|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Friday, September 24th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|Forget everything you’ve heard to the contrary: the war in Iraq is a great success. Oh sure, our causalities, killed and wounded, approach 9,000, we’ve spent over $150 billion, and the toll in blood and dollars rises at an accelerating rate. And it’s true that Iraq has been a public relations nightmare; the rest of the world doesn’t agree with Rush Limbaugh that Abu Ghraib was a frat house prank, and the billions not watching U.S. television are treated to daily scenes of carnage and devastation. But these are mere quibbles. Iraq dominates the news, effectively crowding out other stories. If your name is George W. Bush, and you are running for re-election on a record of uniformly failed foreign and domestic policies, Iraq is a brilliant success.
Ronald Reagan tried the same trick on a smaller scale. On October 23rd, 1983, Shi’ite Muslim suicide bombers drove a truck packed with explosives through the gates of the Eighth Marine Battalion headquarters in Beirut. The building was obliterated by the explosion, and 241 marines died, many of them in their sleep. Their mission in Beirut was vague, and some high officials, including Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, objected to their deployment from the first. But by October 25th, the marines’ true role in Beirut was tragically apparent: they had been sitting ducks.
On that very day, the Commander-in-Chief ordered five thousand marines to cross the Caribbean sea and invade the island nation of Grenada, ostensibly to save U.S. medical students studying there from possible harm at the hands of Cuban construction workers building an airport runway. If that sounds like a high-concept Hollywood screenplay, or perhaps just a bad joke, it really wasn’t, at least not for the additional nineteen marines who lost their lives.
Still, give credit to Mr. Reagan. Operation Urgent Fury was all over in two days and counted as an unqualified U.S. victory. We’d taken on the smallest independent nation in the hemisphere, it was true, but Grenada effectively knocked Beirut off the front pages. That made it mission thoroughly accomplished, at minimal cost in double-quick time, always excepting those nineteen additional dead marines. Even they were quickly forgotten by all but their families.
Contrast Mr. Reagan’s splendid little Caribbean war with Mr. Bush’s Texas-sized Mesopotamian tar baby. It says much about the President’s brains that he makes Ronald Reagan look like a genius.
The Afternoon Affront
The British Foreign Office is a bastion of pin-striped, buttoned-down, stiff-upper-lipped restraint. So when one of the FO’s senior dips, Ivor Roberts, Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Italy, committed truth the other day, more than a few eyebrows rose in shock. According to Ambassador Roberts, George W. Bush is Al Qaeda’s best recruiter, and his re-election will be worthy of celebration by the murderous organization. The Ambassador’s remarks are all the more barbed because of the Bush campaign’s ceaseless insinuations that a vote for Kerry is a vote for Bin Laden. Would those insinuations have the same effect if the Kerry campaign rebutted them with the boldness and candor of a career Foreign Office diplomat?
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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