Friday, August 16, 2002

I think half the left-wingers in the "blogosphere" have commented on this story, and it's definitely an interesting story. The idea that Republicans are actually breaking ranks says a lot not just about the war situation as it currently exists, but about how divided Washington probably is on this issue, and not necessarily along partisan lines. What interests me the most, though, is what isn't being said. Check out what Kissinger actually said (according to the NYTimes):

In an opinion article published on Monday in The Washington Post, Mr. Kissinger made a long and complex argument about the international complications of any military campaign, writing that American policy "will be judged by how the aftermath of the military operation is handled politically," a statement that seems to play well with the State Department's strategy.

"Military intervention should be attempted only if we are willing to sustain such an effort for however long it is needed," he added. Far from ruling out military intervention, Mr. Kissinger said the challenge was to build a careful case that the threat of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction calls for creation of a new international security framework in which pre-emptive action may sometimes be justified.
This seems to be a common thread- that there will be action against Iraq, but that it doesn't need to happen right now. It makes sense, and has always been the biggest practical argument against invasion of Iraq- even if it needs to be done, why do it right now? The political argument that Rove would be pursuing is obvious- Bush would gain the maximum political leverage from a war started fairly soon before the November elections- far away enough that wartime patriotism would be allowed to grow, but soon enough that the perils of occupation (if any) wouldn't sour the public towards the enterprise and cast about looking for someone to blame. I think that's why most people are saying somewhere between late September and early November. The problem, of course, is that everybody else knows this as well, and while it may not be useful as an campaigning tool for the Democrats, tales of wagged dogs will circulate throughout the world and the Bush administration will have almost guaranteed a much more hostile foreign policy landscape, making their job much trickier than it already is.

I think that some Republicans are realizing this- that even if they honestly believe that invasion should happen in the fall, everyone else will assume it's political, and it'll lead to hassles that are simply best avoided. That would imply that the logical time would not be this fall but next spring. Unless, of course, they're worried that support for the strike among the public will drop, but if the arguments in favor of invasion are that strong, that shouldn't matter, should it? Heck, even if it does drop, the election just ended, and they've got a year and a half before Bush and Co. face the electorate again. Assuming that the whole thing goes off as planned, that's more than ample time.

If it doesn't, of course, then no amount of buffer time will help.

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