Saturday | January 25, 2003
So Much for Dismissing “Old Europe”
I will be guest-hosting over the weekend while Kos is out of town.
Remember when just a few days ago Donald “Shoot Now-Think Later” Rumsfeld (he of the “Oil is a WMD” school of strategic thinking) dismissed the resistance of France and Germany to an invasion as concerns coming from “Old Europe”? Well, it is amazing what falling poll numbers will do to a White House that swears nonfealty to polls. We are now going to allow another month or so for the inspections to proceed, while we daily trash their findings.
I applaud the Administration’s latest about-face on this, because at least they are still pretending to care about maintaining a coalition. But what does this say about Administration statements and the veracity of spokespersons, as well as the effectiveness of the sales job we are conducting with our “Old Europe” allies? Remember just last week and again this week when Administration officials and the president himself were expressing their lack of patience with our allies and the UN? Remember the statements about our willingness to go it alone if necessary, and again this week the assertion by Powell of all people that we already had plenty of allies without needing “Old Europe”? What changed?
Poll numbers. Maybe Mr. Rove realized that the Administration was losing the war at home, and that a rush into Iraq without “Old Europe” would seriously harm W’s reelection chances next year. In any event, there now is more pressure placed upon the president’s SOTU to sell us on something he has been heretofore unable or unwilling to share with us: the rationale for a rush into Iraq, and evidence of an imminent threat from that country to our national interests which places it ahead of smashing Al Qaeda.
And if there is any indication of how difficult that will be, it is these nice little paragraphs in the NYT story today where the Administration flatly admits they are asking us to take it on faith that they have the goods against Saddam:
“The administration acknowledges that it has a major uphill effort to convince Americans — not to mention the Europeans — of the reasons for going to war, but says much of their case comes down to asking Americans to place blind faith in the administration.
‘It really comes down to whether or not the country trusts President Bush's judgment, knowing that he knows a lot more than the country knows,’ a senior administration official told reporters on Air Force One this week.”
And therein lies the rub. There are a growing number of Americans who are no longer willing to trust the president on this without proof. And since we still aren’t sharing our data with the weapons inspectors, we have a growing credibility problem with not only our own people, but also with our allies, whom we are only too ready to dismiss.
As for credibility, given the hard line statements of the past two weeks and the about face now, is there anyone in this administration that has spoken with a clear consistent voice? Not Powell. Not the president. Not Rummy or Cheney, definitely. To keep from squandering any remaining credibility (assuming there is any left) that the Administration has on this issue or in their foreign policy in general, it now looks to be incumbent on this president to “pull a Stevenson” in his SOTU Tuesday night. Because it’s clear that their harsh words have had little effect on “Old Europe” this week.
In my rush to post this morning, I missed two other solid reasons why the Administration may be slowing things down a bit, and some of you have touched on them in the comments. First, we apparently aren’t militarily ready to invade, according to the Washington Post. Aside from the problem of adequate staging areas, five months after the rollout we still do not have enough troops over there. And interestingly enough, the 101st Airborne still has not received deployment orders.
Second, and maybe more to the point this week, Wall Street has let Mr. Bush know that his ramp up and informal deadline of the inspectors’ January 27th first report has scared the bejeezus out of the markets, hence the large fall yesterday. The Bush Administration’s war rhetoric from all corners, coupled with the overseas rejection of this effort and the resulting “America alone” environment has the markets primed for a free-fall, especially with higher oil prices, decreasing estimates of 1st and 2nd quarter 2003 earnings, and softening demand coming. In trying to build drama for his SOTU and use of the January 27th inspectors’ report as a pressure point on Iraq, Bush has managed to spook Wall Street, which of course won’t look good on Tuesday night. Hence, the softer, statesmanlike Bush we may see Tuesday in order to get the markets to calm down for awhile.Posted January 25, 2003 02:58 PM | Comments (0) | Trackback (0)