Axis of Twits

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Mr. Carpenter is working on a book about American demagoguery. He is a columnist for HNN.

Contrary to the president's repeated claims that a blow against Saddam Hussein will be a blow against terrorism, the most recent Osama bin Laden audiotape confirms that a blow against Saddam will be a gift to al Qaeda, more valuable in propagandistic weight than U.S. airbases in Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden--the actual criminal of 9/11, quite independent of Iraq, yet about whom Bush has not spoken since the summer of 2002--virtually begs America to attack. He cunningly chums up to the Iraqi people and even finds common cause with their leader, whom Osama nevertheless still detests and denounces on the tape as a" communist" and"infidel."

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By publicly pretending a link between al Qaeda and Saddam merely to grease the skids of aggression, Bush single-handedly has forged one. By engaging in a conspiracy of deceit to justify a preconceived military objective, he has heightened domestic, not to mention international, peril. The outcome likely will go down as the most staggering presidential blunder in American history--and all the while it is Europeans, not the principal homeboy, who are most nervous, most alert to the bloody handwriting on the wall.

Therein lies the root cause of the break with our erstwhile NATO friends, France, Germany and Belgium. Because the first two have suffered the disastrous consequences of their own reckless blustering in the past, they are plenty leery of conspiring again. They’re unwilling to play along with a needless, politically invented war in a region already bubbling over with hate and conflict, and their demonstrated lack of willingness has earned them little more than thoughtless tantrums and open outbursts from the gun-slinging White House. When this European axis of perplexity raises questions or articulates perfectly reasonable objections to U.S. policy, W's top statesmen issue the considered response,"And yo' mama." It’s been a real show of maturity.

War Secretary and Chief Brat Donald Rumsfeld labeled the recent refusal of our very former allies to militarily plan for gung-ho Turkey's defense as"shameful,""inexcusable" and"disgraceful," and supreme diplomat Colin Powell added to America's tantrum with his own"inexcusable." Only the comparatively low-level U.S. ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, confined his criticism of the old-European three to their having made a"most unfortunate decision." At least one of them attended a Dale Carnegie course.

Rumsfeld also expressed extreme dismay that France, Germany and Belgium"are in stark disagreement with the rest of their NATO allies," implying their difference of opinion with 16 others automatically brands them as some sort of international rogues. Rumsfeld's disapprobation was unusually peculiar, seeing how the United States singularly--and proudly–-has isolated itself in rebuffing the Kyoto climate treaty and international criminal court. It seems only W's America can be nobly persnickety.

Another unusually peculiar Rumsfeld line of attack against uncooperative European leaders was this: Sure,"if they pounded in" their opposition to war to their bodies politic often enough, then the latter, in time, is bound to agree. Left unreported was whether Donald winked or snickered thereafter, but he assuredly had to do one or the other, given that the Bush administration’s sole talent lies in message-pounding.

The latest in White House message-pounding, of course, is that the bin Laden tape shows Osama and Saddam to be ideological brothers in arms and best buddies since way back. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but then again, that's S.O.P. in the course of W’s P.R. The truth is that Osama is gunning for Saddam as eagerly as Bush, and when this desert rat calls you an"infidel," it's best for the family finances not to invest in 5-day deodorant pads. For now, bin Laden is only playing a chess game of convenience with Iraq's dictator--and no one knows that better than the dictator himself. In its quest to dupe the American public and sucker punch earnest allies, the Bush administration knows no shame. It has been willing to transform our one true intolerable enemy--al Qaeda--into two, and now three more, for political gain. From Europe to Eurasia to the Middle East to Southeast Asia the president is managing to unify the world--against us. But when George W. retires, or is retired, to a sterile life of clipping coupons, you and I will be left holding his sorry bag of international consequences.

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Orson Olson - 2/25/2003

"From Europe to Eurasia to the Middle East to Southeast Asia the president is managing to unify the world--against us."

If the "world" Carpenter refers to means the UNSC, then by all means, I'm glad not to have eight "not free" and only "partly free" nations on the US side.

If by "us" he means the eighteen European countries, thirty-some in all, then I'll sooner bet on the Bushies than Carpenter's saturine sourmash.

(who has not and will not vote "Bush.")

Gus Moner - 2/24/2003

Iraq can do that. And pigs can fly.
The Middle Eastern statres are western creations and function differently, our notions of nation and state are not prevalent there, and we need to be careful. Enough mistakes were made there last century to rush into more imposition of regimes and clientism.
Look, there are UN people in Iraq, and additional resources can be brought in. Concurrently, the timetable idea looks a good option to consider as well. The entire matter requires more time.
War should always be the very last option. The weapons have been there for 20 years, according to some accounts, no? Why the rush now? What's the real remaing agenda here besides wmd?

Suetonius - 2/23/2003

Exactly. Which is why this is all laid out clearly in the National Security Strategy.

Trevor Getz - 2/21/2003

It's not a question of 'being up for the challenge'... it's a question of prioritizing challenges,applying resources intelligently, and fighting the right battles rather than losing sight of the objective and wasting resources... it's about using diplomacy (even tricky realpolitik stuff) instead of being a lumbering military elephant.

Suetonius - 2/20/2003

So you are not up to the challenge? This is ostrich-thinking.

ian "an american for peace" - 2/20/2003

only in reference to the remark of how easy it would be for saddam's weapons to pass to al qaeda, I would like to quote an article printed on

"But the world is a big and porous place. A band of lunatics in the Tokyo subways did not need Saddam Hussein to get their chemicals. Terrorism will not be stopped by an America that runs around putting its finger in every weapons dike that springs a leak."

It is my belief that we cannot tople every govt. that could possible supply al qaeda. and if it could be done the world would not stand for it.

Steve Brody - 2/20/2003

So Carpenter's writing a book on demagoguery. He ought to. He appears to be an expert at it.

Dan - 2/20/2003

Defend Turkey against WHAT?

Maybe Mr. Moser is privvy to information us plebes do not have?

John Moser - 2/20/2003

Mr. Carpenter apparently thinks that the Bush administration's refusal to submit the Kyoto Treaty to the Senate, and to join the international criminal court, is at least as bad (no doubt worse, in his view) than the refusal of the French to develop plans to defend Turkey from a possible Iraqi attack. This simply won't fly. Kyoto and the ICC were obligations that the administration refused to undertake, because it believed (correctly, in my view) that they would run counter to the interests of the United States. On the other hand, France is already a signatory to NATO, and is therefore obligated by treaty to defend Turkey, another member of the alliance.

Suetonius - 2/19/2003

"By publicly pretending a link between al Qaeda and Saddam merely to grease the skids of aggression, Bush single-handedly has forged one."

Why do those who are critical of this effort to force Hussein to disarm refuse to acknowledge the argument that the weapons of mass destruction stockpiled by Hussein can easily pass surrepticiously to Al Qaeda, and that those charged with ensuring the security of this country MUST take that into account IN ADVANCE of any attack by Al Qaeda using such weapons?

Mr. Carpenter has not seen the revelations this past weekend that the German government is aware of the fact that Saddam Hussein's government has smallpox. The piece appeared on the Deutsche Welle website, and stemmed from a document leaked from the German intelligence services.

As for the claim that the Europeans all realize the gravity of the situation, Mr. Carpenter is correct. Eighteen European countries have signed letters indicating their support for this activity by the United States. France and Germany are in the minority in their opposition to this effort to use force if necessary to disarm Hussein.

To badger around questions of whether Bush is competent enough to be president, or that this whole crisis is all about some alterior motive like oil contracts, is foolish and immature. To characterize statements by senior U.S. policymakers as "And yo mama!" is a waste of everyone's time.