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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

No More Compassionate Conservatism

A reader directs me to an article from a few months back by Cabinet escapee Robert Reich, who predicts that a second Bush term could make his first look like compassionate conservatism. "Knowing that voters can no longer turn them out, and that this will be their last shot at remaking America, the radical conservatives will be unleashed," warns Reich.

Some of Reich's predictions seem likely: more tax cuts for the rich, privitization of social security, and a second Patriot act. Others seem more like worst fears rather than serious predictions: Charles Pickering on the Supreme Court, "the transformation of America into a one-party state" via rigged voting machines.

Reich also forecasts war with North Korea and Iran and says he has evidence. "A friend who specializes in foreign policy and hobnobs with subcabinet officials in the Defense and State departments told me that the only thing that's stopped the Bushies from storming into Iran and North Korea is the upcoming election." Wesley Clarke and others also say they've heard about such plans.

At first I was skeptical. Even though Bush officials probably would like to invade some more of the Axis of Evil, most of the Army is tied down in Iraq and things have only gotten worse since Reich wrote the article (probably in March). The Army is short on bullets, is rushing to retrieve artillery from ski resorts, and is generally in a low state of readiness.

But then I remembered the Navy and the Air Force. These services haven't been much involved in Iraq since the "end of major combat operations." In fact, even though the Navy and Air Force have lots of military police, prison guards, engineers, and others who could be useful on shore, sailors and airmen have been held back. Perhaps this is due to interservice rivalry.

Or perhaps the Bush administration really is planning a blockade of North Korea, as was bandied about by Pentagon officials last year, and more recently by administration defense advisor Richard Perle. For this operation, the Navy and Air Force would be just the ticket. It could work too, at least as long as the North Koreans are bluffing when they threaten to respond by invading South Korea and leveling Seoul...

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