Whacking The Hornet's Nest

"Chaos in the Middle East is not the Bush hawks’ nightmare scenario–it’s their plan. "

A article out of the Washington Monthly that I found interesting: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2003/0304.marshall.html. This article goes into what has angered me the most about all the time bush and his buddies spent “making the case for war” which is that domestically he was never really challenged. The media fell in line, congress kept silent and after those 2 who is really left?

But I digress b/c I am not posting this link in a attempt to argue my feelings for me. Rather this article is the first I have read that coherently tries to guess just where we are headed and the goals that are really driving these so called “chickenhawks”. I do not know how much of this article is the truth or will be the way the future unfolds but I do know that today I read this:

     "Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis."

and i can imagine and believe such a future, and that alone scares the shit out of me.

Already discussed in this topic.

And agreed, methinks Bush and his crowd are setting in motion something our great-grandchildren will still be dealing with.

I can imagine multiple scenarios that may come about once the war is won. They range from complete world peace to WW III and the end to human existence. Sure those are not bloody likely, but there are an infinite number of points in between and one of them will come to pass. Doomsaying has become a media pasttime it seems. Death tolls and numbers injured and civillian casualties sell papers and get ratings. Speculation is the order of the day and it is a huge waste of energy in my eyes. Not to mention you can scare yourself shitless.

Or, as Charles Krauthammer succinctly put it, “The media could use some lithium.”

Note how the neoconservative plan requires a best-case scenario at every step to succeed.

Also note that the reason we sent insufficient troops and support to Iraq was because Rumsfeld/Perle/Wolfowitz were testing their plan that they could take over a nation through a small ground force supported by overwhelming air power. The reason this strategy is so critical to them? Because they want to go after Syria, Iran, et al. next, and we don’t have enough troops to take them all on using conventional forces.

That article’s largely in line with my research about this subject. However, in addition to the dice roll that’s ‘just crazy enough to succeed’ (or not) there’s another complication. The neocons are renting space in the President’s agenda - they don’t own it. Karl Rove does the long term political, and policy, thinking for this administration. He’s an idea guy, just like the neocons, and he’s also fond of the tactics and approach in general - subterfuge, misdirection and overawing concepts too large for the (political) opposition to grapple with effectively. ‘Shock and awe’ has been a remarkably effective political strategy so far for this administration. Put into place insanely huge shifts in policy so that when they get watered down you still end up with an insanely huge shift in policy. In other cases, work your magic behind the scenes in places politicos and the media don’t often look - like administrative rules changes. Low key, not sexy, and remarkably effective especially if you’re pushing big controversial measures elsewhere. Nobody can keep up. It’s not too surprising that Rove likes the neoconservative foreign plan on that account but it also appeals to the conservative base, even if they really don’t grasp the details or implications, as well as a newly horrified, and not particularly informed, public that’s still psychologically reeling from 9/11. It also hoists his unremarkable fosterling, Bush, into a position as commander in chief of a wartime nation - which makes it very hard to criticise him so long as the polls stay up. And Rove’s gambling that they will.

The difference between Rove and the neocons is that the neocons are genuinely, in their own way, idealistic. They’ve got a political goal they want to achieve that they believe is an important thing (even if they suffer in turns by hubris and ‘ends justify the means’ thinking). Rove simply wants to keep Bush in power. The Brain wants Pinky reelected. Here’s an example of a Rove intervention in neocon planning: Neoconservatives wanted to simply ignore the U.N. before moving on Iraq. Powell, an old school realist, insisted that it was important to build a concensus and was so insistant his positions miraculously kept getting leaked to the press. Other old school realists from Bush I also jumped into the mix through editorials and interviews on news broadcasts. Rove looked at the polls. Suddenly Bush is addressing the U.N. – but in a manner that served neoconservative ends through its confrontational style rather than Powell’s diplomatic agenda.

After we take Iraq I’m convinced that Rove will be looking to the polls and the political footing this neoconservative agenda is on. If he can, he’ll probably try to keep it going but if the mood is shifting you’ll see him roll out some new strategy that will likely backpedal to a UN managed rebuilding and a withdrawl of troops - Rumsfeld will become invisible and Powell will be everywhere.

The problem with this is that we’ll still have a damaged appearance abroad, no positive change in the overall middle eastern power structure, and likely more terrorism. But, hey, peace with honor works if hearts and minds doesn’t. Bush will be able to say, if we do make a quick exit stage left, that we’ve proven we aren’t imperialists and a few more terrorist attacks will only strengthen his role as America’s commander-in-chief. Who’ll accuse him of causing the problem? Besides, if the war in the Middle East doesn’t work there’s always North Korea.

stupid grin sry DennyA I dont have a good excuse for why I never clicked on the link you posted. i also think like you, especially in the fact that what Bush does is in our name. I mean Bush can so fuck up everything that it could take years even decades to fix. And i for one do not see the good sense of running into a explosives storage shed with a lit stick of dynamite in your hand like yosemite sam.

Also very nice Brian Rucker. And you mention part of why I have such a problem with all of this, it has mostly begun, been put to action by opportunists using 9/11 as their pass to alter foreign policy as fits their visions. Even worse is that they have achieved what they have wanted almost wholly unchallenged. By thumping their chests and declaring themselves patriots they actually have succeeded in getting carte blanche permission for almost everything. Cause to challenge them is to dissent which is to weaken the strength of america which is to desecrate the sanctity of 9/11 which is to be a traitor and risk becoming a pariah.

I mean just listen to the cable news, to challenge the war plan is to weaken the war effort by siphoning resources away from fighting as to insure the infalliability of the war plan. I actually heard (swear it was rumsfield) say that to call into question the war plan was to not support the troops even possibly weakening their resolve. the inference being of course that we may lose the war if too many people question just what the planners of this war are doing! It is fucking madness, and right after that you hear the anchors fall right in line.

I need to calm down, I just do not except the idea that we can shape a region like the middle east. To me we may as well be Rome invading Germania.

“Pinky and The Brain, Brain, Brain, Brain…”

White House Revises Communications Strategy

White House officials struggled this week to retool a war communications blueprint that did not allow for strong Iraqi resistance and overestimated the welcome allied troops would receive.

The administration countered setbacks on the global airwaves by using classic campaign techniques such as dogged repetition of scripted messages and flat denials of dissent. When the war plan itself was under attack, officials tried to regain their footing by saying that the plan was flexible enough to accommodate any eventuality.

“We should have made that part clearer early on,” one official said.

President Bush’s aides pride themselves on the iron message-discipline they maintained through his candidacy and early years in office, but their techniques have not immediately succeeded when applied to war. Now, Bush’s messengers must compete with other sources of information that include reporters embedded with military units, commanders in the field who bluntly speak their minds and a vocal community of retired military officers receiving intelligence from the Pentagon.

Besieged on so many fronts, administration officials all but shut down communication outside formal briefings, with the White House referring many questions to the Pentagon, and the Pentagon referring some of those questions back to the White House.

Historians and political scientists said the administration’s approach has the makings of a credibility gap if the Bush team’s assertions from their podiums and on Sunday talk shows become too far divorced from the impression the public is getting from the battlefields in Iraq.

One thing I do when I have time is hang out at the Washington Post’s live online luncheon forums. I’ve had the opportunity to ask questions and get answers of WP reporters and other guests (which I have to admit is a pretty amazing thing). Today Dana Priest, the WP’s intelligence reporter, was there answering questions. The first questioner quoted is me and the follow up is somebody else.

Richmond, Va.: Do you get any sense that the Pentagon’s policy folks are trying to get into position for any other military actions in the Middle East or does it seem they’re pretty busy with Iraq at the moment. I’ve read some old position and policy papers by folks like Wolfowitz and Perle - one doesn’t get the idea that stopping with Iraq is part of the gameplan. Has the gameplan changed or is there reason to think their current goals are no longer informed by past positions?

Dana Priest: The ideologues would not stop the game, although they might alter the tactics (not always using the US military, for example). I get the sense the military plate is full for the moment–even for Rumsfeld. Look at where the Syria rhetoric has gone. Iran and Lebanon will be the most interesting cases to monitor in the coming months. How will the administration react to the threat to Iraq from Iran, and will it consider preemption for the camps in Lebanon? eventhough the extremists there are aimed at Israel, not the U.S.?

Silver Spring, Md.: Can you assess the futures of Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith (the DOD bunch) as opposed to the State Department bunch? Seems like DOD ascendant and uber alles in this administration.

Dana Priest: Seems that way to me too, but I don’t think people at State or the CIA will stop pushing in other directions. Also, the crowd you mentioned could overstep their limits, cross lines the president and vice president believes to be unwise.

I’d replace ‘cross lines the president or vice president believes to be unwise’ with ‘cross lines Karl Rove believe to be politically unfeasible’ but it’s still interesting seeing Priest’s take on all this. She’s a top gun in the press corps.

It has been said by some pundit that the difference between conservatives and liberals isn’t politics or ideology. It’s that conservatives always sees the best case scenarios, and liberals always see the worst case scenarios.

Not universally true by any means, but a good sound bite.

As ever,

Loyd Case

It works the other way too, depending on the issue.

Note how the neoconservative plan requires a best-case scenario at every step to succeed.

That’s actually a poor analysis. A more accurate analysis of neocon thinking would be: “the neocons see even the worst-case scenarios as being preferable to the malaise of the status quo.”

conservatives always sees the best case scenarios, and liberals always see the worst case scenarios.

This runs contrary to everything they teach in Political Science. Conservatism, as an American political philosophy, derives from Hobbesian concerns about the inherent flaws of organized society and therefore places ultimate power and faith into the empowerment of individuals (the role of the state is “conservatively” limited to bare necessities like common defense).

American conservatism is just about as pessimistic as it gets – infused with the certainty that every tax dollar will be wasted by lofty liberal social planners. The only “best case scenario” recognized by conservatism is the possibility that the government will leave you alone long enough for you to earn your fortune.

A lot of long-dead threads getting resurrected lately.

Daniel, the “worst-case scenarios” for the middle east are unthinkably worse than the current situation. Radical fundamentalist government uprisings in the region? Saudi Arabia degenerating into anarchy, with the world’s oil market going straight to hell? If the neocons actually do think these are preferable to the current situation (I don’t think they do, they’re probably just being too hellfired optimistic), then they’re insane.

Brilliant. It’s fun to see “They’re insane” enjoying a perpetual vogue as the poor man’s explication of decision-making at the highest level.

Your “worst-case scenarios” are not scenarios at all but are more accurately described as rantings, much the same as the rantings that passed for “worst-case scenarios” in the run-ups to Gulf Wars I, II, and the Afghanistan intervention.



That should help settle your panic about “Saudi Arabia degenerating into anarchy”. (Political reform is a lot less sexy than riots, I admit.)

I don’t know how to post a link to the fact that oil prices are currently at lows unimaginable to all but those who had done their reading in the months prior to the Iraq war. (The world’s second-largest proven reserve being out of the hands of a self-isolating tyrant has a funny way of depressing global oil prices.)

My advice to you is to set aside the Internet for a while and read a book or two.

Then why am I still paying $1.85 for a gallon of the cheap? I’m not directing this at you but at the oil companies.

I think Daniel needs a hug. Or a dinosaur pic. :)

At any rate, here’s an update on Saudi reforms from the BBC - “Saudi Reshuffle Disappoints Reformers.”