The "phantom antihawk" is not a new video game or Ben Affleck blockbuster. It's a nickname for George Bush, America's 41st President and father of George W. And, according to Elizabeth Bumiller, writing in the New York Times, "as the conflict has unfolded, the father has become the ghost at his son's White House war council." Interviews with dozens of Bush 41's former associates "do nothing to dispel the view of him as an internationalist worried about the influence of the go-it-alone hawks in his son's administration." In certain circles, Bush 41 "is even seen as the third member, with Mr. Powell and Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain" of what some in DC are calling "the axis of virtue." I've never associated virtue with any of these men, but Papa Bush apparently has enough common sense to know that his son's hawks , now controlling America's national security, are not true conservatives but radical extremists.
This sense is clearly shared by Brent Scowcroft, Bush's national security adviser during the 1991 Gulf war. In a speech to the Norwegian Nobel Institute on April 8th, Scowcroft urged the US to let the United Nations organize the postwar administration of Iraq and warned that a quick push for democratic transformation could explode into sectarian violence or civil war. And he argued--as he did last August--that preemptive war against Iraq was an unwarranted and divisive distraction from the fight against global terrorism. Scowcroft also lamented that the UN Security Council and other "structures we've built to handle our security are under significant stress and may not survive to serve us in the future."
William Kristol's April 7 editorial in The Weekly Standard denouncing
critics of the war on Iraq as "anti-American" is startlingly reminiscent
of the menacing directives issued for decad
On March 19, shortly after Saddam Hussein defied President Bush's
deadline to go into exile, Tom Brokaw of NBC broke into Law & Order,
airing on the East Coast, to announce the start
Let's say that from the east while you look south
An icy snowball hits you in the mouth.
You see the kid who did it run, the wretch,
A year ago this spring, I spent several days in Minnesota trailing US Sen. Paul Wellstone as he campaigned for a third term. Wellstone, the most progressive Democrat in the Senate, was battling against a full-scale assault from the Bush White House and its chosen candidate, former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman.
Coleman, a Democrat-turned-Republican, liberal-turned-conservative, activist-turned-insider, had a reputation as one of the most egregious political hustlers the state had ever seen. There were plenty of sordid tales to be told about the man White House political czar Karl Rove was packaging as the candidate of conservative principles, patriotism and traditional family values. Garrison Keillor, the host of "A Prairie Home Companion," referred to Coleman as "this cheap fraud" and, echoing the sentiments of a lot of in-the-know Minnesotans, said of Coleman's political ascension: "To accept it and grin and shake the son of a bitch's hand is to ignore what cannot be ignored if you want your grandchildren to grow up in a country like the one that nurtured and inspired you."
I asked Wellstone whether he thought that, considering Coleman's high sleaze factor, this intense Senate race might eventually focus on the personal and political foibles of the Republican nominee. "I won't let that happen," Wellstone said, with the warm drawl that his voice took on after a long day of campaigning. "Norm Coleman and I disagree enough on the issues. And I disagree with the Bush White House on the issues. I wouldn't want to win a race that focused on Norm's personality or his style. That's not right. Minnesota deserves better."
William Kristol's April 7 editorial in The Weekly Standard denouncing critics of the war on Iraq as "anti-American" is startlingly reminiscent of the menacing directives issued for decades by the Soviet Communist Party's Department of Ideology.
Any literate person of Kristol's generation surely remembers the repressive charges of "anti-Sovietism" leveled by the pre-Gorbachev Kremlin against domestic opponents, including the great pro-democracy (and, yes, pro-peace) dissident Andrei Sakharov. Now Kommissar Kristol lays down the line that all critics of the White House's war are guilty of holding "anti-American" opinions. According to Kristol, the "anti-Americans" include "the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Senate Democrats, the Nancy Pelosi faction of the House Democrats, a large majority of Democratic grass-roots activists" and the "bulk of liberal columnists, the New York Times editorial page, and Hollywood."
No doubt Kristol, with his censorious, antidemocratic instincts, would have risen high in the apparat of the old Soviet Communist Party. But there may be a larger, more ominous parallel here: Once upon a time, the Kremlin also used force to try to remake the world in its own image.