Kermit Snelson on Thu, 21 Feb 2002 21:10:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] The Way Bush Sees the World

The Way Bush Sees the World
by Steven Mufson
The Washington Post
17 February 2002

[...] One of those threats has since become a reality, and Kaplan's writing
helps explain Bush's response. In an article published this fall in the
National Interest, written before the terrorist attacks, Kaplan predicted
that international law would play a smaller role in conflicts as wars became
increasingly unconventional and undeclared. He argued that in facing
adversaries unconcerned with civilian casualties, "our moral values ...
represent our worst vulnerabilities." Democratic consultation, he said,
would become impractical in situations that called for quick responses to

Is there a better description of the situation the Bush administration found
itself in after the attacks? Terrorists had taken advantage of America's
free society to infiltrate it and do it monstrous harm. And, perhaps to
their surprise, the administration's swift military response showed moderate
concern but not undue anxiety about civilian casualties, international law,
or consultation with Congress. Instead, Bush gave his defense secretary and
CIA director broad freedom to do whatever was necessary in the campaign in
Afghanistan to "smoke 'em out." [...]

In a black-or-white world, a war on terrorism becomes a war of morality. The
consequences of such a war -- civilian casualties, pacts with repressive
regimes such as the one in Uzbekistan, prisoners in a legal limbo -- can be
seen as necessary byproduct of this moral mission. And if that makes some of
us uncomfortable, Bush would say that the greater goal is to drive the
barbarians away from the gates of the civilized world, and the United States
in particular.

In this context, a war on evil can become a war without end. In turning to
the "axis of evil," Bush is targeting something broader than terrorism in
the traditional sense. Of the three countries that Bush has included in his
axis, two -- Iraq and North Korea -- have shown little involvement with
terrorism in recent years. The definition of our foe has been broadened, so
that evil can mean an irrational actor such as Osama bin Laden as well as
North Korea's scary but arguably rational leader Kim Jong Il. Iran's modern,
if somewhat democratic, society is lumped together with the North Korean
hermit state.

What are the politics of an endless war on evil? George W. Bush has always
fancied himself a better politician than his father. And while national
security issues are undoubtedly foremost in his mind, the political
dimensions must be calculated somewhere in the White House. Perhaps whoever
is doing that is thinking that the mistake Bush's father made was to end the
Persian Gulf War too early. Not a week or two early, as some critics allege,
but two years early. Maybe Bush senior never should have declared victory at

Many Republicans criticized the Clinton administration for entering
peacekeeping operations without having an exit strategy. It's ironic,
perhaps, that this administration seems to be waging war without any exit
strategy other than moving to the next battlefield. The war could become, as
in the Orwell novel "1984," a permanent state of being. "War is Peace," the
Ministry of Truth slogan read in the novel.

Or, as Kaplan has argued, war becomes a condition no longer distinctly
separate from peace. Bush has embraced that view, at least for now. As he
declared in his State of Union address, "I will not wait on events, while
dangers gather." He has seen a grim landscape, to paraphrase Kaplan, and
seems determined to confront it.

Oracle of a New World Disorder
By Ken Ringle
The Washington Post
21 February 2002

While Washington is filled with journalists seeking information from the
military, the military seeks information from Kaplan. He has spoken at Fort
Leavenworth, Fort Pendleton and Fort Bragg. Next month he briefs the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, and last week he was in Bulgaria addressing that country's

 2002 The Washington Post Company

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