Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Bush, 9/11, and Iraq -- Give it a rest, already

Last night our stumbler-in-chief gave yet another content-free speech about the war effort in Iraq. No new news, no new plans, no new nothing at all, just another poorly delivered exhortation to "stay the course." (Sidebar -- how did someone with such poor speaking skills ever make it into the political arena, anyway?)

Poor oratory and lack of content aside, it wasn't surprising to hear Bush pull out the old "it's because of 9/11" chestnut yet again. That's what these guys do when they're on the ropes -- try to justify their actions by fooling the public into thinking that invading Iraq is some sort of revenge for the 9/11 attacks. This bogus excuse for reckless military action is getting a little long in the tooth now, and not just to me. Editorials in all the major papers here and abroad chided Bush for once again making non-existent ties between Iraq and 9/11; even CNN led their main post-speech story with the headline "Bush Slammed for Iraq Link to 9/11."

The problem with Bush linking Iraq to 9/11, of course, is that there is no link; there never has been, despite fairly strident implications by various members of the administration to that effect over the years. What's different today is that the press is calling him on this particular lie. Craig Gordon wrote in Newsday, "as usual, [Bush] failed to mention that the Sept. 11 commission found no credible evidence linking the former Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein and the 2001 terror attacks." An L.A. Times editorial stated, "He again rewrote history by lumping together the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and the need for war in Iraq, when, in fact, Saddam Hussein's Iraq had no connection to Al Qaeda." The press is finally making a stand for the truth; it would've been nice if they did this a couple of years ago, but better late than never.

I particularly liked the comment one caller to an NPR show made following the speech. I'm paraphrasing here, but the caller wondered how long Bush would continue to use the 9/11 attacks to justify everything he does internationally. It's a nice crutch; you can use 9/11 to justify going to war in Afghanistan, or invading Iraq, or just about anything you want. With a little imagination, you could also see the president using 9/11 to justify not going to war with a country, or not negotiating this or that agreement, or passing legislation to scale back our civil rights, or whatever. It's a great tool to use if you have it, and these guys are milking it for all its worth.

So if the Bushies are going to keep on using 9/11 as the excuse for the debacle in Iraq, let's hold them to it and compare the current situation with the only similar event in our country's history -- the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Both were unprovoked, more-or-less unexpected attacks on American soil. How does Bush's response to the 9/11 attacks compare to Roosevelt's response to Pearl Harbor?

It's now been just about four years since 9/11. We're quagmired in Iraq and Bush keeps pulling out 9/11 as justification for all his actions. Whenever things look bad in the polls, Bush and his minions invoke the ghost of 9/11 to try to scare the people into thinking that we're still under attack, and that we should support him as a "wartime president."

Four years after Pearl Harbor, the war was over. Our country mobilized quickly and effectively, and we fought a massive world war on two fronts. We defeated both the Japanese and Nazi Germany, and by the end of 1945 our boys were coming home. Neither Roosevelt or Truman was using Pearl Harbor to justify anything anymore; we were past that, and the country was moving into the great post-war boom. The war was over, and Truman wasn't a wartime president anymore.

So make the comparison. Four years after Pearl Harbor, we had found the enemy, fought the enemy, and defeated the enemy. Four years after 9/11, we haven't found the single individual who was responsible, let alone bring him to justice, and our troops are still fighting a messy war with no end in sight. How good does Bush look now?

Let me rephrase that. Four years after Pearl Harbor we brought two entire countries to their knees; four years after 9/11 we haven't been able to catch one guy. Come on folks; Osama Bin Laden isn't anywhere near as dangerous or as organized as Adolf Hitler was, and we got that bastard. Why can't the Bushies get Bin Laden?

Oh, that's right -- we're fighting a "different kind of war" today, or so the Bushies say. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I don't think a handful of ragtag Islamic militants is near as dangerous as a couple of million Nazi stormtroopers. Yeah, this war is different -- World War II was justified, and we fought it to win; the Iraq war isn't, and we aren't.

The good news is that in spite of Bush's craven abuse of the 9/11 attacks, America in general seems to have adjusted to life in the post-9/11 world, just as Americans sixty years ago got over Pearl Harbor. That's what human beings -- and Americans in particular -- do. We adapt to events and get on with our lives. Even Bush's all-9/11, all-the-time harping can't obscure the fact that most of us are past that now; we haven't minimized the seriousness of the attacks, and we certainly don't disrespect the dead, but we've moved on. That's what we do.

So, Mister Bush, it's time to drop the whole 9/11 thing. We know that 9/11 didn't have anything to do with Iraq, and invading Iraq had nothing to do with the so-called war on terrorism. You're going to have to find some other way to justify your increasingly unpopular war of foreign domination. Let the ghost of 9/11 rest in peace -- and give the victims of that attack the respect they deserve.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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