- Notes: The cover story for the October issue of the Atlantic magazine is "Bush's Lost Year." The piece by James Fallows is subtitled "How the war on Iraq undermined the war on terror." The cover of the September 23 issue of The New York Review blares the headline "Bush's Mess." Harper's editor Lewis H. Lapham has been railing against Bush's Doctrine of preventive war since Bush announced it. These prestigious thought publications often frame the issues for debate in America. They usually precede mainstream journalism by months, sometimes a year or more. The Kerry campaign seems to picked up on the message this past week and reinvigorated its campaign. I want to quote the final two paragraphs of Fallows' article:
"To govern is to choose, and the choices made in 2002 were fateful. The United States began that year shocked and wounded, but with tremendous strategic advantages. Its population was more closely united behind its leadership than it had been in fifty years. World opinion was strongly sympathetic. Longtime allies were eager to help; longtime agonists were silent. The federal budget was nearly in balance, making ambitious projects feasible. The U.S. military was superbly equipped, trained, and prepared. An immediate foe was evident -- and vulnerable -- in Afghanistan. For the longer-term effort against Islamic extremism the Administration could draw on a mature school of thought from academics, regional specialists, and its own intelligence agencies. All that was required was to think broadly about the threats to the country, and creatively about the responses.
"The Bush Administration chose another path. Implicitly at the beginning of 2002, and as a matter of formal policy by the end, it placed all other considerations second to regime change in Iraq. It hampered the campaign in Afghanistan before fighting began and wound it down prematurely, along the way losing the chance to capture Osama bin Laden. It turned a blind eye to misdeeds in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and to WMD threats from North Korea and Iran far more serious than any posed by Saddam Hussein, all in the name of moving toward a showdown with Iraq. It overused and wore out its army in invading Iraq -- without committing enough troops for a successful occupation. It saddled the United States with ongoing costs that dwarf its spending for domestic security. And by every available measure it only worsened the risk of future terrorism. In every sense 2002 was a lost year."
Copyright 2004 by Charles Pugsley Fincher