My morning paper carried a story on a meeting between Bush and His Poodle, as some Brits like to call Blair, headlined
President, Tony Blair express no regretsThis, of course, pertained to their invasion of Iraq.
Now there are two ways in which that headline could be true. It would be true if they simply failed to express regrets as to starting that war or as to how it was conducted and would be true if they explicitly asserted that they had no regrets. I was very interested as to which situation pertained. If the former had been true, the newspaper would have implicated that they should, perhaps, have expressed regrets but chose not to. Instead, the latter interpretation was the case. Both leaders explicitly stated that they had no regrets. In a masterpiece of meaningless prose, we have
Said Bush, "I don't regret things about what may or may not have happened over the past five years."What in hell does that mean? One problem lies in the use of "about what." Had it read
I don't regret things that may or may not have happened over the past five years.it would have been a bit clearer. But in saying, in effect, that he doesn't regret things that may not have happened he has crossed over into sheer silliness.
In using the modal "may" Bush has entered a very weaselly world. He could have said, "I don't regret doing anything I did or failing to do things I didn't do." That would have been the manly thing to say. It would, of course, show him to be a total fool or liar or both. A reasonable President -- will we ever get one again? -- might have chosen to regret lying to or, at least, deceiving the UN when it constructed its argument for an invasion of Iraq or might have regretted having totally failed to create plans for various less than optimal outcomes of the invasion such as the people's looting of museums, Saddam's palaces, and other public buildings, or the emergence of a Sunni backlash against both the American forces and the emerging Shiite government, as well as the emergence of Shiite militias or the failure to build an effective Iraqi military and local police forces, just to mention some of the things Bush would have cited as things he regrets if he were not a liar or a fool.
Blair is leaving office a bit prematurely. He was forced out. This is what happens to poodles who poop on British public opinion. It is not unprecedented for an American President to leave prematurely but Bush will not have to do so. This proves how important it is for a democracy to adopt a Parliamentary system of government. We cannot get rid of our Presidents even though they have proved to be liars and fools and that is a sad state of affairs.
Now, to be honest, I would not expect either Bush or Blair to overtly assert that they had regrets about this or that action they took in re Iraq. Blair could do that since he is a goner but not while Bush is holding his leash. The fact is that though Robert S. Mcnamara did express regrets about the Vietnam war he managed he didn't do so until his book In Retrospect came out in 1997. It is worth taking a look at this comment by Mcnamara:
"I have no regrets about not speaking out then. I have deep regrets that we ever got involved or that I supported our involvement," McNamara said. "Most of all, I want to try and look back on what I think were our mistakes -- not all my associates agree they were mistakes -- but ... what I think were our mistakes, and try to draw lessons so we won't make the same mistakes again."Sadly, because Bush has not learned from past mistakes, the US did repeat the mistake made in Vietnam.
To ask Bush or Blair to express regrets now would be foolish on our part. That is something a regular human might do after making a number of egregious mistakes but it is not what artificial people like Bush and Blair do. Of course, Bush will never mature to the point that he expresses regret about what he did or did not do or may or may not have done or whatever.
Bush and Blair could have had a lovely meeting in which they express their mutual admiration and their belief in the importance of the Anglo-American alliance without overtly saying that they have no regrets about what they have done or didn't do. Saying what they did is an overt insult to the intelligence of the American and British people, to say nothing of the dead and maimed Americans and Iraqis.