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Possible shift in UK too

Posted by David Traynier on November 21, 2005, 16:08:45, in reply to "Engelhardt; How the Bush administration got spooked"

This is mostly my subjective impression but there has been a loosening of the language recently, which might presage a shift. There are minor hints of this, certainly. For example, on Radio 4's The World At One last Friday, the presenter referred to 'President Bush's so-called war on terror' -the first time I've heard such a clear distancing qualifier in scripted speech. I also seem to recall reading somewhere that a BBC online news article referred to the 'stated aim' of bringing democracy to Iraq -the clear implication being that a 'real' aim might exist.

These are individually minor indicators -but they may be the 'green shoots' of an oncoming shift. Both Blair and Bush are on their way out and it might be that the state is preparing to mount a superficial withdrawal from Iraq (obviously the bases will quietly remain) while hanging the whole debacle on their necks and writing the whole event off as another well-intentioned but 'naive mistake' ('impossiblity of nation-building', 'challenges of exporting democracy', 'good intentions gone awry' blah blah). The structural causes of the invasion would be played down, however, so that the episode can be personalised to the equivilent of 'noble cause corruption' with maybe some Bush family personal revenge issues thrown in for good measure.

It may also be in the interests of the American elites for things to go as badly as possible for Bush and the Neocons -a truly messy end to the Bush Administration might create the impression of catharsis and a clean slate. The bigger the boil grows, the more cosmetic effect lancing it will have. Hence, expect even more leaks and so forth. About the only cap I can see on this would be that (to accept the radical account of 9-11 for a moment) this would not include major revelations regarding 9-11 beyond incompetence. Revelations of actually complicity or orchestration would be simply too damaging I think, as it would effectively wreck the two party system.

Then, once Brown/Cameron (whomever) is installed here and the US has another President, we'll have a brave new world, a new more ethical doctrine and the dark days will be behind us -as before. That, at least, has been the standard pattern both here and in the US. Deny current malfeasance until a safe distance is reached and the perpetrators are out of office: then a reasonable degree of admission of past failings helps create a false contrast with our finally enlightened present.

The only problem with this scenario that I can see is that the overwhelming structural imperatives of Peak Oil, Chinese expansion and 'radical Arab nationalism' means that further foreign intervention will still be required; yet strategies for taking such action are diminished. There is no 'evil empire' pretext because China isn't yet a plausible replacement for the USSR, covert action in a Latin American stylee is also much more difficult because of increased global communications and the global terrorism threat may be burning itself out because the US Government is now widely percieved to have exacerbated the threat. Thus, if I read the situation correctly, the US will find large scale 'covert' action much more difficult and yet may struggle to galvanize the US public sufficiently for overt action. About the only thing I can see changing this is A) a genuine threat to the US or B) a terrorist outrage (and I'm well aware of the implications of what I write here).

I admit that's a rather quick and dirty analysis so if anyone has alternative ideas, I'd be interested to read them.