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So Little Time, So Many Regimes to Change

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    So Little Time, So Many Regimes to Change Analysis - By Jim Lobe http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=26619 WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (IPS) - The interregnum
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2005
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      So Little Time, So Many Regimes to Change
      Analysis - By Jim Lobe
      http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=26619

      WASHINGTON, Dec 9 (IPS) - The interregnum between November's
      election and the formal launch in January of U.S. President George W
      Bush's second term has a strange feel.

      Perhaps it is that Colin Powell, who until now stayed as close to
      Washington as he could to try to prevent Vice President Dick Cheney
      or Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld from pushing phoney intelligence
      and aggressive policy advice policies on the president in his
      absence, has been traveling virtually all over the world, assuring
      appropriately sceptical foreign leaders that Bush will really --
      REALLY -- be committed to multilateralism in his second term.

      Now that Powell has been informed his services will no longer be
      required, the least-travelled secretary of state in the last
      generation is finally getting out to see the sights, even if his
      credibility as a spokesman for future U.S. foreign policy is less
      than it was for the past four years.

      Or perhaps it is the sense of anticipation in some quarters, dread
      in others, of what will actually happen in the coming term.

      The dread, of course, comes from Democrats, whose somewhat
      diminished presence in Congress will make them even more marginal in
      the second term than they were in the first.

      And it is felt by others who consider themselves on the ''left'' of
      the very one-sided U.S. political spectrum, and by ''realist''
      foreign-policy analysts who are just hoping against hope that the
      over-extension of the U.S. military in Iraq and the rapid depletion
      of the U.S. Treasury will force Bush to pursue a less ambitious
      international agenda, sooner rather than later.

      The eager anticipation, on the other hand, comes from the now-
      familiar coalition of nationalist, neo-conservatives and Christian
      Right hawks who still believe that Afghanistan and Iraq were just
      the 'hors d'oeuvres' to a repast of at least five or six courses.

      Like five-year-olds on Christmas Eve who just cannot wait to tear
      off the ribbon and wrapping paper that separates their greedy
      fingers from their Christmas presents under the tree, these
      individuals are so manic and so fidgety that they just cannot
      restrain themselves from blurting out or even shouting --
      repeatedly -- what they think Santa Claus had better bring them, OR
      ELSE!

      It is as if they had been told by their parents for months -- as
      indeed the hawks had been told by Bush's 'consiglieri', Karl Rove --
      that if they keep talking about what they really wanted for
      Christmas, Santa would not give it to them.

      Similarly, Rove had ordered the hawks to shut up lest they scare the
      hell out of the electorate and Bush would lose the election. So,
      having bottled it up inside all this time, they are now bursting
      forth.

      Of course, toy fire engines, Lego and Barbie dolls are not going to
      appease this crowd, which has rather bigger things in mind, above
      all regime change. Unlike the wish lists that Santa's elves at their
      workshops in the fast-disappearing Arctic are toiling overtime to
      fill, these lists feature the names of countries and institutions.

      Beginning one month ago, when 'ueber-hawk' Frank Gaffney, the
      president of the Centre for Security Policy (CSP) and long-time
      protege of neo-conservative impresario Richard Perle, published what
      he called his ''checklist of the work the world will demand of this
      president and his subordinates in a second term,'' prominent hawks
      have been pushing their own favourite targets for regime change or
      simple confrontation -- from Caracas to North Korea -- on what
      sometimes seems like an hourly basis.

      Add to that the State Department and the Central Intelligence
      Agency, changes that are already in the works.

      These calls to action have appeared in all the usual places -- the
      editorial pages of the 'Wall Street Journal' and the 'New York
      Post', the pages and websites of the 'Weekly Standard' and
      the 'National Review', on FoxNews, and the 'Washington Times'.
      Somewhat ominously perhaps, they are also reprinted in the
      Pentagon's twice-daily 'Early Bird' editions -- compilations of must
      reading for senior national-security officials.

      What is common to almost all of these effusions is the sense that,
      while Iraq might not have gone quite as well as anticipated,
      the ''victory'' in Fallujah marked a turning point in the U.S.
      occupation and January's elections should permit Washington to begin
      drawing down its troop presence in Iraq not long afterwards.

      And, while the United States should still be committed to Iraq for
      the long haul, it is time that it came to act on the threats posed
      by other ''evil'' regimes -- be it by military force, covert
      action, ''support for the opposition'', or simple intimidation.

      At the top of the list, as they have been for so long, of course,
      are Iran and North Korea, whose possession of nuclear weapons is
      simply ''unacceptable'', as the administration itself has said. But
      others -- Syria, Venezuela, China, even Russia, and the latest
      target, the United Nations itself -- are still seen as requiring
      policies of active containment, if not ''regime change''.

      Recent news reports that quote ''intelligence'' and
      sometimes ''military'' sources saying that Syria is now the
      financial, logistical and planning hub of the insurgency in Iraq
      have prompted right-wingers to resurrect their plans for Damascus,
      even as President Bashar al-Assad assures Washington and Israel he
      is ready for peace talks without conditions, and might even be
      willing to go to Jerusalem and negotiate an agreement with the
      United States to secure his border with Iraq.

      ''The president's goals in Iraq, and elsewhere in the region, will
      not be achieved until the Syrians are forced to halt all assistance
      to our enemies'', write three officials associated with the
      Foundation for the Defence of Democracies (FDD), a neo-conservative
      group behind the recent re-creation of the Committee on the
      President Danger (CPD), in the 'Washington Times' this week.

      Iran, of course, gets the most ink, with a constant drumbeat of
      columns underlining the duplicity/hypocrisy/naiveté of Britain,
      France and Germany for negotiating a nuclear accord with Tehran and
      the necessity of an ultimate confrontation, if not because of its
      nuclear programme than because of the regime's alleged infiltration
      and subversion of Iraq.

      While the hawks concede that a full-scale invasion of Iran is not a
      viable option, at least for the moment, they insist not only that
      well-targeted air strikes (by Washington or Israel) could, at the
      least, significantly retard Tehran's acquisition of a nuclear
      weapon.

      Similarly, they seize on every report of discontent, such as this
      week's heckling by university students of President Mohammed
      Khatami, as evidence that, as in pre-war Iraq, Washington is wildly
      popular with theologically oppressed Iranian masses who will be
      eager, at the very least, to accept money and rhetorical support --
      already in the works, according to recent reports -- from the Bush
      administration to put an end to the regime, perhaps as peacefully,
      even, as in Ukraine.

      North Korea is another top-ranking target, with, as in Iran, right-
      wingers seizing on even more dubious reports of widespread and
      growing discontent with the government to bolster their argument for
      regime change and at least the preparation for military strikes,
      despite the fact that U.S. intelligence does not have the faintest
      idea where key nuclear facilities can be found.

      Concern about China, whose failure to ''deliver'' North Korea, along
      with its recent multi-billion-dollar energy contract with Iran and
      persistent tensions with Taiwan are seen as evidence of potential
      enmity, is also being spurred by the hawks, who appear to have
      resumed their campaign against ''engagement'' with Beijing after a
      three-year hiatus.

      Particularly notable in that regard, Dan Blumenthal, until recently
      Rumsfeld's senior country director for China and Taiwan, moved
      recently to Perle's American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he
      resurrected the notion of China as a ''strategic competitor'' to the
      United States.

      Venezuela's recent aircraft purchases from Russia have spurred a
      series of columns, particularly in the Journal and 'National
      Review', reminding readers how close President Hugo Chavez is to
      Fidel Castro and how determined he is to curb U.S. influence in the
      Americas.

      But the newest and easiest target, of course, is the United Nations,
      beginning with Annan, whose resignation over the ''oil-for-food''
      scandal is being sought by a growing number of Republican lawmakers
      in Congress and op-ed hawks whose hatred and contempt for the world
      body dates back decades.

      To find his head in one of those nicely wrapped packages under the
      tree would portend a very happy new year and a terrific second term.
      (END/2004)

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