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As The World Churns
August 24, 2002
By Mike McArdle

"How we achieve that is a matter of consultation and deliberative deliberation."

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 commitment.

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 Bush.

"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 casualties.

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, "churning."

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