Friday, December 19, 2003
::: Battle In The White House ~ Foreign Policy :::
Krugman - Deliberate Debacle
Looks like the boys at the PNAC - the NeoConvicts - are battling the White
House for control over America's foreign policy. Many insiders see the move
as an attempt by Bush, Sr. to snatch Dubya from the clutches of the hard-
liners. Bush, Sr, trys to help by sending James Baker (the super smoothie
of diplomacy with the velvet hammer)
Meanwhile, Paul Wolfowitz unleashes his memo "Determination and Findings"
on reconstruction contracts and has Bush (what? at gunpoint. How'd he
convince Junior to do it?) drop the axe. Gist is ... you were opposed to the
war in Iraq, you did not help with troops, no lucrative contracts for you.
Maybe I'm giving Paul Wolfowitz too much credit, but I don't think this was mere incompetence. I think the administration's hard-liners are deliberately sabotaging reconciliation.
Surely this wasn't just about reserving contracts for administration cronies. Yes, Halliburton is profiteering in Iraq - will apologists finally concede the point, now that a Pentagon audit finds overcharging? And reports suggest a scandal in Bechtel's vaunted school-repair program.
There was a striking example in August. It seemed that Colin Powell had finally convinced President Bush that if we aren't planning a war with North Korea, it makes sense to negotiate. But then John Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control, whose role is more accurately described as "the neocons' man at State," gave a speech about Kim Jong Il, declaring: "To give in to his extortionist demands would only encourage him and, perhaps more ominously, other would-be tyrants."
In short, this week's diplomatic debacle probably reflects an internal power struggle, with hawks using the contracts issue as a way to prevent Republican grown-ups from regaining control of U.S. foreign policy. And initial indications are that the ploy is working - that the hawks have, once again, managed to tap into Mr. Bush's fondness for moralistic, good-versus-evil formulations. "It's very simple," Mr. Bush said yesterday. "Our people risk their lives. . . . Friendly coalition folks risk their lives. . . . The contracting is going to reflect that."
In the end the Bush doctrine - based on delusions of grandeur about America's ability to dominate the world through force - will collapse. What we've just learned is how hard and dirty the doctrine's proponents will fight against the inevitable.