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Sunday, February 23, 2003

Connecting the Dots, or Speculations on Speculations

I reported on Friday about the possibility that the Bushies are seeking an "exit strategy" from their insane "either war or war" Iraq policy. W's demented statements yesterday might actually be evidence that there is some truth in the "exit strategy" talk: W has had his heart set on another war for so long, and now even some of his advisors and supporters may be suggesting that he can't have it, so he is pushing into uncharted territories of incoherence as his dream fades.

The scary thing is what the exit strategy might be. It seems likely that it might be similar to the one used for Afghanistan--mass distraction. Osama was quickly replaced by Saddam; Iraq may be quickly replaced by Iran, North Korea, the Philippines, or, who knows, Osama? Today's NY Times has a big article on Iranian nuclear developments. The obvious comparison between North Korea's well-developed nuclear program and Iraq's non-existent one has drawn much attention, even from many who oppose war in Iraq, so it wouldn't take too much preparation for the Bushies to quickly make Kim public enemy number one (meanwhile, almost no attention goes to the nuclear weapons already in the possession of extremely dangerous men like Mushareff and Sharon, or Bush and Blair for that matter). And, for no apparent reason, troops are once again being sent to the Philippines. Finally, we had the orange alert, the Osama tape, and now the warning (below) about individual extremists, hinting that al Qaeda may be returning to center stage as our boogeyman.

So "Mr. Saddam Hussein" could drop out of the Bush dyslexicon as quickly as "Osama bin Laden" did, to be replaced by one or more of these candidates. Even if the war is prevented, we will have to keep working to push the public debate back to where it should be. People who two years ago would never have considered war against North Korea as a sensible option have been practically advocating it because it makes relatively good sense compared to attacking Iraq. We need debates about whether we should approve the Kyoto global warming accords as is or push for stronger ones. We need debates about disarming this country. We need debates about whether Kucinich, Dean, Sharpton, or Moseley Braun should be our next president, having rejected all of the other warmongering candidates. We need debates about whether suburban sprawl should be merely halted immediately, or maybe we should institute active sprawl-removal programs. When our debates focus on attacking country A instead of country B, or deciding between living with existing repression or extending it further, then, well, you guessed it, those darn terrorists have won.