September 13, 2003


Sacrilegious Spinning (Ellen Goodman, September 13, 2003, Washington Post)

Sunday night we saw a sober president admitting that the scenario of swift victory in Iraq was far too rosy. This was no flight deck photo op. The "Mission Accomplished" speech of May has become the "Mission Prolonged" speech of September -- with an $87 billion price tag.

But repeatedly, deliberately, the president connected the dots between Sept. 11 and the war in Iraq. Since "those deadly attacks on our country," he said, "we have carried the fight to the enemy." "For America," he said, "there will be no going back to the era before Sept. 11 -- to false comfort in a dangerous world." And finally, he told Americans that we are fighting the enemy today, "so that we do not meet him again on our own streets in our own cities."

The trouble is that the dots he connected are cartoon bubbles drawn by the White House and its speechmakers.

Nevertheless, Americans have followed them. A Washington Post poll recently showed that 69 percent of Americans still believe it's likely or very likely Saddam Hussein was involved in Sept. 11.

The emotional link -- bad guys do bad things, Saddam is bad, 9/11 is bad -- has become a successful political link. Fifteen of 19 hijackers were suicidal Saudis, all were members of al Qaeda. There was no connection. Osama and Saddam, the religious fanatic and secular despot, are brethren only in brutality.

Agreed. So why should we hunt one anti-American brute to his death and leave the other in place?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 13, 2003 1:21 PM

I don't know why I would expect Ellen Goodman to understand the deeper meaning of Bush's speech, but somehow I do. Who does she think is attacking us in Iraq? Al Quaeda and/or Al Quaeda wannabes. These people are obviously connected to 9-11, in the sense that if anyone is going to do it again, it's one of the schmoes getting himself killed by opening fire on US forces in Iraq.

Posted by: Timothy at September 13, 2003 2:42 PM

With the Islamofascists, you don't get to pick and choose.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 13, 2003 3:54 PM

I'm sure conservatives do something similar at times, but I notice this especially with liberals/leftists on terror: they find the evidence between 9/11 and Iraq to be too tenuous to require real action, but they are totally convinced by even more tenuous evidence involving second-hand smoke, or global warming, or pesticides, or statistical "proofs" of racism, or the overriding benefits of affirmative action, or whatever.

Posted by: PapayaSF at September 13, 2003 5:25 PM

It is clear that the "elites" still do not comprehend the impact of 9/11. They refuse to understand that the US is at war and instead pick nits with arguments, war strategies, and so forth.
If the elites are correct the US public is not behind this war and Bush and the GOP will lose in '04. If those of us who understand 9/11 are correct Bush and the GOP will crush the anti-war group and leave the elites wondering what the heck happened. Let's hope us "non-elites" are correct.

Posted by: AWW at September 13, 2003 11:52 PM

I wonder sometimes if the focus with the media and the general public is all skewed and twisted. To me, it seems, that these fanatics are more interested in pulling down westeren society than pulling down America. This country of ours is just at the top of the heap, as it were. I don't believe that this war is really about America, but really about a clash of two extremly different cultures than cannot be reconciled. This is what grieves me more than anything else, that the only outcome from this type of conflict can be death or compromise. We can see this in Israel; neither side will accept the compromise of the other side, so death is the outcome.

Posted by: larry g at September 14, 2003 2:43 AM

Larry is quite right.

There might be another connection between al Qaeda, their ilk, and Hussein.

The "... Allah willing..." factor.

Should enough things like Afghanistan, Iraq and dead/captured Islamo-terrorists happen, fewer may be willing too conclude Allah, is, in fact, willing.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 14, 2003 6:36 AM

Laurie Mylroie is not so quick to toss aside the Saddam - 9/11 connection. She is quite right that terrorism has historically been state-sponsored, and that the WTC was already bombed by Iraq in 1993, etc. The existence - in Iraq, not Afgahnistan or Syria - of the Salman Pak training facility for hijacking planes should indicate a very strong probability, all by itself. Meanwhile, the media yawns.

Our CIA tried to take over Cuba, and kill Castro - there is no reason not to suspect Iraqi intelligence using shadowy underworld types like Al Qaeda for training and recruitment to attack the U.S. using non-militarily means. It fits the facts better than any other scenario.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at September 14, 2003 8:15 AM