Wednesday, November 17, 2004

George the Irrelevant

The George Will column I referred to below raises some questions about the Bush Administration's foreign policy performance that illustrate what charitably might be considered inconsistency in the President's positions but might more accurately be viewed as political opportunism and hypocrisy. I know, that's nothing to get worked up about; everybody does it. What the column also reveals is what a morally debased whore George Will is.

From the column:
"In 1991 the secretary of defense, explaining the lack of wisdom of regime change, said: 'Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there? How long does the United States military have to stay to protect the people that sign on for that government, and what happens to it once we leave?' Was Dick Cheney right?"

,"In 2000, before becoming George W. Bush's national security adviser, you questioned the use of U.S. military forces in peacekeeping operations: 'Carrying out civil administration and police functions is simply going to degrade the American capability to do the things America has to do. We don't need to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten.' Are current noncombat operations in Iraq degrading U.S. military capabilities?"

There's nothing wrong with these questions. Far from it, they raise legitimate doubts about the philosophical underpinnings and the consistency of Republican foreign policy. What I find troublesome is the timing of these questions.

Had they been raised, say three or four weeks ago, or anytime in the last three years but before November 2, they might have contributed to a serious national debate about the efficacy of the Bush Administration. Had a person of Will's stature among conservative pundits had the temerity to call into question the apparent flip-flop between Candidate Bush's 2000 views on nation building and President Bush's subsequent actions in that arena, we as a nation would have had the opportunity to openly acknowledge that a 180 degree change in the President's views had taken place in the interim. Will has largely remained silent, though, and when these inconsistencies were pointed out by Democrats it was viewed as partisan sniping. So it goes with the rest of Will's column. Although the acendance of Rice to the State Department raises a fine opportunity for Will to publish this column, it would have been just as timely and relevant any time before now.

The difference is that by publishing it now Will gets to pat himself on the back for displaying his bold questioning of the Bush Administration, demonstrating to all that he is a free thinker, independent of the Republicans in power without doing anything to threaten them. The election is over and won, the die has been cast. I think Will is too smart to believe that anything a mere columnist has to say can now influence the man in the White House. Neither, at this point, will any manifestation of popular will. We know that this President does not expose himself to views contrary to his own and does not question his own actions or those of the people serving him after the fact. Will is playing to the grandstand now, burnishing his body of work by trying to establish after it no longer matters that he too can boldly question the President. It's all just a show.

Nonetheless, the questions he raised in the column are good ones. Somebody should see to it that Rice answers them. Somebody who matters. In other words, not Will.

(And you thought this entry would be about Bush, didn't you?)
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