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John Loeffler
February 14, 2003

Just when you thought it was safe to go to the mall, he’s back; our longtime nemesis, Osama bin Whatshisname is declaring fatwa-like solidarity with Saddam Hussein and urging the Islamic world to fight off the Yankee imperialist pig-dog no-virgins-for-you socialist oppressor.   Hey, wasn’t thus guy supposed to be dead?  What was invading Afghanistan was all about?  ObL’s reappearance at this time is a subtle indication that something is badly off-track with the war on terror and why we stand to lose that war if we stay the current course.


First there was 9/11. Those of us few media pundits observing the rise of Islamic terror during the 90s knew the Middle East conflict would eventually come home to the US [1]  and that clear September morning it did. Since that time, the core issues surrounding the war on terror have been buried in a morass of inane invective from both the left and the right.  Both of them persist in viewing the whole issue of the war through the filters of their old tired paradigms rather than realizing major new paradigms are underway. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never have so many said so much about so little.


In the Left Corner 


On the left, ladies and gentlemen, the old anti-American, neo-Marxist crowd headquartered in academia that hates anything conservative and the media has re-emerged with an elan not witnessed since the days of Vietnam, where they and their predecessors spat on US troops returning from Asia.  And like a Phoenix from the ashes, the religious left, unheard of for decades has raised its foggy and bewildered head.  This group sees everything as an imperialist America with capitalist big business (note the Marxist rhetoric)  wishing to dominate the oppressed peoples of the world.   After all, President Bush is the real axis of evil, not ObL.


Unfortunately, since this group has screamed about so many inane causes in the past, it’s hard to take it seriously and many of the left’s representatives are looking more like clowns than politicians, if there ever was a difference in the first place.  Even when this group notices that the Bill of Rights is in jeopardy, they yelled about so many inane things before, no one is listening now. 


In the Right Corner 


Now on the right, ladies and gentlemen, rising up to fight the ignorant anti-American masses of the left, is the conservative right, which has circled the wagons to demand unquestioning allegiance to the administration’s war, yelling, “Heil Bush and pass the ammunition!”  Their acolytes of the religious right are keeping the troops in line by enforcing a sanctified form of political correctness on the Christian media.  Dissenting talk show pundits are personae non gratae and the Christian right chants, “Heil Bush, praise the Lord, pass the ammunition and let’s hope the rapture gets here ’cause Jesus is coming soon. Amen.”


Meanwhile, Attorney General John Ashcroft has learned from Timothy McVeigh’s mistakes in Oklahoma City and is running around the government’s basement putting explosive charges on various pillars of the Bill of Rights, just in case we need them to demolish the Constitution and keep us safe...but from whom?  You see that core question is the real crux of the debate over the war on terrorism. 


Murder She Wrote 


When 9/11 shocked the nation, within hours we were seizing records from flight schools where the suicide pilots had trained and we even knew their names.  Strange.  How did we do that so quickly since this was supposed to be an unprovoked, unforeseen attack that could not have been anticipated?  Do you mean the FBI could work at warp speed?  How did we know just which people on the planes were the hijackers?  After all they were all dead, right?  Shhhh!  Important questions not wanted. 


Shortly thereafter President Bush announced we were in a war on terror with an undetermined enemy for an undetermined length of time with an undetermined goal requiring an undetermined amount of sacrifice from the American people. Then the government/media chatter was all about Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, Osama bin Laden, (poof!) Saddam Hussein. Funny but I could swear that was the old bomb and switch maneuver. 


Non Sequitur  


The Latin term “non sequitur” is a philosophical expression meaning, “it does not follow.” The non-sequiturs of the terror war abound. The right maintains an invasion of Iraq is essential to winning the war on terror.  But Saddam Hussein didn’t bomb the World Trade Center ! Osama bin Laden did, and apparently he’s planning to do it again!  Weren’t we supposed to get this guy under control? 


What is the relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? Un-established to date other than the usual covert liaison between Islamic countries, who may be our allies or enemies depending on the day of the week.  Indeed, a lot of our so-called Islamic allies seem to be covertly supporting the other side financially and materially.  Look at Saudi Arabia . ObL and the hijackers were Saudis.  In other words we can’t figure out who’s who at the zoo and if we apply the right’s argument, we would have to declare war on the entire Islamic world! 


The right argues that Saddam has been producing weapons of mass destruction and he could use them on us and if you disagree you’re unpatriotic.  Well so be it but I should point that the same can be said of Syria, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Libya, and a dozen other countries including...gasp...Cuba, which has had a major bioweapons program going for decades.  Moreover, there is a resurgence of Marxism and terrorism all around the Caribbean basin, all breathing threats against the US


Oh Fi, semper vigilatus!  


So President Bush has said we must be vigilant.  Well Americans living on the southern borders are trying to be vigilant, which has led them to demanding a halt to the flood of illegals across our frontier they are witnessing. This flood is known to include large numbers of potential terrorist non-Hispanics.   Mercenary troops outfitted in camo with automatic weapons are reported making incursions bringing who-knows and heaven-knows-what into the country and the administration refuses to use US troops to slam this most clear and present terrorist access port shut, while beating the war on terror drums for Iraq.  We are busy guarding a dozen other borders around the world but we won’t defend our own. 


Meanwhile, the Justice Department wants to know everything about every American citizen and to be able to strip us of our citizenship rights at will but can’t exactly tell us how trampling the Bill of Rights helps us win the war on terror if we destroy those rights in the process.  Remember that any precedent set in movement against one group today can be used against another group tomorrow. But anything seems permissible in the name of fighting the terror war and “trust us” is the rallying cry of the day.  Weren’t we supposed to get rid of Osama bin Laden? Non sequitur:  none of this follows logically. 


It’s Real, Cookie 


Make no mistake: the war on terror is real with real combatants who hate us but battling an ill-defined enemy guarantees failure.  Swinging a sword in the dark, hoping to hit something by random chance is not an effective way to do combat and in so doing we are failing to defend ourselves against clearly defined enemies, while we’re swinging away at the questionable ones. This guarantees the deaths of thousands more Americans in terrorist attacks, especially because we are not allowing Americans to defend themselves. Even the rabidly anti-gun ideologues on the left won’t admit that arming Americans might be the first-line defense against terror. They tell us to let George do it, but George isn’t doing it. He’s out on a Quijotesque quest tilting after blurry enemies, while others seem to be advancing with frightening clarity.  The non-sequiturs are clear but until they are resolved, the war on terror will remain a sham just as its predecessor, the war on drugs because the devil truly lurks in the details.


[1](Steel on Steel did its first coverage of the rising Islamic terrorism on October 5, 1995 and followed the threat all during the latter 1990s.)  

© 2003 John Loeffler - All Rights Reserved

 John Loeffler is host of the nationally syndicated news program Steel on Steel, which is produced by his wife Carol Loeffler.  Both are career broadcasters, who met working for a major television network.  Steel on Steel can be heard anytime at on the internet.  Tape subscriptions are available from (800) 829-5646 or (208)765-8337.