Mama Do?
I’m sure you’ve 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?” It’s gotten easier as I’ve gotten older to handle hard times in the graceful way that my mother would. I don’t 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 it’s true that copies of public records don’t 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 don’t like someone just isn’t right. It certainly isn’t how my mother brought me up.
I’m 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 don’t like it. It’s certainly not the way my mother brought me up.
As Mother’s 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 don’t 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 I’m 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 don’t realize the importance of discipline and it comes back to haunt them as their child grows up.
I’m glad my mother did discipline us and teach us right from wrong. It’s 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.


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