The Sucker Punch
By John Cory
TO correspondent in Saudi Arabia
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Tuesday 11 March 2003
SAUDI ARABIA - The world is getting weird, isn't it? Did anyone else get a creepy sort of "pod people" feeling while witnessing those journalists stand and present their questions at that White House press conference? Was it scripted and staged? Sure felt like it.
And that so-called "somber" tone, what was that? The Bushman was so serious and so sedate it was just - weird. It has to be obvious that this White House has taken the old trial lawyer adage, "never ask a question that you don't already have the answer for" and twisted it into - "never permit a question that isn't on the pre-approved answer list."
All the media drama and speculation about the prime time speech became, to quote T.S. Eliot:
"This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang - but a whimper."
This set up was a sucker punch.
Bush appeared in order to quell complaints about the lack of press conferences, and to warn non-supporters that he was taking names and noting who was on his side and who was not. And the most important spin angle being that he took his case to the American people as he made the statement that the issue was only days away from being settled. In other words, the war is on. Period. No more announcements until the big boom.
It does not matter much what Hans Blix presents, mostly a mixed bag I suspect, the end result will be justification for Bush and company to say - "Enough already. Join up or hit the road."
The message is out there. Non-support will mean disciplinary action for those ungrateful nations who want US aid and development money. Which raises questions about the arrest of an Al Qaeda mastermind, and this morning's online PakTimes article about the possible arrest of Osama bin Laden's son or maybe Osama himself. Pakistan is suddenly very active in rounding up terrorists. Interesting. What are they getting that we don't know about?
This war on Iraq has been a series of sucker punches all along by this administration. The justification for war slips and slides each week, ultimately coming back to the "Saddam is a bad man" argument. The recent Newsweek item about an Iraqi high official having told the US that all Iraq's weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed by 1995 doesn't seem to have generated much interest in the "grown up" media that attends scripted press conferences. So the question arises, is this war going to be as scripted as every other White House event?
Does this White House want war because they know that Iraq cannot fight back and thus will produce one of those swift glorious low casualty wars that America has grown to love over the past twenty years? The low casualty count being US troops not Iraqi civilians. And during this quick decisive war, what special events have already been planned that will trigger use of tactical and experimental weapons?
Like the White House event of last night, there is an eerie aura to this war.
But of course, there could be another "sucker punch" that may have already happened. Has Saddam already feinted and parried enough to sucker Bush into war? What if Iraq really does have hidden weapons of mass destruction? What if they've been successful in suckering Bush to come after them and then release the devastation? Has Saddam determined the gamble is worth near annihilation if he can inflict serious physical and psychological damage on the last super power?
Who is sucker punching whom around here?
The oil companies are winning big time and there isn't even a war yet. The defense industry is lined up at the ticket booth like the opening weekend of the original Star Wars. The UN is about to be put out to pasture by the US who will then make their list of who has been naughty and nice. The Kurds are once again sold down the river. US unemployment grows while waiting on the promise of better times with war. And the administration that can't find money for school lunches and supplies has found $250 million for reelection - after the victorious war of course.
America has been sucker punched into despicable Patriot Acts and Homeland Security color charts without accountability for civil rights. And while the Mall Police are on the job, the FBI and CIA can't stop fighting each other long enough to notice the building terrorist blow back that is heading their way. And now Americans and Brits living, traveling, and working overseas have a big target painted on their backs because of their leaders.
Everyone here expects the war to start somewhere between the 12th and the 21st.
The sparring is over. Last night was a sucker punch intended to show the world how reasonable and calm this president is in his desire to defend America and bring democracy to the heathen world out there. Behind the scenes, the decision is done.