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January 25, 2004

TERRORISM AND ELECTIONS....Apparently George Bush is now almost panicky in his desire to disengage from Iraq and get the UN in. The Washington Post reports today that at this point virtually any proposal from the UN will be entertained, but only under one condition:

"The United States told us that as long as the timetable is respected, they are ready to listen to any suggestion," a senior U.N. official said.

In other words, anything goes as long as we're out by June 30. The occupation has to officially end before next year's elections.

There are, of course, many reasons that liberals generally didn't support the war in Iraq, but certainly one of them was the overwhelming partisan cynicism that the Bush administration brought to the task. Karl Rove made it clear that the war would be a perfect wedge issue for Republicans, Andy Card admitted that the "marketing" of the war resolution was deliberately timed, and now we discover that they really don't care much what happens to Iraq as long as we are officially out and can claim victory before November:

In private conversations with the United Nations and its coalition partners, the administration has begun to discuss the viability of abandoning the complex caucuses outlined in the agreement and even holding partial elections or simply handing over power to an expanded Iraqi Governing Council, an old proposal now back on the table, U.S. and U.N. officials say.

Even simply handing power over to the IGC is now on the table. Anything, as long as it gets us out.

After 9/11 George Bush had a chance to build a bipartisan consensus about terrorism and how to respond to it. But he didn't just fail to do that, he deliberately tried to prevent it, and by transparently treating terrorism as little more than a chance to boost the prospects of his own party he has convinced everyone who's not a Republican that it's not really a serious threat. After all, if he quite obviously treats it as simply a political opportunity, it's hardly reasonable to expect anyone else to take it seriously either.

Treating Medicare or abortion as a partisan issue is one thing, but treating war the same way is quite another, and in the end it's George Bush who is largely responsible for convincing half the United States and most of the world that terrorism is little more than a GOP talking point. It's likely that someday we will pay a heavy price for this.

Posted by Kevin Drum at January 25, 2004 11:20 AM | TrackBack


Comments

Wow.

Powerful stuff Kevin.

Bravo.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

I've just started reading Krugman's book, The Great Unraveling, and he has a lot of quotes from an early Kissinger book about revolutionary governments which fit the Bush administration. One of the things that stands out is that people have an incredibly hard time believing that these type governments actually intend to do what they say they intend to do. This is why people who quite correctly said that the Bush Iraq strategy would be modified to fit the US election schedule in any way necessary, without regard to either their or our future safety and stability were derided as nutty conspiracy seers. But that is exactly what Bush and crew are doing, and it is completely unsurprising to a great many people, people who can now be seen to be not nutty, but very sensible.

Posted by: QrazyQat at January 25, 2004 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

In related news at salon.com

The White House has opposed the three-month extension, but some Republicans are now suggesting a compromise: a six-month extension that would push the final report's release back after the November election. "Six months is more politically viable than three months," a senior Republican congressional aide told Salon.

Well how about that! A compromise between a 3 month extension and no extension is 6 months! Is there no issue that they will not view through the craven lense of getting re-elected?!?

Posted by: Gryn at January 25, 2004 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I'm curious....if the U.S. does frantically pull out of Iraq in June---regardless of the wisdom of doing so or not doing so--and the entire country devolves into a civil war....will the "humanitarian" aspect of the war supporters still be in play?

Posted by: Bailey at January 25, 2004 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

We can make things right. The world knows who responsible, and believes in us. Remarkable, but it's true.

The American people are still strong, and we can still reach out and reconcile with our friends around the globe.

The vast, vast majority of the world looks to us as a leader, because who wouldn't want freedom, democracy, and prosperity?

Our challenge is to figure out how to use our immense power to spread the benefits of prosperity and freedom as far and as wide as we can.

Along with this, we must demand the total adherence to transparency and accountability, as we navigate this dangerous era of WMD. To make this demand with integrity, we must being the process, and ensure the expansion of the freedom of information here in America.

The vision isn't far from Cheney (except for the free information rather than crony secrecy), but the reality of how to do this is a world away from Cheney's way.

And, what we can know more than anything else, is that there is no room for war profiteering when it comes to the liberty and security, either at home or abroad. Our security rests in good relations with total transparency and accountability in regards to technology development.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

we must being the process, and ensure the expansion of the freedom of information here in America.

we must begin...

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Somewhere in Britain, a certain prime minister is weighing his options: Minoxidil or Finasteride.

Posted by: nova silverpill at January 25, 2004 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

What's done is done. America cannot cut and run, the next president needs to understand that. But with Dubya gone (oh please God) the new prez can bring the rest of the world in on it. Make it a true peacekeeping mission and get Iraq back on her feet as a stable and productive country. If America pulls out too soon it will be a civil war that no one will want to get involved with. The fuse is lit, it can be put out but if it hits the explosives then all you can do is run away.

Posted by: salvage at January 25, 2004 11:40 AM | PERMALINK

Treating Medicare or abortion as a partisan issue is one thing, but treating war the same way is quite another, and in the end it's George Bush who is largely responsible for convincing half the United States and most of the world that terrorism is little more than a GOP talking point.

I see it another way. I'd say that our government has been hijacked by extremists, and we don't have any real say in what gets attended to and what gets ignored. If I ruled the world I'd be pouring money into homeland security here at home rather than in Iraq; I'd be building schools and infrastructure HERE instead of over there; etc.

But I don't rule the world. Bush does. So whether he's convinced me of something or not, he gets to decide what game we'll be playing each day. It's his ball. My thoughts don't matter one darn bit. After all, he wasn't even elected last time, and does that stop him/them?

Let's hope next November sweeps this meglomaniac out of office. But let's not pretend that the American people have any power whatsoever at the moment. Because public opinion doesn't matter one whit to King George.

Posted by: unbelievable at January 25, 2004 11:54 AM | PERMALINK

"if the U.S. does frantically pull out of Iraq in June---"

Remember, this is not part of the plan. Bremer will be gone, but I have seen no indication of having less than 100k troops there for another year.

This is about appearance, not reality. We will still be running Iraq a year from now.

Posted by: bob mcmanus at January 25, 2004 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

I am totally convinced there is no way Bush will get elected in November.

Iraq is turning uglier each day, the American people while blissfully naive and apathetic at the start of this war are FINALLY starting to see what many of us saw from day one. The preceding was basically GWB peeing himself trying to go to war so fast!

On the domestic agenda, NO ONE is satisfied with what he has accomplished...No child left behind anyone?

This election will turn into a democratic landslide and we will win convincingly. Note that you dont hear Republicans bragging about Bush's invincibility any more...

The man is done.

Posted by: what2 at January 25, 2004 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

Nice post, Kevin.

Way back in Septemberr, I posted on Matt Y's site that Rove & Co's strategy was tenuous at best. All the stool needs is a well placed kick. I revisted it after Dean's Iowa Screamfest. I thought that was a debacle simply because it was amateurish and fed the Tweety/Fineman/Kurtz axis of weevils and their empty calorie journalism. But hey, if anger doesn't sell, how the hell does one politically justify mainlining paralytic fear and anxiety into the electorate? You can't.

[a snippet]. . . I would suggest that Bush is much less like Reagan, and more like Carter in the effects of his demeanor and stewardship of the nation.

Bush's chief rhetorical weapon is to remind us, every chance he gets, that we are under assault at every turn. "I'm here to protect you", he infers, but the atmospherics and weight never ease or change. As a result of this and of Orange Alerts and of wobbly interchangeable rationales for doing any number of things, the electorate too, is in the midst of a quiet gut check. They "like" Bush as the parlance goes, but they're wondering if the keening, anxious, almost fearful nature about how we're conducting this war on terror thing is really "Who we are."

This is the Democrats' election to lose. Anger & fear, fear & anger for those interested.

Posted by: fouro at January 25, 2004 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

This, BTW, may be half of why I support Dean: Sheer bloody minded refusal to let politics determine what he says about matters of war and peace. (The other half is that I trust him more than anyone else to balance the budget, and not to balance it on the backs of the poor.)

Of course, you could also say this about Lieberman, but he's got other problems And about Kucinich, but he's an idiot.

And I'm not saying the other ones can't be trusted to ignore domestic political considerations, but they haven't proved to the same degree they can be trusted. At least from where I sit.

Posted by: Katherine at January 25, 2004 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Even conservatives are starting to see the light. Check out this cartoon from CNN's Bob Lang

http://www.cnn.com/ALLPOLITICS/analysis/toons/2004/01/20/lang/index.html

Unless Bush is counting on the martian vote he will lose convincingly in November.

Posted by: what2 at January 25, 2004 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

As I hear more about the political maneuvers of this administration I get the impression that skill may be turning into desparation. Perhaps I am wrong but it seems to me that if GW is defeated, the Plame things goes wide open, the true scope of intelligence distortion is revealed, as are any bribes to other nations. I might be wrong but it seems like some people are looking at serious jail time. Has there ever been a situation where an admin. may need to stay in power to avoid having some members go to jail ?

Posted by: ExLurker at January 25, 2004 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

If it's going to be a big victory, even a landslide, there needs to be a compelling platform, not only to push the victory, but to fuel the governing while president.

Remember, these guys are the masters of preventing political agendas from being implemented. If it's not strongly, passionately, and credibly in the platform, so that the people are voting for certain things to happen, than the combination of Wall Street and the Right Wing Wurlitzer will prevent any real change.

We don't need another Eisenhower Democrat. We do need a fiscally conservative president, but one who also is strong enough to push the progressive vision we need in this country to deal with health care, employment, the increasing divide of rich and poor, and a frailing infrastructure - all while securing the nation by both positive alliance and works and defensive readiness efforts.

The rebuilding of the infrastructure and securing the homeland is enough to justify a Marshall Plan-type spending plan for that right here in America, which would also at least temporarily erase our problems with unemployment while we pursue other solutions (R&D).

This involves total security, of our person and our wallets, for feeling our children are safe and that we can put food on the table for them, not to mention buy them birthday and X-mas gifts.

Then, to finish off the security equation, end this health care madness by ensuring a minimally-required universal access to care. This should at least involve emergency services and annual visits to a preventive care physician.

Effective preventive care and nutritional and dietary counseling will do much to reduce our health care costs.

The last piece of security is environmental hygiene, and this is also the largest piece of the health care puzzle alongside preventive care and dietary counseling.

The unregulated dumping of chemicals in the environment is coming home to roost, as not only do we have increasing disease and cancer, but also increasing attention deficit disorder amongst our youth.

We are salvaging the future, as alarming trends show sperm counts also going down. The unclean air, water, food, and drugs also contribute to the asthma and widespread depression.

Obesity is an epidemic, even with our youth.

We have problems - we need to address them.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

I should also say, this may be the best blog post I've ever read. You get better and better.

Posted by: Katherine at January 25, 2004 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

How dare you say that the President took us to war in Iraq for partisan purposes? That is a reckless and false charge. I think Clark will have to disavow your endorsement now.

I'm surprised Russert didn't ask Clark to account for your statement.

Ah the Media Whores.

Posted by: Armando at January 25, 2004 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, let's not take this story too far. Maybe a reworking of the government would be in the best interests of the Iraqi people and the hope for a more stablized Iraq. I don't know one way or another, but a shift in policy does not always mean that the Bush administration is playing for votes. Certainly, there are elements of party-politics gamesmanship here, and I really do hope the administration doesn't sacrifice responsible statesmanship to political convenience (what a hope!).

Posted by: Don Sancho at January 25, 2004 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about that. I got carried away with all the challenges we face, and sort of lost any sense of a conclusion.

I hope "we need to address them" is good enough.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well done, Kevin. One question: Is it better for our national interests for the Dems to run a candidate who lays all this on the table? Or should we just lock Bush up in the attic and pretend like he never existed.

My gut says the first, but there are certainly arguments to be made for the second approach.

Posted by: Boronx at January 25, 2004 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Remember, we need voters not only to vote for a person (or as the media prefers a personality) but for a platform, vision, course of action.

Then, it's a mandate, and if you stand behind it, keep pushing it, and it doesn't get done, you can turn around and blame Congress for it after 2 years.

But, to do that, the voters have to know why they put you up there, and you have to stick with it, through sickness and death.

This is where Clinton went astray. By not sticking to his guns, he lost Congress, and thus lost the chance to really put his mark on history.

Not that I mean to bash Clinton, I'm not, he did a great job with what he had to work with, and was the greatest political fighter I've ever seen.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

But of course we won't be out. We'll have 100,000 plus troops for the rest of the year at least. The idea that Bush thinks transferring sovereignty will be some sort of electoral coup while we retain a massive military presence is silly. The American people don't give a damn about the technicalities of sovereignty; they care about the troop casualties. The people that do care about sovereignty are: 1. The international community. 2. Major portions of Iraqi society. The move is far more plausibly seen as an attempt to get more support from those two groups than as some sort of entirely cynical ploy. Indeed, one of the most frustrating things about the Iraq debate is the group of people saying "Bush is rushing to get out. If only he would internationalize it, then we'd have a sustainable presence." But of course EVERY part of the international community has been insisting that we turn over sovereignty quickly ever since Baghdad fell. There is ZERO international support for a more internationalized administration of Iraq that delays the sovereignty handover. Bush recognizes this reality, and sees that the only way to get more international support is the transfer. Lots of fuzzy minded critics don't.

Posted by: rd at January 25, 2004 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not going with the election threadjack, although there are some good posts, here. Let me return you, Kevin, to last March:

The Washington Post
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Bush's Political Future Hinges on Quick War

"As the White House called yesterday for a summit in the Azores on Sunday amid signs war could begin soon without U.N. action, the administration's position is that Bush's firm determination to oppose further delays is driven by concerns about the threat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein poses to the United States. But Republican and Democratic pollsters, economists and operatives said part of the urgency for Bush is tied to his political standing at home. They said the uncertainty related to the war is depressing consumer confidence and postponing the sort of robust economic recovery Bush will need to win reelection.

Re-reads pretty good. I even dug the part, in retrospect, about threat of Saddam, which appears today to have been no particularly looming problem.

Posted by: Brian C.B. at January 25, 2004 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

There are folks on the right who I respect even as I disagree with their politics: in so far as they clearly draw a line between what they honestly believe and what the current adminstration does. That is, just because the Administration does it, doesn't mean it's automatically good. A good illustration is here.

So what I'm really interested in seeing is the reaction to these developments from the blog-o-sphere's right and pro-war factions. Folks like Tacitus and OxBlog and the like.

Posted by: Jeff at January 25, 2004 01:00 PM | PERMALINK

I hope rd is correct about leaving those 100,000 troops there for two reasons:

1) To put out the civil war that is crackling to break out.

2) To find those weapons of mass destruction. I lose endless hours of sleep worrying that we will vacate and leave them behind.

Posted by: lazybones at January 25, 2004 01:02 PM | PERMALINK

nice try rd, but bush is trying this because karl rove told him to. more bleeding in iraq hurts his election chances.
there is a fuzzy minded thinker here and you are it.

Posted by: dan hoppe at January 25, 2004 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

I think that Senator Kerry's record of not taking money from PACs is VERY impressive. He is on the same side of that issue as Sen McCain (R). Sen Kerry has already said that Sen McCain would be an excellent person in his future cabinet.

It will be important for the next president to form a bi-partisan coalition government and not this intensely partisan, special interest centered government we have seen from Bush. We need to balance the budget, we need to know if the intelligence
reports were wrong or falsified that lead us into Iraq.

Knowing how the Republican attack machine works, it will be important that the Dems have a person who has had military combat experience. That is one claim that none of the Bush 'war cabinet' can claim (I do not count Colin Powell as being in that sorry lot). Bush did his time the Air National Guard, at least when he showed up. Cheney ducked the draft by getting a deferment, and Rumsfeld was already too old. These are the guys that have led us into this war in Iraq.

They proposed good reasons, that is why Colin Powell gave his compelling speech at the UN. What I find disturbing is the 'selective way' in which the president's people chose to present the evidence. We the people need to know
whether or not they acted in good faith and were fooled or whether something more sinister was at work.

We need a new president who can unite the country, help solve our problems and end the Bush presidency. That man is John Kerry.

Posted by: jlk1956 at January 25, 2004 01:06 PM | PERMALINK

We may well have more than 100,000 troops in Iraq after the forced handover. But those troops will be holed up in their bases while the Iraq civil war rages around them.

Yes, Bush will happily and eagerly sacrifice thousands or tens of thousands of Iraqi lives if it helps him stay in office. He will easily discard the last vestige of excuse for the war--that Iraqis are better off now--just so he can declare victory here at home.

The real question is whether the media will pay even the slightest attention to Iraq after the handover. My bet is that the media will proclaim Bush God Emperor and sing his praises as a mighty warrior and man of peace while giving post-handover Iraq as much play as Afghanistan is presently getting (a hair more than zero).

Posted by: Derelict at January 25, 2004 01:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I think you're overstating the degree to which non-Republicans see terrorism as trivialized by Bush's partisanship. I think quite a few see it as something the country as a whole ought to take seriously, but believe that it won't happen as long as the Bush is in office.

Somewhere, somehow, it has to occur to someone within the UN that the best chance for Iraq and the world as a whole is for Bush not to be elected. Is it worth it to the UN to get into Iraq in June, knowing that Bush will have turned 180 degrees on internationalism, and hold the new accord up as a political victory while he's on the stump?

Posted by: Demetrios at January 25, 2004 01:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kofi Anan and the UN know this. Every time I see Anan on TV I see his hands squeezing Bush's b*lls. So many in US, especially conservatives, hate the UN, but it could select our next Prez.

Posted by: lk at January 25, 2004 01:27 PM | PERMALINK

i have just read that tacitus thing jeff, and i can hardly believe it. the republicans are the victims of bill clinton? the republicans were scarred by clinton? the poor dears. only a psychopath would write a thing like that.
this simply indicates that the republicans see no rule other than their own as legitimate. and t.
is very much a repub.
as sidney blumenthal says, the republicans mean to rule, not govern.

Posted by: dan hoppe at January 25, 2004 01:29 PM | PERMALINK

If someone squeezes your balls, there can be no complaint from that someone if you squeeze his balls back later.

Though I'm sure Jesus might express it differently, the UN is not determining our elections, just acting with integrity and independence.

Since that seems to hurt Bush, people make it out like the UN will elect the president. Bush painted himself into this corner, willingly, so the responsibility goes back to him.

And it's more than Iraq that will get him back to Crawford.

Posted by: Jimm at January 25, 2004 01:34 PM | PERMALINK

You said it, Kevin, not me.

Tacitus? A psychopath? But he's so civil.

If you look at it, the Bush administration seems to have planned a little upward bump ithis year n their long-term economic disaster; a carefully staged release of an incomplete 9/11 report; and a carefully-staged withdrawal from Iraq. This is really pretty transparent, and a lot of people will figure it out.

As I keep saying, the election will turn on the decisions of rational conservatives (if there are any) and moderate Republicans (and independents). I have seen some signs of a break, but for a lot of them party loyalty probably will win in the end, and of course the Als and other bozos think it's all a big game and really aren't interested in anything serious.

Al: "As if you're not partisan, Zizka!" Zizka: "Go piss up a rope, Al!"

The reason why we can be partisan and they can't is because our candidate isn't going to be a disaster like theirs.

Except for the hard right, the only thing Bush has going for him is the war fever, and there are even hard right-wingers who have serious doubts about him.

But a lot of people are terrified of them Democratic cooties.

Posted by: Zizka at January 25, 2004 01:43 PM | PERMALINK

"We may well have more than 100,000 troops in Iraq after the forced handover. But those troops will be holed up in their bases while the Iraq civil war rages around them."

Remember Lebanon? Isreali Defense Force troops hunkered down while various Lebanese factions tried to sieze power, and some of them kill the IDF troops? Remember the 1983 Beirut bombings that killed 273 Marines and 32 French infantrymen? Don't worry. The memories will come flooding back. Soon.

As for electoral strategy, I'm not a Dean supporter, but the New York Times has a nice, long bit that reviews videos of all his public speeches as Vermont's governor (no doubt looking for primal scream or two) and finds that he's a centerist. But, of course, the GOP has already pegged him as the new Harold Ickes. This is how they plan to win: they'll lie, using a paid-for AM radio and Fox Television and a compliant remainder of the press.

Posted by: Brian C.B. at January 25, 2004 01:53 PM | PERMALINK

Plus the tax cuts. Everyone ~did~ get something, even if we'll all have to repay it with interest.

My effective rate went from 27% to 24%.

note to economists: why does the budget have interest payment line item but not bond repayment? When/how are these 10 & 30yr bonds repaid when they come due?

More borrowing?

Posted by: Troy at January 25, 2004 01:56 PM | PERMALINK

Or, Zizka, the alternative point that I hear from so many Republicans and conservatives when reminded that Bush is stomping on everything they believe:

Yeah, but he's a Republican!

Posted by: Derelict at January 25, 2004 01:57 PM | PERMALINK

well worth rereading Bush's speech that launched the war.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030317-7.html

under the banner of Iraq Denial and Deception:

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
...
The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other.
...
Today, no nation can possibly claim that Iraq has disarmed.

Posted by: gwb at January 25, 2004 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

I'm curious....if the U.S. does frantically pull out of Iraq in June---regardless of the wisdom of doing so or not doing so--and the entire country devolves into a civil war....will the "humanitarian" aspect of the war supporters still be in play?

When the troops leave Iraq, so will the reporters. Is there a civil war and there are no Americans around to see it, does it affect the election?

Posted by: Skinny at January 25, 2004 02:04 PM | PERMALINK

500 of us already have paid a heavy price. Not to mention thousands of innocent Iraqis.

Posted by: Terrance at January 25, 2004 02:14 PM | PERMALINK

Excellent post, excellent thread ... just would like to point out that reducing terrorism to an excuse to let the government do whatever it wants in the way of waging war and neglecting any domestic concerns is pure Likudnik politics.

As is this: "Has there ever been a situation where an admin. may need to stay in power to avoid having some members go to jail"?

Check out the Sharon bribery scandal in Haaretz.com. More proof that Likudnik-style thinking rules this administration -- that's exactly how they do politics.

Posted by: Diana at January 25, 2004 02:17 PM | PERMALINK

This is a post for the ages. I'm emailing the link around. Excellente!

Posted by: loser at January 25, 2004 02:22 PM | PERMALINK

Since most of the commentators here aren't Republicans, are you all really convinced that terrorism isn't a serious threat?

Posted by: Ugh at January 25, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Demetrios. While I agree with your overall point, there's an implicit conflation of "Iraq" and "terrorism" in your argument, which is Bush's own specious logic. I don't take the Bush Administration's stated rationales for the Iraq war at all seriously. But that doesn't mean that I don't take *terrorism* seriously. The Iraq war was not merely irrelevant to attacking terrorism but counterprudctive.

Posted by: Scott at January 25, 2004 02:30 PM | PERMALINK

I hope if they are going to cut and run, they will do it by June 30. That's plenty of time for Iraq to spiral into disaster before the election. Assuming the media pays any attention, Bush will pay a heavy price for playing politics with national security.

Of course, I would hate to see that disaster occur in the first place. But we all know that Bush will cut and run - the only question is when. I hope it's with ample time before the election for the public to realize in time what a horrible mess this has become. I'm afraid that if they wait until October, the mistake will not reveal itself until after the election.

If they try to leave so early for political reasons, they will get what they deserve. It just sucks that it will take a Democratic president a full term to clean up this mess...

Posted by: G Spot1 at January 25, 2004 02:39 PM | PERMALINK

Great post.

Bush and Kucinich now have the same position, lets get the U.N. in and the U.S. out.

Posted by: Stuart at January 25, 2004 02:42 PM | PERMALINK

Posted by Zizka: "This is really pretty transparent, and a lot of people will figure it out."

Most who will, have, if only vaguely. And many of them will remain susceptible to new transparencies, the volume of which will increase ever higher as November approaches. Already my sympathy rises when I think of Dick Cheney, citing health reasons, withdraws from the ticket in mid-October. Fortunately, he'll be available as a special advisor to Bush following the election, the results of which will be dramatically affected by Bush's running mate replacement of either Powell or Leiberman. In the unlikely event that this tactic, combined with alert level manipulation, fraudulent economic figures, Osama capture, discovery of massive WMD stockpiles, black box voting, or a myriad of unimaginable plots now being hatched, somehow fails to produce victory for Bush, he'll still have over two months to roll out a series of terror attacks as justification for martial law and election results suspension. We're fucked.

Before you start tossing tinfoil hats at me, look again at the Bush administration -- Start to finish, top to bottom, inside out, it IS a conspiracy, nothing less. When Hillary warned the country about it five years ago it was already more powerful than its opponents. That power has grown exponentially since then, becoming so ingrained, so pandemic, so omnipotent, that its cancerous spread could not be stopped by even Bush, should his conscience awaken.

But there's hope. In another five years Europe may truly unite, coalesce with other regions of the world, and LIBERATE us. Get your flowers ready.

Posted by: jayarbee at January 25, 2004 02:53 PM | PERMALINK

So what I'm hearing is that Bush's winning strategy will be to have tens of thousands of troops "holed up in their bases" while a civil war rages? Right. And I'd like to hear from all the "Iraq is just electoral politics" people, why in God's name Bush would have forced through 19 billion dollars worth of aid? If "cut and run" was always the cynical strategy, why would he take the huge political hit to force through one of the largest foreign aid appropriations since the Marshall plan? I guess Karl Rove was on vacation when that went down.

Posted by: rd at January 25, 2004 03:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not so sure a pre-elecdtion meltdown in Iraq, if Bush cuts and runs this summer, will hurt Bush. It wouldn't be difficult for him (and moreso his mindless supporters) to claim that UN involvement is to blame for screwing things up.

Posted by: drew at January 25, 2004 03:09 PM | PERMALINK

The timing of the Iraq war has always been the least supported aspect of the whole operation, much less so even than the existence of WMD. I have never seen any explanation as to why Bush needed to send the US to start the war in Iraq on the day that he did, other than the obvious skeptic's view that he wanted to have the war over and done before the next election. It seems to me that the rush to begin the war is the simplest thing to hold Bush's feet to fire on, as there is no rational explanation that has to do with humanitarian reasons. Had Bush continued attempts at diplomacy, we could have had the UN and most of the world on board before we invaded. There may still have been a war, but it would only have come after negotiations were given serious effort, and weapons inspectors would have been in the country the whole time. Bush has squandered America's legitimacy on the world stage and destroyed the implicit trust that many nations had in this nation. Contrary to those who think Bush has done a good job in Iraq, I do not think he could have done any worse.

Posted by: Benjuice at January 25, 2004 03:19 PM | PERMALINK

(B)y transparently treating terrorism as little more than a chance to boost the prospects of his own party he has convinced everyone who's not a Republican that it's not really a serious threat.

Not a true statement about me nor, I suspect, you. There were many people who were seriously worried about terrorism before 9/11 formed an impression on W's brain. Plenty of U.S. and other governments have spent serious cash on developing means to combat terrorism. Support has come from the whole political spectrum. Unfortunately, productive anti-terrorism measures were also blocked or impeded from across the spectrum.

Bushco has always been on both sides of the issue, although I suspect that wherever money came into their pockets was where they laid down to rest the night.

This non-republican has believed terrorism is a threat for over twentyfive years, and whatever W flails about doing, never heard this adminstration take a serious step in the right direction. The war on terra reminds me of nothing more than the war on drugs, flailing about at secondary and more often tertiary causes instead of solving the primary problem. Palestinians anyone? Saudis? OBL?

Posted by: wolf at January 25, 2004 03:21 PM | PERMALINK

it wasn't always "cut and run" rd. check drum's post again. things ain't working out and they are panicking. jesus! as for the money? crony capitalism, rd boy! crony fucking capitalism!

Posted by: dan hoppe at January 25, 2004 03:27 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, terrorism is real. Iraq was a detour. The only decision left is what detour will be selected and when. Optimal election results will be the number one criteria.

Posted by: lk at January 25, 2004 03:29 PM | PERMALINK

"Crony capitalism" explains the aid package? So, on the one hand, Bush is cynically committed to electoral victory, no matter what the cost. But he'll happily damage his political standing to channel money to favored corporations in the most public and damaging way possible. Alrighty then.

Posted by: rd at January 25, 2004 03:34 PM | PERMALINK

My tinfoil hat theory is an invasion of Syria. The trial balloons are all out there. During a hot war a lot of people rally round the flag. There will have to some sort of crisis first, I suppose.

Is the Bush administration capable of that much cynicism? Yes. Will the people buy it? Maybe.

Posted by: Zizka at January 25, 2004 03:35 PM | PERMALINK

Question from the audience: "What sense does it make to cut and run from Iraq only to invade Syria?"

Indeed.

Posted by: Zizka at January 25, 2004 03:36 PM | PERMALINK

Now what do you suppose someone crafty, say OBL, might have in store for the Americans' going-away surprise?

May in Baghdad is going to be REALLY hot this year.

Posted by: Fred Arnold at January 25, 2004 03:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, rd, but the appropriations for Iraq were a) going to pass through the hands of many of the Bush Administrations b) by and large destined to keep up the military occupation, which will continue in some fashion for several more years c) unavoidable d) thanks to the neocon fantasists who decided not to trouble with State's Future of Iraq and and the War College's Iraqi Occupation Study, not dealt with until after the war--and much more expensive because the looting and civil disorder had destroyed infrastructure that might have been preserved using an actual occupation plan. It was a deer-in-headlights moment, and trying to pay Iraq to go away, particularly with the proceeds of taxes increasingly excused from the key Bush constituency of the very rich, is about as good as Rove could do with what he had to work with. I mean, the US has troops holed up in various Afghan bases, while Afghanistan drifts into warlordism. Why not hunker down in Iraq? Dead Iraqis and internecine conflict in Baghdad don't move the polls. They do, however, provide an excellent sanctuary for real, live, Islamist terrorists, but that's for later.

Posted by: Brian C.B. at January 25, 2004 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

"Has there ever been a situation where an admin. may need to stay in power to avoid having some members go to jail ?"

Yes, the government of Jaques Chirac. It still may not save him.

http://www.globalpolicy.org/nations/launder/regions/2002/0504chirac.htm

Posted by: Mike K at January 25, 2004 03:42 PM | PERMALINK

"If "cut and run" was always the cynical strategy..."
It hasn't always been. But it is now. That's what happens when the reality of a quagmire replaces neo-con fantasies.

"...why would he take the huge political hit to force through..."
Huge political hit? I don't think so. Now that Bush has gotten all of us pregnant, nobody wants to see the project fail--neither his GOP base or the leftists. Everyone wants Iraq to succeed. I'm sure most of America would be willing to spend even more money, happily, if it would create a good ending to this unfolding nightmare. Unfortunately for Bush, con-men are only good at giving false promises. He can't deliver the moon he and the neo-cons promised.

"$19B foreign aid appropriations since the Marshall plan?"
How much of that "foreign aid" goes directly to profiteering American companies is a very real question. We aren't helping Iraqis much by paying $3/gallon to Halliburton for gasoline. Or by paying US companies millions for infrastructure that would cost tens of thousands if Iraqis built them.

I feel bad for GOP true-believers these days. The fall for them must be painful indeed.


Posted by: Tim B. at January 25, 2004 03:49 PM | PERMALINK

What makes anyone thing American Troops will survive in Iraq until June 30th
"Remember Beruit" is closer to the truth than anyone knows
These Iraqis are getting better at attacking soldiers
Some day soon the headlines will echo Beruit
100 dead, 200 dead, 500 dead, in one single incident
How does Shrub spin that ?
Or 5 million Iraqis dying in an attempt to evict America Soldiers from Iraq
George has two enemies now
The Democratic Nominee and the grand Iyatolla Ali al Sistani
Antd the good Iyatolla aint no amature

Posted by: Free American at January 25, 2004 03:50 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, the Reagan-Bush administration. If Bush I hadn't won in 1988, thus enabling him to pardon Caspar Weinberger, Elliott Abrams, Robert McFarlane, Duane Clarridge, Alan Fiers, and Clair George before their trial.... well, who knows who would have been indicted for their involvement in the Iran-Contra business? Would Dukakis have decided that the best thing for the country was to hush up the Vice President's possible criminal involvement in selling arms to Iran to fund terrorists in Nicaragua? Possibly he would: but I doubt if he'd have handed out a free pre-trial pardon to those awaiting trial.

(Of course, this was prior to the Republican hate-campaign against Clinton, so the Democrats are not to be too harshly blamed for feeling that the office of President and of Vice-President deserves a certain amount of respect: the Republicans ended this tradition with eight years of utter disrespect for Clinton. That they now complain of the disrespect Bush receives adds hypocrisy to other vices.)

Posted by: Jesurgislac at January 25, 2004 03:55 PM | PERMALINK

How could 19 billion of pure reconstruction aid be "unavoidable" if the intent is to let things drift into civil war? It strikes me as extremely avoidable. How is it "paying Iraq to go away" when we have to stay there to administer it? People seem to have some need to see the Bush administration as driven by some steady, overpowering, malevolent will or plan. If you guys would stop thinking of Bush as Sauron you'd have a better chance of pointing out the real vulnerabilities in his record to ordinary Americans, as opposing to coming off as slightly crazed. (See the Dean campaign.)

Posted by: rd at January 25, 2004 03:56 PM | PERMALINK

I find rd's claims that the Bush administration ever had a realistic plan to rebuild postwar Iraq laugable. The realist faction in the administration expected the exiles to take over and clean things up for us under the leadership of Chalabi, and the neo-cons had pipe dreams of Iraq magically turning into Mainstreet USA out of gratitude for being liberated from a tyrant. The neocons shouted down anyone who suggested that the Irqi's just might remember that the US was a main sponser of that tyrant when he served our purposes, even though his methods were the same -that that said memories might temper their gratitude.

Any realistic post-war planning was nixed by the Pentagon bosses' experiment in tecno-war light, the administration had nothing to say other than "boys will be boys" after hospitals, power plants, sanitation facilities and other infrastructure were gutted -in addition to museums -during the immediate postwar chaos.

Oil revenue and the coalition of the willing were supposed to pay for the reconstruction but that didn't pan out, so we had to chip in something.

And crony capitalism will not be in plain sight, since the Repubican congress has gutted any oversight of contractors operating in Iraq, very much unlike the US government's attitude in WWI and WWII. Back then being a war-profiteer was considered to be unpatriotic. Now even suggesting that any giant corporation with govt (US or Iraqi Gov. Council) contracts would even *think* of not being on their very best behavior is considered unpatriotic.

Posted by: jml at January 25, 2004 04:08 PM | PERMALINK

It's likely that someday we will pay a heavy price for this.

Nothing is irredeemable. But we have to redeem ourselves first. Not rewarding Bush's misleadership by first helping support a honorable Democratic nominee for President. (Too bad the Republicans didn't pick McCain in 2000, BTW.) Clark, Dean, Edwards, or Kerry would all be fine choices as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: David W. at January 25, 2004 04:30 PM | PERMALINK

Calling rewrite, calling rewrite:

Not rewarding Bush's misleadership by first helping support a honorable Democratic nominee for President is a fine start.

Posted by: David W. at January 25, 2004 05:05 PM | PERMALINK

...."What sense does it make to cut and run from Iraq only to invade Syria?"

Well, if we cut and run from Iraq, our troops will have to go somewhere, right?

On an only slightly less serious note, however, consider this: The U.S. military serially invades and leaves each and every country in the ME (Israel excepted) trailing a path of destruction in their wake. The islamofascists take over.

Now don't panic. This is just the beginning.

The radicals stop foreign terrorism since they have won (no more silly colored alerts). The oil is nationalized, and market power is used to maximize revenue. The arabs put in place huge import tariffs to all outside goods (following in our trail blazing footsteps here). This enables true economic development to take place in the Middle East which leads to....rising incomes, thus laying the basis for....reform!

This may take a while.

In the meantime, faced with huge oil shortages and high prices, the republicans will achieve their long delayed "real" main goal: Expanded oil drilling on Alaska's coastal plain.

Everybody wins. God, it's fun being a neo-libricon. If it just weren't for that damned Israeli-Palastinian thing.

Posted by: bobbyp at January 25, 2004 05:24 PM | PERMALINK

Knowing how the Republican attack machine works, it will be important that the Dems have a person who has had military combat experience. That is one claim that none of the Bush 'war cabinet' can claim (I do not count Colin Powell as being in that sorry lot). Bush did his time the Air National Guard, at least when he showed up. Cheney ducked the draft by getting a deferment, and Rumsfeld was already too old.

Rumsfeld served in the Navy.

Posted by: MJ at January 25, 2004 05:26 PM | PERMALINK

I think Rumsfeld was a carrier pilot in the 50's. Risky job even with no one shooting at you.

As for the rest of them,not only did they not serve, they went to great lengths if necessary to avoid serving.

I have alway thought the excuse by Tom Delay was the best. "The [minorities] had taken all the spaces so there was no room for me to join up."

Posted by: ____league at January 25, 2004 06:05 PM | PERMALINK

But...what will Thomas Friedman and Christopher Hitchens say? All those "liberal hawks" may not get a liberal democracy in Iraq after all! Oh, I'm sure there's a good excuse.

Posted by: noam chimpsky at January 25, 2004 06:06 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: It's likely that someday we will pay a heavy price for this.

We already have, and indeed will go on paying a well deserved price for our overthrowing the elected governements of Mossadegh in Iran, Arbens in Guatemala, and Allende in Chile, our support of dictatorships in Greece, Argentina, and Vietnam. Iraq is just the latest example.

Posted by: Lupin at January 25, 2004 06:17 PM | PERMALINK

How could 19 billion of pure reconstruction aid be "unavoidable" if the intent is to let things drift into civil war?

Because that's what it takes to keep people like you on the hook. And, hey, it's not Karl Rove's money.

How is it "paying Iraq to go away" when we have to stay there to administer it?

We don't. Some American corporations do, and the United States government is, in fact, quietly insuring those corporations, off the books, against "political risk." And the $19 billion will be used up by November.

Posted by: Brian C.B. at January 25, 2004 06:28 PM | PERMALINK

Leave on June 30, as good a date as any other.

But especially leave before Democrats convince themselves that we have to stay and arbitrate a civil war.

Posted by: Matt Young at January 25, 2004 06:30 PM | PERMALINK

You hit this one out of the park, Kevin. Spot-on, powerful commentary.

Posted by: eyelessgame at January 25, 2004 07:11 PM | PERMALINK

The idea that Bush didn't take a hit for the aid package is simply false. Go look at the polls. He dropped 8-10 points immediately after the September speech, putting him in the low 50s, where he's been ever since except for the brief bump after the Saddam capture. The fact that its not "Karl Rove's money" has no relevance for its political impact.

Posted by: rd at January 25, 2004 07:14 PM | PERMALINK

Please write your congress creature and beg him or her not to abandon the most ignored 60% of Iraq's population: females. They've been underrepresented in media coverage, pre- and post-invasion considerations and now, in Democracy Boy's hollow commitment to freedom and civilization. Oppressed women is a subject he only broaches when he's going to drop bombs on them somewhere. I didn't agree with the First Creep's little war, but I'll be damned if he gets a pass for leaving women and girls worse off under a hardline theocracy -- even a democratically elected one -- than they were under Saddam's rule.

"I've done more for human rights than any other president." He must have meant, more to erode them.

Posted by: Peanut at January 25, 2004 07:32 PM | PERMALINK

Reply to MJ's 5:26 pm post and __league's 6:05pm
post. My comments at 1:06pm did say that
Rumsfeld was too old. I meant to say too old
for Vietnam. Mr. Rumsfeld did serve in the Navy
during the late 1950's.
I definitely agree that being in the Navy
and being a carrier pilot is very hazardous.

My comments were meant to convey that by
having the Dems support a man with combat
experience, they can more effectively
deal with the inevitable 'soft on defense'
accusations that the Bush/Rove people will
make. Sen Kerry has been able to work
with Sen McCain (R) quite effectively eventhough
Sen McCain initially did not like Kerry
because of his anti-Vietnam stance after
he came back from the war.

I think that at that time, Sen Kerry was trying
to make the political leadership of the U.S.
pull our troops out of Vietnam, rather than
allowing the effort to drag on while many
more U.S. GIs died, for a policy that was
not articulated and supported by the American
people. The shame of the Vietnam experience
was that some protesters blamed the Vets rather
than the Politicians who sent them to Vietnam,
and then failed to pull the troops out after
the policy was clearly failing. Kerry was not
in the group that attacked the Vietnam Vets, as
his support from Veterans groups clearly shows.

The fact that large numbers of veterans support
Sen Kerry, speaks well for his chances
against George Bush in November. George
Bush must go, the country will be very
ill-served by another term of Bush foreign and domestic policy.

Gov. Dean is a very intelligent man, and very
articulate. His mis-steps in the campaign will
be pounced on by the Republicans, and his message
will be drowned out by mud slinging.

Sen Edwards is a good person, but lacking in
experience and also someone who will draw fire
for being a trial lawyer. Another candidate
that the Republicans can bury in mud before
getting the message out.

Gen Clark has military background but apparently
his military service has generated acrimony
within the military. The comments of the
current Army Chief of Staff and
Gen Schwarzkopf should be duly noted. The
Republicans will use this for mud-slinging and
bury the messenger.

Those are some of my reasons why I changed
my party affiliation (I was a Republican who
backed McCain in 2000), and that is why
I am in the John Kerry camp today.

Again, thanks to MJ and__league for correcting
my earlier errors. Go USA! Mark me as
a republican with a small 'r'.

Posted by: jlk1956 at January 25, 2004 07:37 PM | PERMALINK

rd, among others, have of course refuted Kevin's asinine argument -- we're not going to be "out" on June 30, since we'll still have 100,000+ troops still there.

What I don't understand is how Kevin -- who I find usually very astute -- doesn't understand this. I mean, is he so blinded by the extremist arguments? This usually isn't the case.

(BTW - I find it quite interesting that all of the lefties here are all of a sudden using an analogy to Lebanon. What happened to Vietnam? Or is this the worst of BOTH Vietnam and Lebanon? Oh, and wait, what about Stalingrad?! I thought we're in Stalingrad too! Ooops, sorry, that was just for the battle of Baghdad - when we were supposed to have tens of thousands of deaths because we couldn't fight in urban environements. But wait, isn't this also Algeria? Yeah, that's it. Sorry I forgot - it all so confusing since Iraq automatically combined the worst of every war ever fought.)

Posted by: Al at January 25, 2004 08:45 PM | PERMALINK

So what do the REAL GOP hawks say then? Folks like Bill Kristol and the other adamant neo-cons who really see Iraq as part of a larger strategy? They've been very critical of Bush for playing politics with this. Would they jump ship and support a Democrat because of Bush's idiotic handling of the situation?

Posted by: Elrod at January 25, 2004 10:44 PM | PERMALINK

I hear that Cuba had been cooperating with Saddam's government intelligence-wise. Castro's death sure would be a convenient event, wouldn't it? It's bound to happen sooner or later, maybe we'll help make it sooner.

Or, maybe we'll just go attack Castro for giving comfort and support to regimes that give comfort and support to terrorists.

The distributive theory of preemptive war against terror.

Posted by: Jimm at January 26, 2004 12:07 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, Al, don't you get that 'out' means out of the business of running Iraq?

Our troops will still be based there, no doubt. But the question is what will their involvement be when the civil war comes?

Do they support one side? Will they hunker down? Will they take an active role, or be used simply as a threat?

One question that I've had for awhile is will there be support for one side from some big country like Russia or China? If this becomes another cold war by proxy then we really have a situation on our hands. So far the 'resistance' has been limited to small arms, mortars, car bombs, and rocket propelled grenades. What happens if they get their hands on some real weapons?

Posted by: Tripp at January 26, 2004 07:48 AM | PERMALINK

rd posted: 19 billion dollars worth of aid? If "cut and run" was always the cynical strategy, why would he take the huge political hit to force through one of the largest foreign aid appropriations since the Marshall plan...

When you say "largest appropriations," are you saying that $19 billion in today's dollars is equivalent to the entire Marshall Plan? I tend to doubt it, but I'm willing to be persuaded, if anyone knows what those 1940s dollars would be worth today. (As Ev Dirksen said, a billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money...)

Posted by: Temperance at January 26, 2004 04:42 PM | PERMALINK

It's not true that those of us who oppose Bush's conduct of the war on terrorism do not believe that terrorism is not a serious problem. We do understand that.

It's just that (as the post suggests) it's Bush who's not serious - not serious about really solving the terror problem,, which would require building nonpartisan national and international coalitions, would require more emphasis on non-military methods, etc.

Bush is really only interested in acting"tough," and then bludgeoning his political opponents for their supposed "weakness."

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