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Sunday, April 09, 2006

The vision thing

Today is the third anniversary of Iraqi Freedom Day. Recall, April 9 was the day a small group of U.S. soldiers helped a small group of Iraqis take down the statue of Saddam Hussein.

Let this date serve as yet another opportunity to re-examine the Bush Doctrine and the competence of the current administration.

Sy Hersh was on CNN earlier today explaining his latest New Yorker piece. President Bush is apparently thinking seriously about war with Iran:
"This White House believes that the only way to solve the problem is to change the power structure in Iran, and that means war," Hersh quotes an unidentified senior Pentagon adviser on the war on terror as saying.
CNN showed some footage of both Bush and Cheney making very hawkish comments about Iran.

So let's get this straight.

It was impossible to forecast the 9/11 attacks, despite the fact that the "system was blinking red," a potential hijacker was already in FBI custody, an agent (as well as Tom Clancy) had hypothesized something much like the very threat that played out, and a Presidential Daily Briefing in August 2001 was titled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S."

It was impossible to forecast the potential effects of Hurricane Katrina, despite the fact that the President was briefed on the implications before the levies broke. And federal emergency management officials had at least since 2001 considered this one of the three most likely catastrophic natural disasters.

In contrast, it was possible to forecast in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq posed a "grave and gathering threat" to the U.S. -- despite the fact that it did not. Neither Bush nor Condi Rice wanted the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud, despite the fact that the IAEA, operating virtually unfettered in-country, had already dismissed the uranium-from-Africa story and visually inspected the uranium tubes and high power magnets. Also, numerous sources inside the U.S. government dismissed the severity of the alleged nuclear threat.

So why should anyone believe the Bush administration about the threat from Iran? The leaked intelligence suggests that Iran is a decade away from a bomb.

Not to mention the fact that all sorts of non-violent options to this "problem" remain available: (1) nuclear deterrence; (2) UN-imposed international economic sanctions; (3) horse-trading, the U.S. could offer WTO membership; and (4) conflict resolution. There are undoubtedly more.

President George Herbert Walker Bush was often criticized for lacking the so-called "vision thing." His son, by contrast, is often praised for his instincts and vision.

However, it certainly looks like the young Bush has very serious trouble with the most difficult questions. His administration not only misses very real threats that more competent public officials might have handled very differently, but it also has an established record of trumping up a false threat, leading to a costly and dangerously prolonged war.

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