Practice to Deceive
It's... amazing how they and I can start from the same place -- " The primary cause of all this danger is the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, poverty, and economic stagnation" -- and reach such stunningly different ends.
In short, the administration is trying to roll the table--to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism. So events that may seem negative--Hezbollah for the first time targeting American civilians; U.S. soldiers preparing for war with Syria--while unfortunate in themselves, are actually part of the hawks' broader agenda. Each crisis will draw U.S. forces further into the region and each countermove in turn will create problems that can only be fixed by still further American involvement, until democratic governments--or, failing that, U.S. troops--rule the entire Middle East.
I know people have been surprised to them when I explained to them that the sudden blowup in deficits is not considered a downside by the Republicans -- it's the plan. Debating with the American people what they want and what they are willing to pay for is slow and difficult. And since the American public likes quite a lot more social programs than the current theorists of the Republican party, the result is not always what they'd want. So you force it -- military budgets can be protected by arranging to always be at war, while you push through huge tax cuts. Meaning that social programs will be destroyed. This isn't paranoia or anything, this was discussed as the plan in a number of reports from conservative think tanks before the Bushies got into power.
Turns out that I was a bit naive myself. The very same technique is being applied to foreign policy. Debating with the American public just how much blood and treasure we want to invest in the middle east is slow and difficult; but if you can set the first explosion, _and then destroy all other options_ you can make sure the only answer is sword and fire.
Ending Saddam Hussein's regime and replacing it with something stable and democratic was always going to be a difficult task, even with the most able leadership and the broadest coalition. But doing it as the Bush administration now intends is something like going outside and giving a few good whacks to a hornets' nest because you want to get them out in the open and have it out with them once and for all. Ridding the world of Islamic terrorism by rooting out its ultimate sources--Muslim fundamentalism and the Arab world's endemic despotism, corruption, and poverty--might work. But the costs will be immense. Whether the danger is sufficient and the costs worth incurring would make for an interesting public debate. The problem is that once it's just us and the hornets, we really won't have any choice.