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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The President's Switch in Thinking

The period of September-December 2001 was a very crucial period of change for OCP (Our Current President). What were the forces driving the switch from peace to such widespread war against "terrorism," the tactic? What went on in December, which is when I believe OCP really got on board with the neocons? The internal "drivers" and "messages" fueling the change, in my opinion, center in these areas:

  • The ascendency of neocon influence via V.P. Cheney, Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, et al: "We know what is best for you.": This momement is, according to Anatol Lieven, "because over the last 40 years the American political system has been substantially taken over by a militaristic rightist ideological movement married to religious fundamentalism and popular chauvinism." Over time I have often written about the neocon influence on foreign policy. My S/SW post, Bolton and Neocons, is a sort of primer on the subject. Neocons Revisited elaborates on the first and subsequent posts. When the terrorists attacked the United States, it was then that the neocons provided the methods, rationale, and purposeful arguments thw OCP needed to finish his own agenda, fitting very nicely in with it.

  • Fear and anger from the terrorist attacks = "Head for the bunkers.": The terrifying events of 9/11 reverberated across the nation and around the world. That is the whole point of terrorist-style conflict; it is done in a manner to terrorize and render paralysis. But eventually resilient people get back up and go on with their lives. But to fight a "global war on terror," means that we must remain anxious and fearful, "hunkered down." On the website, Veterans for Peace, Jim McDermott wrote an article on 7/1/03, arguing that the administration wanted to make everyone afraid. Quoting MCDermott,
    On September 11, Americans suffered a horrible trauma, and we still suffer from the psychological fallout of the terrorist attacks. The administration's calculated campaign to raise and maintain fear and anxiety in America has been an effective tool in prolonging the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder caused by 9-11. As the Bush administration builds its military presence in the Middle East, it is upping the psychological ante here at home. The deputies of the Bush Terror Posse -- Donald Rumsfeld, Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft -- are conducting a deliberate campaign to frighten us.
  • Isolation = "We are in this alone": The rest of the world felt genuinely concerned and sympathetic to our people with the attack by the terrorists on 9/11. There was widespread support for the war in Afghanistan. But when it came to attacking Iraq, much of that support vanished. A significant number of our traditional European allies refused to go to war with us. This caused a fundamental change in the world view of OCP. He was probably genuinely surprised by their refusal to follow our lead. After all, "are we not the absolute leaders of the free world? "
  • Anxiety = "Things have changed forever.": This fascinating website, September 11 News, is an even more elaborate timeline . Focusing on the month of December alone reveals some fascinating events that fueled the anxiety of OCP, and must have coalesced his determination to widen the war as soon as possible. It was a month of profound change in the world situation, with many ironic and significant turning points - some good, some bad. Adjustment to change is stressful and anxiety producing: The Afghanistan Taliban surrendered in Kandahar on December 6. On December 10, Kofi Annan accepts the Nobel Peace Prize. The bin Laden videotape is broadcast worldwide on Dec. 13. That same day saw OCP pulling out of the ABM Treaty with Russia, opening the way for the development of a U.S. antimissile defense system. December 6-16 saw the U.S. attacks on Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora headquarters, and bin Laden's escape to Pakistan. The last large piece of the World Trade Tower ruins is removed on December 15; the fire is extinquished on the 19th; the last large nearby building comes down on the 20th. The "shoe bomber," Richard Reid tried to attack an airplane on the 22nd. The 25th saw Christmas and the Indian and Pakistani military amassing many weapons on the disputed Kashmir border. Aljazeera , on Dec. 27, played the entire bin Laden tape, indicating the he is alive and well and taking credit for the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. On Dec. 31 Michael Bloomberg is sworn in as New York's mayor, and Rudy Giuliani bows out.

  • Aggression = "Fight them over there": This idea seems like a good one on first blush. But I do not believe the plan was ever made clear to the Iraqis, the idea that their land was the planned battleground. In a December 11, 2001 speech to cadets at the Citadel, OCP had definitely crossed over to the idea of an imperial presidency. (See my January 3 post on the subject). His choice of words is very prophetic. To quote the CBS News,
    In a speech to cadets at the Citadel, the state military college, President Bush called for sweeping improvements in intelligence-gathering and military readiness to combat terror, calling that campaign "the military and moral necessity of our time." . . . . . . "I said here at the Citadel ... America was entering a period of consequences that would be defined by the threat of terrorism, and that we faced the challenge of military transformation," Mr. Bush told some 2,000 cadets and campus officials. "That threat has now revealed itself, and that challenge is now the military and moral necessity of our time." On the three-month anniversary of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people, he said the attacks had shattered America's "illusion of immunity." "We will fight terror and those who sponsor it to save our children from a future of fear," Mr. Bush said.

From this study of what was happening in the news and what was said by OCP, I believe that he crossed over completely into the neocon realm sometime in December, 2001. The idea is nor original to me, but I cannot remember who proposed it first, so I beg forgiveness. That timing fits with my reading of what I believe to be the internal dynamics of OCP as events occurred during that month (see the event paragraph in smaller print, under "anxiety" above). Think about the sadness and anxiety he must have felt as each bit of December's news came into his consciousness: We beat the Taliban but bin-Laden escapes completely, and then sends a mocking videotape broadcast in full on Aljazeera. Kofi Annan, of all people, wins the Peace Prize. The ABM Treaty with Russia goes away and a missile defense system if fully considered. The last most visible architectural remains at the World Trade Center site are being cleared away, and the fires are fully extinguished. The "shoe bomber" tries to ignite his own shoe on an airliner. Christmas Day and Pakistan and India are about to go to war with each other in Kashmir. Rudi Giuliani isn't Mayor any more. What to do, what to do? We will go to war in Iraq, by golly, like they're suggesting. That'll handle it.


My "creative" post today at Southwest Blogger is an imagery-poem called "Living at Sea Otter Slough."

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