Tuesday, March 4
A War Policy in Collapse James Carroll, The Boston Globe, March 4, 2003
WHAT A DIFFERENCE a month makes. On Feb. 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case against Iraq with a show of authority that moved many officials and pundits out of ambivalence and into acceptance. The war came to seem inevitable, which then prompted millions of people to express their opposition in streets around the globe.
The sputtering rage of war opponents and the grandiose abstractions of war advocates both seemed disconnected from the relentless marshaling of troops. War was coming.
And then the events of last week. :
Within a period of a few days, the war policy of the Bush administration suddenly showed signs of incipient collapse.
No one of these developments by itself marks the ultimate reversal of fortune for Bush, but taken together, they indicate that the law of ''unintended consequences,'' which famously unravels the best-laid plans of warriors, may apply this time before the war formally begins.
Unraveling is underway.
Consider what happened as February rolled into March:
~Tony Blair forcefully criticized George W. Bush for his obstinacy on global environmental issues, a truly odd piece of timing for such criticism from a key ally yet a clear effort to get some distance from Washington. Why now?
~The president's father chose to give a speech affirming the importance both of multinational cooperation and of realism in dealing with the likes of Saddam Hussein. To say, as the elder Bush did, that getting rid of Hussein in 1991 was not the most important thing is to raise the question of why it has become the absolute now.
~For the first time since the crisis began, Iraq actually began to disarm, destroying Al Samoud 2 missiles and apparently preparing to bring weapons inspectors into the secret world of anthrax and nerve agents. The Bush administration could have claimed this as a victory on which to mount further pressure toward disarmament.
~Instead, the confirmed destruction of Iraqi arms prompted Washington to couple its call for disarmament with the old, diplomatically discredited demand for regime change.
~The Russian foreign minister declared his nation's readiness to use its veto in the Security Council to thwart American hopes for a UN ratification of an invasion.
~Despite Washington's offer of many billions in aid, the Turkish Parliament refused to approve US requests to mount offensive operations from bases in Turkey -- the single largest blow against US war plans yet.