The boy who cried wolf was at it again on Sunday, holding one of his media briefings, this time laying some deadly weapons out on a table and making unsupported assertions that the weapons were manufactured in Iran and delivered by Iranians to Iraqi Shiite militias for use against American troops.
The boy, of course, is President George W. Bush, who, through his military subordinates, is continuing his latest public-relations campaign, this one aimed at building support for armed conflict against Iran.
The last time the boy cried, the wolf he was hollering about was Saddam Hussein, who, the boy insisted, had nuclear, biological and chemical weapons trained on his neighbors and the United States. The boy told grim tales of “mushroom clouds” and said he knew for a fact that Saddam had been conspiring with Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden. The boy systematically laid out his case: intercepted aluminum tubes, attempted purchases of uranium, pictures of mobile weapons labs, solid sources with names like “Curveball.”
The boy and his friends (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith), who'd been obsessed with Iraq for years before all of this so-called evidence materialized, suppressed open debate about the “evidence” within the network of U.S. intelligence agencies, leaked information that was shaky at best to The New York Times (and then cited those Times reports in TV interviews) and sought payback against those who openly refuted the boy's claims. For more on the latter, please see special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's perjury case against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby currently playing out in a Washington, D.C., courtroom.
There were no high-level meetings between Iraq and al-Qaeda. The aluminum tubes were not for use in nuclear weapons. Claims of uranium deals were fraudulent (and the boy and his friends knew it). There were no mobile weapons labs (or any evidence of a recent unconventional-weapons program, for that matter) in Iraq. “Curveball” was a mentally unstable, alcoholic con artist.
So now the boy is telling us again why he thinks a new wolf is on the prowl. His military officials pointed to scary canisters called “explosively formed penetrators,” which hurl armor-penetrating molten copper when they explode. They say the Iranians made these awful things and gave them to the Iraqi Shiites who are causing so much trouble, but they don't tell us why they're so sure.
Maybe it's all true. It's certainly plausible that Iran would be interested in intervening against foreign occupiers in a neighboring country, particularly when the foreign occupiers have called Iran part of an “axis of evil.” After all, if Russia invaded Canada, there's a good chance the United States would become involved. And there's no love lost between the Iranians and the Iraqi Sunnis, whom the Shiite militias are really fighting.
Nevertheless, the boy has no credibility, thanks to his misadventures in Iraq and the tall tales he told in order to get there.
Familiar dominoes are in place and ready to fall. The boy calls the wolf “evil” and says it's threatening regional stability. That rings a bell. The boy points to international calls for unconventional-weapons disarmament in the face of the wolf's denials. Mmm-hmm. The boy finds “evidence” linking the wolf to people who kill Americans. Yep—we remember that one, too. Add to that the stories by credible journalists who report that the boy has long been planning strategic air strikes against the wolf. The only difference now is that, thanks to the boy's previous foolishness, he likely has to wait until the wolf strikes first, an event he seems intent on provoking. The boy's said more than once that he'd hate to leave the scene while this wolf's still on the prowl.
Look, we don't claim to be experts on the Middle East, but oft-expressed fears that a war against Iran would further inflame the Muslim world seem awfully lucid. Our own intelligence agencies have said the occupation of Iraq has fueled anti-American sentiment and served as an effective terrorist-recruitment tool. Former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg recently told CityBeat he believes that, if attacked, Iran could cause much mischief with oil-delivery systems, and, much worse, regimes in the Middle East that are perceived as friendly with the United States could be in peril.
Unless the boy is stopped, he's going to create a wolf far more ferocious than the one he's been telling us about.