7, 2003 A car pulls up in front of the Jordanian Embassy
in Baghdad, in the early morning hours: the occupants exit,
and leave the scene. Not too long after, a huge explosion
decimates the area: at least 10 people are killed, with
as many as 40 wounded.
7, 1998 – A pick-up truck laden
with explosives pulls up in front of the U.S. Embassy
in Nairobi, Kenya, at 10:38 a.m., and the detonation destroys
the Embassy and kills hundreds. Almost simultaneously, the
U.S. mission in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is hit. The death
toll is 224 persons: more than 5,000 are injured.
connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda we heard so much about
in the period leading up to the invasion turned out to be
a self-fulfilling prophecy. Osama bin Laden surely didn't
have an Iraqi presence before the war, but he sure as heck
this ironic sense, then, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
was perfectly correct the other day when he averred that "Iraq
is the central battle in the war on terror." Seen from
Osama bin Laden's perspective, it is. What Wolfowitz
neglected to mention, however, is that the terrorists have
gained a foothold in Iraq thanks to the U.S. – and that Bin
Laden owes his victories to our own policies. On account of
the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, Al Qaeda not only
has a ready-made pool of potential recruits at its disposal,
but is being provided with plenty of American targets close
troops stationed in Iraq are sitting ducks for terrorists,
easy pickings for suicide squads bent on wreaking as much
deadly havoc as possible. The kind of war we are in was prefigured
in the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine
barracks in Beirut. Ronald Reagan's wise response was
to withdraw. How long before George W. Bush stands at a similar
news that, for two days, there were no reports of U.S.
combat casualties, but this relatively long silence was punctuated
by the Jordanian Embassy explosion, like a period at the end
of a sentence. That, and a report of two
more Americans killed, should dispel any illusions about
what the U.S. is up against: the war, far from winding down,
is rapidly escalating.
lured us into the dark heart of the Middle East, Osama bin
Laden and his allies have U.S. soldiers right where they want
them: surrounded by a hostile populace, on the defensive,
and vulnerable to the low-intensity low-tech war of attrition
now being waged against them.
is an unwinnable war because it has no end point. There is
no light at the end of this long, dark and perilous tunnel
– and no good reason to crawl in there to begin with. At a
certain point, the Bush administration will be faced with
a stark choice: either continue to expose U.S. troops to continuous
attacks in an area that is not defensible, taking casualties
until public opinion at home rebels, or avoid all those needless
deaths, not to mention the expense, and bring the troops home.
As the casualties mount, the clock is ticking….
Wolfowitz believes that Iraq is the central arena in the war
on terrorism, then perhaps he hasn't heard the warnings about
Al Qaeda preparing
for another attack on the U.S. mainland. While the neocons
in government and their
amen corner in the media are hailing our alleged success
in Iraq in bringing security to most of the country, the appalling
security in America's airports puts us all at
has been "liberated" – but who will liberate us from the "Patriot"
Act, and the further efforts of
Attorney General John Ashcroft to increase the already expanded
power of government agents to conduct secret searches and
spy on American citizens? We will free the world – and enslave
ourselves. It will be a fitting price to pay for our hubris.
idea that we cannot withdraw from Iraq, that such a demand
is impractical, immoral, irresponsible, or what-have-you,
ought to effectively end the tiff over whether or not we have
got ourselves involved in a "quagmire." We are in up to our
ears. Yet there is still time to pull ourselves up, and out,
before the disaster unfolds, and we ought to do so as fast
as humanly possible.
IN THE MARGIN
received a lot of letters commenting on my last column, in which
my enthusiasm for the grassroots movement Howard Dean's candidacy
has generated is mistaken for adulation of the candidate himself.
But the letter-writers have a point: put not your trust in
politicians! The Dean campaign's burgeoning success is interesting
to me as a measure of antiwar sentiment, which is quite apart
from whatever positions Dean might take at any particular
time. I have no doubt that Dean will disappoint many of his
supporters, and that, if elected, he will prove just as amenable
to the schemes of the War Party as his predecessors in the
Oval Office. It is inescapable, however, that partisan politics
come to the fore at least every four years, and this time
around foreign policy is necessarily the central issue of
the campaign season. I must say that I had a lot more confidence
in Pat Buchanan as the pro-peace candidate than I ever will
have in Dean. But we play the hand we're dealt.
presidential campaign is going to divert a lot of time, energy,
and resources away from the peace movement, and into the coffers
of various candidates who, like Dean, promise the world, and
wind up delivering far less. (This is not to say that Dean
will necessarily betray his supporters. He deserves the benefit
of a doubt.) But rather than abstain and distance ourselves
from our readers as they go through this learning experience,
it is far better to accompany them on their journey so we
can be there, at the end, when they realize they've been had.
is hardly shocking news that, having lied us into war, this
administration is now lying about the number and circumstances
of American casualties. The official number of "combat deaths,"
according to the Pentagon, is 52, as of this writing. But
the Guardian reports:
total number of US deaths from all causes is much higher:
112. The other unreported cost of the war for the US is the
number of American wounded: 827 since Operation Iraqi Freedom
began. Unofficial figures are in the thousands….
military casualties from the occupation of Iraq have been
more than twice the number most Americans have been led to
believe because of an extraordinarily high number of accidents,
suicides and other non-combat deaths in the ranks that have
gone largely unreported in the media."
much for the
myth of America's "antiwar" media.
the body bags come home, along with a steady stream of limb-less
and otherwise shattered soldiers, how long can the administration
keep up the pretense that we have "won" the war, and the rest
is just a mopping up operation?
has it that the Bushies are "looking for ways to press
Israel to halt construction" of the infamous "Wall of Separation," and
are even considering "a reduction in loan guarantees for Israel."
But these loan guarantees, totaling $9 billion, and also including
$1 billion for costs incurred by Israel during the Iraq war,
were approved as additions to the annual $2.64 billion
aid request. As is so often the case when we're talking about
government expenditures, this "punitive" measure really only
"threatens" to reduce the increase in aid.
does it take to get George W. Bush mad at Ariel Sharon? The
Wall of Separation is taller than the Berlin Wall, and was
built as a direct affront to the U.S. – with our money!
Now the Israelis have decided that Palestinians who marry
Israeli citizens are ineligible
for residency permits. In passing such a brazenly racialist
measure, the Knesset is taking a giant step down a road many
of Israel's most fervent supporters do not care to travel.
The Anti-Defamation League is saying that Israel should reconsider
and "explore other methods to ensure Israel's security needs."
Yet others, such as Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization
of America, support the new law "on the grounds that it is
necessary 'to protect the Jewish nature of the state,'" reports
The Forward. Foxman, he added, "should retract his
Wall has also caused a controversy in the American Jewish
community, with Edgar Bronfman, President of the World Jewish
Congress, circulating a
critical letter, also signed by former Secretary of State
that calls the Wall "potentially problematic." A mild enough
critique, but it was enough to set off the senior vice president
of the World Jewish Congress, Isi
Leibler, who wrote
to Bronfman demanding that he "retract and apologize forthwith"
or tender his resignation. Bronfman's response, as
recorded by The Forward, is a classic:
Leibler ever says surprises me because he is a right-wing
Edgar, why don't you tell us how you really feel?
I note that Antiwar.com columnist Anthony
Gancarski is none too pleased with my enthusiasm for the
Dean phenomenon, but not for any good reason that I can see,
aside from what is perhaps a congenital pessimism. His rather
dour column informs us, darkly, that Dean has hired Steven
Grossman, a former AIPAC president, to serve on his staff
– but Grossman's position, as Gancarski also tells us, is
as a fundraiser, not Secretary of State in Dean's shadow
cabinet. Gancarski writes:
from Dean's position on the Iraqi war, I don't see much in
his candidacy that makes me feel hopeful, but then again I
take AIPAC very seriously, having seen what they've done to
politician after politician who didn't toe their line. A cynical
observer might argue that Dean recognized early that the road
to the Presidency runs through AIPAC headquarters, and that
he's doing whatever is necessary to make that passage as smooth
as I explained at great length in my column, there isn't anything
aside from Dean's position on the Iraq war that is relevant
or even worth considering. All that matters is that he opposes
the war – and he's rising in the polls. What else do we need
"the road to the Presidency runs through AIPAC headquarters"
– a facile overstatement, at best – then Dean is certainly
taking the road
less traveled. AIPAC's stance
on the war – the central foreign policy issue of the campaign
is the exact opposite of Dean's. How Gancarski could conclude
that Dean "accepts 'AIPAC's view' of foreign affairs"
is beyond me.
of U.S. intervention abroad have always taken George Washington's
wise counsel, in his "Farewell
Address," as a guide to America's proper relationship
to the rest of the world, and it deserves to be read closely.
I would remind Gancarski that, in addition to advising us
against "excessive partiality for one foreign nation,"
the Father of our country also warned against "excessive
dislike of another." On the subject of Israel, or any
other foreign country, non-interventionsts aren't for or against,
they are neutral. My only objection to Israel and its
supporters in this country is their desire to run U.S. foreign
policy to suit Israeli instead of American interests. Dean's
opposition to the Iraq war is irrefutable evidence that, at
least in the foreign policy department, he's nobody's shill.
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