Friday, February 21, 2003

Surely it doesn't surprise you that the U.S. "plans to take complete, unilateral control of a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq," according to a story in today's Washington Post -- only an impossibly naive GOP cultist could have imagined otherwise. But here's my favorite part of the Post story:

In the early days of military action, U.S. forces following behind those in combat would distribute food and other relief items and begin needed reconstruction. The goal, officials said, would be to make sure the Iraqi people "immediately" consider themselves better off than they were the day before war, and attribute their improved circumstances directly to the United States.

So we're going to elbow aside established relief organizations that actually know how to distribute aid in order to make our boys appear to be angels of mercy for a few days in Ashleigh Banfield's MSNBC stories. Think about this: Postwar Iraq is going to be a humanitarian nightmare, and these guys are worried about controlling the news cycle. This is incredibly cynical; I think Karl Rove's fingerprints are all over this plan. And it's naive -- the Bush administration apparently assumes that the world's attention span is as short as the attention span of Americans. It apparently hasn't occurred to the Bushies that the world -- certainly the Arab/Muslim world -- will continue to follow this story tenanciously, unlike Americans, who will begin to lose interest the next time Michael Jackson does something stupid. Or maybe the Bushies just don't care, as long as Bush gets the spike in the polls he needs going into the presidential election cycle.

Paul Krugman's column today is also about what the U.S. will do in a postwar Iraq; understandably, Krugman assumes the effort will be the cynical and halfhearted. Krugman's column and the Post complement each other nicely. (Andrew Sullivan thinks the two pieces contradict each other, a conclusion that baffles me. Krugman predicts, "Saddam Hussein and a few top officials will be replaced, but the rest will stay." The Post says, "A large number of current officials would be retained." Where's the contradiction?)

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