READER SEAN COX thinks he understands what the White House is doing:
You point out Michael Kelly's fine rope-a-dope article, but he misses the BIG point:
We still have a lot of bombs to build before we take out Iraq.
At the end of last year, people noticed that we had greatly diminished our stockpiles of smart bombs and non-nuclear cruise missles in Afghanistan. I recall (but do not have a citation) that the general guestimate was Sept/Oct of this year to build enough ordinance to drop on Saddam.
In the mean time, the US is playing the Israel/Palestinian game to make the rest of the Arab world go nuts. The US supports Israel, plays with Arafat, and hopes to rope a bunch of dopes into our sights when the bombs start dropping. Until we have the bombs we need to end this quickly, we're going to do what it takes to keep the Middle East and the numerous maniacs that inhabit it looking like the evil idiots that they are.
Once we have enough bombs, we'll know who to drop them on and this will come to an end.
In support of this characterization, I noticed an interesting line from David Remnick in The New Yorker (it doesn't seem to be on their website). Remnick remarked that only "the parlor-statesmen of Europe" still take Yasser Arafat seriously as wanting peace. When you start reading anti-European throwaway lines in The New Yorker, you know there's a change in attitude.