Skip to comments.The War, Redefined by Bush
Posted on 02/01/2002 2:14:26 AM PST by kattracks
The conventional wisdom is wrong again. It held that President Bush would be guided by the unhappy experience of his father, who squandered his Gulf War popularity by refusing to energetically attack domestic problems. Son instead would use the political capital gained from the swift victory in Afghanistan to press a domestic agenda.
The State of the Union address would mark the pivot. We would get a laundry list of domestic programs in which every conceivable constituency gets a piece ofthe pie. But we got the opposite. Bush's laundry list was remarkable for its brevity.
Instead, he is using his popularity to seek support for more war. Which is why this speech, unlike most State of the Union addresses, will be remembered. It was important. It redefined the war.
Until now, the war had been about Sept. 11. That campaign is not yet over, but the real war is not about avenging Sept. 11. It is about preventing the next Sept. 11 and in particular, a nuclear, chemical or biological Sept. 11.
We have serious enemies with bottomless hatred and, soon, they'll have the weapons to match. We have to get to them before they get to us.
Where do we look? Bush's three bad guys North Korea, Iran and Iraq are ideologically well-chosen. North Korea ismore Stalinist than Stalin. Iran is the Soviet Union in pre-Gorbachevian foment. And Iraq is Hitlerian Germany, a truly mad police state with external ambitions and a menacing arsenal.
Thank God for North Korea. It has the virtue of being non-Islamic. Mentioning it is the equivalent of strip-searching an 80-year-old Irish nun at airport security: our defense against ethnic profiling. Right now, North Korea is too destitute and too isolated to be capable of anything but spasmodic violence.
The Islamic bad guys, alas, are a far more immediate threat. Iran is a deadly threat, but it is not a ready candidate for the blunt instrument of American power because it is in the grips of a revolution from below.
Which brings us to Iraq. Iraq is what this speech was about. If there was a serious internal debate within the administration over what to do about Iraq, that debate is over. The speech was just short of a declaration of war.
Stage Two, now in progress, is the reaching for low-hanging fruit: searching for terrorists in the Philippines, Bosnia, Somalia, and pressuring former bad guys like Yemen (or Sudan?) to repent.
Stage Three is overthrowing Saddam Hussein. That will require time and planning. But between this year's State of the Union and next year's, the battle with Iraq will have been joined.
That was the unmistakable message of this astonishingly bold address. This is not a President husbanding political capital. This is a President on a mission. We have not seen that in a very long time.
Look for the false proclamations of patriotism from the Rats to dissolve into brutal battles over the budget, Enron, abortion and taxes.
"We're patriotic and love what you're doing GW, but let us stab you in the back and divert media attention to our beloved social programs."
How low do you have to be to erode trust in the Commander in Chief during wartime?
Many many people now access alternative news sources that don't repeat the Party Line verbatim. Many many people remember the real Florida disenfranchisement, tossing out military ballots. That just might prove to be the beginning of the end. I hope so.
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