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Fantasy World

The Phoenix editorial
By EDITORIAL  |  February 2, 2006

IRAN’S PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD speaks the bloodthirsty language of Hamas but only he is on the road to acquiring nuclear weapons.The conclusion is inescapable: the position of the United States in the Middle East is far worse today than it was even two or three weeks ago. And that fractious part of the world, from which flows the oil that fuels the prosperity of industrialized and developing nations, is less stable and more dangerous. That is bad news, for the world and for us. There is no denying it. But in his State of the Union address, President Bush chose — once again — to ignore reality.

It is not, of course, our fault that the terrorist group Hamas won overwhelmingly over the corrupt and impotent Fatah organization in the recent Palestinian elections — although US support for former PLO leader Yassir Arafat helped lay the groundwork for his party’s defeat. But what is the nation to make of the admission by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the outcome took the US by surprise? It seems, once again, that our intelligence was inadequate. We were wrong about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction. We were wrong about the number of troops it would take to subdue Iraq. And now it turns out that we didn’t have a clue that a bloodthirsty faction would emerge victorious in free-and-fair Palestinian elections. It makes you wonder if the Bush White House knows what it’s doing. The Bushies may talk tough. They may act self-assured. But at their core, they are hollow: false prophets of a dangerous political fantasy.

Central to their fantasy is the claim that we, together with our allies, are running the show in Iraq. The sight of Saddam Hussein grandstanding day after day at his trial gives them no pause. It may prompt the rest of the world to wonder who is really in charge in Iraq. But the Bushies have no qualms. Saddam may be a prisoner, but that doesn’t seem to deter the militants who do battle in the streets; indeed, it might inspire them. Despite the impressive number of Al Qaeda leaders who have been hoovered up by the American dragnet, bin Laden apparently lives. And the deputy we were supposed to have killed in Pakistan soldiers on to taunt our efforts via recorded messages that broadcast throughout the Arab world.

Meanwhile, American correspondents live like comfortable hostages in secure enclaves unable to report firsthand on the country the US has supposedly conquered. If they do venture out, they risk possible death, like ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, who are recovering from serious wounds sustained by a roadside bomb, or Jill Carroll of the Christian Science Monitor, who is held captive and cruelly paraded on international television. So much for Vice-President Dick Cheney’s advice to reporters to get out into Iraq and report on the fruits of our victory.

Most significant and disturbing is the news that Iran is once again on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks the language of Hamas, denying the fact of the Holocaust and vowing not to rest until Israel, the only true and vibrant and lasting democracy in the Middle East, is destroyed. Bush was correct when in his State of the Union address he pledged to support the educated multitudes who oppose rule by a small clique of religious fanatics. But it appears the majority of the Iranian people favor their nation’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. On that Bush was silent.

Bush’s speech lasted about an hour. He was forceful, even articulate, but his words seemed curiously and disturbingly disembodied, divorced from reality. His successful appointment of conservatives John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court and the assumption — or at least the hope — of their right-wing supporters that they will further trim, if not overturn, Roe v. Wade flies in the face of public opinion, which holds squarely that women should have the right to decide whether to seek abortion. He said that the nation is dangerously addicted to oil, but no administration has been more beholden to energy interests than his. He spoke of his no-child-left-behind educational initiatives, but he has refused to fund them.

Exercising political power is a projection of will. But simply saying something is so does not make it true. The pomp and ceremony surrounding the State of the Union may have imbued Bush’s words with a certain dignity, but that only serves to disguise the fact that they were so hollow. The State of the Union, like the situation in the Middle East, is fragile, dangerously so. And it will take more than words to change that.
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  Topics: The Editorial Page , George W. Bush, Saddam Hussein, Hamas,  More more >
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