two white elephants in Baghdad

Michael Kinsley points out in Slate that though oil and Israel are two major (and valid) reasons to distinguish Iraq from other nuke-enabled dictatorial regimes as a potential target, Bush isn't discussing them. The reason smacks of disingenous political manipulation, which is the hallmark of this administration. Kinsley explains:

The idea that oil is a factor in official thinking about Iraq shouldn't even be controversial. Protecting oil supplies from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was an explicit�though disingenuously underemphasized�reason for Bush War I. After all, we couldn't claim to be fighting to restore democracy to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, let alone Iraq. This time around, the fact that Bush and Cheney are both oil men is suggestive, but the implication is not clear. A war to topple Saddam will raise oil prices in the short run but probably lower them in the longer run by stabilizing the supply. An oil man could have sincerely mixed feelings about these prospects. Surely, though, even a sensible opponent of the war ought to register a steady oil supply as one of the better reasons for it.

The lack of public discussion about the role of Israel in the thinking of "President Bush" is easier to understand, but weird nevertheless. It is the proverbial elephant in the room: Everybody sees it, no one mentions it. The reason is obvious and admirable: Neither supporters nor opponents of a war against Iraq wish to evoke the classic anti-Semitic image of the king's Jewish advisers whispering poison into his ear and betraying the country to foreign interests. But the consequence of this massive "Shhhhhhhhh!" is to make a perfectly valid American concern for a democratic ally in a region of nutty theocracies, rotting monarchies, and worse seem furtive and suspicious.

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