A Lose-Lose Prospect

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The War Party seems particularly desperate these days.

For starters, our beggars for war seem just a little too eager
for news of terrorism.

Now
we learn
that the captured al Qaeda "informant" failed
a lie detector test, days after every hardware store in America
sold out of plastic sheeting and duct tape with which Americans
can seal themselves in latter-day
sarcophagi
, now they finally tell us the upgraded
alert was based on false information. Well, partly, they say.
They have other, verified, information as well, they assure us,
so there are no plans to change the alert status.

And if their eagerness
to find an excuse for war seems desperate, their interpretation
of the bin Laden tape is pathetic. I happen
to believe the tape is real, only because the administration’s
explanation of it is so convoluted.

First, of course bin
Laden would want to associate himself with Saddam Hussein. He
hates the pagan "infidel" Hussein,
and knows any linkage with him almost surely means a US invasion.
He also knows that the chaos that will ensue will radically increase
the probability that he’ll get his hands on all manner of ammunition,
and if there are any to be found (doubtful), weapons far nastier.

Except, that’s
not what he really said
. He "urges u2018true Muslims’ in
Iraq and elsewhere to u2018act, incite, mobilize … in order to
break free from the slavery of these tyrannical and apostate
regimes.’ Not in support of the u2018infidel’ Saddam but for Islam
and the jihad."

And the Sunday
Herald reports that
,

Try as it might, the
UK has been unable to produce any evidence clearly linking Saddam
to bin Laden, and the French have positively
ruled out any connection. Jean-Louis Bruguiere, France’s leading
terrorist investigator, says years of investigation into radical
Islamic terror groups have not produced a trace of evidence linking
them to Iraq. … We have not found any link between al-Qaeda and
Iraq. Not a trace. There is no foundation to our investigations
for the information given by the Americans.

CIA director George
Tenet seems to agree, concluding that "the
only reason Saddam would use WMDs against the United States was
if he was backed into a corner — due to a strike by the American
military — and realized he was about to fall." Some believe
this is the reason why scores of thousands of body bags are being
made ready.

Commenting on specious
interpretation of CIA intelligence by Congress, Lee Hamilton,
former chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence
Committee, "added pointedly: u2018It’s an overwhelming temptation
to manipulate intelligence to serve policy and, to some extent,
I think that’s what’s happening here with Iraq.’"

Stop Doing What I Ask!

The Bush administration
was already suffering badly from Secretary of State Colin Powell’s
presentation to the UN. It impressed the American War Press,
but no one else.

One simply had to peruse
the worldwide press to get the consensus opinion: more of the
same "proof" that had already been
refuted, plus cartoons. The day before, Powell had already
admitted there was no "smoking gun" in the presentation.

But in the days following
the Powell pitch, UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix, after
talks with Iraqi officials on 9 February, said
he saw signs of a "change
of heart
" from Baghdad over disarmament demands. "In
two days of meetings with Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei, Iraq
officials handed over documents on anthrax, VX nerve gas and missile
development." Later
in the week
, Iraq agreed to overflights by U-2 surveillance
aircraft.

This news strengthened
calls by France, Germany, and Russia to allow more time for inspections.
In an interview with French television,
Putin rejected "regime change" in Iraq, and stated that "there
is nothing in the UN Charter that would allow the UN Security Council
to make a decision to change the political regime of one country
or another — whether we like that regime or not."

The Bush administration was not moved.

In an utterly dismissive
tone, Bush replied in unintended irony, "It’s
a moment of truth for the United Nations. The United Nations gets
to decide shortly whether or not it is going to be relevant in
terms of keeping the peace, whether or not its words mean anything." He
also said, "Given the fact that Saddam Hussein is not disarming,
time is running out."

But the fact is, for
all the world to see, the prospect for Iraq looks at least temporarily
brighter, while the US looks all too
enthusiastic to attack. But it’s also plain to see that even if
Iraq instantaneously disarmed, it would still be in the position
of trying to prove a negative, and the invasion would go on as
has been planned from the very beginning. The United States would
never be caught all dressed up with no place to go.

Europhobia

If the dictum "those who are not with us are against us" is
taken to its logical conclusion, Europe had better gird itself — indeed,
the Bush administration has already threatened it with economic
sanction.

The frustration, paranoia,
and recklessness of The War Party has fully manifested itself
in Francophobia, Teutonophobia, perhaps
we could just call it Europhobia — inasmuch as England is not Europe.

And why wouldn’t the little island be America’s
best friend? We share common law and common language (sort of),
and common love
of imperialism. But to be fair, whether by choice or not, the little
island seems to have outgrown its love for imperialism. Mr. Blair
seems to be in the marked minority, an emperor with no clothes.

Perhaps Mr. Blair believes
London is still the capital of a magnificent empire, and a great
force to be reckoned with — he might even remember
the old story (or old joke) of a turn of the (last) century London
newspaper headline: "English Channel Still Shrouded in Fog:
Europe Isolated." Or, maybe he lives vicariously through the
exploits of Emperor Bush.

America, who vowed
to escape the fate of Fortress Europe, is instead ruled by those
who deride "Old Europe" because she won’t
help them get what they want. So jealous of the power they need,
they have adopted the hatred of England’s old enemies, the "Frogs" and
the "Krauts."

But competitive Americans will not be outperformed by their English
counterparts; and oddly, France, that early friend and savior of
the American Republic, and more recent ally, seems to receive yet
more bile than any other.

Even to the point that
Richard Perle, former political advisor to Prime Minister of
Israel Benjamin Netanyahu and, more recently,
chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, recently blurted, "France
is no longer our ally." The 10 February 2003 American Conservative editorial "Richard
Perle Must Resign" adds, "Of the French, delicately courted
by Powell in an effort to win Security Council support, Perle blustered, u2018I
have seen diplomatic maneuver but not moral fiber.’"

The Guardian takes
note
of some of more virulent Francophobic (and generally
Europhobic) statements:

The "petulant prima donna of realpolitik" is leading
the "axis of weasels," in "a chorus of cowards." It
is an unholy alliance of "wimps" and ingrates which includes
one country that is little more than a "mini-me minion," another
that is in league with Cuba and Libya, with a bunch of "cheese-eating
surrender monkeys" at the helm.

The last phrase was
uttered by the great American philosopher Bart Simpson, but made "acceptable in official diplomatic
channels around the globe by Jonah Goldberg." The poor souls
that visit Goldberg’s columns know that he has made Francophobia
a favorite pastime.

In The Washington Post,
George Will described the French foreign affairs minister, Dominique
de Villepin, as "oily," but
that’s nothing compared to one of his diatribes during a Sunday
broadcast of This Week, where Will mocked the entire history
of France, sparing (or forgetting) only Jean d’Arc.

Charles Krauthammer
added on Fox television: "I’m all in
favor of gratuitous hits at France and Germany."

Even though they’re not a permanent member of the UN Security
Council, let’s not forget Germany.

Responding to Germany’s lack of enthusiasm for a pre-emptive war
against Iraq, Richard Perle replied, "Germany has been subsidized
into a moral numbing pacifism," and called for Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder’s resignation.

Not to be outdone was Richard Galen, who
recently appeared on CNN’s Talkback Live
. Galen was
press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich, and also communications
director for the latter. He casually referred to Gerhard Schroeder
as "a German thug, which may be a redundancy," and
that "the French have been, as usual, a bunch of weasels."

These are the sober minds to whom Americans are entrusting their
fate?

Going it Alone?

So where do the friendless go? To church perhaps.

But the Bush administration seems to be a little confused as to
the relationship between Man and Church.

As The
Age notes
,

the most intriguing, and most futile, part of the US diplomatic
offensive is being directed at the oldest institution in Old Europe,
the papacy. The Vatican has resolutely refused to endorse either
the notion of preventive war in general or an invasion of Iraq
in particular. From the Pope down, every significant official in
the Vatican has insisted, in accordance with a long tradition of
Christian teaching about a just war, that the conditions for such
a war cannot be said to exist in the standoff with Iraq.

Instead, the Vatican "rolls
out the red carpet for Christian Aziz
," and strengthens
her Chaldean faithful in Iraq
. This must come as a great
shock to our governing body.

But if the US government
is not going to listen to "Old Europe," it’s
certainly not going to listen to the "Old Church." The
experience of thousands of years does not impress the boy wonders
of our imperial government. It sends its emissaries to both Church
and State not to converse, but to threaten.

It’s not that we should yield our sovereignty to any nation or
entity on Earth, but that’s not really the point, is it?

When nearly the entire
world sees our folly, doesn’t only a fool
utterly disregard its counsel?

Bush is already seen
as a "cowboy" president (an insult
to cowboys) throughout the world. If America attacks a nation that
has not attacked it, it will be morally discredited, not only in
the eyes of the Islamic world, but in Europe and Asia. What credibility
will America have then?

This has all the ingredients of a diplomatic and political disaster.

If it becomes impossible for the US to invade, it will appear
that peace was accomplished despite American will. The administration
knows that window is rapidly closing, which is why they have the
propaganda machine working overtime, and are demanding immediate
invasion. But it appears that they have already lost the momentum.
And just what will Bush do if the UN inspectors refuse to leave?
Bomb Iraq anyway?

And if the US does invade, in what will almost certainly appear
to the rest of the world as naked aggression, the damage to foreign
policy could be permanent. What the world will remember are the
lies and dashed hope.

Is our government really willing to pit the whole world against
us?

Who will be "irrelevant" in the future? It’s hard to
imagine America’s prestige being compromised any time in the near
future, but this may be the first irreversible step down the long
road of imperialism, which inevitably ends in decline and fall.

This administration is rapidly turning this self-made crisis into
a lose-lose situation for America.

February
15, 2003

Brian Dunaway [send him mail] is a chemical engineer and a native Texan.

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