Tuesday, January 28, 2003

So, I blogged last week about Condi Rice's reasons for going to war on Iraq, and Tom Friedman's. How about Dubya's own? Peggy Noonan reports:

Four months ago a friend who had recently met with the president on other business reported to me that in conversation the president had said that he has been having some trouble sleeping, and that when he awakes in the morning the first thing he often thinks is: I wonder if this is the day Saddam will do it.

"Do what exactly?" I asked my friend. He told me he understood the president to be saying that he wonders if this will be the day Saddam launches a terror attack here, on American soil.

I was surprised. We know of the arguments that Saddam is a supporter and encourager of America's terrorist enemies. We know the information that has been made available. But the president has not to my knowledge said in public that he fears Saddam himself will hit us hard on the ground in America, and soon.

Perhaps that's because his own CIA has reported, in public, that given what we know about Saddam Hussein, the only case in which he's likely to do any such thing is amidst a direct attack from the US, creating a "use it or lose it" scenario; otherwise, his sense of self-preservation is enough to keep him in check, and he's too much of a control freak to give WMD to anyone else who might pose a threat --- let alone al-Qaeda, which hates his guts.

There are two ways to read this. One is that Dubya is completely disregarding the judgment of seasoned intelligence professionals about a threat he pulled out of his ass, and bringing the country into a war which could seriously destabilize a volatile and important region for no good reason at all. Which is bad. But the only alternative is that he's deliberately trying to provoke an Iraqi WMD attack, as an excuse, perhaps, to really put the hammer down domestically. And that's even worse. (Enough so that even I don't believe it --- though the headlines now are stuff that I wouldn't have believed a year ago).

Either way, it seems we're at least on the outskirts of Twenty-Fifth Amendment territory, folks:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

But don't expect that from an administration so wedded to the Fuhrerprinzip that the Secretary of Defense tries to tell the Joint Chiefs of Staff that it's not their business to think about strategy.

But then again, perhaps it only seems that way. I'm sure his State of the Union address tonight will have a perfectly reasonable explanation for everything...

(Noonan quote via Tbogg)


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