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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Sunday, March 14, 2004


930 days since Osama has not been brought in Dead or Alive.
Where is your promise, George Bush?

We usually avoid referring to certain popular rightwing weblogs on this site. There are plenty of other sites to do that. But we couldn’t help but peek at the Instapunditry about Spain. Naturally, they were bummed. Andrew Sullivan’s comment was the most typical.

He begins: “It’s a spectacular result for Islamist terrorism…” Of course. The Spanish people were moved, after having 200 of their fellow citizens blown into nothingness, to embrace Islamic fundamentalism. Or no – it turns out that they were embracing something else: fear. Sissies all, unlike the testosterone fueled Sullivan.

But to go on and spray paint over the low level of Sullivan’s dull tabloid-isms is unworthy of this blog. Let’s skip to his point, which is here:

“But there’s a real ironic twist: if the appeasement brigade really do believe that the war to depose Saddam is and was utterly unconnected with the war against Al Qaeda, then why on earth would Al Qaeda respond by targeting Spain.”

Let’s also skip the “appeasement brigade” thing. LI is tempted to respond “…crypto-fascist…” but that would be, as George Bush might piously say, wrong. Let’s go into those verb tenses, shall we? The “is and was” thing? There were two schools about the invasion of Iraq. The larger school had not opposed the invasion of Afghanistan. Why? Because they felt that the U.S. had the right to respond to an attack. The attackers were located in Afghanistan, and they were protected by the Taliban. Hence, to get them, one had to overthrow the protecters. Which was done. Horribly enough, after that was done, the Wrong Way brigade, as we will call, for convenience sake, Bush’s administration and his supporters, did not finish the job. No, they left Osama bin Laden to hang there. Bush, by relentlessly and consistently refusing to pronounce his name in any of his speeches over the past six months, seems to believe that he disposed of him.

Now notice, here, that it was the right that made a big point of disparaging Kerry’s idea that terrorism should be dealt with as a law enforcement matter. And notice what they did: they treated catching Osama bin Laden as a law enforcement matter.

Let’s hypothesize, for a moment, that Osama bin L. was really connected to Saddam before the invasion. Then wouldn’t it be logical, before the invasion, to mop up with the central symbol of the terrorist threat, which after all could be carried into the backyards of any of the Coalition of the Willing?

Of course it would. But then again, these people didn’t really believe their own propaganda. This is why they have left us pretty much unprotected while they took a turn in the “war on terrorism” that had nothing to do with terrorism.

End of hypothesis. Back in 2001, Al Q. had minimal contact with Iraq – although as we know, it had great contacts with our ally, Pakistan. That Al Qaeda is now willing to embrace the cause of Iraq has everything to do with something Sullivan seems to have forgotten: Saddam H. is in prison. Yes, time marches on. Because Sullivan wants to confound the ‘is” with the “was,” here, he ignores the very history he has been busy celebrating elsewhere. You have to go back to Clinton to find a more interesting use of the meaning of “is.”

A child of five could see through Sullivan’s rhetoric. That is when, I believe, Piaget claims that children begin to understand the difference between the truth and lying. But the arguments of such as Sullivan are starting to play badly with the rest of the world. They are starting to sound like the robotic repetitions of a cult, with its wearying faith in the bogus messiahs of the American Defense Department . One is reminded of an old psychology classic – the Seven Christs of Ypsilanti. Seven men, each of whom was possessed of the delusion that he was Jesus Christ, were put into a room together. Cruel, I know. The results were interesting. Each came up with a highly entertaining version of the delusions entertained by the others in the company, as in possession by the devil, electrode implanted in the brain, and so on. Sullivan has never been a logical guy, but this raving is more in the range of that kind of experiment. However, reality is starting to shudder through the cult. Suddenly, Osama can loom as an issue again – and not as the captive at George Bush’s convention feast, but as the man who got away, and has been away for 930 days. I believe that is the count. I am going to begin keeping that count on my log. I think that the question of the lapse of U.S. vigilance, as the pursuit of private ideological ends dragged us into Iraq, will possibly skew in ways which will not be pleasant to the Right. Even if, as seems probable, Bush is stirred to finally fulfill his promise. Too late. Too late, in that the network has ramified. Too late, in that the Bush people have cynically concluded that the American people won’t pay attention to the increasing cycle of violence. Too late, in that the claim that 2/3 of Al Q. has been rendered inoperative turns out to be a big lie. Another big lie.

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