In my column I mention three presidents, Dubya and Reagan-Bush, because they got us in this mess and lied through their teeth
Who are the real appeasers?
Those who oppose bombing, invading and occupying Iraq have been compared to the well-meaning fools who tried to appease Hitler, but this is ridiculous. Saddam Hussein directs no military juggernaut overrunning half a dozen countries, as Hitler did before Japan provoked us into WWII. No, Saddam just lies there, bleeding like a rabid possum waiting to be run over by a Mack truck. Again.
The thing that bothers most who oppose this war is the sense of overkill. A lighter touch is called for. Why hit Saddam with an expensive truck when an old shovel would do the job. He's road kill already.
No, the real appeasers are trying to buy off much greater threats to our security--Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and North Korea.
The Saudis have been exporting hatred of America for decades, along with money for terrorists. It's often been pointed out that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9-11 were Saudis.
Pakistan is the far larger threat, however, for it demonstrably helped to arm and train the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This is well documented. In November of 2001, Afghani tribesmen working with U.S. forces had some 8,000 Al-Qaeda and others surrounded in the city of Konduz, Afghanistan, near the Pakistan border. Instead of allowing the tribesmen fighting on our behalf to close in for the kill, American forces created a corridor for Pakistani planes to evacuate between 2,500 and 5,000 Al-Qaeda and others into Pakistan.
"There were dozens of senior Pakistani military officers including two generals who flew out," said Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and journalist Seymour Hersh in a PBS interview that aired Feb. 21 on "Now, With Bill Moyers." Hersh got his information from senior military personnel in the field and other eyewitnesses. "Maybe even some of Bin Laden's immediate family were flown out on those evacuations," he said, adding that the man facing death for killing reporter Daniel Pearl had ties to the Pakistani secret service.
It's been so under reported, you might be shocked to learn that Pakistan is the country most responsible for arming North Korea with nukes. According to Hersh and many others, Pakistan was vigorously trading nuclear technology for North Korean missile technology as early as 1997.
Despite such treachery, Pakistan has gone from status of international pariah to becoming our new best friend. Meanwhile, Bush has promised North Korea we won't make a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear facilities.
Now, you can make a case for placating and containing these countries, but it's no better than the case for containing Iraq. This disparity leads many to believe there's a larger agenda lurking in the background of the coming war. It involves America's global ambitions for the rest of this century and the vast fossil fuel reserves in the Middle East and Central Asia. It involves something called "Mono-polar hegemony" and a "pax Americana." It might represent a vision skeptics like me could be convinced to support, given an honest and open debate. But this is not the Bush way. Bush is on the hunt, see. He knows how to make people disappear, if you know what he means, wink wink. That predatory attitude hardens the resistance of those who oppose bombing and invading an already defeated country in order to install an American military dictatorship--even a temporary one--near the heart of historic Islam.
This doesn't mean opponents would "do nothing" about Iraq, as critics charge. Many who oppose the massive war build-up have suggested things we might do.
First, treat Hussein like the wounded varmint he is. Use precision missiles to take out suspected weapons, including the missiles Hans Blix recently discovered. Strictly enforce the no-fly zones and keep Saddam in a box. Land an army of experts to seek out and destroy every suspected weapons site, including palaces.
Instead of using $200 billion to kill thousands in Iraq and make untold new enemies, we could spend a fraction of that to foster peace in the Middle East and Asia and raise standards of living around the world. We could make good on our commitment to fight AIDS, which threatens to kill 100 million people in the next 50 years--more than both world wars put together. At the same time, we could make our country more energy efficient, internally secure and environmentally sound. This isn't as thrilling as dropping bombs, but it is far from "doing nothing."
What's needed is a world united by a shared vision of opportunities and prosperity, not American Empire, which is a dubious prospect anyway. The signal we've sent by coddling Pakistan and North Korea, while backing up to take another run at Iraq, is that it pays to have nukes. It's the worst possible message at the worst possible time.