Friday, October 21, 2005
Condoleezza Rice Admits it was always the Bush administration's intention to redesign the Middle East after the September 11 attacks
Condi's Amazing Testimony
Fri Oct 21, 2005 at 06:41:47 PM PDT
During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday, October 20th, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said something truly extraordinary. She said that it was always the Bush administration's intention to redesign the Middle East after the September 11 attacks. 9/11, she said, merely exposed a "deep malignancy that had been growing" in the region for a long time. The Iraq war is merely part of a much larger plan designed to change the political character of Middle Eastern countries and concomitantly change the mindset of the peoples living in them.
While Senators may have taken note of this amazing admission, most opted to spar with Rice on fairly trivial points. Shouldn't the administration set a time-table for withdrawal? What is Rice's definition of victory? Why does she not see the need for more troops?
Barbara Boxer was a singular voice in pointing out the obvious, namely that remaking the mindset of the Middle East was not the rationale the Bush administration gave to the American people and to the world prior to the invasion.
However, even Boxer's statement didn't go far enough in terms of a more rationale reaction to Rice's comment. Every single committee member should have said, in unison, the following.
If the president sees it as America's mission to change the political character of Middle Eastern countries and to change the mindset of the peoples therein, and if he is of the opinion that this can be done initially through force of arms, and subsequently through massive expenditures of American money, and if he thinks that this mission will take upwards of a generation, he needs to come before a joint session of Congress and make his case to the elected representatives of the American people and simultaneously to the American people watching at home. He needs to explain why he thinks force of arms (invasion) is the best way to sweep away this "malignancy" and the best way to encourage healthy tissue to grow in its place. He needs to name the countries that he is prepared to invade - Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. He needs to ask Congress to reinstate the draft in order to ensure sufficient men under arms. He needs to warn the American people that sacrifices will be required of them - higher taxes, foregoing expenditures on domestic programs, and should the world's production of oil be significantly impacted, higher prices for energy at a minimum and perhaps higher prices all around. And most importantly, Bush needs to define the ultimate shape and character that he envisions for these countries so that all can judge whether the effort is worthwhile.
No Senator this day said any thing even remotely resembling this, but I suspect, that slowly, over time, as the implications of Rice's astonishing admission seep into the brains of these Senators, both Democrat and Republican, Bush's mission will begin to be discussed openly, and debated openly as both a political issue and a public policy option.
When this happens, Americans will come to understand that not was George Bush not truthful when he said that 9/11, WMD, and ties to al-Qaeda drove him to invade Iraq. They will also understand that he has up to this point been withholding from the American people a very large vision whose realization the American people may or may not wish to pursue.
Americans may instead judge that the cost of this mission in terms of soldiers killed and maimed, treasure expended, and domestic sacrifices suffered, are not worth a reshaped, reengineered Middle East, its ultimate similarity to Western style capitalist democracies notwithstanding.
Should Bush and his apologists respond that only by embarking on this mission will America be safe from attack over the ensuing decades, most reasonable people would find it relatively easy to disagree. Choosing to call 9/11 as an act war as opposed to a crime does is one thing. Unleashing the full force of the American military against four countries at a minimum in a decades long war simply to prevent other 9/11s would strike most Americans as disproportionate and foolish, given that 9/11 was perpetrated by a mere nineteen hijackers, all of whom were under surveillance by the FBI for a year prior to their war-like act.
I have no idea whether Rice intended to say what she said on Thursday, but in doing so, she has changed the focus of the debate regarding the Iraq invasion. No longer is it a matter of "the best intelligence we had at the time" versus "the best cooked intelligence we could come up with". It is rather a matter that can be discussed and debated, and that is a good thing.If Rice, by the way, intends to run for president in 2008, either from a vice presidential chair or from the Secretary's office, she may have a difficult time running on "remake the Middle East with American blood and money" platform.