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January 28, 2003

Mondo Washington

James Ridgeway's Village Voice column, Mondo Washington is a stellar weekly (and sometimes more frequent) unspinning of stories that the mainstream press cover only in mainstream ways, i.e., by giving us only the "official" story rather than what that official story is attempting to hide. The latest installment is no exception, covering several little gems, including the current plan to fire more missiles on Baghdad than were used in the entirety of Gulf War I.

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," one Pentagon official told CBS. There are 4 million civilians in Baghdad, of whom 2 million are children.

The Pentagon likes A-Day because it supposedly concentrates on the psychological destruction of the enemy's will to fight, rather than on the physical destruction of his military forces. They won't admit it, but this is another horrible policy shift. This is what Hitler did to London in World War II. What Bush proposes is not collateral damage, but a level of civilian destruction not seen since the Second World War, with tens of thousands of intended civilian casualties.

Ridgeway also covers the frightening fact that the Bush Administration seems to have fewer qualms than any previous administration about using nuclear weapons. William Arkin provided some good detail on this in the LA Times a couple of days ago. After detailing the many ways in which the Administration has moved nukes out of their "special" place as weapons that were really too awful to use, and onto the shelf with conventional weapons, Arkin concludes:

What worries many senior officials in the armed forces is not that the United States has a vast array of weapons or contingency plans for using them. The danger is that nuclear weapons -- locked away in a Pandora's box for more than half a century -- are being taken out of that lockbox and put on the shelf with everything else. While Pentagon leaders insist that does not mean they take nuclear weapons lightly, critics fear that removing the firewall and adding nuclear weapons to the normal option ladder makes their use more likely -- especially under a policy of preemption that says Washington alone will decide when to strike.

To make such a doctrine encompass nuclear weapons is to embrace a view that, sooner or later, will spread beyond the moral capitals of Washington and London to New Delhi and Islamabad, to Pyongyang and Baghdad, Beijing, Tel Aviv and to every nuclear nation of the future.

If that happens, the world will have become infinitely more dangerous than it was two years ago, when George W. Bush took the presidential oath of office.

No kidding. But, as Ridgeway reminds us:

As [Bush] told Bob Woodward in Bush at War , the president sees no reason to explain his actions: "I'm the commander—see, I don't need to explain—I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel like I owe anybody an explanation."

Gee, that's right, Mr. President: Why would you possibly need to explain any of your statements or actions to the American people? You're not a public servant or anything, are you? You don't serve at the behest of millions of voters, do you? Shall we take this as an admission that Bush thinks of himself as an appointed President (thanks to the Supreme Court), rather than an elected one?

Come to think of it, why even bother with a State of the Union address tonight? It's not like Bush has any responsibility to tell any of us anything, right? *grrrr*

Posted January 28, 2003 02:24 PM | general politics

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