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Dangers of a Cornered George Bush

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 2, 2007
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      Dangers of a Cornered George Bush
      By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity & Dr. Justin Frank
      July 27, 2007

      Editor's Note: As the nation and the world face 18 more months of
      George W. Bush's presidency, a chilling prospect is that Bush –
      confronted with more defeats and reversals – might just "lose it"
      and undertake even more reckless military adventures.

      In this special memorandum, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals
      for Sanity (VIPS) collaborated with psychiatrist Justin Frank,
      author of Bush on the Couch, to assess the potential dangers and
      possible countermeasures available to constrain Bush:

      Recent events have put a great deal more pressure on President
      George W. Bush, who has shown little regard for the constitutional
      system bequeathed to us by the Founders. Having bragged about being
      commander in chief of the "first war of the 21st century," one he
      began under false pretenses, success in Iraq is now a pipedream.

      The "new" strategy of surging troops in Baghdad has simply wasted
      more lives and bought some time for the president. His strategy
      boils down to keeping as many of our soldiers engaged as possible,
      in order to stave off definitive defeat in Iraq before January 2009.

      Bush is commander in chief, but Congress must approve funding for
      the war, and its patience is running out. The war – and the polls –
      are going so badly that it is no longer a sure thing that the
      administration will be able to fund continuance of the war.

      There is an outside chance Congress will succeed in forcing a
      pullout starting in the next several months. What would the
      president likely do in reaction to that slap in the face?

      What would he do if the Resistance succeeded in mounting a large
      attack on U.S. facilities in the Green Zone or elsewhere in Iraq?
      How would he react if Israel mounted a preemptive attack on the
      nuclear-related facilities in Iran and wider war ensued?

      Applied Psychoanalysis

      The answers to such questions depend on a host of factors for which
      intelligence analysts use a variety of tools. One such tool involves
      applying the principles of psychoanalysis to acquire insights into
      the minds of key leaders, with an eye to facilitating predictions as
      to how they might react in certain circumstances.

      For U.S. intelligence, this common-law marriage of psychoanalysis
      and intelligence work dates back to the early 1940s, when CIA's
      forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services commissioned two
      studies of Adolf Hitler.

      We call such assessments "at-a-distance leader personality
      assessments." Many were quite useful. VIPS found the 2004 book Bush
      on the Couch, by Washington psychiatrist Justin Frank, MD, a very
      helpful assessment in this genre. We now have two more years of
      experience of observing Bush closely.

      As we watched the pressure build on President Bush, looked toward
      the additional challenges we expect him to face over the next 18
      months, and pondered his tendency to disregard the law and the
      Constitution, we felt very much in need of professional help in
      trying to estimate what kinds of decisions he is likely to make.

      Dr. Frank, it turned out, had been thinking along the same lines,
      when we asked to meet with him just three weeks ago. What follows is
      a collaborative Frank-VIPS effort, with the psychological insights
      volunteered by Dr. Frank, who shares the imperative we feel to draw
      on all disciplines to assess what courses of action President George
      W. Bush is likely to decide upon in reacting to reverse after
      reverse in the coming months.

      Parental discretion advised. The outlook is not only somber but
      potentially violent—and includes all manner of threats born of
      George W. Bush's mental state (as well as the unusual relationship
      he has with his vice president).

      Things are going to hell in a hand basket for this administration,
      and Bush/Cheney have shown a willingness to act in extra-
      Constitutional ways, as they see fit.

      While Bush and his advisers make a fetish of it, he is nonetheless
      commander in chief of the armed forces and the question becomes how
      he might feel justified in using them and is there still any
      restraining force—any checks on the increasing power of the
      executive in our three-branch government.

      We have a president whose psychological makeup inclines him to do as
      he pleases. Because Congress has been cowed, and the judiciary
      stacked with loyalists, he has gotten away with it—so far.

      But the polls show growing discontent among the people, especially
      over the war in Iraq. Congress, too, is starting to challenge the
      executive, as it should—but slowly, slower than it should. The way
      things are moving, there is infinite opportunity to diddle and dodge—
      in effect conducting business pretty much as usual over the next 18

      Could Start Another War...

      Meanwhile, the president may well feel free to start another war,
      with little reference to the Congress or the UN, against Iran.

      The commander of CENTO forces, Admiral William Fallon is quoted as
      having said we "will not go to war with Iran on my watch." Tough
      words; but should the president order an attack on Iran, chances are
      Fallon and others will do what they are accustomed to doing, salute
      smartly and carry out orders, UNLESS they show more regard for the
      U.S. Constitution than the president does.

      There is an orderly remedy written into the Constitution aimed at
      preventing a president from usurping the power of the people and
      acting like a king; the process, of course, is impeachment.

      The usual focus on impeachment is on abuses of the past, and a
      compelling case can surely be made. We believe an equally compelling
      incentive can be seen in looking toward the next 18 months.

      In this paper, we are primarily concerned about what future
      misadventures are likely if this administration is not somehow held
      to account; that is, if Bush and Cheney are not removed from office.

      Unless Checked

      If the constitutional process of impeachment is under way when
      President Bush orders our military to begin a war against Iran,
      there is a good chance that, rather than salute like automatons and
      start World War III, our senior military would find a way to prevent
      more carnage until such time as the representatives of the people in
      the House have spoken.

      This administration's capacity for mischief would not end until
      conviction in the Senate. But initiating the impeachment process
      appears to be the only way to launch a shot across the bow of this
      particular ship of state. For it is captained by a president with a
      psychological makeup likely to lead to new misadventures likely to
      end in a ship wreck unless the Constitution is brought alongside and
      a new pilot boarded.

      We are grateful that Dr. Frank agreed to collaborate with us and to
      issue under VIPS auspices the psychological assessment that follows.

      Discussion of the three scenarios after his profiling of President
      Bush was very much a collaborative exercise aimed at applying
      Frank's insights to contingencies our president may have to address
      before he leaves office. Our conclusions are, of necessity,
      speculative—and, sorry, scary.

      The Assessment of Dr. Frank:

      If a patient came into my consulting room missing an arm, the first
      question I would ask is, "What happened to your arm?" The same would
      be true for a patient who has no guilt, no conscience. I would want
      to know what happened to it.

      No Conscience

      George W. Bush is without conscience, and it would require a lengthy
      series of clinical sessions to find out what happened to it. By
      identifying himself as all good and on the side of right, he has
      been able to vanquish any guilt, any sense of doing wrong.

      In Bush on the Couch I gave examples illustrating that remarkable
      lack of conscience. From his youthful days blowing up frogs with
      firecrackers to his unapologetic public endorsement of torture,
      there has been no change.

      Observers are gradually becoming aware of this fundamental deficit.
      For example, after watching the president's press conference on July
      12, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote, "He doesn't
      seem to be suffering, which is jarring. Presidents in great
      enterprises that are going badly suffer: Lincoln, LBJ with his head
      in his hands. Why doesn't Mr. Bush?"

      No Shame

      George W. Bush seems also to be without shame. He expresses no
      regret or embarrassment about his failure to help Katrina victims,
      or to tell the truth. He says whatever he thinks people want to
      hear, whether it be "stay the course" or "I've never been
      about `stay the course.'" He does whatever he wants.

      He lies—not just to us, but to himself as well. What makes lying so
      easy for Bush is his contempt—for language, for law, and for anybody
      who dares question him.

      That he could say so baldly that he'd never been about "stay the
      course" is bone chilling. So his words mean nothing. That is very
      important for people to understand.

      Fear of Humiliation

      Despite having no shame, Bush has a profound fear of failure and
      humiliation. He defends himself from this by any means at his
      disposal—most frequently with indifference or contempt.

      He will flinch only if directly confronted about being a failure or
      a liar. Otherwise world events are enough removed from him that he
      can spin them into his intact defense system.

      This deep fear helps to explain his relentlessly escalating attacks
      on others, his bullying, and his use of nicknames to put people
      down. There is fear of being found out not to be as big in every way
      as his father.

      What a burden to have to face his many inadequacies—now held up to
      the light of day—whether it is his difficulty in speaking, thinking,
      reading, managing anxiety, or making good decisions. He will not
      change, because for him change means humiliating collapse. He is
      very fearful of public exposure of his many inadequacies.

      Contempt for Truth?

      Contempt itself is a defense, a form of self-protection, which helps
      Bush appear at ease and relaxed—at least to big fans like New York
      Times columnist David Brooks.

      The president's contempt defense protects his belief system, a
      system he clings to as if his beliefs were well-researched facts.
      His pathology is a patchwork of false beliefs and incomplete
      information woven into what he asserts is the whole truth.

      What gets lost in this process is growth—the George W. Bush of 2007
      is exactly the same as the one of 2001. Helen Thomas has said that
      of all the presidents she has covered over the years, Bush is the
      least changed by his job, by his experience. This is why there is
      no possibility of dialogue or reasoning with him.


      His certitude that he is right gives him carte blanche for
      destructive behavior. He has always had a sadistic streak: from
      blowing up frogs, to shooting his siblings with a b-b-gun, to
      branding fraternity pledges with white-hot coat hangers.

      His comfort with cruelty is one reason he can be so jocular with
      reporters when talking about American casualties in Iraq. Instead of
      seeing a president in anguish, we watch him publicly joking about
      the absence of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, in the vain
      search for which so many young Americans died.

      Break It!

      Bush likes to break things, needs to break things. And this is most
      shockingly seen in how he is systematically destroying our armed

      In the early days of the Iraq invasion he refused to approve the
      large number of troop the generals said were needed in order to try
      to invade and pacify Iraq and acquiesced in the firing of any
      general who disagreed.

      He turned a blind eye to giving the troops proper equipment and cut
      funding for needed health care. Health care and other social
      programs have one thing in common: they are paid for by public

      It may well be that, unconsciously, the government represents his
      neglectful parents, and those helped by the government represent the
      siblings he resents. If George W. Bush wanted to destroy his own
      family, he could scarcely have done better. Thanks to him, no Bush
      is likely to be elected to high office for generations to come.

      Where Does This Leave Us?

      It leaves us with a regressed president who needs to protect himself
      more than ever from diminishment, humiliation, and collapse. He is
      so busy trying to manage his own anxiety that he has little capacity
      left to attend to national and world problems.

      And so, we are left with a president who cannot actually govern,
      because he is incapable of reasoned thought in coping with events
      outside his control, like those in the Middle East.

      This makes it a monumental challenge—as urgent as it is difficult—
      not only to get him to stop the carnage in the Middle East, but also
      to prevent him from undertaking a new, perhaps even more disastrous
      adventure—like going to war with Iran, in order to embellish the
      image he so proudly created for himself after 9/11 as the commander
      in chief of "the first war of the 21st century."

      Iran would make number three—all the compelling reasons against it

      * * *


      We will now attempt to put flesh on the discussion by positing and
      examining scenarios that would force Bush to react, and applying the
      observations above and other data to forecast what form that
      reaction might take.

      Outlined below are three illustrative contingencies, each of which
      would pose a neuralgic threat to George W. Bush's shaky self-esteem,
      his over-determined efforts to stave off humiliation, and his
      unending need for self-protection.

      These are not seat-of-the-pants scenarios. Each of them is possible—
      arguably, even probable. The importance of coming up with educated
      guesses regarding Bush's response BEFORE they occur is, we hope,

      Scenario A: Destructive Attack on the Green Zone

      The U.S. military is out in front of Defense Secretary Robert Gates
      and other policymakers in Washington in seeing the hand of Iran's
      government behind "the enemy" in Iraq.

      On July 26, the operational commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt.
      Gen. Raymond Odierno, blamed the recent "significant improvement" in
      the accuracy of mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone
      on "training conducted inside Iran." Odierno also repeated that
      roadside bombs are being smuggled into Iraq from Iran.

      Last week, Gen. David Petraeus warned that insurgents intend
      to "pull off a variety of sensational attacks and grab the headlines
      to create a `mini-Tet.'" (Tet refers to the surprise country-wide
      offensive mounted by the Vietnamese Communists in early 1968, which
      indicated to most Americans that the war was lost.)

      Attacks on the Green Zone have doubled in recent months. Despite
      this, the senior military appear to be in denial with respect to the
      vulnerability of the Green Zone—oblivious even to the reality that
      mortar rounds and rocket fire have little respect for walled

      Anyone with a mortar and access to maps and images on Google can
      calibrate fire to devastating effect—with or without training in
      Iran. It is just a matter of time before mortar round or rocket
      takes out part of the spanking new $600-million U.S. embassy
      together with people working there or nearby.

      And/or, the insurgents could conceivably mount a multi-point assault
      on the zone and gain control of a couple of buildings and take
      hostages—perhaps including senior diplomats and military officers.

      Given what we think we know of George Bush, if there were an
      embarrassing attack on U.S. installations in the Green Zone or some
      other major U.S. facility, he would immediately order a retaliatory
      series of air strikes, and let the bombs and missiles fall where
      they may.

      The reaction would come from deep within and would warn, in effect:
      This is what you get if you try to make me look bad.

      Scenario B: Israeli Attack on Nuclear Targets in Iran.

      This would be madness and would elicit counterattacks from an Iran
      with many viable options for significant retaliation. Nevertheless,
      Sen. Joe Lieberman (D, Conn) and his namesake Avigdor Lieberman,
      Israel's minister of strategic affairs, are openly calling for such
      strikes, which would have to be on much more massive a scale than
      Israel's bombing of Iraq's nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981.

      For that attack in 1981, Cheney, a great fan of preemptive strikes,
      congratulated the Israelis, even though the U.S. joined other UN
      Security Council members in unanimously condemning the Israeli

      Five years ago, on Aug. 26, 2002, Cheney became the first U.S.
      official publicly to refer approvingly to the bombing of Osirak. And
      in an interview two and a half years ago, on Inauguration Day 2005,
      Cheney referred nonchalantly to the possibility that "the Israelis
      might well decide to act first [to eliminate Iran's nuclear
      capabilities] and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up
      the diplomatic mess afterwards."

      One thing Cheney says is indisputably—if myopically—true: Bush has
      been Israel's best friend. In his speeches, he has fostered the
      false impression that the U.S. is treaty-bound to defend Israel,
      should it come under attack—as would be likely, were Israel to
      attack Iran.

      With the U.S. Congress firmly in the Israeli camp, Cheney might see
      little disincentive to giving a green-light wink to Israel and then
      let the president "worry about cleaning up."

      Reporting from Seymour Hersh's administration sources serve to
      strengthen the impression shining through Bush's speeches that he is
      eager to strike Iran. But how to justify it?

      Curiously, a National Intelligence Estimate on Iran's nuclear
      capability, a study scheduled for completion early this year, has
      been sent back several times—probably because its predictions are
      not as alarmist as the warnings that Cheney and the Israelis are
      whispering into the president's ear.

      Senior U.S. military officers have warned against the folly of
      attacking Iran, but Cheney has shown himself, time and time again,
      able to overrule the military.

      But What if Impeachment Begins?

      Is there nothing to rein in Bush and Cheney? It seems likely that
      only if impeachment proceedings were under way would senior officers
      like CENTCOM commander, Admiral William Fallon, be likely to parry
      an unlawful order to start yet another war without the approval of
      Congress and the UN.

      With impeachment under way, such senior officers might be reminded
      that all officers and national security officials swear an oath to
      protect and defend the Constitution of the United States—NOT to
      protect and defend the president.

      It was a highly revealing moment when on July 11, former White House
      political director Sara Taylor solemnly reminded the Senate
      Judiciary Committee, that as a commissioned officer, "I took an oath
      and I take that oath to the president very seriously."

      Committee chair Patrick Leahy had to remind Taylor: "We understand
      your personal loyalty to President Bush. I appreciate you correcting
      that your oath was not to the president, but to the Constitution."

      The most senior officers, military included, can get their loyalties
      mixed up. And this is of transcendent importance in a context
      described by Seymour Hersh: "These guys are scary as hell...you
      can't use the word `delusional,' for it's actually a medical term.
      Wacky. That's a fair word."

      One does not need psychoanalytic training to see that Bush and
      Cheney do not care about facts, treaties (or the lack thereof), or
      other legal niceties, unless it suits their purpose. This gives an
      even more ominous ring to what Hersh is hearing from his sources.

      If Israel attacks Iran, President Bush is likely to spring to
      Israel's defense, regardless of whether he was inside or outside the
      loop before the attack; and the world will see a dangerously widened
      war in the Middle East.

      Psychologically, Bush would almost certainly need to join the
      attack, mainly to sustain his illusion of safety and masculinity.
      And Cheney, knowing that, would be pushing him hard on U.S. energy
      and other perceived strategic interests.

      Scenario C: Congress Cuts War Funding This Fall

      We posit that Congress finally grows weary of the increasingly
      obvious bait-and-switch, the "we-need-more-time" tactic, and cuts
      off all funding except for that needed to bring the troops home.

      The talk now is about getting a "meaningful" progress report in
      November, because September is said to be too soon. The Iraqi
      parliament is behaving much like its American counterpart by taking
      August off. But our soldiers do not get a month-long hiatus from
      constant danger.

      It is clear even to the press that the surge has simply brought more
      American deaths and an upsurge of insurgent attacks. What is less
      clear is why Bush remains so positive. It is probably not just an
      act, but an idée fixe he needs to hold onto tightly.

      Since doubt is dangerous, we see a compensatory smile fixe on the
      face of the president and other senior officials, dismissing any
      trace of uncertainty or doubt.

      If Congress cut off funding for war in Iraq, Bush might well cast
      about for a casus belli to "justify" an attack on Iran.

      Would the senior military again go along with orders for an
      unprovoked, unconstitutional war on a country posing no threat to
      the U.S.? Hard to say.

      In this context, an ongoing impeachment process could provide
      welcome evidence that influential members of Congress, like many
      senior military officers, see through Bush's need to strike out
      elsewhere. Military commanders might think twice before saluting
      smartly and executing an illegal order.

      In such circumstances, Dick "it-won't stop-us" Cheney, could be
      expected to try to pull out all the stops. But if he, too, were in
      danger of being impeached, uniformed military officers could
      conceivably block administration plans.

      There is only a remote chance that Defense Secretary Gates would be
      a tempering voice in all this. Far more likely, he would smell in
      any restrictive legislation traces of the Boland amendment, which he
      assisted in circumventing during the Iran-Contra misadventure.

      Petraeus ex Machina

      With "David" or "General Petraeus" punctuating the president's every
      other sentence at recent press conferences, the script for September
      seems clear. This is one four-star general with exquisite PR and
      political acumen—pedigree and discipline the president can count on.

      And with his nine rows of ribbons, he calls to mind the U.S.
      commander in Saigon, Gen. William Westmoreland at a similar juncture
      in Vietnam (after the Tet offensive when popular support dropped off

      It is virtually certain that Petraeus will press hard for more time
      and more troops. Potemkin-style improvements will be used by Bush to
      justify continuing the "new" surge strategy, with the calculation
      that enough Democrats might be overcome by the fear of being charged
      with "losing Iraq."

      In the past Bush seems to have bought Cheney's "analysis" that
      increased enemy attacks were signs of desperation. Hard as it is to
      believe that Bush has not learned from that repeated experience, it
      is at the same town possible to "misunderestimate" one's capacity
      for wooden-headedness, particularly with respect to someone with the
      psychological makeup of our president.

      He is extraordinarily adept at finding only rose-colored glasses to
      help him see.

      With Cheney egging him on from the wings of the "unitary executive,"
      but Congress no longer bowing to that novel interpretation of the
      Constitution, Bush will be sorely tempted to lash out in some
      violent way, if further funding for the war is denied.

      To do that effectively, he will need senior generals and admirals as
      co-conspirators. It will be up to them to choose between career and
      Constitution. All too often, in such circumstances, the tendency has
      been to choose career.

      Impeachment hearings, though, could encourage senior officers like
      Admiral Fallon to pause long enough to remember that their oath is
      to defend the Constitution, and that they are not required to follow
      orders to start another war in order to stave off political and
      personal disaster for the president and vice president.

      Justin Frank, M.D.


      David MacMichael
      Tom Maertens
      Ray McGovern
      Coleen Rowley

      Steering Group
      Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
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