Thursday, February 12, 2004

Nope. No Connection Here.

The New York Times letters section offers up a particularly thick stew of Bushate® this morning in response to President Bush’s Sunday morning talk show interview.

First up is Brant Thomas of Brooklyn who feels betrayed and confused by the events of the past two years. He thinks President Bush should apologize for all the excitement that has jangled his nerves:

Were there weapons of mass destruction? Was Iraq involved with the 9/11 attacks? Did Al Qaeda operate in Iraq? Did Iraq have a viable nuclear program? No, though all were justifications he presented to the American people for his war.

This sort of outrage requires a sort of willful ignorance and mental compartmentalization that surely produces its own variety of stress.

Were there weapons of mass destruction? The people of Halabja are keeping quiet about them.

Did al Qaeda operate in Iraq? Al Qaeda operated unhindered in Hamburg, Ft. Lauderdale, and Finsbury Park . . . but Iraq was strictly out of bounds to al Qaeda terrorists.

Did Iraq have a viable nuclear program? Not without the help of our “allies” France, Germany, Russia. The better question might be did the Saddam Hussein administration want to have a viable nuclear program, and if so, why?

Shikha Menon of Davis, California connects all the dots and stills sees no connection at all:

In his interview with Tim Russert, President Bush referred to Sept. 11, the war on terror and Iraq, in the same sentence and context, several times. This seems to imply a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Such a connection did not exist, and the president should now give up trying to get the American people to believe that Iraq had anything to do with Sept. 11. Constantly repeating a falsehood does not make it true.

Like a particularly grisly car wreck, it’s fascinating to watch grown people make this argument.

If the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was not part of a greater war on state sponsored terrorism, then what was it? Revenge for that unflattering mosaic of W's father on the floor of al Rashid Hotel in Baghdad? No really, if the military operations in Iraq are not aimed at defusing the threat of terrorism then what was it aimed at?

Oil? Wouldn’t it have been a lot easier just cozying up to Saddam the way the French did?

Land? We’ve got plenty of godforsaken deserts already. Go to Scottsdale and see what Falluja could look like.

The Election? I’m still not sure how waging war with voting-age Americans on the front lines is supposed to be politically astute.

The Jews? Always a handy explanation when the truth is too painful. But even this excuse falls a bit short.

To review. Saddam Hussein was a well-known tyrant and bad neighbor who could do pretty much what he pleased with billions of petrodollars even before September 11. After September 11, when the threat of Islamofascist terrorism became more tangible for many American policymakers, the existence of belligerent fascist regimes in the Middle East suddenly appeared somewhat less tolerable.

Since Saddam had conveniently violated the terms of the ceasefire declared in the unconcluded Gulf War of 1991, his was a particularly vulnerable fascist regime. Not tolerating Saddam therefore became a logical reaction to the September 11 attacks.

The Taliban gave direct support to the actual perpetrators of the attacks which is why they no longer exist. George Bush’s whole point -- and a valid one at that – is that 9/11 was not some sort of airtraffic violation in which criminals should be brought to justice but an act of war. In war you don’t necessarily look for justice or rehabilitation . . . you apply violence to counter violence understanding that terrorists pose much less danger to you when they are dead.

Shikha Menon seems to be saying that because Mohammad Atta was not carrying a travel voucher signed by Saddam Hussein (or Uday, or Qusay, or Ebay) then there can be no connection to the attacks that killed more Americans and other infidels than Pearl Harbor.

The only analogy I can think of is to say that because Coke and Pepsi are separate organizations, with separate staffs and headquarters and recruitment programs, and even a rivalry that keeps them from collaborating, this somehow means they are not selling the exact same thing.

And if cola was deemed a threat to national security would it really matter if we carpet bombed Pepsi into submission first? Might that convince Royal Crown to pack it in without a fight?

The great thing is that after ousting Saddam “based on false pretenses and faulty intelligence” Libya, Iran, and Pakistan have suddenly become rather more accommodating. Maybe they took that nonsense about “either you’re with us or with the terrorists” more seriously than the readers of the Times, which is fine by me.

I certainly don't think they're owed an apology for being “misled” by Bush.

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