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The NeoDotCom Bubble
March 31, 2003
By demosthenes

If you think back to the late and unlamented dot com hype, doesn't the whole Rumsfeld/Cheney package sound a bit familiar, in both style and content?

It was all very high-concept, networked and data-intensive. In the boardrooms of George W. Bush's self-styled "CEO Presidency," the Uniforms, professional soldiers like General Franks and General Myers who tryed to realistically budget their Armor and Infantry Divisions for Bush's upcoming priority-one Project Iraq, were mocked as blinkered traditionalists, patronized, lectured to on military matters by Rumsfeld and the other Suits, the civilian appointees, defense contractors and consultants, many of them Neocon chickenhawks who had never served. Praising each other as visionaries, the Suits convinced themselves that they were the only people in the room who really got it.

The Uniforms fought hard for their carefully calculated requirments, but their numbers were repeatedly scaled down by the Suits. "Tanks? Troops? Quaint, 20th century antiques. Tracks and boots are out, choppers and Special Forces are in, and that's what Secretary Rumsfeld wants to see on CNN. Besides - the Iraqis won't even fight. This is just another hostile takeover, exactly like Afghanistan. Oh all right, since this obviously upsets you both, I guess we can include a couple divisions. No, no reserve division. If you don't have a plan to use it, why ship it there at all? Preposterous, we couldn't possibly need three divisions!"

If President Bush was engaged with this "technical stuff" at all, I'm sure he listened patiently to these fine officers and their old-economy anxieties, perhaps nodding compassionately. But that's the only thing he did for them.

What the President's fair-haired good-old-boys really "got" was deeply in touch with their inner Gen-X sharpster. The same expensive high-tech toys. The same hubris and inevitable groupthink as they sytematically intimidated or excluded any dissenting voice that might question their vision or demand a reality check.

And the same kind of money. Just like the dot com entepreneurs, the Suits found theselves bathed in a river of other people's money, empowering all their big, new ideas. Some of it flowed, of course, into the coffers of the movers and shakers, the smart guys who put themselves on the inside track before the gravy train pulled in. Ask Perle or Cheney about it. Under oath.

This wasn't actually supposed to be a war, you see; the Suits were planning a media event, complete with television cameras, celebrities and babes - the most thoroughly-hyped product rollout since Windows95. For Jagger's "Start Me Up" just dub in "Shock and Awe" and, presto! From BushCo, it's all-new, compatible, reliable and user-friendly. Introducing Iraq2.0!

But the Suits' InvasionLite™ Regime Installer turned out to be vaporware. And despite the special delivery, it seems clear that Saddam didn't get the script.

And if those dinosaurs in uniform hadn't shipped, as backup, their legacy of tracks and boots? Plan Chickenhawk would have led, inarguably, to military disaster.

Right now, CNN and Al Jazeera would be showing week after grim week of American POWs, downed helicopters and grinning Iraqi troops. Joy on the Arab street. Panic on Wall Street.

And America, under this CEO President, would be hemorrhaging a great deal more than cash.

Get it?

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