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Catfish and Cod
Monday, May 24, 2004

(Link path: The New York Times, free and pointless registration required)

I don't know if Joseph Wilson is telling the truth or not about his wife and that trip to Niger. I don't know if the Yellowgate accusations were true or false. What I do know is that a CIA agent had her cover blown for political purposes, and that's wrong at best and criminal at worst.

But Joseph Wilson made one statement that resonated with me perfectly:

Wilson is not antiwar. Rather he is "anti-dumb-war."

That's it exactly. I'm not anti-war, I'm anti-dumb-war. I supported the broad purpose of taking out Saddam but think the diplomacy, the postwar strategy, and the implementation were all muffed. If we are to succeed in Iraq, it will be by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin, and no thanks to the neocons who planned this whole escapade. And it's still not clear at all what we do after Iraq.

Many elements of the Second Gulf War were planned out far in advance of 9/11. This was not really due to some grand conspiracy. Everyone knew Saddam had to be taken out sooner or later, because the sanctions couldn't (and shouldn't!) last forever and Saddam would attack someone the minute he got the chance. After several failed coups, the US started planning the war that was now recognized as inevitable. 9/11 changed the circumstances and even the meaning, but it was still an inevitable war.

A lot of the planning up to now was made in two stages: in the 1990's planning regarding Saddam and in the frantic days after the Eleventh. We've now run out of steam. What's the next step? We're not really sure, although the new sanctions against Syria give a hint of what the neocons envision. If there are any specific policy ideas here, though, no one has shared them with us.

There's little evidence of dextrous, careful implementation of the grand strategy in the Administration. There isn't even a sense of carefully engendered experimentation, what is usually called "fumbling around". Instead, we send interns to manage national budgets.

I'm no peacenik, and I know what a tough slog we have to go. I just would like some competence to be displayed by "All the President's Men". I'm not antiwar. I'm just anti-dumb-war.