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COLUMN SEVENTY-EIGHT, NOVEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)

BY MAUREEN DOWD

1. LEMON FIZZES ON THE BANKS OF THE EUPHRATES

Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Lemon Fizzes on the Banks of the Euphrates
Date: Wed, 18 Sep 2002 13:16:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: info@blacklistedjournalist.com
To: info@blacklistedjournalist.com

This article from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by info@blacklistedjournalist.com .

September 18, 2002

Lemon Fizzes on the Banks of the Euphrates

By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON---The trap is sprung. The name of the game is containment.

Contain the wild man, the leader with the messianic and relentless glint who is scaring the world.

Surround him, throw Lilliputian nets on him, tie him up with a lot of U.N. inspection demands, humor him long enough to stop him from using his weapons and blowing up the Middle East.

But this time, the object of the containment strategy is not Saddam Hussein, but George W. Bush, the president with real bombs, not the predator with plans to make them.

America's European and Arab allies now act more nervous about the cowboy in the Oval Office who likes to brag on America as "the greatest nation on the face of the Earth" than the thug in the Baghdad bunker.

"We don't want another war in this region," says an adviser to the Saudi royal family. "When Afghanistan is bombed, they just hit rocks. When there's bombing in our neighborhood, they hit oil fields."

Gerhard Schr?der's campaign prospects soared when he started running against Mr. Bush. "Many Germans," wrote The Times's Steven Erlanger, "seem to fear American military action in Iraq more than they fear Mr. Hussein."

With assists from the rump cabinet of internationalists, including Colin Powell and Brent Scowcroft, America's allies have been engaged in a benevolent conspiracy to ensnare the president in the web of U.N. rules for war and diplomacy.

The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, insists that the Iraqi threat must be taken care of without "the firing of a single shot or the loss of a single soldier." He added a big sweetener, promising that American bombers could use Saudi bases if Mr. Bush would work through the U.N.

Privately, Saudi officials said they are alarmed by the Bush team's military strutting, and think it would have been much better to get rid of Saddam with a covert operation. They agree with the president that Saddam is a monster who not only eliminates his enemies, real and perceived, but also their wives, children and friends. But if he has nothing to lose, they worry, he might fire his chemical and biological weapons at the Saudis or the Israelis or give them to terrorists to use on the U.S.

By wrapping Mr. Bush in a warm embrace, the Persian Gulf allies hope to waltz him closer to where they want him to be. Meanwhile, the Egyptians and the Jordanians pinned Saddam to the mat and told him that if he had any chance of avoiding Armageddon, he should open up his country to inspectors.

Thus, in just a few days, the Iraq crisis went from Saddam having a noose around his neck to W. being bound by multilateral macram".

"All the reasons for an attack have been eliminated," crowed Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister.

But the allies " and especially Mr. Aziz " should not underestimate the zeal of the Bush warriors.

Saddam can admit a legion of inspectors, but that may not stop Mr. Bush from wriggling out of the U.N. restraints and declaring the despot's compliance a sham.

The Arabs tut-tut that America should focus on rebuilding Afghanistan, getting a state for the Palestinians and pursuing the war on terror.

But the Bushies have gotten a taste of empire building in Afghanistan and they like it.

Karl Rove is building a Republican empire. Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Scooter Libby are building an ideological empire. Dick Cheney is building a unilateral empire. And Donald Rumsfeld is building a military empire.

As Henry Kissinger told Newsweek, Rummy wants "to beat back the attitudes of the Vietnam generation that was focused on American imperfection and limitations."

Besides, why should former C.E.O.'s Cheney and Rummy settle for mere Jack Welch-style perks when they can have the perks of empire?

They can restore civilization to the cradle of civilization. Lemon fizzes, cribbage and cricket by the Tower of Babel. A 36-hole golf course on the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates. ArabDisney in the hanging gardens of Babylon. Oil on tap at the Baghdad Hilton. Huge contracts for buddies in the defense and oil industries. Halliburton's Brown & Root construction company building a six-lane highway from Baghdad to Tel Aviv.

How long can it be before the empire strikes back?

                          Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company

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2. CULTURE WAR WITH B-2'S

Subject: NYTimes.com Culture War With B-2's
Date: Sun, 22 Sep 2002 13:16:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: info@blacklistedjournalist.com
To: info@blacklistedjournalist.com

This article from NYTimes.com has been sent to you by info@blacklistedjournalist.com .

September 22, 2002

Culture War With B-2's

By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON " Don't feel bad if you have the uneasy feeling that you're being steamrolled. You are not alone.

As my girlfriend Dana said: "Bush is like the guy who reserves a hotel room and then asks you to the prom."

As the Pentagon moves troops, carriers, covert agents and B-2 bombers into the Persian Gulf, the president, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld continue their pantomime of consultation.

When Senator Mark Dayton of Minnesota asked the defense chief on Thursday, "What is compelling us to now make a precipitous decision and take precipitous actions?" an exasperated Mr. Rumsfeld sputtered: "What's different? What's different is 3,000 people were killed."

The casus belli is casuistry belli: We can't cuff Saddam to 9/11, but we'll clip Saddam because of 9/11.

Mr. Rumsfeld offered sophistry instead of a smoking gun: "I suggest that any who insist on perfect evidence are back in the 20th century and still thinking in pre-9/11 terms."

Ah, Rummy. Evidence, civil liberties, debating before we go to war . . . it's all sooo 20th century.

Anyway, how can we have evidence when we learned last week that our evidence-gathering snoozy spooks are even more aggressively awful than we thought?

The administration isn't targeting Iraq because of 9/11. It's exploiting 9/11 to target Iraq. This new fight isn't logical " it's cultural. It is the latest chapter in the culture wars, the conservative dream of restoring America's sense of Manifest Destiny.

The Bush hawks don't simply want to go back in a time machine and make Desert Storm end with a turkey shoot. They want to travel back even farther to the Vietnam War and write a more muscular coda to that as well.

Extirpating Saddam is about proving how tough we are to a world that thinks we got soft when that last helicopter left the roof of the American embassy in Saigon in 1975.

We can't prove it with al Qaeda. That's like grabbing smoke.

So former Nixon officials Cheney and Rummy are playing out their own "Four Feathers," rescuing the lost honor of the American empire in the sands of Arabia. They want to stomp on Saddam to exorcise the specters of Vietnam and Watergate " the ethical relativism, the lack of patriotism, the postmodern angst, the loss of moral authority, the feeling that America is in decline or in the wrong, the do-whatever-feels-good Clintonesque ethos.

Dick Cheney fought multinationalism and Lynne Cheney fought multiculturalism, defending the dead white males who made the republic great. She has written a children's book, America: A Patriotic Primer, and urged that 9/11 be a day to remember the nation's glories rather than its "faults and failings."

The Cheneys, who have been known to invite dinner guests at the vice presidential mansion to sing along to Home on the Range, think they can restore a sunnier, more can-do mood to our society. Even if it takes incinerating Baghdad to do it.

Rummy is equally impatient with the post-Vietnam focus on imperfections and limitations. He wants to yank the boomers by their collars and make them, if not the Greatest Generation, at least a bit Greater.

This is fine with W., who stayed 50's through the 60's and stopped liking the Beatles when they got into their "weird psychedelic period." He arrived at Yale and Harvard Business School just as the white male WASP ascendancy was slipping. He was in that small coterie of bewildered guys in wide-wale corduroy trousers, Izod polo shirts and Sperry Topsiders, surrounded by wild and crazy hippies protesting the war and smoking roaches.

The Bushies want to bring back the imperial, imperious presidency. The pre-emption proclamation had the tone of Cheney Caesar and Condi Ben Her. And the resolution sent to Congress seeking authority to go after Iraq was the broadest request for executive military authority since L.B.J. got the Gulf of Tonkin resolution rubber-stamped in 1964. At least L.B.J. had to phony up the Tonkin Gulf provocation. Mr. Bush can't be bothered. "I cannot believe the gall and the arrogance of the White House," Sen. Robert Byrd bellowed.

Things are getting dangerouser and dangerouser. Karl Rove's gunning for the Democrats. Ariel Sharon's gunning for Arafat. W.'s gunning for Saddam. And Al Qaeda's still gunning for us. 

                          Copyright 2002 The New York Times Company   ##

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