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Wednesday, July 16, 2003


A Scary Scenario

posted by G at Wednesday, July 16, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
I have long been a Dean optimist, convinced that Bush's lies and incompetence will sink him long before the election, and that Dean is the perfect candidate to defeat our Frat Boy in Chief. My caveat was always that a new terrorist attack or war would boost Bush's popularity. Now I am very concerned that there are signs that the neocons intend to use a new war to distract attention from the lies about Iraqi weapons. Consider three points from Slate's Today's Papers on Tuesday:
The Post goes inside with an interview with former defense secretary William Perry who said last fall that the crisis with Pyongyang was containable but now says that the administration has made things more dangerous by fiddle-faddling and not settling on a policy. " Damned if I can figure out what the policy is," says Perry. "We are on a path toward war."

The NYT goes above-the-fold with complaints from Syrians, both military and civilian, that the U.S. is regularly violating Syrian airspace, at times attacking across the border. The Times' reporter, Dexter Filkins, watched a U.S. chopper briefly dart across the border. Locals, who protest that they can't smuggle anymore, say that anti-U.S. propaganda is proliferating in the area and young men have started crossing into Iraq to attack GIs.

The Financial Times reports that Iran has offered to talk about its nuclear program with the U.S, while the White House has denied the overture.
The U.S. action in Syria sounds very much like what Rumsfeld was pushing for in mid-April, according to this UPI story. (See the full story for details.)
WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- Anna Perez, White House communications counselor, Friday sharply contested a United Press International report that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and political adviser Karl Rove shut down a Pentagon plan to expand the Iraqi ground war to Syria in closing days of combat.
UPI's report, published Friday afternoon, quoted unidentified administration officials as saying that a combination of Pentagon hawks and senior Israeli officials had been pressing the United States to expand the ground war to Syria. The officials spoke to UPI on condition of anonymity.

The U.S. strikes on Syria would have taken the form of brief across-the-border forays under "hot pursuit" rules of engagement, these sources said. They said contingency plans for such raids were being drawn up by Doug Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, after the approval of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
[T]hese sources said, Rice repeated an assertion that the White House did not want any further military campaigns for the rest of Bush's first term, according to the sources. They said Rumsfeld objected, and, at one point, turned to Rove and asked his opinion. Rove said the president agreed with Rice, and the meeting came to an end, the sources said.
Given that the Bush Administration has lied about just about everything under the sun, the fact that Ms. Perez, White House "communications counselor," denied the story actually makes it even more likely the story is true. If such an explosive story were really a fabrication, wouldn't Rice, Rove, and Rumsfeld each have personally denied it, in order to make the denial as vehement as possible, rather than assign the denial to a low-level press underling?

These days it can't hurt to be too cynical about the Bush cabal. And a cynic might guess that Karl Rove sees North Korea, Iran, and Syria as three aces he holds up his sleeve, to be played when things really get rough in the re-election game. Congressional hearings on Bush's lies heat up this fall? Launch air strikes on Iran. Bush lags behind Dean in the polls next summer? Hit Hezbollah camps in Syria. Bush reelection not assured come late October of 2004? Launch the first strike on North Korea, and don't be afraid to go to nuclear.

Washington people much more in the know than myself have told me that something like this is exactly what the Bush people have planned. The terrifying thing is that this strategy might work, particularly if another attack in the U.S. comes along.

This scenario presents quite a challenge for Dean because it will be difficult for him to question Bush's use of the military while we are at open war. Additionally, while Bush's overall approach--ignorant macho swagger instead of careful diplomacy--is ludicrous, he might rally support for particular actions as the situation unfolds. For example, if North Korea's response to Bush's taunts is to threaten to give nukes to terrorists, Bush could convince many of the need for a first strike, even at the risk of open nuclear war.

So what is Dean to do? Should Dean speak out on these issues now to head off such a scenario? Or will such speculative criticism distract from the more tangible attacks on Bush's lies? Please share your thoughts.


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.