Just in case you haven’t bought your duct tape and bottled water this week, be advised that the war with Iraq has already started.
Last week the Washington Post disclosed in a front page story that U.S. Special Operations units are already in Iraq setting up communications networks and “laying the groundwork for conventional U.S. forces that could quickly seize large portions of Iraq if President Bush gives a formal order to go to war.” [Special Operations Units Already in Iraq Washington Post, By Thomas E. Ricks, Feb 13, 2003]
Whatever else the special ops boys are up to, what this means is that war has already begun and the United States started it.
Iraq is entirely justified in launching either operations aimed at expelling the hostile military forces that have invaded it or reprisal operations against the state—namely, us—that launched the invasion.
Back in the 1930s similar operations were carried out by the United States against Japan. Well before Pearl Harbor, the unit known as the “Flying Tigers,” consisting of U.S. Army-trained Americans, signed up with Republican China to fight the Japanese. Japan and the United States were not yet at war or even close to war, and while the Tigers were not officially U.S. units, they were clearly engaged in de facto war against Japan.
From at least the Japanese point of view, it puts Pearl Harbor in a rather different light—not a “sneak attack” so much as the very sort of reprisal that one nation attacked by another is likely to launch.
Presumably the Iraqi air force (snicker) is not going to do another Pearl and probably won’t even do much about the U.S. troops now inside its own borders. Those aren’t the targets we need to worry about, which brings us back to the aforesaid duct tape and bottled water.
The most likely sort of counter-attack we can expect is indeed in the form of terrorism launched against civilian targets in our own country.
The most recent episode of the Osama bin Laden TV series has the international terrorist mastermind spouting solidarity with Iraq, despite the distaste that the Holy One obviously feels for the loutish infidel Saddam Hussein. The videotape, conveniently released just as decisions about war are being made in Washington, the United Nations, and Europe, was at once seized upon by the U.S. government to bolster Secretary of State Powell’s claims that Osama and Saddam are in cahoots.
But the tape proves no such thing. What it certainly does prove is that Osama wants nothing more than for the United States to go to war in the Middle East as soon as possible.
- eliminate Saddam and his secularist regime,
- open the way for the eventual installation of the sort of terrorist theocracy in Baghdad that Osama wants,
- make enemies out of the entire Arabic-Muslim world for the next generation, and
- thereby make Osama bin Laden the major figure in that world for the rest of his life.
So far from substantiating the U.S. case for war against Iraq, the Osama tape in fact pulls the guts out of the administration’s argument.
Moreover, for all the “irrefutable” case that Secretary Powell built against Iraq in his address to the United Nations, quite a bit of it is eminently refutable—especially the claim, dubious on its face, that there exists what Mr. Powell called a “sinister nexus” between Iraq and Osama’s Al Qaeda network.
The centerpiece of that “nexus” was the support that Iraq has supposedly given to the terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi.
Yet this week, as the Post also reports, other U.S. officials are backing away from those claims. It is known that Zarqawi is part of Al Qaeda (well, sort of, or sometimes) and that he sought medical treatment in Baghdad last year. CIA Director George Tenet says Zarqawi has taken money from Al Qaeda but is “independent” of it, as well as of Iraq.
In fact, Zarqawi’s bases in Iraq are now said to be located in areas that Saddam’s regime doesn’t even control.
In fact again, the administration has yet to show any hard evidence that Saddam supports Al Qaeda in any substantial way or ever has—let alone that Iraq had any connection to the Sept. 11 attacks.
But whatever the administration has so far failed to show through its transparent propaganda for war against Iraq may be outdated as the war America has already started picks up steam.
Whatever distance between Saddam and Osama may have existed in the past may well be about to close, in large part thanks to Washington’s relentlessly belligerent policy toward Saddam, which gives him plenty of good reasons to use terrorism and terrorists against us, simply to protect himself and his regime.