The drums of war
Despite the effort by the mindless Right that peoples the key posts in the Bush administration to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it has not been possible to do so
Most American presidents like to have a doctrine associated with their names, long after they have passed into history, along with their deeds, good and bad. The doctrine George W. Bush will be associated with will be the Doctrine of Preemption which, its high-sounding name notwithstanding means you strike before your enemy. In plainer words, don’t wait to get hit: hit first.
While a case could perhaps be made for this particular strategy, it is less simple to establish to the satisfaction of an objective observer that a clear and present danger exists which necessitates and justifies preemptive action. That is where President Bush and his principal lieutenants have failed. Why would Saddam Hussein commit virtual suicide and risk the destruction of his regime and his country by mounting a chemical, biological or missile attack on the United States? Iraq is not the only country that possesses or is trying to attain certain kinds of weapons or weapons technology. There are many others. Why don’t they pose a threat to the world while Iraq does?
Despite the effort by the mindless Right that peoples the key posts in the Bush administration to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it has not been possible to do so. The whole world knows that Saddam Hussein is no friend or admirer of religious zealots, nor has fundamentalist thinking or jihadi culture been allowed to take root in Iraq. The Iraqi ministry of religious affairs and auqaf keeps a strict eye on what goes on and does not permit sectarian controversies to be spread from the pulpit. What Iraq thought about Ayatollah Khomenei and his retrogressive so-called “Islamic revolution” was best manifested through eight years of the bloody Gulf War. Iraq is a secular state. The polity of the Ba’ath Party is a secular polity. If anyone is to be held responsible for pushing Saddam Hussein into adopting religious symbols and multiplying the number of mosques in Iraq, it is the United States.
There is little doubt that America is inexorably being pushed into a war that can only bring disaster. It will knock the bottom out of the ongoing US-led actions against Al Qaeda, or what remains of it, and overnight it will turn every Muslim country against the United States and its policies. If that indeed is the objective, then President Bush is on the right course. Through an unrelenting media onslaught, the average American has been convinced that “they hate us.” For “they”, please read “Muslims”. What he has not been told that it is certain given the policies and actions of the United States that Muslims find unacceptable. The blind advocacy and support by the Bush government of Israel and all that it does can lead any reasonable person to only one conclusion. This week, at the United Nations, for instance, the United States abstained when it came to a vote on the brutal siege of Yassir Arafat’s compound.
But there are voices of dissent. The saintly Jimmy Carter has spoken against war and former vice president Al Gore has come out of his hibernation to attack Bush on Iraq. Some idea of how unreasonable the advocates of war and the “Bushies” are can be had from a September 25 article by the Washington Post columnist Michael Kelly. “Gore’s speech was one no decent politician could have delivered. It was dishonest, cheap, low. It was hollow. It was bereft of policy, of solutions, of constructive ideas, very nearly of facts – bereft of anything other than taunts and jibes and embarrassingly obvious lies. It was breathtakingly hypocritical, a naked political assault delivered in tones of moral condescension from a man pretending to be superior to mere politics. It was wretched. It was vile. It was contemptible. But I understate.”
Anatol Lieven, a British journalist currently in Washington said it best, “What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind.”
Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent