Of barbie dolls and hubris

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Thu Sep 18 06:26:40 MDT 2003

(I was reading this in Marrakech last week, thought I would post it anyhow
even if it's now a bit dated)

Maureen Dowd: A lesson in the dangers of hubris
By Maureen Dowd (NYT)
Friday, September 12, 2003

WASHINGTON: The Saudi religious police are harassing Barbie. The Commission
for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is warning that the
"Jewish" dolls - banned in Saudi Arabia for a decade - are a threat to
Islam. The Associated Press reported that a message posted on the religious
police's Web site chided: "Jewish Barbie dolls, with their revealing clothes
and shameful postures, accessories and tools are a symbol of decadence to
the perverted West. Let us beware of her dangers and be careful." This, from
a hypocritical desert kingdom with more lingerie stores in its malls than
Victoria has secrets. It's probably useless to start correcting the Saudis
on facts, but just for the record, Barbie was a knockoff of a German floozy
doll. The place so eager to protect itself from "Jewish" toys and "the
perverted West," the breeding ground of the Sept. 11 hijackers, is still the
Bush administration's close ally.

Osama bin Laden is urging the Muslim world to pursue a jihad against
America, even as America pursues a GWOT in the Muslim world. (GWOT is how
some Pentagon documents refer to the Global War on Terror.) They're out to
get us, and we're out to get them.

Far from being the swift and gratifying lesson in U.S. dominance that Cheney
Co. predicted, America's incursion into Iraq is turning into a spun-out,
scary lesson in the dangers of hubris. Democrats are combing through the $20
billion part of the White House request involving rebuilding Iraq, trying to
make sure there isn't any Halliburton hanky-panky.

I've actually gotten to the point where I hope Vice President Dick Cheney is
embroiled in a Clancyesque conspiracy to benefit Halliburton. Because if
it's not a conspiracy, it's naïveté and ideology. And that means America's
leaders have used goofball logic and lousy assumptions to trap the United
States in a cockeyed replay of the Crusades that could drain the U.S.
treasury and strain the U.S. military for generations, without making
Americans any safer from terrorists and maybe putting us more at risk.

Seven in 10 Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had a role in the Sept.
11 attacks, even though there is no evidence of it, according to a
Washington Post poll. That is because the president has done his level best
to conflate Sept. 11 and Saddam and did so again in his speech on Sunday
night. Iraq never threatened U.S. security. Bush officials cynically
attacked a villainous country because they knew it was easier than finding
the real Sept. 11 villain, who had no country. And now they're hoist on
their own canard. By pretending Iraq was crawling with Al Qaeda, they've
created an Iraq crawling with Al Qaeda.

As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld finished up an upbeat talk at the
National Press Club here on Wednesday, brushing off hecklers and calling the
global war on terror "well begun," cable television channels began airing
fresh Flintstones video of bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri encouraging the
Iraqi and Islamic fighters to "bury" U.S. troops and send them to their
mothers in coffins. The Bush team's logic before the war was infuriatingly
Helleresque, and it still is.

Rumsfeld, who was so alarmed about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction
before the war, is now so nonchalant that he said he did not even bother to
ask David Kay, who runs the CIA's search for weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, what progress he'd made when meeting with him in Iraq last week. "I
have so many things to do at the Department of Defense," Rummy told The
Washington Post. Asked at the press club why American intelligence analysts
did not predict the extent of Iraq's decayed infrastructure, Rummy said
dismissively, "They were worrying about more important things." Yeah, like
how to get Dick Cheney off their backs.

Testifying before the Senate on Tuesday on the $87 billion request, Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the Pentagon official who pushed so hard
to own Iraq and control it, said, "We have no desire to own this problem or
to control it." There may not be much choice, given Secretary of State Colin
Powell's pessimistic warning to Congress on Wednesday that no allies want to
help America pick up the tab for rebuilding a country full of people who
revile it.

E-mail: liberties at nytimes.com


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