The World Churns
August 24, 2002
By Mike McArdle
"How we achieve that is a matter of consultation and
These were the inspiring words that our president used on
Wednesday when discussing a "regime change" in Iraq.
That is the expression that our boy has been given to avoid
using the word "war," a word that, when applied
to the Middle East, carries connotations of battles, regional
chaos, possible terrorism, gasoline shortages, and that dirtiest
of all dirty words "casualties." So it's not war
the Bushies are pushing for; it's a "regime change."
Standing at a podium next to Donald Rumsfeld on a dusty road
with a hot Texas wind blowing in their faces Bush told us
that "Regime change is in the interest of the world."
But the world seems unable to recognize its own interest.
The Middle Eastern "allies" are unanimously opposed
and the Europeans have followed suit. German Chancellor Shroeder
has made opposition to Boy George's Iraqi adventure the centerpiece
of his reelection campaign. The Canadians have unequivocally
said no and the British, who were on board once are checking
their appointments calendar to see if they can find a prior
And lately some Americans have been asking questions about
Bush's regime change, unpleasant questions about why it's
necessary, what the costs and consequences will be and how
many lives might have to be sacrificed for it. In short some
people were acting if this was going to be a (gasp) "war."
People like Brent Scowcroft, Chuck Hagel and even Dick Armey
were opting out of the "regime change" as not being
worth the effort. Newspapers like the hated New York Times
were asking all the uncomfortable questions that the Bushies
didn't seem to have any answers for. A couple of articles
had even suggested that Scowcroft might be speaking for Poppy
"When I say I'm a patient man I mean I'm a patient man,"
Bush intoned in the Crawford sun. So because our boy is patient
we're going to "pursue all technologies available to
us, and diplomacy and intelligence." But, of course,
since the administration has never been able to tie Hussein
to the 9/11 attacks, the whole rationale for taking on Saddam
Hussein now rests on the completely unproven assumption that
he is on the verge of obtaining and using chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons that can be used against the US. So in
response to the criticism it seems we're willing to wait a
while in the hopes that Saddam may be overthrown from within
- keel over after eating some bad dates or have a safe fall
on him as he walks down the street. But waiting, if the Bushies
policy makes any sense at all, carries the risk that Saddam
will start nuking American cities with his newly developed
toys. The policy is a morass of contradictions.
The gathering in Crawford was convened to discuss "military
reorganization," not Iraq mind you and certainly not
(gasp) war. Bush and Rumsfeld said with straight faces that
Iraq had never come up in their meeting with Condi Rice, Joint
Chiefs Chair Richard Myers and, fresh from his undisclosed
location where he avoids evildoers and pesky SEC investigators,
Dick Cheney. Secretary Powell was not there, of course, because,
the Bushies said, they weren't discussing any foreign policy
issues. I'm sure his absence had nothing to do with the fact
that they don't trust that the General won't get into this
select group and start trying to give peace a chance.
"I know that there's this kind of intense speculation
going that seems to be going on a kind of I don't know how
you would describe it. It's a kind of churning."
Here was our boy trying earnestly to do something that was
in the interest of the world and the ungrateful world was
churning him like a stick of butter or maybe it was churning
him like a stomach. He never got to explain. The ever-alert
Rumsfeld, undoubtedly sweating away in his out of place suit
and tie, immediately sensed that something unfathomably stupid
had emanated from his nominal boss and raced to the rescue.
"Frenzy," he explained.
The day prior to the "sweatin' with the hawks"
meeting in steamy Crawford the Bushies had dispatched Tom
DeLay to express his complete support for their plan to oust
"Hassam Hussein" (as DeLay called him at one part
of the speech). Now, of course, the Bushies didn't send the
Hammer into the game to reinforce the support of Democrats
and Independents. A whole lot of them have a higher opinion
of Hussein than they do of the bug man. DeLay was out there
in an attempt to keep the remaining Republicans on the reservation.
What is so puzzling about all this is that as the Bushies
Iraq policy degenerates into an amateurish circus and allies
and prominent Republicans speak out against it we've heard
next to nothing from Democrats. The only prominent Democrat
to address the Iraq issue is Holy Joe Lieberman and he's all
for the "regime change." The Democrats have been
terrified of being called unpatriotic ever since last September,
but if Republicans can speak up about the impending insanity
of the Bush Iraq policy and not be called unpatriotic the
GOP is going to have a tough time making the charge against
Democrats. Dozens of Democratic senators voted against Gulf
War I and none apparently suffered at the polls. It can't
hurt to lay out an opposition case as Scowcroft, Hagel and
Armey have done. The risks of the "regime change"
far outweigh the possible benefits and yet our Democrats seem
inexplicably paralyzed by fear. Opinion polling demonstrates
that support for the RC is slipping and a majority of the
public opposes any Iraq effort that might involve significant
If the Democrats can't find their voice on this issue when
many Republicans, newspapers and cable talk shows can then
maybe they could use a "regime change" in the party.
It's time, in fact it's way past time, to do a little, uh,