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Thursday, August 07, 2003

When the boss throws his considerable weight around to do the unreasonable to the unwilling, we often hear, “Wow, how clear Mr. Big is about what he wants. He really goes for it, doesn’t he (It’s almost always a he, isn’t it?)?”

Perhaps we admire strength, no matter how poorly it’s used. Maybe we need leaders with great needs, so we can stretch ourselves to satisfy them. I don’t know, really. I do, however, know we’re nuts to admire leaders who confuse the sheer breadth of their vision with its validity.

When President Bush launched the “War on Terror,” the general response was, “Wow, that’s great. Someone obviously has to dredge the muddy bottom of this polluted river. Go for it Bushie!”

My first response (OK, my second—my first was “Where the hell IS he—for days after Sept 11, we New Yorkers didn’t see Bush in NYC) was, “Why the hell are we declaring war on another –ism, when we have these murdering Neanderthal bastards from Al Queda to find and whip?”

Time has gone by and now we’ve invaded a couple of countries, the second, Iraq, being practically irrelevant to beating Al Queda (unless you count the relevance of taking many of our best minds off the “Where’s Osama?” beat), and some wags still say, “You gotta give Bush credit for taking on the big job.”

In the process of lashing out in all directions, peace in the Middle East has been further set back and our enemies given more fodder to recruit against us as well.

Well, let’s decide what the job IS, first. Is it fighting a war to end all non-preventive wars? Providing some kind of kinder, gentler imperious world hegemony? History looks back in laughter at politicians who thought they had the answers to all the big questions. We ought to be starting with a big-enough job: beating the guys who are currently trying to kill us—Al Queda. But let’s not kid ourselves about ending all terrorism, or making every personal grudge into part of a “War on Terror.”

Bush has been decisive all right—decisively wrong. Unfortunately, he’s wrong at the expense of all Americans and to the detriment of what should be the real goal, beating Al Queda and changing the political, social, and economic conditions that help it thrive.

Let’s hope we can make THAT the goal, once we’ve figured out how to get international help, lots of help, to rebuid Iraq and move away settling from the Bush family grudge there.

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