On the Other Hand...
by Jim Davies
The Wagging of the Dog
Gingerly, very gingerly, on August 20th, Dan Rather of CBS did something right. During his evening coverage of the US missile attacks on alleged terrorist bases in Sudan and Afghanistan, Rather reported that some on Capitol Hill ("a few, a very few, not many, but some") had raised the question of whether the timing of the strikes had anything at all to do with the fact that at the very same hour, Monica Lewinsky just happened to be testifying to a Grand Jury.
Given his long-time dedication to praise of the Establishment, that was a pretty far-out suggestion; and I must give him his due. Well done, Dan!
He referred to a movie, "Wag the Dog". He quoted a line from it, in which there is a (fictional) domestic crisis that turns public opinion against a US President, who responds by asking his aides "Is there a foreign crisis we can invent, to distract them?" The utterly shocking suggestion, see, which Rather only barely managed to report, is that Slick Willie was using the awesome military strength of the United States to turn our attention away from his crumbling credibility.
A little later in the program some Senator from Indiana came on-screen as one of the reported "very few". In very measured, restrained language, he explained that he had regular intelligence briefings and had seen no indication at all that the "terrorist" problem was worse than usual, or that any further attack was imminent anywhere. He said he'd also called the White House that day to find out if they had heard something he hadn't, but had drawn a blank. His working conclusion, therefore, was that Clinton had not been telling the truth, earlier in the day, when he had announced to the world that "intelligence" had advised him that such an attack on US targets was indeed imminent and that he needed to pre-empt it that very day, no other; and so the coincident testimony of Ms Lewinsky had nothing at all to do with the case.
Well, whoopie-do; who would have imagined that the President might tell a fib?
It's terribly sad, but it's true: when a foreign enemy can be found, domestic complaints can be turned aside and everyone rallies round the Flag; whatever the Flag, and whoever is bearing it. This has been true throughout history - in every country, of every standard-bearing Leader. It's one of the oldest and most deadly tricks of the trade of "statesmanship". That's not to say that every war is started in that way, but it is to say that it's the sole cause of some of them, and a contributing cause of many.
Bismarck of Germany was a brilliant practitioner; he sprang the 1870 war with France on a grumbling German population, and by winning it, gained enormous extra prestige. Roosevelt of the US, 70 years later, had miserably failed to put a dent in the Depression after eight years (except to make it worse) but drew public attention wholly away from that disaster by manoevring the US into war with Japan; and as a free bonus, was handed a war with Germany too.
More recently, though less successfully, Bush saw a great opportunity to secure his own re-election by manipulating the US into a regional squabble in the Middle East, and so gained an incredible 94% approval rating, for a while, by foisting on us the Gulf War. Revenge for that war will be waged for many a decade yet. Perhaps last month's Embassy attacks were opening shots.
Willie, this month, has showed that he is right up there with the worst of them; his execution of this distraction from his domestic troubles was masterly - a touch of evil genius, perhaps. The timing was spot-on to the hour, and the particular excuse (retaliation for the Embassy bombings, and alleged prevention of further hostility) drew applause from almost every quarter. Who could not be pleased, that anti-US terrorists had been given a dose of high explosive? - and the execution, it seems at this writing, was faultless: at a range of 1,500 miles, the missiles rained down death and destruction with pinpoint accuracy.
So, for the moment we have to admire this ingenious ploy; at the cost of only a few foreign lives (or a few hundred, who cares? - none of them vote) in four days flat Clinton changed from a lying creep into a steadfast leader.
But what when the glory of the moment has faded; what then? - what new strike can he order, to save us all from some vaguely-defined security threat? The answer, I fear, is already out. Secretary of State Albright has said it: "This is only the beginning." There is going to be a continuous "War on Terrorism", from now onwards. Remember Orwell's "1984", with its endless intercontinental war, waged to keep each respective population subservient?
THAT is what the Lying Lecher from Little Rock seems to have in mind, so as to prolong his disintegrating hold on that unparalleled aphrodisiac, Power.
Certainly, the terrorists were real and nasty enough in July, when they killed hundreds of East Africans at two US Embassies. Certainly, there are some A-rabs who do not like the US Government. Haven't you been impressed, though, with how little the media has told us about their motivation? WHY do they hate the USA?
Not having seen an answer, of course I don't know it. But I can reason that it must be one of two possible answers: (a) they are religious bigots who don't like the way we work and play, and want to interfere with our peaceful but non- Moslem way of life; or (b) they want to wreak vengeance on our government, or to influence its policy regarding interference in their part of the world.
Tell you what: Type (a) may exist, but I bet these people all belong to Type (b). And if I'm right, the whole charade is being puppet-meistered in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from soup to nuts. There's the real terrorist.
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