atLast night on Bill Maher, the comedian Gary Shandling, of all people, synthesized the connection between our current economic crisis and 9/11 and the Iraq War in a way I have not heard:
On 9/11, Al Qaeda had no expectation of a traditional military victory against the United States. The point of the attack was economic -- to draw the U.S. into expensive and protracted foreign wars that would deplete our resources and destabilize our government. By invading Iraq, George Bush became the happy idiot to assist Al Qaeda in this goal. Now, Sarah Palin and John McCain take the leaders of Al Qaeda at their word when they say Iraq is the major front in the war on terror.
Neither consider the possibility that Al Qaeda wants Iraq to be the major front because it furthers their goal of weakening the U.S. while inflicting minimal damage on their operations.
Seven years after 9/11, we are seeing Al Qaeda's long-term goal being realized: the destabilization and economic collapse of the United States. Even as it's happening, the people who supported it all along want to continue facilitating our own long-term disintegration by clinging to simplistic concepts of traditional military victory and defeat. In this sense, they are possibly the most myopic, least strategic thinkers in the history of this nation.
As Gary Shandling said, with this approach, our only hope of killing Osama Bin Laden is that he'll laugh himself to death.
My fear is that the real goal is not just to entrap the West in Iraq and Afghanistan for the rest of our lives but to trigger an even greater conflagration by being baited into a first strike on Iran. Yes: I know Shiite Iran and Sunni al Qaeda have little in common. But both must be loving the West's self-inflicted wounds of the past seven years and greatly anticipating the hotheaded McCain taking even more bait even further. Palin? Never in their wildest dreams ...