2007/08/12

Philadelphia columnist and 9-11

The Philadelphia Daily News' Stu Bykofsky suggested in a column on 9 Aug that the current morale problems in America were due to 9-11 being so far in the past. His solution? "Another round, barkeep!" Yup, Bykofsky would like to see another 9-11-type attack with another 3,000 dead Americans. According to Bykofsky, Americans were united and energized after the 9-11 attack and that the US needs to get back that unity and sense of purpose.

Bykofsky veers off a bit and discusses the Persian Gulf War of 1991, which he says was an example of how to do a war right - it took less than 100 hours of on-the-ground fighting and fewer than 300 American troops died.

Bykofsky veers off yet again and opines that Americans aren't as tough as the British, who sustained a guerrilla-type war in Northern Ireland for 40 years.

Does it sound here like Bykosky is making a coherent argument? Not to me, it doesn't. What do 9-11, the Persian Gulf War of 1991 and "The Troubles" in Northern Ireland have to do with American lack of resolve to keep fighting the current Iraq War that began in 2003?

Patrick Cockburn of The Independent sums up the essential problem the US has in occupying Iraq:

"The US dilemma in Iraq goes back to the Gulf War. It wanted to be rid of Saddam Hussein in 1991 but not at the price of the Shia replacing him; something the Shia were bound to do in fair elections, because they comprise 60 per cent of the population. Worse, the Shia coming to power would have close relations with Iran, America's arch-enemy in the Middle East.
"This was the main reason the US did not press on to Baghdad after defeating Saddam's armies in Kuwait in 1991. It then allowed him savagely to crush the Shia and Kurdish rebellions that briefly captured 14 out of 18 Iraqi provinces.
"Ever since 2003, the US has wrestled with this same problem. Unwittingly, the most conservative of American administrations had committed a revolutionary act in the Middle East by overthrowing the minority Sunni Baathist regime."

It's apparently true that on 1 May 2003, Bush the Younger thought he had achieved a rapid victory akin to the one that Bush the Elder actually achieved back in 1991 (Because Bush the Elder settled for much more modest goals), but it's not at all clear that another attack on Americans will boost our sense of urgency enough to overcome the basic problem that Cockburn points out.

The real problem with Bykofsky's thesis is that it's no longer just his opinion. Matt Drudge gave Bykofsky a big thumbs-up with a listing on his top row in the center column of The Drudge Report. "Radio host Mike Gallagher, who claims to have 'over 3.75 million weekly listeners' across the country, hosted Bykofsky" and John Gibson of Fox News interviewed him (The ThinkProgress piece features a YouTube video of the John Gibson interview).

Of course, as Atrios points out, if another 9-11 attack occurs, it won't prove the "Dirty (Effing) Hippies" wrong, it'll prove that President Bush was wrong. Bush, after all, promised Americans that he wouldn't let another 9-11 attack occur. "President Bush pledged anew Friday that Osama bin Laden will be taken 'dead or alive,' no matter how long it takes."

As to the 9-11 attack itself, there are quite a few questions about that, 40 questions as compiled by 911Truth.org. And as of this May, Rasmussen reports that 22% of the American public believes that the Bush Administration knew of the 9-11 attack in advance. Republicans overwhelmingly reject that point of view, Democrats are 35% in favor of that view and 39% reject it.

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