The Next Great Idea in the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive War

Along comes Walter Pincus, an able enough Washington
Post staff writer to disabuse us of any intention by incumbent George Bush to
release his death-grip on America’s substitution for preemption over diplomacy.
If you thought (or hoped) his eye was on getting back to his cats and favorite
pillow down on the ranch, you never counted on Dick Cheney, or Cheney’s attack
dog, David Addington.

If one were of a more conspiracy attuned mind than I
happen to be, I might would feel the rising hairs at the back of my neck, the hot
breath of military coups. An election, a preemptive strike before January 20th and extraordinary
measures taken temporarily on a

Nah. Couldn’t happen. Troops in the streets? Kent
State? Nah.

(Non-Nuclear Warhead Urged for Trident
, by Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer, Saturday, August
16, 2008)

National Research Council blue-ribbon panel of defense experts is recommending
development and testing of a conventional warhead for submarine-launched
intercontinental Trident missiles to give the president an alternative to using
nuclear weapons for a prompt strike anywhere in the world.

critical situations, such an immediate global strike weapon “would
eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat
either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all,” the panel
said in a final report requested by Congress in early 2007 and released

. . The panel also said that few countries, other than Russia and perhaps
China, would be able to detect a sub-launched missile “in the next five
years,” and that because of the few warheads that would be involved,
“the risk of the observing nation’s launching a nuclear retaliatory attack
is very low.”

its study, the panel focused on scenarios in which it said the Defense
Department in the past “seriously contemplated strikes.” These
involved the need for an immediate conventional strike to preempt an adversary
whose missile system was poised to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States
or an ally…

. . The panel also included John S. Foster Jr., a former director of the
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Defense Department director of research
and development and chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger;

Ah yes, and our man Foster has been quoted elsewhere
as saying “National defense with
maximum precision and minimum unintended damage should be an attractive
challenge for scientists seeking to improve the human condition.
”  Dr. Strangelove rides again.

One can hardly contemplate a more improving influence on the human
condition than America’s current (Bush declared) Doctrine of Preemptive War,
enhanced by maximum precision and minimum collateral damage. Improving the
Rumsfeld scorecard.
Death to the countries and regimes of choice without
killing absolutely everyone. A man
who identifies that as an attractive
challenge is long past the childhood habits of pulling wings off insects.

If anything might chill the reader’s blood, then giving
this particular president another, easier, less confrontational, less ambiguous
way to attack the world, certainly fills the bill.

Promising a ‘new direction for America,’ Pelosi flim-flammed us into giving her the keys to the Congress. Her obscure, misunderstood and unconstitutionally ‘off
the table’ argument for impeachment and against this kind of clap-trap
weaponization, is that this president is on his way out. “Oh, he’ll be gone in a few months, what’s
the point
?” The point is preserving our republic as a nation of laws. What
we give or allow this president, we give or allow all presidents to come, by precedent.

Remember, without the impeachment of Bill Clinton,
all presidents would have been encouraged to solicit oral sex in the halls of
the White House.

The claim that in critical situations, this newest
weapon of choice in the Pandora Box “would
eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat
either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all,”
is bogus
on its face. It tempts presidents to respond by poll (something they do entirely
too much already), promotes reckless and ill-advised presidential shots from
the hip to juice their numbers and discourages the hard, slogging, necessary work of diplomacy.

Presidents, due to their four-year report cards, are
as short-sighted as business executives in pursuit of the ever-elusive
quarterly earnings statement. The difference is that presidents cook the nation’s books, often with
horrendous consequences.

This administration in particular, but perhaps all
modern administrations, have apparently thrown diplomacy (and the Department of
State that administers it) into the dustbin of history. I argue that such successive
presidential policy has pretty much destroyed American influence on the
international stage. It has been recently claimed that we have more members of
military bands than total employees in the State Department.

Ruffles and flourishes, the substitute diplomacy of
the new century.

That shortfall in expertise is what ties the hands
of Secretaries like the thoroughly beaten Colin Powell and the current abuse
victim, Condoleeza Rice. They become mere firemen, dashing around the planet,
stamping down insurgencies and smoldering paper bags on the porch in Darfur,
Georgia, China, Israel, Palestine–and elsewhere–too many elsewheres to list.

We don’t need a quicker
way to strike
, we need less tendency
to strike
and a calmer, more resolute method by which to negotiate. In a
properly run government (let alone an administration) the situation in Georgia
would never have been allowed to fester. GWB found himself surprised by what
everyone else saw coming, but had no mechanism to prevent. Echoes of 9-11 and
Condi Rice thrown to another lion.

A well organized Department of State would have (and
once had) ‘sections‘ devoted to every
nation and region of the world–long term departments devoted to in-depth
knowledge of an area’s history, economics, world view and political persuasion.
That legacy was available from secretary to secretary, president to president.
A proper Department of State would have more than ten Arab-speakers in a
workforce of 34,000.

Ten Arab speakers.
Can you believe it? We have plunged
ourselves into the darkness and expected, demanded, smashed all the furniture seeking illumination. The Middle East is in
flames and America has ten people who can speak Arabic in their diplomatic service and probably fewer
qualified in Farsi (the language of Iran).

How ’bout packing in the missiles, John Foster (all
that’s missing is the Dulles) and beating the drum for a diplomatic service
fluent in Arabic, Persian, Pashtu, Albanian, Azerbiajani, Cantonese and
Mandarin? You are the living embodiment of Martin Luther King’s prescient
statement that ‘we have guided missiles
and misguided men
.’ Spending mercilessly on weaponry, we don’t have the money to speak the language of our adversaries.

We can kill, but we can’t communicate.

Instead of more thoughtful approaches to getting
what we want politically and economically (the goals of all diplomacy), we have
presented to us on behalf of the current crew of war-profiteers, yet another study that recommends
an increase in weapons
. The signatories to that study are (no surprise)
heavily into the weapons promotion business.

Witness The Committee for Present Danger (nearing its 60th anniversary of
perceived and ever-present dangers)
as an example.
After sixty years of looking for present dangers, what the hell did we expect these nit-wits would find? Peace? Look a some of the signatory members:
They include, in addition to the aforementioned John Foster, we
have Norman Podhoretz (advocate of attacking Iran) and associates of the American Enterprise Institute (Richard
Perle), Heritage Foundation (Richard
Mellon Scaife), AIPAC (a shadow
American government) and Boeing.

Boeing, the ‘we know why we’re here
people. As for the rest of the weapons contractors, McCain advisor Joe
Lieberman is available to haul their water.

Being the last of the major powers still standing is
tough work. So is policing the world. And for those who think we shouldn’t be policing the world, I would suggest
it has always fallen to the powerful–Rome, England, France, Spain, now us. The Pax Americana.

That difficult work should never depend upon a single president’s
perceptions, because no single man or woman is up to a detailed, up to date and
unbiased world-view. Condi Rice is a Russia expert and yet she screwed up the presidential
advice leading to the Georgia conflict, because she had no depth on the bench to assist
her diplomacy.

As a nation, we are increasingly shying away from
the hard work in favor of the easier (quicker, quarterly maximization of
profit) route of intimidation, conflict and bipartisanship. It’s not working. That’s the conclusion
of the ‘Freeman Study,’ for which no
professionals were engaged and no cost incurred.

Having said that, the smart money is on new
submarine armaments.


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