Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 12, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

DECONSTRUCTING GEORGE BUSH....Here's what drives me crazy about the Bush administration. Consider this statement from Colin Powell during an interview with al-Jazeera television:

"The United States has no desire to remain [in Iraq]," he said. "Why would we want to? It's costing us a great deal of money, it's tying down a large number of our troops, and we pay a political price as well as an economic price. We want to transfer sovereignty from the Coalition Provisional Authority to the Iraqis as fast as we can."

Is he telling the truth? Or is he lying to al-Jazeera's Arab audience because otherwise there will be rioting in the streets? I can't tell anymore.

See, it doesn't make any sense. There were several possible reasons for going to war with Iraq:

  • For humanitarian reasons, to liberate the Iraqis from a brutal dictatorship. But Paul Wolfowitz has already admitted this was not a sufficient reason, and a minute's thought convinces you he's right. There are lots of regimes as bad as Saddam Hussein's, and most of them we just leave alone.

  • Because Iraq posed a serious threat to the United States or, more broadly, to the stability of the Persian Gulf. But the former has never been plausible, and even the latter is speculative at best.

  • Because we need a large and extended military presence in the heart of the Middle East as a platform to reform the Arab world. This is the neocon plan, and whether you buy it or not, at least there's some logic to it. But if Powell is telling the truth, he's saying that this isn't our plan.

In other words, none of these add up. So why did we really invade Iraq? And I don't mean Christopher Hitchens' reason or Kenneth Pollack's reason, I mean George Bush's reason. There had to be some motive, even if it was a lousy one.

Of course, I suppose there are other possibilities too. It was all about oil. It was because George Bush was avenging his father. It was because the Christian Right is pulling the strings and they want Armageddon in the Middle East.

I just don't know, and it drives me nuts. As Paul Krugman says in The Great Unraveling, the more you look at the Bush administration the more you feel like a "crazy conspiracy theorist." And who wants to be a crazy conspiracy theorist?

Not me, if I can help it. But maybe I should be. Krugman is going to be in the area tomorrow to promote his book, and I'm going to drive down to Del Mar to interview him for the blog. Maybe I'll ask him then.

POSTSCRIPT: For Southern California readers who want to meet Krugman, he'll be at The Book Works in Del Mar from 4-6 pm on Saturday. The Book Works is at 2670 Via de la Valle, a few hundred yards east of I-5. They are located on the north side of the street, in the second floor of the Flower Hill Center.

Kevin Drum 4:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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