It was in the fall of 2002. The U.S. had invaded Afghanistan the previous fall, and the drums of war were steadily beating, signifying the Bush administration's intention to invade Iraq. The most potent image of that time (that is still etched into my consciousness) is that of a poster much like the old World War II vintage Uncle Sam posters. But what is striking about this one is that instead of Uncle Sam, it is the image of Uncle Osama. Yes - my old friend Osama bin Laden with his finger pointing straight out as he says, "I WANT YOU TO INVADE IRAQ."
In small print below that it says, "Go ahead. Send me a new generation of recruits. Your bombs will fuel their hatred of America and their desire for revenge. Americans won’t be safe anywhere. Please, attack Iraq. Distract yourself from fighting Al Qaeda. Divide the international community. Go ahead. Destabilize the region. Maybe Pakistan will fall -- we want its nuclear weapons. Give Saddam a reason to strike first. He might draw Israel into a fight. Perfect! So please -- invade Iraq. Make my day."
This was a brilliant, creative work of political art, designed to make us step back and think about the consequences of such an insane action as that being cooked up within The White House. What is tragic is that just about everything in that brief statement has come to fruition over the course of the past eight years. And now, even as we see the disastrous combined effects of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama seems prepared send more troops to Afghanistan and finish fulfilling the prophecy.
Not only is Pakistan dealing with serious internal problems directly related to the U.S. action in Afghanistan, but Israel may yet be drawn in to the maelstrom, not by Iraq or Afghanistan, but by Iran, which is pushing the envelope with its nuclear gambit. This is a critical time to think about nothing else but stabilizing a seriously unstable region, and as there is absolutely no military solution to any of the problems in any of these countries, it is time for the U.S. civilian leadership (think Commander In Chief) to take charge and start listening to people with a full understanding of the history of the region and not simply the experts in military strategy.
The self-proclaimed greatest military power in the world made Osama bin Laden's day when it invaded Iraq, and now, as it contemplates escalation in Afghanistan, bin Laden must be absolutely jumping for joy. This is the time to keep up the pressure on the President and Congress to de-escalate and work towards ending the occupation of Afghanistan. We can do better (and smarter).
Read the Friends Committee on National Legislation's 4-point strategy for ending the madness in Afghanistan. It's a sound strategy that can work, but it will require strong support from the people working in opposition to the current strategy (or should I say lack of strategy).
Then I Want You To Let Obama and Congress know what you think (if you haven't already)! You can use the links at the top (right column) of this blog under "Actions You Can Take Right Now!"
P.S. - The Uncle Osama poster was created for/by TomPaine.common sense, and was run in U.S. major print media during September 2002. You can view the large (pdf file) version by clicking here.
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