Wednesday, March 15, 2006

And Still Skipping Towards The Abyss

The neo-cons are, and they are going to take all of us with them, whether we wish to (the Rapture crowd) or not (sane people). This skipping is called the reaffirmation of the preemption strategy:

President Bush plans to issue a new national security strategy today reaffirming his doctrine of preemptive war against terrorists and hostile states with chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, despite the troubled experience in Iraq.

The long-delayed document, an articulation of U.S. strategic priorities that is required by law, lays out a robust view of America's power and an assertive view of its responsibility to bring change around the world. On topics including genocide, human trafficking and AIDS, the strategy describes itself as "idealistic about goals and realistic about means."

The strategy expands on the original security framework developed by the Bush administration in September 2002, before the invasion of Iraq. That strategy shifted U.S. foreign policy away from decades of deterrence and containment toward a more aggressive stance of attacking enemies before they attack the United States.

The preemption doctrine generated fierce debate at the time, and many critics believe the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has fatally undermined an essential assumption of the strategy -- that intelligence about an enemy's capabilities and intentions can be sufficiently reliable to justify preventive war.

In his revised version, Bush offers no second thoughts about the preemption policy, saying it "remains the same" and defending it as necessary for a country in the "early years of a long struggle" akin to the Cold War. In a nod to critics in Europe, the document places a greater emphasis on working with allies and declares diplomacy to be "our strong preference" in tackling the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

"If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack," the document continues. "When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."

So Iran is next. Note that North Korea gets a pass because they already have nuclear weapons. The lesson in all this is clear: get your own nuclear weapons and Bush will leave you alone. Don't get them, and he will attack, in a preemptive way, natch. WMDs can be imagined, if need be.

And where are we going to get the military to attack Iran with? Or are we just going to bomb them back to stone age? Wasn't that what was advocated before the Iraq invasion, too?

I never imagined that I might get to experience the Third World War, but it's beginning to look quite likely.

Added later: But not all journalists seem to agree on what this document means. Caroline Daniel:

The White House will on Thursday back away from the use of pre-emptive military strikes against perceived terrorist threats.

However, it will harden its rhetoric against Russia, China and notably Iran, in the first formal review of foreign policy since the invasion of Iraq.

The National Security Strategy, published on Thursday, presents the first significant revision of the landmark 2002 document.

"We may face no greater challenge from a single country than Iran," the new strategy says, citing Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq."

It says "transformational democracy" remains the overriding aim, in spite of rising criticism that the invasion of Iraq has been an expensive military and political failure.

But the concept of "coalitions of the willing" – the philosophy blamed for fracturing the transatlantic alliance and undermining the UN – is notably absent, and America's military strength is barely mentioned.


Instead, it says: "We must be prepared to act alone if necessary, while recognising that there is little of lasting consequence that we can accomplish without the sustained co-operation of our allies and partners."

Sounds like the same thing to me. If you like, we could call it tiptoeing towards the abyss as a form of a gentler, kinder descent into WWIII.