George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq may well be under way by the time you read this. From Kolkata, where I am on a family visit, it seems war is inevitable.
The vast majority of people of the world haven’t bought into Bush’s rhetoric, though, and are taking to the streets to voice their opposition. Observing the massive worldwide protests Feb 15-16 against Bush’s stance on Iraq, one wonders how so-called democracies can be so out-of-step with popular opinion.
I am particularly struck by the coverage in American media. While the government line is echoed ad nauseum by reporter after reporter, there are hardly any independent voices left to challenge the official view and ask the tough questions, such as: Who poses the greater danger to American security—Saddam or Osama? Who has struck American targets repeatedly both outside and within the U.S.—Saddam or Osama? And has Osama been vanquished so completely that we are ready to focus on another target?
The real reason why White House media managers want Afghanistan off the front pages is because Bush’s Afghanistan war has been a complete failure. Bush has failed in his number one stated goal: to capture Osama dead or alive. The latest broadcasts from Al-Jazeera confirm that Osama is alive. This fact concerns me far more than anything Saddam could do from his sanctioned, contained, and compromised position.
It is also telling that American forces have been unable to capture and bring to justice even one senior leader of the Taliban. Mullah Omar and his cohorts have simply disappeared off the face of the earth.
Where could they be? In the mountains of Pakistan, according to journalist Ahmed Rashid, an area declared off-limits to U.S. by Pakistani dictator Musharraf. There the Taliban leadership survives with the protection of the ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service that gave it birth. Something tells me that if you can find Mullah Omar, Osama bin Laden can’t be far away.
If I were serious about peace and security in the world, I’d want Osama and the Taliban to be brought to justice. If we must invade a country, it should be Pakistan, not Iraq. This so-called friend of the U.S. has nurtured and continues to shelter its greatest enemies.
But demagogues like Bush are not serious about fighting terrorism. Their goals are more immediate: total dominance over the Middle East, over oil, and over American votes.
I fear for our future.