“Nothing”, the president said in reply to a reporter’s question about what Iraq had to do with 9/11, in one of those off moments when his smart-alecky belligerence came close to disassembling the elaborate subterfuge this administration had erected conflating these two disparate elements. But he followed up his quick response with the whopper that no-one in his administration had ever suggested there was such a connection when a quick check of video and print archives brings up a multitude of references linking Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attackers in turn. Never mind that most of the hi-jackers were our pals the Saudis or that Osama bin Laden and Hussein shared few beliefs regarding the kind of social construct they would support.
This president and many in his administration understand very little about the Muslim world, its religion or form of government. No true expert in middle-eastern affairs would lump the various forms of Islam under one umbrella nor would those knowledgeable about that part of the world fail to acknowledge the many differences among Islamic countries or the various sects and factions. The mess we are in now is the result of profound ignorance about what we were getting into when we invaded a country that had a vast history about which this government was wholly uninformed except by their own particular ideological view of the world.
But there seems to be nothing this administration will bypass in terms of its willingness to subvert and reconstitute reality into a form more to its liking. What most observers and military leaders on the ground in Iraq suggest is a spiral of violence fast descending into civil war, the president’s press secretary and other of his apologists assert is merely a series of terrorist-inspired regional conflicts. In fact Mr. Bush has a new all-encompassing way of defining the enemy – – Islamo-Fascists, an almost meaningless term that has little to do with what is going on in the Middle East and what the various interests there hope to achieve. It is one of those assertions meant for domestic consumption to pull our country together in fear and loathing of a scary movement we barely understand but which, we are told, must be defeated by force.
In fact, although there is no clear plan to assuage the violence, no satisfactory effort to guard and rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure or provide basic amenities and a modicum of security for its citizens, the president keeps insisting we stay a course that has proven to be under-manned, poorly facilitated and without long-range goals other than to maintain a U.S. presence there into eternity. He asserted that accusations we have stirred up a hornets’ nest by our invasion don’t “hold water” because we were hated in the region long before we began our occupation, a rather dismal assessment of our status in the world. Again, however, when people who understand the region and its people, discuss the situation there they insist that our actions have not only strengthened Iran, but destabilized the surrounding area and created a haven for terrorist activity that did not exist before our invasion and occupation.
Now, while it is unclear what our military is equipped to do in Iraq, thousands of Marines are being returned to active duty even though many of them have been out of service for years and had started families, jobs and businesses. The small print in their original documents allows them to be re-inducted to fulfill military obligations for as long as the country is engaged in what may in fact be a never-to-be concluded “war on terrorism”. And while the president declares his respect for the opinions of those who disagree with him, the fact is that, according to him, the “Democrat Party” doesn’t really understand the threat of terrorism and basically wants to “cut and run” – – something no-one has suggested although the case for “redeployment” of our troops and for speeding-up the process of training Iraqis to take on their own security has been made.
Are we in fact keeping the pot from boiling over or simply stoking the fire underneath it? Unfortunately, our leaders are unclear about our mission in Iraq, how we are helping, and what our ultimate goals are. Mouthing platitudes about democracy, freedom or Islamo-fascism will never provide a foundation for resolving the region’s problems. While name-calling and claims this administration is better at protecting the nation and promoting peace seem to generate support among a swath of voters in this country, they must seem ill-founded, naïve, even absurd, when viewed on the world stage.
It is likewise ludicrous that the president of the United States stands before the country and refers to the ‘other’ party as The Democrat Party – – a partisan ploy to avoid using the word democratic about the opposition. In fact it isn’t Democrats who don’t ‘get it’, it is The Republic Party that insists on ignoring the obvious and uses convoluted language to confuse basic issues and the realities we should be addressing. Actually, though, what can one expect from a president who thinks photo-ops a policy make and who continues to say nukular instead of nuclear?

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