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Hullabaloo


Saturday, November 29, 2003

 
Recipe For Cynicism

Atrios responded before I could to Matt's posts of yesterday about his realization that the Bush administration is not only mendacious, but more stunningly incompetent than he ever imagined. I remember at the time being sort of surprised that so many people, not just Matt by any means, couldn't believe that the Iraq scenario was unfolding exactly as it seemed to be. A very smart friend of mine kept saying "they won't let them do this," apparently subscribing to some sort of "Wizard of Oz" theory that a bunch of éminences grises behind the scenes have to sign off on anything the president wants to do. I think that many people are still having a hard time believing what they are seeing.

Reading Atrios' post reminded me of one of mine that he posted from his comments section back in September of 2002. When I went back to read it I realized that at that time I too still had some belief that sanity would prevail:

I don't object to going into Iraq because I think Saddam doesn't want nukes. Of course he does. So do a lot of people, including al Qaeda. And a lot of unstable regimes already have them, like the countries of the former Soviet Union and Pakistan. I object because I don't believe there is any new evidence that he's on the verge of getting them or that he had anything to do with 9/11, or that he’s crazy because he gassed his own people (without our objection at the time), or that he’s just plain so evil that we simply must invade without delay, all of which have been presented as reasons over the past few weeks. There are reasons why we are planning to invade Iraq, but they have nothing to do with the reasons stated and are based upon political and ideological not security goals.

I particularly object because I deeply mistrust the people who are insisting that Saddam presents an urgent danger because they have been agitating for invasion and regime change, offering a variety of rationales, for 11 years. Pardon me for being skeptical but there is an entire cottage industry in the GOP devoted to the destruction of Saddam for a variety of reasons, none of which have anything to do with an imminent threat to the US. Until they concocted this bogus 9/11 connection, even they never claimed that the threat was to the US, but to Israel, moderate Arabs and the oil reserves.


I knew aboout Mylroie at this point, but I didn't realize how firmly ensconced in the Wolfowitz/Cheney inner circle she was; I still believed that they were well ... smart, at least.

I very much object because among these obsessives are the authors of the Bush Doctrine, which is nothing more than a warmed over version of the PNAC defense policy document that was based upon Cheney's 1992 defense dept. draft laying out the neocon case for ensuring the continued status of the US as the only superpower after the cold war. They did not take the threat of terrorism into account when they formulated this strategy and have made no adjustments since the threat emerged. Instead they are cynically using the fear created by 9/11 to advance goals that have absolutely nothing to do with terrorism and in fact will make another attack more likely. We will not be able to protect ourselves against another 9/11 by asserting a doctrine of unilateral preventive war in Iraq or anywhere else. Terrorism is a different animal that requires a completely fresh approach with an emphasis on cooperative intelligence, creative police work and stealthy military strategies. We can't invade every country that contains people who are potential terrorists. And the more we try to solve this problem through military force the more terrorists we will create.

[...]

The result has been that the administration position has been incoherent ever since. One day we must invade because Saddam is close to getting nukes, another it's that he already has chemical and bio weapons. The next he's a genocidal maniac. Blair and Powell say they want disarmament one day, Rummy and Cheney argue that regime change is the goal the next. According to next week's Time Magazine, an administration source admits that they are throwing everything out there and hoping that something will "stick."

[...]

Doesn’t this inconsistency make you just the tiniest bit suspicious of what's really going on?

I have said before that if Bush will take yes for an answer and allow the UN to make another resolution demanding inspections, I will be more than happy to let him take credit for a hugely successful bluff. If Saddam fucks up and refuses we will then at least have the support of the international community to go to war on the basis of his intransigence instead of on the basis of a spurious right to "pre-emptive regime change” without convincing evidence of a threat.

More importantly we will not have implemented the delusional Bush Doctrine or engaged in unilateral “pre-emptive” military action in the mideast and thoroughly screwed up the coalition needed for terrorism prevention by striking at the hornets nest of Islamic anti-Americanism for no good reason. At this point, I’ll be thrilled if we can avoid WWIII and keep from burning all of our bridges in the very countries where we need cooperation to prevent more terrorism on US soil.


Obviously, in September I hadn't yet completely come to terms with the fact that Bush was determined to go to war come hell or high water and that the whole UN gambit was more delaying tactic than serious endeavor. By February, I was in a state of high dudgeon and mexing my mitaphors with abandon :

Aside from wondering why keeping Saddam in a box, even with sanctions, isn't better than dropping a payload equal to the firebombing of Tokyo on a civilian population, aside from knowing an explosion of terrorism is likely to result from the sight of a massive US army on the ground in the mid-east at this most dangerous moment, aside from being fully aware that the planning for this invasion has been underway for more than a decade undergirded by the same arguments of imminent danger that have not come to fruition, and aside from the fact that the administration has openly and shamelessly cast itself as Ariel Sharon's kindred spirit at a time when such a declaration of solidarity is recklessly stupid...

Aside from all that, the main reason that I cannot support any kind of quasi-unilateral pre-emptive or preventive war is that I am 100% certain that the people who are agitating the strongest for it are hypocritical, incompetent, myopic, twistedly idealistic, mendacious and psychologically crippled.

I think it can wait for another 2 years until smarter, saner people can be put in charge of running the world. I'll support freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny if somebody else is doing the freeing. These guys are far more likely to throw them out of the frying pan directly into the fire. For the sake of the Iraqi people and the people of the world, these children must not be allowed to play with matches.


Looking back I can see that it was as simple as looking at the way Bush won the election and the way he governed afterward to see he was not to be trusted. And if it is true that all organizations ultimately reflect the leader at the top then it was always obvious that this administration was incompetent.

It shakes the foundation of our faith in the constitution and belief in democracy that our supposed meritocratic society would allow such dimwitted arrogance to ascend to the most powerful offices in the world and worse, that the citizens would be so cowed, apathetic or drunk with power that they would utter only the feeblest of protests at its most outrageous actions. Bush's incompetence and hyperactive partisanship in the face of a very dubious election outcome has probably created more cynicism about politics than Watergate and Vietnam combined. It is that final nail in the coffin --- the loss of faith that even if they are liars and cold calculating players of Realpolitik, no matter what, our leaders are smart, patriotic and in control.

The biggest danger confronting us now isn't what these people want to do but what may happen because they don't know what they are doing.




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