Have I forgotten about Osama?
Published June 1, 2003

A lot of supporters of the war in Iraq make a lot of noise about war protests. Many of them wonder if weíve forgotten about the horror of September 11th, or about Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. My answer is, "No." The protesters, it seems, are the only ones who havenít forgotten.

We went to war with Iraq for no good reason. Many Americans are convinced that Saddam Hussain was implicated in the September 11th terrorist attacks. He was not. If anyone would like for this to be true, it would be George W. Bush and his administration, who have spent countless hours saying "September 11th" and "Saddam Hussein" in the same breath without actually making a concrete connection between the two. If there was one, we would know about it.

The other main argument for war was the much-debated matter of weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that there were programs involving biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons in Iraq. It is hard to say if the inspections of early 2003 might have been successful, especially with the American military buildup in the Gulf. They were never given a chance, however. The Bush Administration did not have the patience for the process and merely paid it lip service. Now, they are discovering that the weapons either arenít there, or arenít so easy to find after all. If we do find them, using inspection teams made up solely of Americans and our allies without a UN presence, will anyone believe us? Not likely.

So, what of September 11th and Osama bin Laden? Who has forgotten them? The Bush Administration, of course. Instead of continuing the extremely difficult, but very worthwhile process of hunting down Al Qaeda and its leaders, Bush and his corporate buddies have turned to Iraq and Saddam. Instead of a real effort to secure our freedom, we kick the butt of a third-world army thatís at least twenty years out of date.

It feels good to win, and to have a clear-cut goal: take Baghdad and all the bad monsters will go away. Thatís Bushís message, and itís a load of garbage. Iraq wasnít a threat to us, but it was an easy target. Now weíll leave it in a mess, just like Afghanistan. Anyone remember that place? I havenít seen any news on our first conquest in quite some time. Good thing for Bush and his pals, because the news ainít good. The warlords and holy men are back in charge, everywhere except in Kabul, where our soldiers are helping in some minor rebuilding efforts. The Taliban are making a comeback, and the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan--our good ally where most of our Al Qaeda enemies are probably sheltering--is as open as ever.

Protesters warned that the war in Iraq would be a quagmire to rival Vietnam. They were wrong, but the peace may be even worse. All over the world, Al Qaeda recruiters are being swamped by new terrorists ready to be foot soldiers in a continuing war against the US and its allies. Already in the past few weeks, weíve seen bombings in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, both of which are strong supporters of the US. Bush says that Al Qaeda is on the run. "From what?" I ask. From our troops in Iraq? Hardly.

Osama is laughing at us now. Weíve removed a secular government in Iraq, as horrible as it was, and thereís a good chance that it will be replaced with religious extremists of the Iranian variety. Only, despite our talk of democracy, we wonít allow a radical, anti-American regime in Iraq. When we step in to make sure that this does not happen, we will lose the few shreds of credibility we still have in that region and the world. We will be an occupying power, ruling over a people who hate us, and who will be willing to die to remove us. Ask the Russians how well that worked in Afghanistan. Or maybe weíll forget it all, throw up our hands and walk away, letting Iraq sink into anarchy and bloody chaos. Either way, we face an ugly future.