Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, July 12, 2004  

Bush: No Lessons From Iraq

In addition to the canceled election news, there are three big stories today. The Washington Post has one piece on Joe Wilson and the Plame affair and another on Tom DeLay's emerging legal problems. Aside from the news, I have little to add. You may consult your fave blog luminary for analysis.

The third story involves remarks Dubya made today in Tennessee on Iraq and terrorism. That one's more interesting. In the speech, Bush outlines (in a single sentence, no less) what appears to be the White House's new posture on Iraq: "Although we have not found stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, we were right to go into Iraq."

This is the emerging storyline the press has seized on, and fairly enough. It's a pretty tortured argument. Listen to the language he's forced to use to defend the decision:

We removed a declared enemy of America, who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder, and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September the 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.

To translate: in a screeching panic we bombed the hell out a a guy we didn't like because he might have eventually tried to find weapons that he might have considered using against us--or conceivably giving them to other guys we don't like who presumably also wanted weapons...which they might have also been interested in using against us. It's the new definition of "imminent threat."

However, while this is indeed a nice storyline to report, I don't think it's the central one. The more important passage came earlier in the speech, where Bush reaffirmed the neocon doctrine of foreign policy:

To overcome the dangers of our time, America is also taking a new approach in the world. We're determined to challenge new threats, not ignore them, or simply wait for future tragedy. We're helping to build a hopeful future in hopeless places, instead of allowing troubled regions to remain in despair and explode in violence. Our goal is a lasting, democratic peace, in which free nations are free from the threat of sudden terror.... First, we are defending the peace by taking the fight to the enemy.

The ill-fated neocon dream that the US can enforce an (admittedly perverse) "freedom" on all nations (the freedom to buy McDonald's burgers and shop at Wal-Mart) that led to the debacle of Iraq is still firmly in place. While all serious adults (Nader left to Kissinger right) have looked at the situation and realized the gross naivete of this line of thinking, it is still Bush's policy. It allows Bush to continue to trumpet the fictional "peace" and "democracy" the US brought Iraq. It allows him to read these lines with blissful lack of irony: "The ideals we stand for have a power of their own. The appeal of justice and liberty, in the end, is greater than the appeal of hatred and tyranny in any form." Who knows, maybe he's keeping the policy just so he won't lose this particular line of rhetoric.

I don't know if the media's going to pick up on this or not. Surely we won't see the headline I used for this post. I'd settle for "Bush to Continue Neocon Agenda of Intervention." Seems unlikely though, doesn't it? I guess that's why God invented blogs.


Dan Froomkin has a long article reviewing the media reaction to Bush's speech. I was wrong. Two articles had critical headlines: "Bush again tries to link Saddam, al-Qaida" from Knight-Ridder and "Bush asserts pre-emptive strikes policy" from the Financial Times.

posted by Jeff | 2:53 PM |
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