April 15, 2003

Milk Carton Dictators

Between the war on terror (remember that?) and the war on Iraq, U.S. officials have demonstrated one outstanding skill: they suck at locating leaders.

Remember in the days following Sept. 11, 2001, when George W. Bush vowed so valiantly to get Osama bin Laden “dead or alive?” Osama bin Laden, by the way, is the leader of the terrorist faction al-Qaida and the self-proclaimed mastermind behind the plane hijackings. That was just in case anyone forgot about him, being that Bush has not mentioned his name in public since July 2002.

The reason for bin Laden’s sudden disappearance from public commentary is simple: he changed his name to Saddam Hussein. At least that’s what Bush, Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the Crony Drilling Company would have us believe. Do we believe it? Apparently so. Various polls show as many as 71 percent of the public now think that Hussein was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001 atrocities. Must be some tasty propaganda out there.

What this looks like, in the eyes of those who still see reality, is an attempt to cover up the immense failure that the war on terror has been. Cowboy George still hasn’t found Indian Osama, so he’s—hey, what’s that over there? Look at the bad man in Iraq!

Few people doubted that, once in office, Bush would rile things up in Iraq. After all, he had family honor to avenge, oil to capture and Pat Robertson to please. When the Twin Towers fell, however, everything seemed to change; from then on, war on Iraq had to be postponed. This didn’t seem to disappoint the Pentagon, as they now had a new enemy and an actual excuse.

For a while, all seemed successful under the warm security of the Afghan blanket. But as the days grew longer and bin Laden wasn’t any more found, we became more and more frustrated; ousting the Taliban and installing Harmid Karzai as the interim puppet could only go so far. By mid-2002, word from the White House was that bin Laden was now irrelevant and—hey, what’s that over there? Look at the bad man in Iraq!

Much has been said about Bush’s war on Iraq mirroring his father’s Gulf War in 1991. Apparently that wasn’t enough for Captain History, because his conflict in Iraq now also resembles the events of just a year ago! Already, the White House has declared that catching Hussein is no longer the top priority. The announcement came just in time, too, because no one can find him! The new strategy seems to be to stick Hussein and bin Laden on a milk carton and hope for the best.

Will the search for Hussein prove as futile as the search for bin Laden? Definitely not! The difference lies in the intense personal issues Bush has with Hussein, combined with good old American resolve and—hey, what’s that over there? Look at the bad man in IRAN!

Or is it Syria? China? France? Not Saudi Arabia, Israel or North Korea, that’s for sure. Wherever Bush points our military next, we can bet that a new bogeyman will suddenly be responsible for the altered New York skyline (Presidents Mohammed Khatami of Iran and Bashar al-Assad of Syria are two possibilities for the opening). In the likely event of this happening—my money is on June or July—we may never again hear Hussein’s name.

Do NOT be fooled. There’s only so much terror and so many troops able to fight it. And only so many milk cartons to load with pictures of missing dictators.

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