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Unformatted text preview: 2-28-05Is Bush Trying Out the Madman Theory?By Jeffrey KimballMr. Kimball is a professor of history at Miami University and the author ofNixon's Vietnam War. His most recent book is The Vietnam War Files:Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy (University Press ofKansas, 2004).Responding to questions about United States policy toward Iran’s nuclearprogram, President Bush bluntly said in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday,February 22: “This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iranis simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table.” Hisresponse reminded Europeans, members of Congress, and many Americancitizens of statements he and his administration had made during the lead-upto the invasion of Iraq, as well as of similar statements he had made in Januaryabout U.S.-Iran differences: “I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I willnever take any option off the table.” That comment was in part a response toquestions raised by Seymour Hersh’s argument in his article, “The ComingWars,” in the January issue of the New Yorker, that Iran might be the nexttarget in Bush’s “war on terror,” because Bush and the rad-cons in hisadministration favor military over diplomatic approaches toward Iran.Amid growing concerns in Europe and elsewhere about the apparentcontradiction between Bush’s belligerent words and his conciliatory remarksabout wanting to cooperate with European diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis Iran’snuclear program, Bush said on Wednesday, February 23: “You know, yesterdayI was asked about a U.S. decision, and I said all options are on the table. That’spart of our position. But I also reminded people that diplomacy is justbeginning.” Later that day, National Public Radio’s Morning Editiondescribedthis comment as Bush’s attempt to “clarify” the “mixed signal” he had given onTuesday.For the most part, the press has avoided serious attempts to explain the causesof Bush’s repeated “mixed signals”—his repetitive or persistent ambiguity. Theworld is left wondering whether such ambiguity is the result of the president’slegendary inarticulateness, his admitted tendency to voice his deepest emotions,or his reputed ignorance of global—and especially Middle East—realities.Hersh’s explanation is that an ideologically rigid Bush administration is seriousabout using military force against Iran while the president and hisspokespersons blunt criticism and placate allies with conciliatory rhetoric....
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course POLI SCI 367 taught by Professor Favretto during the Spring '11 term at Wisconsin.
- Spring '11