Bush is no Gandhi


The lead editorial in the New York Times ( A Bleak Assessment on Iraq ) today ends as follows:

Mr. Bush needs to get serious about demanding such a change, including enforceable deadlines for overdue steps like eliminating militia supporters from the police, ending vengeful anti-Baathist measures targeting the Sunni middle class, and guaranteeing the fair allocation of oil revenues.

Otherwise, Iraq seems headed over the cliff.

I am reminded of Gandhi’s failed attempt to keep India, a country he led to freedom from Great Britain, from splitting into Pakistan and India. The hatred between the minority Muslim Indians and the majority Hindu Indians was too great for even Gandhi to resolve. Once free from British rule, he did manage to get them to stop killing each other, no mean feat, by a “fast until death”. But to his great dismay, he couldn’t stop the partition of India.

Bush, who takes “credit” for liberating Iraq from Saddam’s dictatorship, is no Gandhi.

Had the Iraqis themselves taken down Saddam, perhaps there would be a slim chance that, with or without their own Gandhi, they could have put their sectarian hatred aside for the good of the country.

Of course, there is no Iraqi Gandhi.

The Americans came in and did all the heavy lifting for them and destroyed much of their country in the process.

Then they became an occupying army, and before long they became the new enemy led by the “liberator president” who proved to be as arrogant and removed from their daily life as Saddam had been.

Like Saddam, Bush preferred to use force rather than diplomacy to solve problems. Unlike Saddam, Bush was better at tearing down public services than building them up.

If Bush was wise he would know that an outsider cannot mandate peace in Iraq. If he had a modicum of self-awareness, he would know that if it was remotely possible for a foreign leader to broker peace, even as the “mission accomplished” aviator that he fancies himself, he just doesn’t have the “right stuff”.

(Hal Brown is a clinical social worker and former mental health center director who is mostly retired from his private psychotherapy practice. He writes on the psychopathology of public figures and other topics that pique his interest. He can be found online at www.stressline.com)


  1. I appreciate everyone who took the time to comment on my first column. Thank you.

    I find that I wasn’t the only one to think of India’s fight for independence and Gandhi, and Iraq.

    For example, in today’s the International Herald Tribune, about Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki


    “Nor can the Iraqi leader fulfill his other major promise: to lead a new effort to reconcile the warring sects of Iraq. HE IS NOT ANOTHER GANDHI, but rather a leader of the fiercely sectarian Dawa Party. It is very much as a militant Shiite that he speaks out. It would be remarkable if Maliki could even reconcile with his Shiite rivals, let alone the Sunni insurgents.” (emphasis added)



    The fact is that there is not now and has never been an Iraqi Gandhi (that is unless you count Saddam who did unify the country although certainlly not as a pacifist).

    It certainly isn’t Maliki who is nothing but a Shiite partisan and who could never unite Sunnis and Kurds and Shiites. And he could never motivate them to throw al Qaeda out of the country.

    Not to get too snarky, but let’s face it, if George W. Bush went on a hunger strike until death to stop the sectarian violence in Iraq, like Gandhi did in India, in a pretty short time we’d have a new president.

  2. Colin H

    Seems obscene to even mention

    Shrub in the same breath as Ghandi. To use a folksy descriptive term once common in my area: Bush is nothing but a dirty ole shit eatin’ dog.

  3. Ray

    Bush’s plan was never to bring unity to Iraq or even freedom for Iraqis. The plan was to secure military bases and oil reserves. Mission accomplished. There will be no leaving Iraq, it will be on to Iran and Syria. That is the plan. Total control of the middle east placing Isreal as favored state with expanded borders. Why else would we build nine large military bases and an embassy the size of Boston? Bush is successful in his mission, although a failure in the eyes of the innocent. He doesn’t give a dam what commoners think.

  4. Ghandi? Most certainly not. Alfred E. Newman? Maybe. Unfortunately, the “decider” with- as some other RR poster noted the Alfred E. Newman’s “what me worry look?” on his face- does have his finger on the button.

  5. The South Point

    Bush is insane. Literally. Crazy. Bonkeroonies. Way out in whackoland. A gibbering nutcase. And very, very evil.

    Ghandi wasn’t.

    A BIG difference right there.

  6. gene

    Above quote form New York Times “Otherwise Iraq seems headed over the cliff”…..hate to pop your housing bubble but Iraq has long since fallen off and over the cliff….soon to hit bottom. We can thank our “mission accomplished” president for this feasco. Don’t you love the way he treats congress as in (kiss my ass I’ll do what I want) and (to hell with public opinion about what a worthless piece of shit I really am). Bush and Cheney, what a combinaton. Fokes we are screwed beyond repair. Excuse me while I take another ativan and grab me a drink.

  7. paolo

    I don’t think Gandhi himself could solve the problems of Iraq. After all, “Iraq” isn’t even a country in any real sense of the word. Historically, Iraq was created out of thin air by a couple of British generals partitioning the Ottoman Empire over a fifth of bourbon at the conclusion of WWI. They just drew the borders where they felt like it, paying no attention to geography or ethnic groups.

    All that being said, Iraq’s problems are not ours to solve. Bush did a jolly good job blowing up those problems to proportions even I could hardly have imagined; still, any attempt on America’s part to solve the problems will just result in more violence.

    The best thing to do is leave, pausing at every village on the way out to beg forgiveness of all the Iraqis we screwed on our way in.

    But to do something like beg for forgiveness would take Gandhi-like courage–something you’ll never see from George Bush or any other member of our ruling class. They’ll always take the coward’s route: bombing defenseless villages from fifty-thousand feet.

  8. Ardie

    About the non-Gandhi side of Bush, Kitty Kelly writes in her book, The Family:

    “The only time he [Bush] ever started a game was when a regular got sick and the coach put George in. He only lasted about a minute and a half before he lost his temper and smashed the ball in the guy’s face. The coach yanked him, and that was the end of ole George’s basketball career….”

    Now look who is the president.

  9. paolo

    Ardie is right about Bush’ weird compulsion to “win” at any cost. There is also a famous picture of Bush playing rugby in college, giving his opponent a classic, cheap shot to the face. What a pathetic, overcompensating wimp we have for a chief executive! Now, he’s applying the same “rules” (if you can call them rules) in Iraq: “win” at all costs. His pathetic, slobbering sycophants–Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity–continue to shriek about “winning” in Iraq, even though there has never been (nor can their be) a DEFINITION of “victory” in a civil war mess like Iraq. Oh yes, and anyone opposing this disgusting orgy of blood, according to Rush and Sean, is an advocate of “surrender.” Are all these guys psychologically weird, or what?

    You know what the sign of a real man is? It’s being able to admit you’re wrong. Not one in ten men is capable of it. Find someone willing to admit they were wrong, and chances are, you’ve found a great human being. Unfortunately, such greatness is nonexistent among Bush, Cheney, and all the other Washington cronies.

  10. Bill Jonke

    Oh, come now; you haven’t seen the picture of him cheerleading “in drag?”

    Hell, bush ain’t even Howdy Doody!

    My apologies to Buffalo Bob Smith.

  11. Sandy Price

    How nice to have Hal Brown back where we can read him. Had Ghandi been alive during Bush’s peaceful march into Baghdad, he would have given up his faith in God.

    Where do we go from here, gents?