Whoops! Hadn’t Planned on That...

RumsfeldIt’s hilarious watching the Bush brain trust scramble around now that their well-laid plans have gone awry. Or at least it would be if it weren’t so damned scary.

As was recently made public, the administration (through not-quite-usual decision-making channels) made it a policy to take out Saddam Hussein immediately after the September 11 attacks. No connection between the attacks and the Iraqi dictator had been established, but the attacks were, in effect, to be used as a pretext for such action. Unfortunately, no direct connection could be credibly established between the two. So that excuse fell by the wayside. The next plan was to continue building Saddam up as a supervillain, playing up the threats of “weapons of mass destruction” to the point where ordinary Americans would fully support a new war in Iraq. So far, so good — the S.P. seemed to be buying it hook, line, and sinker (the rest of the free world was apparently not quite so gullible, but hey, one problem at a time).

And then, uh oh! North Korea turns out to be much more of a threat than anyone anticipated. Iraq might be developing nuclear arms? North Korea is. Iraq is making it difficult for the U.N. arms inspectors? North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is refusing all overtures at negotiation. Saddam is posturing, almost daring the U.S. to attack? North Korea threatens World War III. Whaddaya know? We’ve actually got a real supervillain to contend with. (Gee, do you think Bush calling them part of the “axis of evil” might have pissed them off just a little bit?)

But, of course, we’ve already committed to Saddam as our big supervillain. We’ve spent the last year building him up as the biggest threat to world stability. We don’t have time to try to convince the S.P. that North Korea’s the new bad guy, that Kim Jong Il’s the real threat. Never mind Lex Luthor — we’re taking on Mr. Mxyzptlk here.

All the administration can do is scramble around and try to negotiate, in a dramatic reversal of Bush’s prior absolutist stance against the “axis.” In reality, of course, this is a good thing — nobody really wants a war with the potential for nuclear confrontation. It just comes across as slightly ridiculous, even more so in light of the newest attempts to blame the Clinton administration for this crisis — given Bush’s spiteful cessation of any communication established in the 1994 “Agreed Framework” negotiations. Of course, Colin Powell (who frequently seems like the only one with a brain in the entire outfit) had publicly praised the agreement, but whoops, we need a scapegoat now, so we’re running back to the old standby.


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