Friday, April 4, 2003

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Making people nervous

Former CIA Director James Woolsey declares that the U.S. is in the middle of World War IV:

In the address to a group of college students, Woolsey described the Cold War as the third world war and said 'This fourth world war, I think, will last considerably longer than either World Wars I or II did for us. Hopefully not the full four-plus decades of the Cold War.'

Woolsey has been named in news reports as a possible candidate for a key position in the reconstruction of a postwar Iraq.

He said the new war is actually against three enemies: the religious rulers of Iran, the 'fascists' of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists like al Qaeda.

Woolsey told the audience of about 300, most of whom are students at the University of California at Los Angeles, that all three enemies have waged war against the United States for several years but the United States has just 'finally noticed.'

'As we move toward a new Middle East,' Woolsey said, 'over the years and, I think, over the decades to come ... we will make a lot of people very nervous.'

Chalk me up as one of the potentially nervous people. This is the kind of grand neocon strategy that prompted criticism in Josh Marshall's latest Washington Monthly piece. It's not that I wouldn't like to see Woolsey's list of enemies vanquished -- it's just far from clear that the use of force is the right tool for the job.

However, I'm still not nervous, for one very good reason -- Woolsey's not in the government. The hottest rhetoric on the neocon strategy comes from those out of power. The neocons in power, like Paul Wolfowitz, have refrained from such statements. Bill Keller's profile of Wolfowitz from last September shows that the neocons in power are much more wary about the willy-nilly use of force. And, it should be pointed out, there are heavyweights in the administration who do not subscribe to the neoconservative vision.

My point here is that Woolsey's statements are likely to be reprinted abroad as evidence of the Bush administration's grand strategy, In fact they represent the rhetoric of a single man who's out of power -- and, according to Mickey Kaus, a man who's "distinctly unimpressive in... a private schmooze."

posted by Dan on 04.04.03 at 01:19 PM