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  xTuesday, February 18, 2003

(continued from the previous post)

By being a man of few doubts, Bush pushed a reluctant world into dealing with the dangers posed by Hussein. But that is an achievement Bush now threatens to undercut by being indifferent or dismissive toward those who lack his certainty. The danger is that he will fail to build the consensus, at home and abroad, to turn an American military victory into a genuine triumph for our national security and for democracy. More than he knows, he needs the doubters.

In short, Bush is not wrong to place Iraq on the agenda, and the return of inspectors would be lauded as a Good Thing if the policy is to disarm Iraq as opposed to finding a pretext to invade. Bush had a marvelous opportunity to declare victory and demonstrate himself as a man of peace. But instead, his ever-more-bellicose rhetoric and policies are, I fear, putting the US in the position where it must go to war with Iraq or lost major face. That isn't being resolute, it's being reckless.

Protecting US national security is paramount, and I have no problem at all with the use of force--even preemptive force--when circumstances leave no other option. I do have a problem with fixating on an invasion and pursuingthat aim regardless of developments. I am not at all convinced--indeed, increasingly less so--that Iraq poses a threat of sufficient magnitude to warrant an unprovoked invasion. That path seems to discard even the option of less extreme military action, such as destruction of any real terror camps or proscribed weapons facilities. Couple this monomania with the Administration's ongoing bungling of the North Korean situation, its blindness toward other terror threats, and its obvious releuctance to discuss Osama bin Laden, and I, like Dionne, see little reason to put our trust in this Administration's good intentions--or competence.





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