Monday, September 23, 2002

In the midst of lunacy, a bit of sanity

Although I voted for Al Gore, I was never completely enamoured of him. But today, he gave a speech on The Pretender's warmongering that is a shining light. It absolutely nails Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al, exposing, in measured but forceful language, just how wrong the drumbeaters are. I'll quote extensively from it, but please read it in its entirety here.[All emphasis mine]

To begin with, I believe we should focus our efforts first and foremost against those who attacked us on September 11th and have thus far gotten away with it. The vast majority of those who sponsored, planned and implemented the cold blooded murder of more than 3,000 Americans are still at large, still neither located nor apprehended, much less punished and neutralized. I do not believe that we should allow ourselves to be distracted from this urgent task simply because it is proving to be more difficult and lengthy than predicted. Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another.

We are perfectly capable of staying the course in our war against Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist network, while simultaneously taking those steps necessary to build an international coalition to join us in taking on Saddam Hussein in a timely fashion.

What the devil happened to Bin Laden? Remember him? The guy America was going to root out no matter where he hid? Is he no longer relevant? The Pretender insists that Hussein has "links" to Bin Laden and Al Quaeda, but has shown zero proof. That's not saying that Hussein isn't dangerous, but since when has this country unilaterally attacked for that reason alone?

Nevertheless, President Bush is telling us that the most urgent requirement of the moment – right now – is not to redouble our efforts against Al Qaeda, not to stabilize the nation of Afghanistan after driving his host government from power, but instead to shift our focus and concentrate on immediately launching a new war against Saddam Hussein. And he is proclaiming a new, uniquely American right to pre-emptively attack whomsoever he may deem represents a potential future threat.

Stabilization is one of the things The Pretender seems not to think about, in his zeal to bomb the hell out of the enemy. Bush has presented all kinds of arguments (but little proof) of why America should attack Iraq. But to my knowledge, not one word has come out of the White House about what happens after the bombing. Do we just say "bye bye"? "Clean it up, folks, we're outta here?"

Gore goes on to compare George H.W. Bush's war strategy with The Pretender's:

...President George H. W. Bush purposely waited until after the mid-term elections of 1990 to push for a vote at the beginning of the new Congress in January of 1991. President George W. Bush, by contrast, is pushing for a vote in this Congress immediately before the election. Rather than making efforts to dispel concern at home an abroad about the role of politics in the timing of his policy, the President is publicly taunting Democrats with the political consequences of a “no” vote – even as the Republican National Committee runs pre-packaged advertising based on the same theme -- in keeping with the political strategy clearly described in a White House aide’s misplaced computer disk, which advised Republican operatives that their principal game plan for success in the election a few weeks away was to “focus on the war.” Vice President Cheney, meanwhile indignantly described suggestions of political motivation “reprehensible.” The following week he took his discussion of war strategy to the Rush Limbaugh show.

Ah, yes, the politics. The tactics are chilling, with anyone who protests this insanity being called unpatriotic, or worse."New product line" indeed.

The foreshortening of deliberation in the Congress robs the country of the time it needs for careful analysis of what may lie before it. Such consideration is all the more important because of the Administration’s failure thus far to lay out an assessment of how it thinks the course of a war will run – even while it has given free run to persons both within and close to the administration to suggest that this will be an easy conquest. Neither has the Administration said much to clarify its idea of what is to follow regime change or of the degree of engagement it is prepared to accept for the United States in Iraq in the months and years after a regime change has taken place.

From The Pretender's point of view, that's the point. He isn't interested in "careful analysis;" or analysis of any kind except by those who agree with him.

But here's the crux of the argument:

Moreover, if we quickly succeed in a war against the weakened and depleted fourth rate military of Iraq and then quickly abandon that nation as President Bush has abandoned Afghanistan after quickly defeating a fifth rate military there, the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam. We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.

We have no evidence, however, that he has shared any of those weapons with terrorist group. However, if Iraq came to resemble Afghanistan – with no central authority but instead local and regional warlords with porous borders and infiltrating members of Al Qaeda than these widely dispersed supplies of weapons of mass destruction might well come into the hands of terrorist groups.

That, folks, is exactly where the danger is. We could actually be unleashing those weapons on the world; we don't have a great track record of winning against guerilla warfare (remember Vietnam?). And there's no indication that Bush is taking the responsibility to rebuild after attack. That wouldn't fit his cowboy swagger.

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