Poodle and The Puppeteer
January 11, 2003
By Mike McArdle
the Poodle is starting to get nervous. With a January 27 date
for the UN weapons inspectors report looking more and more
like it will pass without any evidence of those much talked
about weapons of mass destruction turning up in Iraq, the
Daily Telegram is reporting that the Brits may be wondering
what the big hurry is after all. With Hans Blix now expected
to ask for more time for inspections Blair may be finding
it awfully hard to say no.
Blair appears to know that it's politically and logically
untenable to threaten a war over weapons, demand the right
to search for said weapons, perform the requisite search,
find none of the aforementioned weapons and then fight the
war anyway. Blair's Labor Party, none too happy with his planned
military adventure to start with, would have a hard time sitting
still for this one. So maybe if we just wait a few months,
you know, put things off until Autumn maybe we can find some
weapons and pull the trigger then.
But Blair's transatlantic counterpart, Presidential puppet
master Karl Rove, knows that the war can't wait until there
is some kind of defensible justification for it. It's this
winter or never. Autumn is precariously close to the beginning
of 2004, the only really important date on the Bush administration
calendar. Wars are tricky things, they're not easy to control.
The initial rush of patriotic enthusiasm that accompanies
the idea that somebody is shooting at “our boys” even when
“our boys” were sent to aggressively shoot their boys can
dissipate quickly when the boys start to come home in bags.
Approval ratings can take a real pounding and who can afford
that in an election year ?
The sad difference between Rove, Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld et
al and Mr. Blair appears to be that Blair knows he has to
answer to the members of his party and the opposition and
the Bushies thus far have gotten away with sneering at the
patriotism of anybody who asks questions and thus silencing
David Frum, the former Bush speechwriter whose recollections
of the Bush White House hit the book stores this week says
that in last years State of the Union he was ordered to “provide
a justification for war.” Notice the wording of that statement.
Frum wasn't given intelligence briefings containing the justification
and asked to come up with powerful phrases to rally the public
behind the just cause. He was told to create the justification.
The war decision had already been made and the target was
to be Iraq.
So Frum came up with the “Axis of Evil” speech, an attempt
to invoke the villains of World War II and a bit of theological
certitude to brand their pre-determined villains. Iran and
North Korea were added almost as afterthoughts, North Korea
probably just to avoid the perception that only Muslims were
being singled out as the evil ones.
But as the year wore on and the all-justifying memory of
September 11 began to fade some people began to ask for more
than justification by rhetoric alone. So for months we were
treated to a steady diet of 10-year-old nuclear warnings,
drones with very limited range that were going to make it
across the Atlantic, and an Air Force pilot declared dead
more than a decade earlier who might have somehow developed
a new pulse in an Iraqi prison. Reptilian think-tanker Richard
Perle even said that we had no choice but to go to war to
Iraq simply because we had said we would and who would ever
believe us again if we didn't.
But in view of the fact that the international community
was asking that the Bushies actually find some kind of military
threat in Iraq before they signed off on a “pile up the bodies
and deal out the oil leases” excursion into Iraq the issue
had to be framed as an effort to “disarm” Iraq. So the Presidential
teleprompter was loaded with rhetoric about the effort to
“disarm” Saddam. For weeks we heard about how “He will disarm
or we will disarm him” but thus far they've uncovered no arm
And time is wasting. The Poodle's feet get colder every day
that the smoking gun avoids discovery. Public support, always
tenuous, may be waning and the opposition Presidential candidates
are already gearing up for 2004. Rove wants his little man
to run as a courageous conqueror of evil. The war has to start
and be over before next year.
The Bushies need to find their smoking gun. Or they're going
to have to invent one.