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Spencer Blog Archives 3-03

Click here for Mr. Spencer's latest blog entry.

Boy, you ought to get a load of this analysis by the UPI. It's quite sobering.

Here's just a bit of it:

Success, President John. F. Kennedy famously said, has many fathers. Defeat is an orphan.

Even though President George W. Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are continuing to claim everything is going to plan in their war on Iraq, perhaps the most ominous development from the U.S. point of view, 11 days into the war, is the scramble to assign or deny blame within the Pentagon. That kind of thing never happens when things are going well.

Last week, Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, the tough, highly capable commander of the U.S. V Corps and the top-ranking U.S. Army ground commander in Iraq, said frankly that the war he and his embattled troops were having to fight was not the war they had war-gamed for or had been led to expect.

The April 7 issue of the New Yorker magazine, which will be released on Monday, contains an article by veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, who reports that Rumsfeld at least six times overruled regular Army ground commanders and sharply reduced the number of troops in the initial U.S. thrust.

The article also claims that Rumsfeld had overruled cautious theater commander Gen. Tommy Franks, when he urged that the invasion be delayed until the 4th Mechanized Infantry Division, having been denied access to Iraq overland through Turkey, could be deployed in the Gulf instead.

On Sunday, Rumsfeld denied that he had overruled uniformed Army war planners.

Now that Rumsfeld is lying in public, isn't it about time for him to go?

You know it's only a matter of time before it becomes very obvious he's lying. I expect somebody to turn over a document that shows he's lying any day now. Of course, the entire administration is lying about all sorts of things at the moment -- attempting to pass the buck on the warplan and cover up the administration's incompetence and obvious misjudgements.

Doesn't all of this make you long for the day when all the president lied about in public was blowjobs?

Posted by Tom at 10:41 p.m. CST

I've got a couple of things you should go read that are quite troubling.

First of all, Seymour Hersh's devastating expose of the incompetence of Rumsfeld and the hawks in the New Yorker is here. It's quite a sordid tale folks -- once again the Pentagon is going after Rumsfeld.

You also should go read this post by Josh Marshall about this article citing three senior administration officials claiming that the"bad scenarios" were essentially kept from W by those around him. The big news is that this story is apparently a leak from the White House inner circle.

According to Josh, the White House is trying desperately to blame others for the flawed warplan:

It's a narrow enough designation that I think you can say clearly that there simply aren't"three senior administration officials" at the State Department. Indeed, this has all the looks of a story leaked right out of the White House. Presumably, we can scratch Dick Cheney's name off the list since they finger him as the person most responsible for selling the president a bill of goods. Of course, we said months ago that Cheney was the living, breathing disaster at the heart of this administration. But we'll get back to that later.

In any case, the attribution is what makes this such a big story. The White House is in such a state of pandemonium and implosion that they are discarding the policy -- indeed, they are positively undermining it -- in the hopes of insulating the president from the immense fall-out that they can see barreling down the track. Consider also that, saying the president was"out of the loop" -- seemingly a family failing -- on the central policy of his administration is a devastating admission of incompetence on its own. So that tells you what they think of the consequences of remaining attached to the policy.

If you need some evidence that our country is in some trouble, there it is.

In short, W is trying to shift blame for this warplan.

For W, the buck always stops somewhere else, doesn't it?

Is W ever going to accept responsibility for ANYTHING?

Well at least W and the boys haven't tried to blame Clinton's penis for this one -- yet.

Posted by Tom at 5:28 p.m. CST

account of the war in Al-Nasiriyah.

I'll warn you though. It's likely to make you sad and angry at the same time.

Even if you're for the war, this piece ought to make you wonder what the hell we're doing over there and whether much good can come of a war that is prosecuted like this.

Why am I having to go to foreign media sources to find things like this?

Posted by Tom at 1:23 p.m. CST

points us (blogspot permalinks are not working) to these coonass geniuses who are saying all anti-war protesters should be shot for treason.

Get this:

"This has been going on since World War I, and it's the reason they have the right to feel the way they do," [radio talkshow host Richard] Condon said, pointing at the peace protesters marching down Stanford toward LSU.

Despite that right, he concluded,"I think these son-of-a-buggers deserve a bullet in the head."

This followed his proclamation to the crowd at the beach about American military aims that ended with:"And it's about time we nuked Canada's ass!"

These are some really bright folks, these members of the Bush Fedayeen, aren't they?

Atrios comments (again, permalinks on blogspot are not working):

Now, if I were the liberal equivalent of the New York Post, I would seize on this opportunity to point out that the entire pro-war movement is made up of fascist thugs who believe that execution is the proper sentence for disagreeing with an administration's foreign policy.
Or, better yet, Atrios might have just said"Now, if I were the liberal equivalent of Glenn Reynolds..." However, fortunately for all of us, Atrios has got much more class and tolerance than Glenn does. Glenn frequently tries to lump all of the anti-war folks together into one boat by making these types of outrageous claims. In fact, Glenn's claims are often even more outrageous in fact.

I just thought I'd point that out.

Posted by Tom at 1:23 p.m. CST


From what I can tell so far, it sounds like MSNBC and NBC wimped out to me.

Score one for the White House"patriotic correctness" police. It's not like Arnett didn't say anything that most of us aren't thinking or, in my case, writing.

I guess he shouldn't have said it on Iraqi TV. I guess.

You can watch Arnett's apology and get a lot more background on this by clicking on the video link at the top of the page as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:19 a.m. CST

Fanatical Apathy. Atrios blogged about it this morning and I went and read it. It's quite good. I'm particularly fond of his most recent (at the moment) post here.

I've also just added Adam to the blogroll.

Off to grade.


Posted by Tom at 8:27 a.m. CST

Atrios and the new hit monster of the blogosphere, the Agonist, I had a record day for hits today. I've had nearly 4,600 visitors and nearly 6,200 hits just today -- and I've still got an hour left in the day!

Amazing, huh?

I think so.

I always marvel at things like this. I still remember a time during my first few weeks of blogging when I dreamed about having 100 hits in a day.

Posted by Tom at 11:02 p.m. CST

it again. He reprints an e-mail he has received from an unnamed career diplomat who clearly has an excellent sense of history.

Here are this unnamed diplomat's three scenarios for the end of the war:

1. We will hesitate to enter the city for fear of losing large numbers of US casualties in urban warfare. We therefore will have to engage in major bombing in Baghdad, including in civilian areas. To use the Vietnam era phrase,"we had to destroy the village in order to save it." International outrage will be overwhelming, and we will pay the price in the Arab and Muslim worlds for years to come. Operation Iraqi Freedom becomes Operation Iraqi Conquest.

2. Like the Russians against Napoleon and later the Nazis, there is"defense in depth." Let them get deep inside your country, and then start nibbling at them and making their life miserable. It's already happened -- we were rolling to Baghdad with little opposition against our main and heavily-armed forces, and then all hell broke loose against our lighter armed but critical logistics chain that is in the rear. Following this pattern, Saddam eventually will make it"easy" (that's in quotes, because it won't be that easy) for us to enter Baghdad as a ruse, and once we are there, with only 20 to 30K troops inside an unfamiliar and large city of 5 million, his forces will engage in hit and run, guerrilla, terrorist tactics against us. We will have to retreat from the city, bloodied and demoralized -- to borrow your phrase, this is the chickenhawk down scenario. There will be calls from within the US (and certainly from Britain) to pull out of Iraq all together, because the mission has failed. How do you spell"Dunkirk?" We will have to get us forces safely out of the country across 300 miles. (Is that the distance from Baghdad back to Kuwait?) Remember April 1775? The British lost more troops marching back to Boston than they did at Lexington and Concord.

3. This is what I think is the most likely scenario. Cooler heads such as Colin Powell and our senior military leaders will be able to convince Bush that Option 1 and 2 are not"viable," to use a USG phrase. (It will be a tough sell, because Bush personally will prefer Option 1, the stay the course, show the world (and Daddy) how tough and determined and"focused" I am). Our military leaders, already mad at Rummy and company for not giving them the forces they needed to do the job, will simply not want to engage in such butchery or subject their forces to heavy casulaties. Tony Blair will make the same point. But what to do? We will need to surround the city, secure the rest of the country, and then play the game of"political standoff." Somebody will have to blink.

Of course I hope this guy's wrong. However, I'd be irresponsible not to share this with you. Go read the rest of Josh's post, there's a great deal more to it.

Posted by Tom at 2:31 p.m. CST

these brave souls in mind at all times when we think about this war.

You'll notice that most of these brave Americans were in their thirties with children.

And this is the main reason why this nation shouldn't go to war unless it's really necessary.

Correspondingly, it's also why, when we do go to war, we should be as prepared as possible.

Posted by Tom at 1:35 p.m. CST

This column from the Independent is quite good.

Here's the"money" quote but you should read the whole thing:

From before 11 September Iraq was"on the agenda" of the divided Bush administration for reasons that would require the assistance of a psychiatrist, as well as political and military analysts. They decided on war long ago and then went about searching for the precise reasons. Even less thought has been given as to how the war will end and what will happen in the immediate aftermath. In Britain, Clare Short was quite open about this in a Commons debate held last month. She said then that the UN did not want to contemplate the aftermath of a war that many of its members strongly opposed. Of the many statements from the Bush administration about the war none conveys a clear sense of what will happen afterwards. It has been a constant theme in US newspapers, most of whom support the war, while despairing over the lack of planning. That is what is so worrying about the shifting arguments and statements from the political leaders. They do not know what they are doing or why they are doing it. They are fighting an unnecessary war and are still trying to find the reasons to justify it, even though the conflict has started and lives are being lost.
The MoDo is also quite good today. She has a column today that sarcastically rips Rummy to shreds. Go give it a read.

Apparently the U.S. media has apparently decided to begin doing their jobs and examine the warplan. So that's what it takes to wake the media up, huh? After the conflict starts and it isn't working out at all as advertised, as in it's not the" cakewalk" the Cheney-Perle-Wolfowitz cabal promised, that's when folks in the media suddenly decides to start asking questions.

As I've said numerous times, I hold our incompetent and flag-waving media as responsible for this damn war as the administration. If they'd been doing their jobs the last six months, all of the lies in the case for war would've been exposed and we wouldn't be here in the first place. Americans would've rose up in demonstrations by the millions and public opinion would've reflected it, thus being evenly split on the war between those who couldn't believe the folks in the administration were lying to them about the war and those who knew they was lying to them.

Oh wait, I'm sorry, come to think of it, those last few things did happen even without a competent media (which then chose to ignore the enormous protests of course). W and the boys also chose to ignore the protests and dismiss them as just representing the opinions of a few rabble-rousers. Now we're in this war and there's no telling how long it's going to last or how many lives it's going to claim.


That's all for now.

It's an awfully busy day for me folks. I'm sure I'll blog some more today but it may be a while.

Update: I hope Hesiod's right about this too.

Posted by Tom at 7:16 a.m. CST

Talking Points Memo and look what happens! Josh produces an impressive avalanche of posts about the Neocon Hawks ill-conceived warplan! Go read TPM right now.

Josh backs up much of what I've said here -- and he's got inside sources in D.C. that I don't have!

Posted by Tom at 8:42 p.m. CST

known that Rumsfeld is at fault for the mistaken assumptions that were part of the warplan:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armor would be needed to fight a war in Iraq, New Yorker Magazine reported.

In an article for its April 7 edition, which goes on sale on Monday, the weekly said Rumsfeld insisted at least six times in the run-up to the conflict that the proposed number of ground troops be sharply reduced and got his way.

"He thought he knew better. He was the decision-maker at every turn," the article quoted an unidentified senior Pentagon planner as saying."This is the mess Rummy put himself in because he didn't want a heavy footprint on the ground."

It also said Rumsfeld had overruled advice from war commander Gen. Tommy Franks to delay the invasion until troops denied access through Turkey could be brought in by another route and miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance.

"They've got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart," the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying.

Goodness. Hersh took Perle down a couple of weeks ago (sort of, Perle's still on the Defense Policy Board) and now he's moved on to Rumsfeld.

BTW, our supply lines are so stretched at the moment that some marines are only getting one meal per day and some are being fed by Iraqi civilians.

I would assume that both of these things aren't"part of the plan," are they?

Update:Agonist readers, earlier posts of mine on this are here, here, here, here, and here.

I also blogged a bit about it this morning (3/30) as well.

Posted by Tom at 5:27 p.m. CST

reminds us that, despite what you hear from our historically ignorant media, relations with France are not at"their lowest point in history."

You see, there was this little thing called the"Quasi War" with France in the 1790s. I think when we were involved in naval battles against the French in the Caribbean our relations were, er, just a wee bit worse than they are right now, don't you?

Longtime readers of mine here at HNN know that I've written about the Quasi War before. Last June, in my pre-blog days, I suggested that W was using the"War on Terror" as Adams and the Federalists had tried to use the"Quasi War" -- for partisan political advantage.

Given the events that followed and the odious patriotism questioning by W of Democrats in the November campaign, I think I've been proven absolutely correct.

However, I would argue, just as I did last June, that the administration risks an eventual backlash (like what happened to Adams and the Federalists) from Americans who think W and the boys are simply using the war on terror as a political club with which to beat their enemies. I'd argue that many more Americans are convinced of this now than were in November.

It's become increasingly obvious to many Americans that the"war on terror" is what this administration trots out when all of their other dogs have ceased, as the old phrase goes, to hunt. It's the neo-McCarthyistic stand-by card that is played by this administration in moments of desperation, such as when it looks like you're going to lose control of congress.

Therefore, you really should expect to hear much more about W's"Quasi War on Terror" in the days ahead -- especially if the war begins to go poorly.

Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CST


I originally posted this passage six days ago, long before it began appearing everywhere, quoted by both the media and by bloggers.

Update: For an excellent Dana Milbank article on this, go here.

Posted by Tom at 12:06 p.m. CST

Atrios and say there's no glee here either about the state of the war. In fact, there's a great deal of sorrow. Sorrow for the unnecessary loss of life -- both of our soldiers and of Iraqi civilians. Sorrow for what has become of our nation to pursue a war like this. Sorrow for our soldiers who find themselves involved in what is sure to be a very difficult war. Now that we're involved in it, I'd like to have been wrong about everything I said about the war

Nope. No glee here at all Glenn -- but thanks for mischaracterizing us anti-war folks for the umpteenth time.

Glenn really is becoming the Bill O'Reilly of the blogosphere, isn't he?

Update: Hesiod comments on this today as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:26 a.m. CST

terrorism against U.S. soldiers in Iraq has started.

You should expect more of this in the coming days.



Posted by Tom at 9:08 a.m. CST

Boy, get a load of this story from the Los Angeles Times about just some of the misjudgements that were part of the warplan.

Here's just a bit of it:

Current and former intelligence officials criticize the Pentagon for overly optimistic assessments and predictions of how Iraqis would respond to a U.S. invasion.

Judith Yaphe, the chief CIA analyst on Iraq during the Gulf War, said the Pentagon this time relied on overly optimistic assessments and predictions from Iraqi opposition groups in exile, particularly the London-based Iraqi National Congress. The CIA, she and current officials said, has been more skeptical of such claims.

"It was a fantasy," said Yaphe, who teaches at the National Defense University in Washington."They had a strategic vision that we would face no opposition, that everyone would surrender, that Iraqis would throw rose petals and rice, and people would welcome us as conquering liberators. Clearly those judgments were not based on reality."

A current intelligence official offered a similar assessment.

"The intelligence community was not overly optimistic at all," said the official, who is involved in discussions on Iraq.

"There was very healthy debate on all the key issues: Who's going to hold together? Who's going to defect? Who's going to fight?"

But the official said many in the analytical community were convinced that administration hawks had little interest in hearing pessimistic assessments. Some were also concerned that CIA Director George J. Tenet and others appeared more focused on helping the White House make the case for war than on calling attention to potential problems.

As I've said before, the Cheney-Perle-Wolfowitz cabal were apparently about as wrong as they could be about how this war would develop. The fact that we're hurriedly sending more than 100,000 soldiers to Iraq in the next few weeks should be all you need to know about whether all is really going to plan, no matter what W or Rumsfeld are saying in public.

My understanding is we may siege Baghdad for a long time and mount an increasingly nasty air campaign. We're already apparently killing a few hundred civilians per day in Baghdad at the moment. You should expect the carnage in Baghdad to correspondingly get worse.

Like all Americans, I'd really like this war to be over soon with a minimum loss of life. However, I don't expect that. I think we'll be lucky if this war is over in a month. It appears we may not even begin the assault on Baghdad for another month at this point.

As I've said several times, I'd really like to have been wrong about this war but I haven't been so far.

BTW, you really ought to go read a couple of good posts about the war by Kevin Drum here and here.

It's been a busy day so I haven't been blogging as much. I graded a ton of papers and then when I got home my wife and I started steaming four layers of wall paper off our bathroom walls. It was a wearying last several hours finishing that job.

Tomorrow is the first day of the soccer season. However, I'm just coaching a game tomorrow morning. I won't be coaching a game and then refereeing two games like I usually do. That starts next week.

I'm exhausted folks. I'll see you tomorrow.

Posted by Tom at 11:35 p.m. CST

this is very bad and so is this -- although not unexpected.

This little adventure of ours is going quite poorly, isn't it?

The region could easily blow up into a larger conflict at any time now. Fortunately, it's only private citizens and not the actual armies of Iran and Syria moving into Iraq at the moment.

I also suspect we're going to get more and more indiscriminate in our selection of targets around Baghdad as the days go by. We've just killed 50 civilians in Baghdad with one inaccurate missile folks. I can't help but wonder how many more we've killed that we don't know about? How many more will follow in the coming days?

Don't anyone say I didn't warn you. These are exactly the sort of things I worried about and talked about for months here on this blog before this war started.

Posted by Tom at 3:32 p.m. CST

Rhetorica. It wasn't that long ago that I had my 120,000th visitor.

I've had over 193,000 hits as well since I installed my hit counter on September 18th of last year.

As always, I thank you profusely for dropping by and hope to give you a good reason to come back.

Posted by Tom at 1:19 p.m. CST

warns us that, if a draft is suddenly necessary for yet another imperial neocon war, it is now much harder to claim the status of" conscientious objector."

Read this post. If you're younger than 22 or so, I would suggest you read it a couple of times and think quite a bit about it.

Posted by Tom at 12:23 p.m. CST


Posted by Tom at 10:37 a.m. CST

this. Fox News once again earns its real moniker as the Faux News Network.

Andy Borowitz's satire piece that I linked to last night is looking dead-on accurate now, isn't it?

Yeah, they're really journalists.


[Link via Atrios]

Posted by Tom at 10:24 a.m. CST

9:46 a.m. CST

Borowitz Report:


Assigned to Cover"Fair and Balanced" Network for Duration of War

As part of an experimental new program initiated by the Defense Department, a journalist has been embedded with the Fox News Network, giving him unique access to the"fair and balanced" network for the duration of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

David Peterson, a reporter for the Akron Beacon-Journal, will be the only journalist living, working, and eating with Fox News staffers in the weeks to come.

Mr. Peterson said that although he felt very much"like an outsider" at the beginning of his stint with Fox News, he said that a mutual respect has grown between him and his hosts.

"I think at first it was weird for them to have a journalist around," Mr. Peterson said.

Mr. Peterson said that he does his best to stay out of the way of his Fox News comrades, adding,"They have their job to do and I have mine."

While the veteran journalist said he was excited about being embedded with Fox News, he admitted that his first days at the news channel had provided him with more than a few hair-raising moments.

"You can prepare all you want to be embedded at Fox News, but until you're in the thick of it, you have no idea how scary a place Fox News can be," Mr. Peterson said.

The journalist added that even with the unfettered access he has been given to Fox News, the news channel has been careful to protect him from situations that it deems too dangerous.

"I'm not allowed to talk to Bill O'Reilly when he's in the makeup chair," he said.

Posted by Tom at 9:55 p.m. CST

resigned his position as chair of the Defense Policy Board.

This looks like a significant development but it really isn't. It looks like W is trying to rid himself of the guy who was so wrong about Iraq and who apparently is profiting from his unpaid (except for the six figure lobbying fees) position.

But W and Rummy are actually doing nothing of the kind. Now Perle can happily continue to profit from his connections and, since he remains on the board, he can still shape policy. I've blogged about Perle a lot lately (tons of blog entries about him in the last two or three weeks) because he's one of the leading neocon empire-hungry IraqWar hawks who thought this war would be a cakewalk.

I assume this means his libel lawsuit against Sy Hersh is off, right? I mean now that he's resigned because apparently Hersh was right he wouldn't be crazy enough to still sue, would he?

Posted by Tom at 7:45 p.m. CST

Posted by Tom at 4:29 p.m. CST

Agonist, the army is hurriedly deploying 100,000 more soldiers to Iraq in the next few weeks.

Hmmm. I'm guessing the warplan isn't working out like it was supposed to.

Furthermore, Sean-Paul is also hearing that intelligence officials are peeved that they had warned about strenuous resistance from the Iraqis. However, they were ignored and this information was not passed on to coalition commanders.

Yep it is as we suspected. Even though W, Rumsfeld, et. al, are trying to pretend things are going exactly according to plan, they clearly aren't.

Posted by Tom at 3:24 p.m. CST

this column:

And it is going to be far too important to be decided on the basis of the sort of ad hominem attacks launched against Novak this week by former White House speechwriter David Frum. Frum is among those who can’t seem to accept the fact that those who disagree with him may not be in league with the devil. His vituperative attack on one of the nation’s most respected conservative columnists marks the man as neither conservative nor intellectually respectable. Like many other conservatives, I happen to disagree with Novak’s analysis of what’s going on in the Middle East. But to suggest, as does Frum, that his disagreement with Bush’s Iraq policy stems from a hatred of the president and the country is scandalously and irresponsibly absurd.

Frum seems to know little of Novak’s background or history, but anyone who can read a newspaper should know that Novak was opposing this nation’s enemies before Frum was even born. One can question the man’s judgment and sometimes even his facts, but to suggest that Novak is no different from the crypto-fascists and Marxists organizing “peace” rallies these days says a lot more about David Frum than it does about Bob Novak.

I'm pretty sure Keene wouldn't defend me or my case against the war quite so vociferously as he does Bob Novak's but I do believe he's right in his defense of this war's critics.

Personally, I believe this is an immoral and unnecessary war. To say so and worry about the war's progress and the impact of this war on the world isn't unpatriotic. It's our duty as good Americans to speak up about it. To do so also doesn't mean you don't support the troops. I have friends who are in Iraq right now -- a couple of faculty colleagues in fact. I'm very worried about their safety and I keep hoping this damn war will end right now so I can quit worrying about them.

It sickens me when war supporters, whether they are brainless ditto-monkeys or W sycophants like David Frum, question the patriotism of Americans who don't agree with this war.

In fact, I would contend it's these misguided war supporters who apparently don't understand just what it truly means to be an American. It means speaking your mind without fear of being labeled"un-American."

Posted by Tom at 1:36 p.m. CST

adequately fund the 9/11 commission.

If you recall, W and the boys fought tooth and nail against the creation of this commission and then, when public pressure was intense, grudgingly gave in. Now they're stripping the commission of funding and otherwise quietly obstructing it.

I'll ask this once again: What are they hiding?

Posted by Tom at 12:10 p.m. CST

As I watch my second class suffer my blue book torture, I have another link to pass on to you.

You have to go read this excellent article by Josh Marshall.

Here's just a bit of it, so you'll go read the rest:

Imagine it's six months from now. The Iraq war is over. After an initial burst of joy and gratitude at being liberated from Saddam's rule, the people of Iraq are watching, and waiting, and beginning to chafe under American occupation. Across the border, in Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, our conquering presence has brought street protests and escalating violence. The United Nations and NATO are in disarray, so America is pretty much on its own. Hemmed in by budget deficits at home and limited financial assistance from allies, the Bush administration is talking again about tapping Iraq's oil reserves to offset some of the costs of the American presence--talk that is further inflaming the region. Meanwhile, U.S. intelligence has discovered fresh evidence that, prior to the war, Saddam moved quantities of biological and chemical weapons to Syria. When Syria denies having such weapons, the administration starts massing troops on the Syrian border. But as they begin to move, there is an explosion: Hezbollah terrorists from southern Lebanon blow themselves up in a Baghdad restaurant, killing dozens of Western aid workers and journalists. Knowing that Hezbollah has cells in America, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge puts the nation back on Orange Alert. FBI agents start sweeping through mosques, with a new round of arrests of Saudis, Pakistanis, Palestinians, and Yemenis.

To most Americans, this would sound like a frightening state of affairs, the kind that would lead them to wonder how and why we had got ourselves into this mess in the first place. But to the Bush administration hawks who are guiding American foreign policy, this isn't the nightmare scenario. It's everything going as anticipated.

In their view, invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination was an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East. Prior to the war, the president himself never quite said this openly. But hawkish neoconservativ