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We still don't get it

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A year ago, that was the headline on the Indy's issue marking the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The "we" referred to the way many people were thinking at the time--uncritically accepting the Bush Administration's bait-and-switch of the war on terror for a war in Iraq (and a radically new foreign policy), and failing to recognize that part of our problem combating terrorism was not acknowledging the way our actions were received in the Islamic world (or the rest of the world, for that matter).

After the paper came out, I had one of those middle-of-the night frights that we'd be flooded with jeers from supporters of the war saying, yeah, y'all still don't get it. It didn't happen. And much of what we (and so many critics) warned came to pass. The President and his inner circle knew they were lying about the Iraqi threat. Hans Blix was right when he said there were no signs of new weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein, bad as he was, was not in league with Al Qaeda. The occupation after the war would not be easy, and more expensive than anyone could imagine. And the United Nations and an international coalition were critical to any kind of success.

Hal Crowther wrote then that "all the terrorist alerts and dire threats against Baghdad are calculated to distract Americans from the stumbling economy, the market-paralyzing crimes of [Bush's] dear friends at Enron and Mr. Bush's unsavory career in the private sector."

And this: "... keep your eye on Attorney General John Ashcroft, who believes that the Final Solution for internal security is to suspend the American Constitution and tear up the Bill of Rights."

In that same issue, Godfrey Cheshire, who wrote essays from New York for the Indy in the weeks after 9-11, reminded us what he'd written then: "If we don't cooperate with [Osama bin Laden's] strategies, if we don't fall into his traps, his goose is cooked, his threat neutralized. But he has placed a large wager on our clumsiness, our bad habits and stupidity, our smug self-righteousness and deep ignorance of the world, and on the likelihood that we won't wake up and look at ourselves before it's too late."

And then he wrote: "There's only one way he can achieve his aim, and it's chillingly simple: spark a war between the West and the Islamic world."

He did, and now a new flock of terrorists are moving to Iraq, and probably elsewhere.

So even though Bush (and Tony Blair) have been caught lying about the Iraqi threat, and no weapons of mass destruction have been found, and American soldiers are still being killed nearly every day, and it's been shown we don't have enough troops to carry out the mission, and it's going to cost billions more than we were told, and the President admits we can't do it without the U.N., and Congress is questioning the Patriot Act (and not to mention that the economy is still a shambles), my concern over that headline may be right, after all.

'Cause I don't get it: Why does President Bush have any support at all?

(To read the Indy's coverage of the first anniversary of 9-11, go to: http://indyweek.com/durham/2002-09-11/cover.html )

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