get some idea of what we're in for in 2003, take
a gander at this news report from South Korea's Yonhap
Dec. 27 (Yonhap) The United States would deploy some 690,000
troops to augment the 37,000-strong
American military presence already here if war should break
out on the peninsula, a Defense Ministry report showed Friday.
The augmented forces would comprise of Army divisions, carrier
battle groups with highly-advanced fighters, tactical fighter
wings, and marine expeditionary forces in Okinawa and on the
U.S. mainland, according to the '1998-2002 Defense Policy.'
The ministry published the report instead of a white paper."
to put such an army in the field short of instituting conscription
is an interesting problem that the Pentagon and this administration
will have to face in the coming year. Is it a coincidence
Rangel is floating his proposal for a draft at just this moment?
Probably, and yet, despite
the skeptics, there is such a thing as synchronicity.
With the economy showing no signs of recovery, and a large
pool of unemployed youth hanging about, what better way to
mop up a pool of discontent and potential protest?
the Korean crisis pushes its way to the front of the queue,
overshadowing the Middle East in the severity of its possible
October prediction that Iraq would have to be put on
the back burner is coming true.
Pyongyang raised the specter of nuclear annihilation – not
only of South Korea, where 37,000 American troops are stationed,
but also of Japan, another U.S. military redoubt and a close
ally alarm bells went off in Washington, awakening even George
W. Bush from his Iraqi-centric trance. Oh, they're putting
a brave face on it, with Donald Rumsfeld blustering
that "no one should doubt" that the U.S. can fight
and win two wars at once, and even Colin Powell is butching
it up for the cameras, declaring:
he wants is for us to believe we're in a state of panic and
therefore we have to give him whatever he is demanding and
appease bad behavior. That's what we are not going to do."
panic has clearly set in. As The Australian put
nuclear gambit has stunned and embarrassed the Bush administration.
'They thought they had time to deal with Kim later, but time
has run out,' commented former UN nuclear inspector David
Albright. Said a befuddled Western diplomat: 'We know it's
nuclear brinkmanship, but why is Kim taking us to the brink
feel like I'm staring into the gates of hell,' said a dazed
nuclear expert in Washington."
a sentiment shared by many in the War Party, albeit not for
the same reasons as the rest of us. Although we are supposed
to believe that a U.S. invasion of Iraq is "inevitable,"
the struggle within the Bush administration over the course
of U.S. foreign policy, and the direction of the "war
on terrorism," is far from over. While the neoconservatives
gunning for war in the Middle East certainly have the President's
ear, and his sympathy, reality has a way of intruding on ideology,
especially from the perspective of the Oval Office.
John McLaughlin and Eleanor Clift concurred on The
McLaughlin Group this week, Colin Powell deserves
the title "Person of the Year" for having slowed
the rush to war against Iraq. Clift pointed out that the President
has gone with Powell, rather than the neocons, at every important
turn in the road that may not lead to war after all.
War Party thought they had won the fight, and that they had
a deal with the Bushies: but the UN inspections process, which
could last out the new year, short-circuited the drive to
war in the Middle East. The North Korean crisis has pulled
the plug entirely. Our laptop bombardiers all
dressed up and nowhere to go are in an impatient and increasingly
ugly mood. The target of their ire: the Bush family.
I predicted in a column written at the end of November,
the neoconservative assault on Bush has already begun, and
will accelerate in the coming year. The first shot across
the bow is a story in the New York Sun, a newspaper
launched as the
neocon alternative to the New York Times, which
tries to frame the $500,000 donation of a Saudi prince to
Phillips Academy as
some sort of criminal act. The story sports a headline that
could have come out of the imagination of the late hate-monger
Meir Kahane: "Saudi
Arabian Prince Gives $500,000 To Bush Scholarships Critics
Call Andover Donation 'Disgusting.'" Oh, those dirty
disgusting Ay-rabs, how dare they donate money – how dare
all makes a twisted kind of sense, however, because it's coming
out of the mouth of Stephen Schwartz. This ex-Trotskyist-turned-Muslim-
turned-whatever's convenient, kicked
out of the Voice of America for his extremist views, is
cited by the Sun as an authoritative source:
donation appears to be targeted to curry favor with President
George W. Bush, the son of the man the scholarship fund is
named after. 'It's disgusting,' the senior policy analyst
for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Stephen
Schwartz, said. 'It's vulgar. It shows that powerful Saudis
still think the way to improve a relationship is to buy a
relationship…. [Prince Alwaleed] gives money to lay the basis
for Saudi influence and now he's starting with the elite youths.
And he just happens to pick the prep school the president's
father attended? There's something profoundly wrong with this."
is something profoundly wrong with someone who expects us
to swallow the idea that the President of the United States
has been bought for a measly half million bucks. Not that
Schwartz believes his own smears for a minute: they are intended,
not as credible accusations, but as gross insults uttered
for sheer shock effect.
like the followers of Lyndon LaRouche who routinely
accuse the Queen of England of being behind the international
drug trade and plotting to subvert the "elite youths"
of the American aristocracy: as demented as the LaRouchies
might be, they don't really think they're convincing anyone.
The idea is to shock and desensitize their audience to a steady
stream of lies, one more outrageous than the other, in the
hope that a lie, told often enough, becomes a lingering suspicion.
LaRouchies are fringe nutballs, but the neocons are nutballs
with connections. Schwartz is not just a lone nut peddling
his conspiracy theories on streetcorners. The
same smear is taken up and amplified by James Taranto,
of the Wall Street Journal, a sure sign that the rest
of the neocon Borg
will soon take up the cry.
seems like only yesterday – indeed, it was only yesterday that
David Frum, the President's former speechwriter – and author
of the phrase "axis of evil" that caused all this
trouble in the first place – was licking
his lips at the prospect of Iraq falling into our lap
like an overripe apple:
it or not, the U.S. will have acquired responsibility for
administering Iraq's oil wealth in such a way that it ceases
to be a curse for Iraq's people. People inside the U.S. government
are already thinking hard about that problem. It's time that
the U.S. public joined the debate."
was then: this is now. The administration is being forced
to think hard about another, far more pressing problem, and
the neocons – who could almost taste that big juicy apple
– are going to have to go hungry, at least for now, and perhaps
indefinitely. And don't think the War Party hasn't noticed.
The squalling has already started. Here's one
of the more frenetic ones:
endless postponement of the Iraqi D-Day, now as routinely
rolled over as those Soviet five-year plans, is all part of
some cunning Bush 'rope-a-dope' strategy. So is Colin Powell's
recent statement that the administration isn't looking for
regime change in Baghdad. So is the ongoing mantra of 'the
Saudis are our friends, no matter how many of us they kill.'
It's true that lulling the enemy into a false sense of security
can be very cunning. But only if the sense of security does,
indeed, turn out to be false. And a lot of what the Bushies
do barely falls into the lulling category."
they're mad alright, in more ways than one. The measure of
the neocons' anger – and real hatred is spelled out
by Canadian columnist Mark Steyn in no uncertain terms:
Princess Haifa, wife of the Saudis' Washington ambassador,
was revealed to have funneled money, unwittingly or otherwise,
to the 9/11 killers, why did Alma Powell and Barbara Bush
rush to phone her to commiserate? The connection between Saudi
'charitable giving' and terrorism is well-known. The most
benign explanation is that the princess is an idiot, and Americans
are dead because of her idiocy. The wife of the secretary
of state and the mother of the president have no business
comforting a stooge of their country's enemies."
Schwartz impugned the integrity of the President's father,
Steyn takes on a far more formidable target: Barbara Bush.
And they say there is no such creature as a "neocon"!
Such a highly specialized division of labor is impressive
movement that supposedly
Steyn-Schwartz conspiracy theory that ties in the Bush family
with the alleged Saudi government connection to 9/11 is shared
by the Tinfoil Hat Left, which claims that the Bush family
connections to the Saudis as well as the shadowy "Carlyle
Group" and Big Oil, somehow "prove" that "Bush
knew." In effect, according to the Reynolds
Wrap Left, we bombed ourselves on 9/11. How long before
Schwartz, Steyn, Taranto & Company starts marketing the
Ruppert, Cynthia McKinney, and the
English edition of The Forbidden Truth?
these conspiracy theorists have in common, aside from the
Bush family in their sights, is that they are similarly unconvincing.
pointed out last year, the "evidence" that links
Princess Haifa's bank account to terrorist activities is so
tenuously circumstantial (scroll down) as to be practically
nonexistent. It amounts to a friend of a friend of a friend
of an acquaintance who was the object of Princess Haifa's
charity and might have assisted the 9/11 hijackers in some
indirect manner. Yet to Steyn it has been mystically "revealed"
that she "funneled money" to the terrorists.
for the Ruppertians and The Nation, which published
The Forbidden Truth in the U.S., they are even less
coherent. The former seem to base their theory on the testimony
of a supposed CIA "agent" named Delmart
"Mike" Vreeland who was jailed for fraud in
Canada, is seeking "political asylum" there, and
claims to have secret "inside information" on 9/11.
The Forbidden Truth reads like it was written on a
good dose of Afghan heroin: dreamlike scenarios, unsourced
and vaguely described, drift into one another aimlessly, in
what appears to be an example of the "magical
realist" school of foreign policy analysis. Like
the neocons, however, the authors of this batty book are fixated
on the Saudis as well as the Bush family as the alleged root
of all evil:
question is why developed countries need to do commercial
deals with Saudi Arabia and if those commercial deals are
why they must close their eyes about the reality of the Saudi
Arabian kingdom. Since the 18th century, Saudi
Arabia has been focused on conquering the world."
vengefulness of the neocons may isolate them out there on
the margins along with Mike Vreeland and the Tinfoil Left,
or the Democrats may take up a watered-down version of the
Schwartz-Steyn-New York Sun fantasy scenario and retail
it to the masses.
any event, the focus of this administration is being forcibly
diverted away from Iraq and the Saudis: the neocons' view
of the threat to our interests and those of our allies, centered
as it is in the Middle East, is bound to seem archaic in the
coming year. Will we go to war in 2003? If we do, it is far
more likely that the enemy will be Kim Jong Il, not Saddam
Hussein. Instead of the bloodless rerun of Gulf War I everyone
was expecting, Korean War II will costs tens of thousands
of American lives – and millions of Koreans, North and South.
Not to mention the Japanese, who
have already seen North Korea's missiles being "tested"
over Japanese airspace, and are bound to be targets if it
comes to war.
don't get too excited about the happy prospect of avoiding
a war in the Middle East. As much as I am gladdened by the
sight of the neocons going ballistic over their disappointment
– now we'll see their real colors come out, all of them a
nasty shade of bile green – I fear we have jumped out of the
frying pan and directly into the flames.
new year? I don't think so….
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