S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Our Current President -"OCP" - Phase 1

The disputed 2000 election of a Republican president and undisputed majorities in the House and Senate set the nation on a very different course at the beginning of this century. This post is the first of several in which I will attempt to analyze the changes in Our Current President (OCP), George W. Bush, since he first took office as the former Governor of Texas and George Bush, Sr.'s son. When he first ran for Governor, his claim to fame was for his work in "the awl bidness,"and as part owner of the Texas Ranger's baseball team. He was relatively unknown at the national level, and had campaigned as a Washington outsider. After the inauguration those in power perceived a Conservative mandate to govern. First efforts included tax cuts for the rich, the rise of special interest influence in Congress, and the acendancy of a new Right Wing moralistic social agenda.

Pre-9/11 stance of OCP: George W. Bush did not come across as particularly competent or powerful during that initial year and a half of governing. He was relatively invisible after the Supreme Court declared him President. During that time I felt it could be characterized overall as his "Not-Clinton" phase. However, 9/11 did not happen in a vacuum. During the transition period between administrations there had been warnings about terrorism. Sandy Berger and Richard Clarke had tried to convey their concerns about al-Qaeda. Time Magazine's article (8/4/02), "They Had A Plan," discusses in depth what the administration was thinking about al-Qaeda before the attack. To quote,

By last summer, many of those in the know—the spooks, the buttoned-down bureaucrats, the law-enforcement professionals in a dozen countries—were almost frantic with worry that a major terrorist attack against American interests was imminent. It wasn't averted because 2001 saw a systematic collapse in the ability of Washington's national-security apparatus to handle the terrorist threat.
The winter proposals became a victim of the transition process, turf
wars and time spent on the pet policies of new top officials. The Bush Administration chose to institute its own "policy review process" on the terrorist threat.

September 11, 2001: The fundamental change in the internal reality of OCP was from living in relative peace to being utterly at war. Within a few days he saw himself as the commander in chief. We saw a confident decisive leader in a hard-hat standing on a pile of rubble "rallying the troops."

But to the casual observer it did not look that way at the beginning of the tragedy. The President seemed remarkably detached at first. The Center for Cooperative Research website is compiling a Timeline about the actions of OCP on the fateful day. To quote:

Bush's actions on September 11 have been the subject of lively debate, mostly on the internet. Details reported that day and in the week after the attacks—both the media reports and accounts given by Bush himself—have changed radically over the past 18 months. Culling hundreds of reports from newspapers, magazines, and the internet has only made finding the “truth” of what happened and when it happened more confusing. In the changed political climate after 9/11, few have dared raise challenging questions about Bush's actions.

Post-9/11 stance: In a subsequent timeline compiled by PBS, "Post-9/11 Timeline," there are clues about what changed in OCP (my thoughts in italics preceed the dates). I quote from a few of the article's paragraphs about specific significant dates:

OCP did the next logical thing, with wide approval, and well within limits. America went after the Taliban in retaliation, whose support allowed al Quaeda, the perpetrators of the attack to be based in Afghanistan. October 7, 2001 - The U.S. begins bombing Afghanistan. In a televised address, President Bush tells the nation: "On my orders, the United States military has begun strikes against al Qaeda terrorist training camps and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. These carefully targeted actions are designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime."

OCP, within six weeks, had made it into the Global War On Terrorism. There is no mistaking the threatening words. No nation is immune. Neocon dogma begins to appear in public. November 21, 2001 - Speaking at a Thanksgiving dinner for troops and their families at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, President Bush states, "Afghanistan is just the beginning on the war against terror. There are other terrorists who threaten America and our friends, and there are other nations willing to sponsor them. We will not be secure as a nation until all of these threats are defeated. Across the world and across the years, we will fight these evil ones, and we will win."

For OCP a lot has happened to convince him to adopt the neocon's plan to go to war with Iraq, that had been put forth almost immediately after 9/11. From around Thanksgiving of the previous year to this time in the spring, the intelligence is in, Congress has been handled, the UN has had its chance, and now it is up to us, "The Coalition of the Willing." March 18, 2003 - In a televised speech, President Bush gives Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq, or the U.S. will begin military action "at a time of our choosing."

OCP, the Commander in Chief, is now fully at war with Iraq, not al-Qaeda. That will come later as they come from all over the world at our invitation. I believe that he believed that we could eventually "fight them over there, rather than over here." March 20, 2003 - 90 minutes after the 48-hour deadline expires, at 5:30 am local time, explosions are heard in Baghdad. President Bush announces that he has ordered the coalition to launch an "attack of opportunity" against specified targets in Iraq. Troops from the United States, Britain, Australia, and Poland invade Iraq. Bush sends a letter to Congress, saying that he has determined that further diplomacy will not protect the U.S., and that the U.S. is "continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

OCP thought he could finish his father's war, show the world how powerful is our military, drive out the Baathists, establish a base for spreading the inevitable democracy in the Middle East, and the terrorists would all lose heart, give up, go home, and leave us alone. March 22, 2003 - "Shock and awe" airstrikes on Baghdad continue.

The next post in this series will examine in more depth the period of September-December 2001. What were the forces driving the switch from peace to such widespread war, on "terrorism," the tactic? What went on in December, which is when I believe OCP really got on board with the neocons?


My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is about stardust, technology and touch.

No comments: