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PS 367 Madman_Bush - Is Bush Trying Out the Madman Theory...

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2-28-05 Is Bush Trying Out the Madman Theory? By Jeffrey Kimball Mr. Kimball is a professor of history at Miami University and the author of Nixon's Vietnam War. His most recent book is The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy (University Press of Kansas, 2004). Responding to questions about United States policy toward Iran’s nuclear program, President Bush bluntly said in Brussels, Belgium, on Tuesday, February 22: “This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous. And having said that, all options are on the table.” His response reminded Europeans, members of Congress, and many American citizens of statements he and his administration had made during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, as well as of similar statements he had made in January about U.S.-Iran differences: “I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table.” That comment was in part a response to questions raised by Seymour Hersh’s argument in his article, “The Coming Wars,” in the January issue of the New Yorker , that Iran might be the next target in Bush’s “war on terror,” because Bush and the rad-cons in his administration favor military over diplomatic approaches toward Iran. Amid growing concerns in Europe and elsewhere about the apparent contradiction between Bush’s belligerent words and his conciliatory remarks about wanting to cooperate with European diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis Iran’s nuclear program, Bush said on Wednesday, February 23: “You know, yesterday I was asked about a U.S. decision, and I said all options are on the table. That’s part of our position. But I also reminded people that diplomacy is just beginning.” Later that day, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition described this comment as Bush’s attempt to “clarify” the “mixed signal” he had given on Tuesday. For the most part, the press has avoided serious attempts to explain the causes of Bush’s repeated “mixed signals”—his repetitive or persistent ambiguity. The world is left wondering whether such ambiguity is the result of the president’s legendary 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 serious about using military force against Iran while the president and his
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spokespersons blunt criticism and placate allies with conciliatory rhetoric.
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