Excerpts from Osama bin Laden’s purported taped message read like a New York Times Op-Ed. The message refers to “oil traders” who want war, asserts that America’s military strength conceals its “cowardice,” and says that America’s “massive propaganda capabilities” are driving the showdown. If it is not bin Laden’s voice on the tape, perhaps it is Noam Chomsky’s.
The antiwar left agrees with bin Laden: America is the real enemy of peace, not Saddam Hussein. The war on terrorism is causing terrorism, they believe. Of course they must pretend to support the war on terrorism in order to oppose it more effectively. No one would listen to their “concerns” about the war on terrorism if people knew that they didn’t want the war on terrorism started in the first place.
The antiwar left encourages the assumption that their request for evidence of links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein stems from sincerity. It doesn’t. President Bush could show them a picture of Hussein and bin Laden sharing a meal and it wouldn’t matter to them. Their game is to let Bush get close to the end zone and then immediately pull the goal posts back.
Before they opposed war with Iraq they opposed war with Afghanistan. If the Taliban’s links to al Qaeda didn’t persuade them of the need for war, why would Hussein’s?
But the charade must go on. The demand for more evidence of Hussein’s terrorist ties is a necessary tactic to delay a war they wouldn’t want fought under any circumstances. The antiwar European powers, who are playing dumb about Hussein’s ties to terrorists, already know that Hussein is a patron of terrorism. They have known for a long time that Hussein has been writing checks for Middle Eastern terrorism, giving money to the families of suicide bombers.
The bin Laden tape comes as a great disappointment to them. It is so inconvenient. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who always speaks for that wise “world” outside America, is quite upset. She laments that bin Laden has come to Bush’s “rescue.” She complains that “The president and his secretary of state had been huffing and puffing to prove a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda” — and now here he is making her job hard by referring to his “brothers in Iraq.”
Dowd should be able to regroup by next week. We can expect her to explain the bin Laden tape as a temporary alliance provoked by American aggression.
After explaining that link away, maybe she can also get around to explaining the other links. George Bush said last week that “senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s”; “that Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda”; that “Hussein has provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training”; that “an al Qaeda operative was sent to Iraq several times in the late 1990s for help in acquiring poisons and gases”; that “Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner” and the network “runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq”; and that Al Qaeda operatives are operating in Baghdad with Hussein’s full knowledge.
Then again, Dowd can just change the subject. This is the favored tactic of the antiwar left when faced with damning evidence. Old information about North Korea’s missile capabilities, which was treated as news on Wednesday, should give them a chance to muddy the waters a little more. America must focus on North Korea, they’ll demand. Never mind that that would create for America two problems instead of one, as delaying an Iraq war would give Hussein time to build weapons with the same capabilities as North Korea.
And then what would the antiwar left say about Ronald Reagan’s nuclear missile shield? They would probably argue that it is an unacceptable act of preemption — a means of American imperialism unless shared with terrorists and tyrants.