Push against Iraq a distraction

    It is the smoke screen of all smoke screens. For the politically cynical, a threatening war is the most efficient way to ease a president’s unfavorable domestic policy by a reluctant populace. Such a melodrama is being played out even now.

    When Bush first began pressing war with Iraq, he stressed the link between al Qaeda and Iraq. After the uproar from the media and public questioning whether this was true, the Bush administration quickly changed its position to the “”weapons of mass destruction”” argument. Sadly for the Bush administration, its first stance was actually the better argument.

    All things considered, the Bush administration inconclusively exciting the American public over Iraq appears to be a typical example of wagging the dog for election day purposes, as well as passing a Republican agenda while the public and press are focusing on the potential war issues at hand.

    It’s difficult to accept that the White House didn’t expect the North Koreans having a nuclear bomb to become an issue. In the past week or so, the previous attention surrounding Iraq has been refocused to North Korea, a reaction due to the fact that North Korea’s possession of a nuclear weapon would be an open violation of the 1994 Clinton Nuclear Disarmament Treaty. This information and the subsequent answer by the Bush administration has made it clear that the Bush administration was never entirely sure that it was going to wage war on Iraq. Clearly, Bush’s staff hadn’t thought North Korea’s behavior would become an issue on the way to war with Iraq.

    According to National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, the Bush administration doesn’t have any plans to penalize North Korea for its behavior. Keeping in mind the absence of established rhetoric on what to do about North Korea, the subsequent holes in Bush’s WMD-Iraq argument and the speed at which the president has quickly switched roles from fighting totalitarianism to master republican campaigner, one can conclude several things.

    Iraq is not the major issue for Bush, and is in fact one that can be pushed aside for domestic issues, even though it was just a few weeks ago that the Bush administration made it seem to the U.S. public that we had to overthrow Saddam now or never.

    The wavering of the Bush administration as to whether or not it will pursue war on Iraq shows that Bush’s administration has used and continues to use the prospect of war as a rallying flag for Republicans and is an attempt to swing voters in the approaching November elections.

    There is also clear evidence that Bush has taken advantage of the increased attention on international politics to push his domestic agenda. On Oct. 24, President Bush signed into law a defense-spending bill that increases Pentagon spending in almost every area for the budget year that began Oct. 1 by a total of more than $34 billion, or 11 percent, over the previous year — the biggest increase in 20 years. Without all the drummed-up support over Iraq, this bill may very well have never been passed. Bush has politicized the impending war by saying that those D.C. politicians that are against the war are unpatriotic.

    He has also scared voters. Voters would be more aware of the poor shape of the economy if they weren’t pressured to suddenly fear Saddam Hussein. When voters are pushed into fear, they can become reactionary and illogical.

    Accordingly, the following becomes clear. Whether or not we go to war with Iraq isn’t the most pertinent issue. This is made clear by the wavering of policy and enthusiasm toward the war. The most important issue is that Bush get his domestic agenda through Congress, now that they are so strongly encouraged to support the president in this time of crisis.

    Democrats and Republicans alike have been pressured into supporting Bush because he politicized the war. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle was right to scold him on this. But judging by recent popularity polls, it seems that U.S. society has accepted this patriotic-unpatriotic dichotomy as sensible.

    Thus Democratic congressmen and women (especially those facing re-election this fall) are currently too scared to oppose the president on his agenda. Bush’s ability to scare the American public with Saddam’s (non-existent) nuclear weapons allows him to force the public into a reactionary, conservative mentality.

    It is a dangerous time for civil rights right now. Liberties are being pushed aside in the name of national security. Increases in spending are being approved as voters worry about impending war. But before we sign away our rights and our tax dollars, we need to look at what is going on behind the scenes of the Bush administration’s allegedly noble causes.

    This isn’t about war with Iraq or the possibility of North Korea having nuclear weapons. It’s about protecting our rights as well as our country and being able to trust that we’re getting the entire story from our president. Most importantly, it’s about seeing beyond the smoke screen, and being able to know the truth.

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