Scary Uncle Dick
Halloween is just a few days away and the spooks and goblins are out in force. What makes this Halloween somewhat different than years past is that instead of haunted hayrides and creepy costumes trying to put a fright into people, Vice President Cheney has taken it upon himself to try and scare the bejeepers out of the average American.
A week ago in the battleground state of Ohio, Mr. Cheney basically told a hand picked and carefully screened audience that a vote for John Kerry would leave America open to nuclear attack in the heart of one of our large cities. The Vice President’s rhetoric can be summed up in five simple words: “Vote for us, or die!”
There is an obvious problem with his logic, since any nuclear device smuggled into the U.S. just might contain materials that were looted for the defunct Iraqi weapons program after the fall of Baghdad. These were locations and materials that the UN weapons inspectors told us about, but our planners chose not to guard.
As I am writing this news is breaking that 350 tons of some of the most powerful non nuclear explosives known to man (RDX and HMX) were also stolen from a known Iraqi weapons depot last year. That is approximately enough for 700,000 bombs similar in size to the one used to bring down Pan Am 103. Reportedly, this material is being used to make many of the improvised explosive devices that the Iraqi insurgency is using to attack our troops and we knew about it years before the war.
What is also troubling is the apparent fact that the Department of Defense has tried to hide this particular theft from the International Atomic Energy Agency and from the press (and hence, the public as well) for well over a year. Would I be rude if I said I suspect political motivations?
No, John Kerry’s fortitude does not scare me. But the incompetence of the Iraqi war planners and their bosses worries me to death.
It has been widely reported that the mastermind of so many of the deadly and gruesome attacks in Iraq, including Sunday’s slaying of 51 Iraqi National Guard trainees, is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. What is not widely talked about is the story that prior to the beginning of the war, the Pentagon asked for permission to bomb his training camp in Kurdish controlled northern Iraq inside our “no-fly zone”. According to various press reports, the plan was shelved because neutralizing a terrorist in an area not controlled by Saddam Hussein might have undermined the rationale for overthrowing the dictator in Baghdad. 20/20 hindsight once again reveals an incredible mix of hubris and ineptitude on the part of the decision makers.
To make matters worse, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Thomas Friedman relayed a disturbing anecdote in the New York Times. According to a colleague, a common Baghdad street name for American Soldiers is “The Jews”, the common perceived enemy of most Arabs. Could it be true that our soldiers are hated by those that they came to liberate? If this is widespread, I fear that the hope of an American friendly Iraqi society is lost for at least a generation. And with them, goes much of our pipe dream of transforming the perceptions of the entire region.
The newest Bush Campaign commercial features a pack of wolves waiting for a glimpse of weakness. The message was supposed to be, ‘the terrorists are lurking and hunting’. Instead, when the commercial was screened on CNN’s Crossfire, the audience laughed out loud. Either the commercial is over-the-top silly or the audience recognized the irony inherent in the suggestion that the current administration is keeping the wolves at bay.
With all this in mind, I’ll be handing out candy and feigning fear in front of pint sized witches and ghosts this Sunday evening. But if Dick Cheney shows up on my front porch, I might just run for the hills.
*for publication in the 10/26/04 NAT