Some suspicions refuse to be resolved away

January 04, 2004|By G. Jefferson Price III | G. Jefferson Price III,PERSPECTIVE EDITOR

New Year's resolutions: So easy to make; so hard to keep.

Barely into the New Year, I'm failing. But these were practically unkeepable resolutions.

Resolved, had I, to stop being suspicious of all that the Bush administration does, invoking God all along the way to war and deficit spending and environmental enhancements whose consequences will endure for generations.

No more suspicions expressed about the reasons Bush said America had for going to war against Iraq. No more talk about the ever-elusive weapons of mass destruction Saddam Hussein was stockpiling, including nukes that posed an imminent threat to the security of the United States and warranted a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq. No more talk about the dubious linkage between Hussein and Osama bin Laden and Sept. 11 to make the war against Iraq look like part of the war against terrorism.

Rejoice! Hussein's been found. That's what this was all about: Getting the tyrant and, all the better, finding him ignominiously hiding in a hole, surrendering without a shot. The coward. Put him in the dock for all to hear about the torrent of torture and tyranny he inflicted on his people. Good idea, probably, not to go back too far in that history, for the French and the Germans and the Russians were not the only ones cozying up to Hussein while all this was going on. We might come across that image of Donald H. Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein and smiling around the time he had gassed the Kurds. Oops. Resolutions are so hard to keep.

No more expressions of suspicion about the connection between the war in Iraq and the reconstruction bonanza that's being reaped by friends of the Bush administration. No more bleating about Halliburton and its subsidiaries and their connection to the administration and especially to Hawko Supremo Dick Cheney. Every war has its profiteers. Somebody's gotta make a profit. Did you want all that Iraqi fat to be gobbled up by the French and the Germans? No! What a downright un-American idea! What good is it to teach the Iraqis about democracy if they don't get a good lesson in venture capitalism along the way?

The American dream will become the Iraqi dream. Iraqis yearn for democracy and they are ready for it instantaneously. The Shiites and the Sunni and the Kurds are of one mind about this. They have no disagreements among them. They are all for complete equality in every respect, including who gets the oil around Kirkuk.

They better be ready for it, because there is a suspicion - damn me for breaking a resolution on this - there is a suspicion that George Bush and Karl Rove are determined to have the Iraq experiment in democracy well in place and producing results by this summer. By then, America's own exercise in democracy - tested as it was four years ago - will be well under way. George Bush really wants to be elected by a majority of the American people this time, not by a majority of just one on the Supreme Court. To accomplish that, it would be best if Americans and their supporters were not being killed every day while they try to run Iraq.

No suspicion about it. Democracy will flourish in Iraq and it will set an irresistible example to follow for every undemocratic regime in the region - and that's about all of them, all our friends, old friends like the Saudi royal family and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and new friends like Muammar el Kadafi of Libya.

And no more suspicions to be expressed about what's been happening in this country in the attempt to preserve democracy for Americans. Attorney General John Ashcroft has only the safety of America in mind as he goes about stripping American citizens of their rights and liberties to protect us from terrorists. It is as it must be.

And speaking of the real war on terrorism, resolve that there will be no more suspicions expressed about the Bush administration diverting vital resources from the war on terrorism to the war on Iraq. The president, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Hawko Supremo tell us it is thus and we must believe them.

No more talk about losing sight of the war on terrorism, the futile attempts to find Osama bin Laden, the failure to commit sufficient resources to Afghanistan to make certain it does not revert to the sort of lawless land where Osama bin Laden thrived. No more talk about how we can't tell a Pashtun from a Tajik. Let's not be suspicious that part of the failure in Afghanistan is a direct product of the diversion of resources to Iraq. Iraq is important, after all. There's oil in them-thar hills.

Why are these resolutions unkeepable? Why can one not stop expressing suspicions? The past holiday season would be reason enough, for Americans spent it in the grip of great anxiety that somewhere terrorists would strike a devastating blow. Howard Dean was right. Americans are not safer because Saddam Hussein has been captured. Far from it.

A vast security net was thrown over America last week and the week before. Some international flights to the United States were canceled. Others were turned back in midair. Some were escorted by fighters. New Year's Eve was celebrated under a cloud of fear and precaution. On a recent Friday as I drove on the Beltway to work, I saw a sign that reminded me of this. It was a terror alert. It asked me to report any suspicious activity.

There, I thought, is a resolution worth keeping.

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