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A lot of exasperated anti-war folks like to bring up the idea that going to war with Iraq is a ploy to distract attention from the failing economy -- a sort of Wag the Dog scenario. But I don't buy that. Bush has wanted to take care of Saddam since before the economy tanked. He just never made concrete plans. The plans are coming out now because of two factors unrelated to the economy. First, September 11 made Americans feel vulnerable to attacks. Even when Bush isn't ecxplicitly linking Saddam to al-Qaida, he depends on this sense of vulnerability to undergird his warnings about the possibility of Iraqi agression. He then had to wait until the immediate vengeance for September 11 was over (the destruction of the Taliban), before the public would allow him to move on to dealing with another threat.

Bush has certainly taken advantage of the coincidence between the timing of the fruition of his war agenda and the recent corporate scandals. And he's been playing to the media in such a way as to keep attention off the economy (though the public doesn't seem to blame the administration for the economy as much as Democrats would like). But he didn't plan the whole Iraq attack specifically for this purpose.


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