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Friday, April 25, 2003

Wow, this one's a doosy from ABC news (thanks to Atrios for pointing this out). Apparently some senior Bush administration officials are saying that the war wasn't really all about the disarmarment of Iraq:

'If weapons of mass destruction were not the primary reason for war, what was? Here's the answer officials and advisers gave ABCNEWS.'

'The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks changed everything, including the Bush administration's thinking about the Middle East — and not just Saddam Hussein.'

'Senior officials decided that unless action was taken, the Middle East would continue to be a breeding ground for terrorists. Officials feared that young Arabs, angry about their lives and without hope, would always looking for someone to hate — and that someone would always be Israel and the United States.'

'Europeans thought the solution was to get a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But American officials felt a Middle East peace agreement would only be part of the solution.'

'The Bush administration felt that a new start was needed in the Middle East and that Iraq was the place to show that it is democracy — not terrorism — that offers hope.'

The article goes on to state that Bush hasn't eaten the neo-conservative agenda whole, but he did agree with some of their points. Among those, of course, would be this split between U.S. and European thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is interesting in light of Newt Gingrich's comments a couple of days ago. He said then that the State Department failed in its mission to sell the U.S. war in Iraq to the world and that the "roadmap to peace" (the Bush administration plan for peace in the Middle East) should be scrapped. A similarly-worded letter was signed by about 200 members of Congress and sent to the President. This, however, is the divisive issue between the neo-con wing of the party and what appears to be the leading opinion in the Bush administration. I'm glad to see that the administration feels a Palestinian state is worth pursuing, although I'm not sold on the deterrance theory. Time will tell, but people still debate whether or not Nixon did the right thing in Vietnam. Seymour Hersh wrote in his book "The Price Of Power" that the Nixon administration wanted to be precieved as capable of irrational action. The theory goes that if the adversary thinks one side will act irrationally, it will go to great lengths to avoid any provocative behavior. Robert Kaplan, writing in the Atlantic Monthly in 1999, expanded on that theme and used it as a possible justification for the bombing of Cambodia. The argument would therefore be that the Bush administration wants to demonstrate that its capable of throwing everything out the window to pursue terrorists, even if the evidence to support its assumptions is a bit shoddy. The hoped-for result is that the next time someone is weighing in their mind whether or not they should become a terrorist or carry out an attack, they'll consider the response the U.S. had to Saddam, or Osama Bin Laden, and that the Bush administration will do anything, legal or illegal, to get them.

It's also interesting to note that the neo-cons are taking advantage of the situation to push the agenda. Ronald Reagan, in his primary campaign against Nixon, tried a similar tactic. He hit from the right, trying to win the staunchly conservative vote and thus weaken Nixon's support among the party faithful. Nixon responded by moving more to the right in his foreign policy and ended up winning the Republican nomination.

I wonder if the neo-cons are testing the waters to determine if they should support someone who's further right than Bush (as impossible as that seems) in the next election. I tend to doubt that because they've been effective in getting their way so far and they may not let this issue split the party.

Andrew 11:43 AM : |


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