Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three American security guards were the latest U.S. casualties in the war on Islam declared by President George W. Bush, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks commemorated Tuesday.
Israel was the only U.S. ally threatened by the weapons of mass destruction, which was given as an excuse for the invasion of Baghdad, in March 2003; Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had no delivery system that could reach farther than the Middle East. It took those months for Undersecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to win his Israeli view over with President George W. Bush his vice president, Richard Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, then National Security Adviser, and later Secretary of State.
His main opponent was Richard Clarke, chairman of Counter Terrorism Security Group. A Republican, he first entered government under Ronald Reagan; he was appointed to intelligence and counter terrorism duties by George H. W. Bush. His continuing service under Democrat Bill Clinton might have presented problems for the new Republican administration, headed by the younger Bush. From the outset, as he wrote in a book, there were new obstacles, including his position’s being dropped from cabinet meetings.
In a Canadian Broadcast Corporation documentary seen Sunday on The Military Channel, Mr. Clarke reasoned at that time the invasion of Iraq would create enemies the U.S. didn’t need or want. Putting his body where is mouth was, he resigned all governmental duties before the first bomb dropped on Baghdad in 2003. In sharp contrast with Gen. Brent Scowcroft, who continued to mind the White House while protesting the usurpation of the oil fields.
Meanwhile, on the public record, Mr. Wolfowitz said before at least one congressional meeting that Iraq’s petroleum reserves would pay the costs of U.S. military action. He scarcely made a secret of his lobbying for the Jewish nation. He went on to become president of the World Bank; his tenure was shortened by a liaison with a Muslim woman, born in Tunisia – yet another irony in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, the war started by Mr. Wolfowitz slogs on, even after allied troops withdrew to their barracks. The war between Iraq’s Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds makes the news in the form of senseless – to western minds – bombings and assassinations. The Pentagon records 4,488 dead and 33,184 wounded; anti-war activists point to 100,000 as a more realistic figure.
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and his colleagues were murdered ostensibly because of a so-called film that insults Muhammad the Messenger and casts Islam as a religion of hatred. No one has seen the movie but an Egyptian Arabic “promo” short was run on a Cairo television station; the producer is variously described as a Coptic Christian and an Israeli Jew. Whatever. It makes no difference.
The Middle East atmosphere is a tinder box, waiting for anything to spark an explosion. With more political bravo than leadership wisdom, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney waded in, probably encouraged by big money givers, like Sheldon Abelson, who’s fierce in support of the Jewish state; domestic politics take second place.
And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants Washington’s assurances when he orders jets to take out Iranian nuclear capability; he ignores the odds, counting Mr. Abelson and his like to give him White House backing. It might happen.
There appeared a Facebook message on Tuesday (9/11): “Today, I’ll mourn the nearly 3,000 lives lost, the over 6,000 injuries, the infrastructural carnage and devastation in NYC, and the humiliation of my country, all perpetuated ignorantly in the name of my religion.
“On 9/12, I’ll mourn the nearly 1,000,000 lives, the 10’s of millions of injuries, the infrastructural decimation in three countries, and the humiliation of my religion, all perpetrated ignorantly in the name of my country.”
The words of the American-born Muslim captured my thoughts.
“Ya hosarra!” is the Arab equivalent of the Yiddish “Oy vey!”