Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Gideon Rose, Fareed Zakaria's successor at Foreign Affairs, has come up with a novel variation on the Bush-is-blowing-it school of diplomatic criticism: never mind the EU--the administration should have been more assiduous about getting its own bureaucrats on board before attacking Iraq. "[W]hat has been truly breathtaking has been the speed with which elements of all the major national security bureaucracies have openly distanced themselves from the war plan," writes Rose. "This blowback owes as much to the style of the administration's politics as to the substance of its policies."

If true, this is all very good news for the Bush administration. Of course, if the war takes a significant turn for the worse, then the voices of dissent (more accurately, the voices of frantic posterior-covering) in the bowels of the federal security establishment will grow much, much louder and more insistent. But in such a case the administration, having staked its credibility on a failed military campaign, would obviously be in deep trouble anyway.

On the other hand, if the war continues to go as well as it has so far--that is, not perfectly, but very well indeed--then the chorus of don't-blame-mes piping up out of the bureaucracy will turn with astonishing speed into the proud kvellings of success' thousand fathers. And if Rose is correct in lumping together "those at home and abroad who might well have been brought to some grudging support for this war had it been sold more honestly, more tactfully, and in less revolutionary terms", then the opportunistic grumbling from America's fair-weather allies will presumably be silenced as well, once the war has been won.

Prediction: following the fall of Baghdad, the French papers will be full of bitter recriminations from anonymous French bureaucrats who "knew all along" that Jacques Chirac's reckless unilateralism was overambitious, unsustainable and doomed to failure.

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