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Monday, March 10, 2003

The Rule Is, War Tomorrow And War Yesterday - But Never War Today

Mickey pointed to Josh Marshall and Tom Friedman as prime examples of "balkenhawken" - they supported a war against Iraq, but having surveyed the diplomatic wreckage, now prefer to wait a bit.

Let's passd the time admiring Mr. Marshall's recent post. He begins by recounting his many reasons for supporting a war of disarmament - time is on Saddam's side, sanctions and US troops in the region are two sources of anti-American sentiment in the Arab world, and the previous inspection regime was not sustainable. Apparently, he still believes all of that.

However, his current thought is that "... we need to pursue this goal [robust inspections] for the next several months and keep ratcheting up the pressure, knowing that we may have to go to war at a later point, even when weather conditions and so forth aren't ideal.

Ok, he may be cavalier about expecting US troops to wear biohazard suits in 110 degree heat, but the Pentagon will not be. "A few months" means six months - late September. And just how we ratchet up the pressure beyond the current level is left to the imagination - perhaps send even more troops to the region to bask in the Middle Eastern sunshine? Threaten sanctions? Impose deadlines? Blank.

And what are we waiting for? Does he propose any reason at all that Saddam, having seen us back down in March, will not expect us to back down in September? Does he suggest a reason for the antiwar activists, having won the first round, to switch sides? A reason for the "inspections are working" chorus to change its tune?

Well, he does present a resaon to wait, sort of: ...I think the answer is that we have to wait. I feel confident that an able foreign policy mind could come up with a tack that would allow us to secure our vital objectives and yet work our way out of the mess we've gotten ourselves into. I'm not sure what that grand gesture is.

Excellent idea! We have forty-eight Democratic Senators, over two hundred Democratic Congressmen, and former Presidents and former future Presidents littering the landscape. None of these fine people have, as yet, suggested an idea that impresses Mr. Marshall as credible. But don't despair! Any day now, the grand gesture will occur to someone, and we should wait until it does. Perhaps revealing his own lack of commitment to this proposal, Mr. Marshall does not volunteer to hold his breath.

Please. The deus ex machina is a discredited dramatic device; it is not a basis for US foreign policy.

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