Diplomatic Deception: The Calm Before the Firestorm

DK at Talking Points Memo has this exactly right: the new mainstream media meme of a "quieter, more diplomatic" Bush foreign policy is yet another steaming crock served up by Karl Rove and swallowed whole by the fat and sassy gluttons of the press. As DK and Kevin Drum point out, the Bush Administration’s whimpering reactions to provocations by North Korea, to the alarming resurgence of the Taliban (who have essentially trapped the British Expeditionary Force in the south in a loose but deadly siege), to the horrific death spiral in the raging Iraqi civil war, to the continuing imbroglio with Iran, etc., don’t stem from some deliberate choice of "letting diplomacy work" but are simply the result of the Bushists’ own blithering incompetence and utter cluelessness about how to actually govern a country and conduct a coherent foreign policy.

But of course they don’t care about governing, coherent policies, etc. What they care about are loot and dominion. The only way they know how to get it is through strong-arm Mob tactics: you threaten the mark, and if he doesn’t pay up, you beat him or kill him. (Actually, it is a pretty coherent policy after all: the logical consistency of a thug.) Thus this new "quiet" is in some ways even more dangerous than the bellicosity of old. Because as DK notes, the main reason for the lack of serious war-whooping at the moment is that the tin-pot triumvirate of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have broken the American military: they’ve smashed it to pieces on the stones of Iraq, poured out rivers of blood and whole seas of public treasure in their stupid, brutal greed. We can see the military unravelling before our eyes (Steve Gilliard has been tracking this closely), as discipline unravels, new atrocity cases emerge almost every week and, intent on using their combat training to bring their race war to America’ s streets (more on this later in the week).

But their goal — loot and dominion — hasn’t gone away. And their "policy" — extortion and violent force — remains the same. (Indeed, it’s apparently the only thing they know how to do.) So if you still want to dominate and you still believe in force but your regular military force is broken, what do you do? What do you have left to bring out and swing around and show the world how big and tough you are? What else: "A smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Remember, the Bushists have altered America’s official military doctrine to "regularize" the use of nuclear weapons as part of the "normal" combat arsenal, authorizing its use even against non-nuclear enemies, in pre-emptive, non-retaliatory strikes. As Jorge Hirsch points out in an excellent article on Antiwar.com, the Bushists see the use of "tactical" nuclear weapons as a key element in their "revolution in military affairs," the use of stripped down, lean and mean military able to strike quickly around the world. America’s nuclear arsenal is the necessary "force multiplier" for this smaller force, which otherwise couldn’t take on large traditional armies or fight on several fronts simultaneously. But as Hirsch notes, this force multiplier is worthless unless it is established as a "credible deterrent" — unless, that is, that it is actually used sometime, somewhere, to prove to the world that yes, by God, we will nuke you if you don’t play ball our way.

The most likely target will be Iran, despite the resistance to a Persian nuke-fest mounted by the top U.S. brass, as Seymour Hersh recently reported in the New Yorker. But as Hirsch notes, the final decision on the weaponry used in an attack on Iran — and there will almost certainly be an attack — is in the hands of the triumvirate, not the military.

So don’t be lulled by the spoon-fed folderol of the toothless media watchdogs. For while the well-wadded poltroons at Time and the Times serve up Karl Rove’s comfort food about a more "mature" and sensible Bush foreign policy, the world is actually drawing closer and closer to a even deeper level of darkness.