T Nation

The Arabian Candidate

Interesting twist to “The Manchurian Candidate”. Osama says “Bush/Cheney '04!” Fiction? You decide. Sounds frighteningly familiar to me.

The Arabian Candidate
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: July 20, 2004

In the original version of “The Manchurian Candidate,” Senator John Iselin, whom Chinese agents are plotting to put in the White House, is a right-wing demagogue modeled on Senator Joseph McCarthy. As Roger Ebert wrote, the plan is to “use anticommunist hysteria as a cover for a communist takeover.”

The movie doesn’t say what Iselin would have done if the plot had succeeded. Presumably, however, he wouldn’t have openly turned traitor. Instead, he would have used his position to undermine national security, while posing as America’s staunchest defender against communist evil.

So let’s imagine an update - not the remake with Denzel Washington, which I haven’t seen, but my own version. This time the enemies would be Islamic fanatics, who install as their puppet president a demagogue who poses as the nation’s defender against terrorist evildoers.

The Arabian candidate wouldn’t openly help terrorists. Instead, he would serve their cause while pretending to be their enemy.

After an attack, he would strike back at the terrorist base, a necessary action to preserve his image of toughness, but botch the follow-up, allowing the terrorist leaders to escape. Once the public’s attention shifted, he would systematically squander the military victory: committing too few soldiers, reneging on promises of economic aid. Soon, warlords would once again rule most of the country, the heroin trade would be booming, and terrorist allies would make a comeback.

Meanwhile, he would lead America into a war against a country that posed no imminent threat. He would insinuate, without saying anything literally false, that it was somehow responsible for the terrorist attack. This unnecessary war would alienate our allies and tie down a large part of our military. At the same time, the Arabian candidate would neglect the pursuit of those who attacked us, and do nothing about regimes that really shelter anti-American terrorists and really are building nuclear weapons.

Again, he would take care to squander a military victory. The Arabian candidate and his co-conspirators would block all planning for the war’s aftermath; they would arrange for our army to allow looters to destroy much of the country’s infrastructure. Then they would disband the defeated regime’s army, turning hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers into disgruntled potential insurgents.

After this it would be easy to sabotage the occupied country’s reconstruction, simply by failing to spend aid funds or rein in cronyism and corruption. Power outages, overflowing sewage and unemployment would swell the ranks of our enemies.

Who knows? The Arabian candidate might even be able to deprive America of the moral high ground, no mean trick when our enemies are mass murderers, by creating a climate in which U.S. guards torture, humiliate and starve prisoners, most of them innocent or guilty of only petty crimes.

At home, the Arabian candidate would leave the nation vulnerable, doing almost nothing to secure ports, chemical plants and other potential targets. He would stonewall investigations into why the initial terrorist attack succeeded. And by repeatedly issuing vague terror warnings obviously timed to drown out unfavorable political news, his officials would ensure public indifference if and when a real threat is announced.

Last but not least, by blatantly exploiting the terrorist threat for personal political gain, he would undermine the nation’s unity in the face of its enemies, sowing suspicion about the government’s motives.

O.K., end of conceit. President Bush isn’t actually an Al Qaeda mole, with Dick Cheney his controller. Mr. Bush’s “war on terror” has, however, played with eerie perfection into Osama bin Laden’s hands - while Mr. Bush’s supporters, impressed by his tough talk, see him as America’s champion against the evildoers.

Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, “Kerry is bin Laden’s man/Bush is mine.” Administration officials haven’t gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to “disrupt our democratic process,” many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush’s record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.

And you call my posts pathetic?

You are a fear mongering consiracy theorist with nary a good thing to say about anything.

Canada could use a few good men like you.

Wow rainman, guess that one gave you a twist in the Maidenforms, eh?

I saw it in the newspaper here yesterday and thought it was pretty entertaining. bushleague supporters who would display bumper stickers proclaiming “Kerry is bin Laden’s man/Bush is mine” should really stop and think a moment about that.

I have lots of good things to say, about a lot of different subjects. I just can’t think of a single good thing to say about the current administration, other than maybe that they’ll be gone in a few more months. See, that’s good isn’t it?

Rainjack,

That’s a good point worth exploring. One of the big criticisms of Bush is that he peddles the politics of fear to gain/keep power.

But the Left - and not just the fringe Left that only buy high-channel cable access, we’re talking the op-ed page of perhaps the most well-known newspaper in the world - has become nothing short of a factory of conspiracies.

Krugman, a former Enron adviser, once commanded respect in this country.

Eh, just Krugman frothing at the mouth again… not much new there. I’m just amused he can fill a whole opinion column with his little fantasies.

Relax folks, some things are just meant to make you think. Now, I know how hard this is for some of you, but do give it a try from time to time.

I still think really that the military has to enter the modern age and realize that the modern world expects more than it used to from it.

It’s not all about destroying or capturing an objective anymore. There are other things to consider with respect to “the whole job”.

I don’t think it matters who is in power, the many of the same problems would be faced. To get back into a political swing, at least I’d suspect Kerry has the brains to think about issues himself and make decisions based on sophisticated issues. He’s also more likely to admit a mistake and correct it.

I know a lot of folks won’t think those are strengths…

tme -

yeah, your little editorial comment twisted my panties. But at least I’m big enough to admit it.

Besides, my choice of undergarments is really no one’s business.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
That’s a good point worth exploring. One of the big criticisms of Bush is that he peddles the politics of fear to gain/keep power.
[/quote]

I have a hard time believing that when, compared to the liberal’s standard fear mongering MO, Bush can’t even compete.

If Bush is playing to people’s fears, it may well be worth it to pay attention to him - at least as much as it applies to the war on terror.

Did you hear anything on the 9/11 Commission’s report today?

Speaking of good bumper stickers, I heard there is one that goes something like:

“Democrats are so full of shit that they need two Johns”

Now, I’d never put that on my bumper, but that was pretty funny.

Vroom,

I don’t think anyone is too upset over Krugman’s piece - I think the concern is that this is what passes for op-ed material in the world’s most recognizable newspaper.

[quote]thunderbolt23 wrote:
Speaking of good bumper stickers, I heard there is one that goes something like:

“Democrats are so full of shit that they need two Johns”

Now, I’d never put that on my bumper, but that was pretty funny.

[/quote]

HAHAHAHA, that is pretty good.

Recruiting for Al Qaeda is UP since we invaded Iraq.

Now Team Bush is talking about doing Iran. As an Al Qaeda recruiting tool, the USA just talking about invading Iran next has got to be a boon.

It’s not hard to believe that Osama is loving George W Bush. For one thing, the guy is an ineffective bumbler.

I am sure OBL is loving GW as he hides in a rat infested cave while he is slowly dying, thinking that the humiliation which has been bestowed upon Saddam Hussein and the humilition that is too come could very well be miniscule to that which he will experience.

THe chicken littles of the world that think we are not progressing against terrorism are sadly mistaken, and the ones who wish to push fear and timidity in the hopes that people will turn to their socialist agenda that no one would turn to under normal circumstances, are they the ones you want leading in times of crisis?