Wednesday, November 28, 2007
THE SCHWARZENEGGER DOCTRINE
News item, October 27, 2007:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today spoke of the arsonists who set killer brushfire blazes in California: “We will hunt down the people that are responsible for that.” In addition, Schwarzenegger expressed special thanks to President George W. Bush for “being such a tremendous partner.”
Future news item, c. 2008:
In a major policy shift, Gov. Schwarzenegger today announced that he was no longer actively pursuing the arsonists, believed hiding in Nevada, who had devastated California last year and caused billions of dollars in property damage. “I know I pledged to ‘terminate’ those arsonists, but now we have new priorities. History summons us in a different direction. Our intelligence experts have identified even greater arson threats to California, as well as to our friends and neighbors. So now we must act immediately against grave and gathering threats, which could be launched at any time by remorseless pyromaniacs who hate us for no reason.”
Schwarzenegger, who early in his gubernatorial career seemed uncomfortable with soaring rhetoric, is now confidently using lofty language to describe the enemies of the Golden State. In particular, he has identified three states—Kansas, Nebraska, and Vermont—which form, he says, the “axis of ignition,” guilty of “state-sponsored pyromania.” Now, he continues, this axis poses an even greater danger than last year’s arsonists. And the danger could grow worse: “If these state-sponsors could gain access to WMC (‘weapons of mass conflagration,’) the fires of October 2007 would look, by comparison, like backyard barbeques.”
In the past, Schwarzenegger had warned, “Those who could become arsonists in the future are as bad as those who committed arson in the past.” More recently, the governor’s Sacramento-based “brain trust” enunciated a new policy agenda, which some dub “The Schwarzenegger Doctrine,” calling for “pre-emption” of fire-starting state governments across the US.
But Schwarzenegger insists that low-level enforcement efforts will continue in Nevada, where Golden State police agents are working with local authorities to apprehend suspected arsonist cells within in the Silver State. However, most analysts believe that the leading arsonists have fled even further, into the badlands of Utah. But Schwarzenegger dismisses any continuing danger from the 2007 arsonists, wherever they might be: “We have those arsonists on the run; they are ineffective, hiding in canyons. The real danger, now, comes from the ‘axis of ignition.’”
In particular, Schwarzenegger has singled out Kansas, led by Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, told reporters, “The weapons of mass conflagration that we know she is hiding could cause enormous damage in California.” Reminded that Sebelius says she does not possess such weapons, Schwarzenegger shot back: “OK, let her prove that she is not hiding WMC in Kansas.”
Schwarzenegger refuses to negotiate directly with Sebelius, but he has been persuaded to work with the National Governors Association (NGA), issuing demands to the Sunflower State—demands that neutral analysts equate to full surrender. And yet as those NGA negotiations drag on, Schwarzenegger says, “Time is running out.”
The California governor is believed to be preparing a pre-emptive strike against WMC sites in Kansas, with or without the NGA. Schwarzenegger is developing a “coalition of the willing”—including Indiana, Rhode Island, and Delaware—as allies in possible joint action against Kansas.
However, Schwarzenegger denies that any action is imminent. “Violence is our last resort.” But, he adds, “While I have no war plans on my desk, nothing is off the table.” He continues, “Kansans have just as much right to live their lives free from fire as Californians.”
Some have expressed concern about Schwarzenegger’s policy, fearing possible chaos in the Sunflower State. But Schwarzenegger dismisses those worries—“We are planning carefully for every possibility”—reminding Californians of the stakes as he sees them: “If you saw what I saw, the fires burning, from Malibu to San Diego, you would understand the need to take this fight to the enemy. We will make Kansas the central front in our war against fire—not that I have made any final decision about Operation Kansas Freedom.”
In fact, some Schwarzenegger advisers speak grandly of a “Greater Midwest Initiative,” to transform fire-usage across Middle America.
In other late-breaking developments, Schwarzenegger denied reports that he was building a secret prison site for suspected arsonists in Humboldt County. “That’s nonsense. We have all the prison space we need, now that we have re-opened Alcatraz and can give arson suspects the punishment—I mean, fair trials—that they deserve.”
Meanwhile, the Schwarzenegger administration brushes off reports of infiltration, into California, from Mexico. “There’s no danger to the south,” said a spokesman, “only folks coming across the border who need our help. Compassion does not stop at the Salton Sea.” The adviser added, “The Governor is looking east, laser-like, to the real threat—Kansas.”
Reprinted from the 11/19/07 issue of The American Conservative.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at Wednesday, November 28, 2007