January 30, 2003
President Bush is now promising again
to present evidence not only that Iraq possesses weapons of mass
destruction, but also has links to terrorists, specifically al-Qaeda, which
is generally assumed to have mounted the extraordinary attacks of
September 11, 2001.
The American public is skeptical.
So are Europeans. So are most other countries. Bush has already had plenty
of time to back up his charges, and he just hasnt done it. He insists
that Iraq has the prohibited weapons, whether or not UN inspectors find
any proof one way or the other. If no such weapons are found, that will
only prove that the Iraqis have successfully hidden them.
Perish the thought that the weapons dont exist, and that Saddam
Hussein, for once in his life, is telling the truth.
Its well known that
Saddam and al-Qaeda hate each other. He regards them as fanatics and
loose cannons; they regard him and other Arab rulers like him as traitors
to Islam. Why should he share deadly weapons with them? That would put
him at their mercy, since the United States would certainly blame him if
they were used on American soil. Instant devastation would follow
not against al-Qaeda, which presents no targets, but against Baghdad.
Saddam Hussein isnt crazy enough to make himself a hostage to the
whims of Osama bin Laden, or whoever al-Qaedas current CEO is.
Less than a week after
September 11, according to Bob Woodwards new book, Bush
at War, Bush told his aides, I believe Iraq was involved, but
Im not going to strike them now. I dont have the evidence at
this point. Many of those aides had been hoping for war with Iraq
for years, and now their dream was coming true. But where was the
evidence to justify it? That was the problem. What if there was no
If only Iraq could be
linked to al-Qaeda ... if not by facts, then by rhetoric ...
perhaps by phrases like axis of evil ... by speculation that
Iraq might supply terrorists with its supposed nuclear, chemical, or
biological weapons ... That was the ticket! All those evil guys stick
somehow the connection remained vague and tenuous. The public kept
wondering how a war on terrorism had turned so quickly
into a war on Iraq.
The question in the back of
everyones mind was, and is, this: If Saddam Hussein had helped
mount the 9/11 attacks, why didnt he furnish some real high-tech
weapons? Nukes, poison gas, anthrax ... but box-cutters?
Try to imagine the conversation
amongst the conspirators. Saddam Hussein: Can I help you fellows
out? We have some really nasty weapons you can use nuclear,
chemical, germs Muhammad Atta: Gee, thanks. Do
you have any box-cutters? Saddam: Great idea! How many do
you need? Atta: Oh, about 20, if its not asking
too much. Saddam: Twenty it is! Are you sure thats
enough? By the way, we also carry a line of exploding shoes, if you need
Or maybe it went like this. Atta:
We want to give those Americans a real shock. May we use a couple
of your nukes? Saddam: Sorry, no can do. The Americans
would be sure to blame me. But Id be glad to pitch in a few
box-cutters, as many as you need. Atta (sighing): Well, I
guess well just have to make do with those. Saddam:
Just try to make sure they cant be traced back to us.
But it didnt work.
Apparently the Bush administration saw through the plot and did indeed
trace the box-cutters back to Iraq. Or maybe it just wanted an excuse for
war with Iraq and is hoping the public will forget that the 9/11 operation
had nothing to do with the sort of weapons it accuses Saddam Hussein of
hiding up his sleeve.
Bush says hes sick of
games and deceptions. Hes not the only one. The war on
terrorism has turned into an endless shell game that has little to
do with the horrors of 9/11 and everything to do with manipulating
Americans, and Europeans, into supporting the war the administration has
wanted all along.