John Prados over at TomPaine.com makes an interesting argument that Team Bush will start a war sooner rather than later in order to simply shuck off the diplomatic restraints the U.N. Security Council has begun to draw tighter around the United States. And while Hans Blix’s mixed report to the Security Council today rallies markets as the threat of war supposedly recedes, the White House must surely be gnashing its collective teeth.
Let’s see about connecting the dots, as they like to say in the White House:
- Special forces are already operating in Iraq and have been for some time.
- With the escalation of ThreatCon to “orange,” the public is “ready” for a retaliatory attacks from terror groups.
- With that in mind, it’s a long weekend, and many people have left cities for vacation. (I know several of my friends have done so.) It’s also a slow news cycle on Saturday, so the White House might be able to get some traction before CNN et al. get their game on.
- The Hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage ended yesterday.
- Gen. Tommy Franks, the theater commander, is en route to Qatar.
Do these add up to war?
I’m inclined to say no. While there are a lot of forces in the region, they are not yet at full strength, despite the full deployment the 3rd Infantry Division. The 101st is not yet there, with helicopters and gunships still being loaded in Jacksonville, Fla. (Granted, the Clinton administration pre-positioned a lot of equipment in the region throughout the 1990s to avoid a Desert Shield-style buildup, but there still remains a lot of heavy-lifting to do. An irony of this war is that for all the scorn heaped upon the Clinton administration by the Bushies, they will fight this war and win it with Clinton’s military, the one that was apparently neglected for 8 years.)
Also, the U.N. is still talking. While Bush said he would not be bound by “unproductive debate” (“The United States has agreed to discuss any material breach with the Security Council, but without jeopardizing our freedom of action to defend our country,” Bush said in his Rose Garden comments on Nov. 8, 2002), I’m betting this was more bluster than policy. The United States, through its ham-fisted handling of the Security Council and NATO, has isolated itself in the world, with the exception of Britain and the new NATO countries. Perhaps my naïvité is showing, but I don’t think even the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz Axis of Incompetence is so mad as to launch a war while the Security Council hasn’t even begun debate on Blix’s report yet.