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Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Long-term damage.

Josh Marshall believes "it's quite possible that the damage we are doing to NATO right now will turn out to be the most profoundly damaging legacy of this administration."

If NATO goes down the drain, the fact that the French or the Belgians or the Germans were petulant won't make it any less of a loss for us. Perhaps getting UN approval for invading Iraq was never in the cards. But taking action in Iraq without forcing a NATO train wreck should not have been that hard. . . .

The president and his crew are acting like that not-as-smart-as-he-thinks-he-is high school kid who's always running into reverses and always blaming it on someone else. At first you think he's getting a bad shake until you see the same thing happening over and over again. It's always someone else's fault. The South Koreans are lame. The Europeans are lame. Our Arab allies are lame. Everybody is lame. We're given excuse after excuse. But at the end of the day the result seems to be our historic alliances, if not in shambles, then at least thoroughly beat-up. After all, what profiteth a man if he gain regime change in Iraq, and yet lose the whole world order in the process?

Long-term strategy?

Meanwhile, John B. Judis looks for an explanation for Bush's focus on Iraq. What he finds is not "an explanation that will satisfy anyone looking for a single cause such as 'blood for oil,'" he writes, but his account of how an isolationist anti-"nation-building" president ended up marching off to pre-emptive war is helpful.

"Bush's September UN strategy was a hodgepodge of contradictory intentions," made up of compromises from Cheney's conservative isolationism, Powell's realist multilateralism, and Wolfowitz's neoconservative interventionism. The contradictions didn't all come out in the wash:

Bush appears to have squandered an opportunity either to avoid a war or to fight one on the most favorable terms. If the administration had made clear that it would accept a disarmed Iraq without Hussein's ouster, it might have eventually forced the Iraqi dictator to comply with UN Resolution 1441. If Hussein still refused to comply, the administration would have enjoyed the broad support of a powerful coalition with which to go to war. Instead, the United States is likely to obtain at best a grudging acceptance of its war plans. And erstwhile allies, as well as implacable foes, will characterize the war as George W. Bush's attempt to take over the Middle East. In this interdependent world, that's not a reputation the United States wants to have.

A lot of people are betting that Bush's real intentions coincide with their own — Kanan Makiya and the pro-democracy Iraqis come to mind — but it is hard to shake the unsettling feeling that Bush has blustered all of us into a confrontation that presents many more dangers than benefits.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 12 February 2003 at 12:27 PM

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