To me, this is as though Bill, who was staying at Fred's house, came up and punched me in the nose, to which my reaction was to kick the crap out of Randy. Now, Randy might have deserved a beating at one time or another, but under the circumstances, he should not have been at the top of my "Who Needs an Ass Whuppin'?" list.
Callers to the radio show on which I appear have accused me of being a revisionist, only calling for Osama bin Laden's head after the misadventure in Iraq began to go so badly. I refer them to columns I wrote early on (including one dated Sept. 13, 2001) stating that the U.S. should use every resource available to capture and kill, in no particular order, bin Laden.
That kind of focused retaliatory action would not be undertaken as a warning to other countries that might be considering messing with us, but it would undoubtedly have that effect. And while this sentiment is guaranteed to cause reactionaries to itch in uncomfortable places, having gone after bin Laden, with passion and purpose, until we got him would have earned us all kinds of respect among allies and foes alike.
Instead, Bush saw Sept. 11 as some kind of cosmic carte blanche and almost immediately lost focus, plunging us into a war that was neither necessary nor, apparently, completely winnable. History will forever note that the U.S. correctly went into Afghanistan, then took its eye off the ball and stumbled into Iraq. After things went badly in Iraq, Bush then tried to demonize Iran so that Iraq wouldn't be the deciding factor in the 2008 election.
What concerns me most is that as the Bush duck gets lamer by the day, the administration's rhetoric races away from any semblance of sanity. Last month, Bush said, "(We) need to defend Europe against the emerging Iranian threat."
I'm sorry, but can anyone name even one European country with whom Iran is on the outs?
Writing in Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria summed things up this way:
"The American discussion of Iran has lost all connection to reality. ... Iran has an economy of the size of Finland's. ... It has not invaded another country since the late 18th century. The United States had a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran."
(People seem to forget that, dating back centuries, Persians and Arabs have gotten along like black people and the LAPD.)
He concludes, "And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?"
In the past seven years, George Bush's ranting has become so commonplace that the average citizen can't even recognize the absurdity any more. For example, he recently said, "If you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing (Iran) from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."
Is he kidding? My son once made a model of a simple atomic bomb--for his fifth-grade science project! And while he didn't have one of those Saturday Night Live "Where'd you get the plutonium, Chaz?" moments, the model was both good enough for him to win the prize and simple enough for him to adequately explain it to the judges. I'll bet the designs are on the Internet.
Then there's this from Page 670 of Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won the Pulitzer Prize back in 1988 (it isn't a how-to book, but rather a history of physics from 1890 to 1950): "The firing circuits closed; the X-unit discharged; the detonators at 32 detonation points simultaneously fired; they ignited the outer shell of Composition B; the detonation waves ... slowed, curved, turned inside out, merged to a common inward-driving sphere; the spherical detonation wave crossed into the second shell of solid fast Composition B and accelerated; hit the wall of dense uranium tamper and became a shock wave. ... (It) hit the nickel plating of the plutonium core and squeezed, the small sphere shrinking, collapsing into itself, becoming an eyeball; the shock wave reaching the tiny initiator at the center and swirling through its designed irregularities to mix its beryllium and polonium; polonium alphas kicking neutrons free from scant beryllium atoms ... into the surrounding plutonium to start the chain reaction."
There, now we all possess the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. While it's never a good idea to assume anything about the current occupant of the White House, I'm guessing that he meant the ability to make a nuclear weapon, including the procurement of enriched uranium and/or breeder-generated plutonium. Then why didn't he just say that?
Probably because that wouldn't be enough to scare his ever-dwindling base into following him through that final gate of hell.