There Were Ten Little Peaceniks
Jude Wanniski
August 6, 2003


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: And Then There Were None

There are several topics I could be writing about today, but I cannot resist serving up Maureen Dowd's latest delicacy, her New York Times column today on the maneuvers by the neo-con warhawks who occupy the Pentagon to get rid of the last "peacenik" in the Bush administration: Secretary of State Colin Powell. Maureen has it all in focus. It is a pity President Bush probably never sees her column. About all that Maureen misses is the coincident slide on Wall Street this week, which began Monday morning when the Washington Post story about Powell's retirement in a Bush second term reached the stock market. The geopolitical risk of having wall-to-wall warhawks surrounding the Oval Office has gone up a notch. This is actually the topic of my client letter today, analysis that does not appear elsewhere, as financial commentators are rarely able to factor geopolitical risk into their market assessments.

Neocon Coup at the Department d'État

By Maureen Dowd

Washington. Let others fight over whether the war in Iraq was a neocon vigilante action disrupting diplomacy. The neocons have moved on to a vigilante action to occupy diplomacy.

The audacious ones have saddled up their pre-emptive steeds and headed off to force a regime change at Foggy Bottom.

President Bush staged a Texan tableau vivant last night, playing host at his ranch to the secretary of state, his wife, Alma, and his deputy, Richard Armitage. Mr. Bush wanted to show solidarity after a Washington Post story on Monday that said that Colin Powell, under pressure from his wife, said he would not be part of a second Bush term, nor would Mr. Armitage.

Mr. Bush might be trying to signal his respect for Mr. Powell, but the president is not always privy to the start of a grandiose neocon scheme.

The scene was reminiscent of last August in Crawford, when Mr. Bush dismissed press "churning" that the administration was on the verge of striking Iraq, saying, "When I say I'm a patient man, I mean I'm a patient man and that we will look at all options and we will consider all technologies available to us, and diplomacy and intelligence."

We all know how that turned out.

When the neocons want something done, they'll get it done, no matter what Mr. Bush thinks. And they think Mr. Powell has downgraded the top cabinet post into a human resources job, making nicey-nice with the U.N. and assorted bad guys instead of pursuing the neocon blueprint for world domination through what James Woolsey calls World War IV (World War III being the cold war.)

Countering the Post story, Mr. Powell's posse claimed that neither the secretary of state nor his deputy had ever said they intended to step down, and charged that the neocons were leaking a canard to turn the two men they consider lame doves into lame ducks.

"This is the revenge of the neocons for two months of bad news, looking like they're falling all over themselves in Iraq," said a Powell confidant, noting that Alma Powell was furious she had been dragged in.

In The Post, nearly all of the names of those who could move up if Mr. Powell moves out are Iraq hawks: Condi Rice, Paul Wolfowitz and Newt Gingrich were mentioned as candidates for secretary of state; Wolfie, Cheney Chief of Staff Scooter Libby and Condi deputy Steve Hadley, who may be radioactive after the uranium mistake, were mentioned for national security chief.

Mr. Wolfowitz has been tacitly campaigning for the jobs. He told Charlie Rose about his vice-regal trip to Iraq, where he said at last grateful Iraqis were thronging. "As we would drive by, little kids would run up to the road and give us a thumbs up sign," he said. (At least he thought it was the thumb.)

The move against the popular Powell had all the earmarks of the neocons' pre-emptive strike on Iraq.

1.) Demonize. Reiterating his speech trashing Foggy Bottom last April for propping up dictators and coddling the corrupt, Mr. Gingrich -- a Rummy ally who serves on the Defense Policy Board -- called for "top-to-bottom reform and culture shock" at State in an article in the July Foreign Policy magazine.

2.) Sex-up the intelligence. The leakers spread word that Mr. Armitage told Condi that he and Mr. Powell would leave on Jan. 21, 2005, the day after the next presidential inauguration. "Nonsense," said Mr. Powell. "Nonsense," said Mr. Armitage.

3.) Create a false rationale. Everyone knew the pair might not stay for a second term. But the neocons were impatient to give them a push, blaming poor Alma Powell for henpecking her husband when they were.

4.) Bring about regime change.

5.) Fail to prepare for the aftermath. "Newt as secretary of state?" sneered one Powell pal. "Hel-lo?"

6.) Make sure it's good for Ariel Sharon. Just as the neocons made their move on Mr. Powell, pro-Israel hawks scorned the secretary for not being on their team in the peace process. Israel's supporters scoffed at the new threat to cut loan guarantees as a State Department policy, not a White House policy.

7.) Ignore the real threat. While the neocons are preoccupying the country with Iraq and a coup at the department d'état, Al Qaeda may have blown up a Marriott in Indonesia and are plotting attacks here.

8.) Change the subject. Next stop, North Korea.

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PS Slate's Jack Shafer has an interesting column on the Perle Watch today, Richard Perle being the leading neo-con hatchet man.