United States Presidency and Iraq: Beyond Control

There is a troubling similarity between Iraq and the war in Vietnam. As in the 1960s an American president, relying on the ill-informed counsel of a small group of unaccountable and un-elected advisers, has overestimated the value of sheer military power and finds himself a prisoner of events beyond his control.

The World Today
5 minute READ

Lyndon Johnson’s misjudgments cost him the presidency. President George Bush and his team may be luckier – in recent months they have made significant alterations of course. Meanwhile it seems that, whichever way the November election may go, the neo-con ascendancy is doomed. And that wars of choice and pre-emptive strikes are no longer credible US policy options.

When the United States Supreme Court broke the Florida deadlock three and a half years ago by awarding the presidency to George Bush, what occurred was not a swing of the pendulum but the slash of a scythe. In American political practice there is no such thing as continuity in the higher reaches of the civil service; a change of government brings to office not just a new chief executive, together with cabinet members and aides, but a host of unelected appointees to top jobs in every department of the federal bureaucracy.

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