Osama bin Laden, in his wildest dreams, could hardly have hoped for this. A mere 18 months after he boosted the US to a peak of worldwide sympathy unprecedented since Pearl Harbor, that international goodwill has been squandered to near zero. Bin Laden must be beside himself with glee. And the infidels are now walking right into the Iraq trap.
There was always a risk for Bin Laden that worldwide sympathy for the US might thwart his long-term aim of holy war against the Great Satan. He needn't have worried. With the Bush junta at the helm, a camel could have foreseen the outcome. And the beauty is that it doesn't matter what happens in the war.
Imagine how it looks from Bin Laden's warped point of view...
If the American victory is swift, Bush will have done our work for us, removing the hated Saddam and opening the way for a decent Islamist government. Even better, in 2004 Bush may actually win an election. Who can guess what that swaggering, strutting little pouter-pigeon will then get up to, and what resentments he will arouse, when he finally has something to swagger about? We shall have so many martyrs volunteering, we shall run out of targets. And a slow and bloody American victory would be better still.
The claim that this war is about weapons of mass destruction is either dishonest or betrays a lack of foresight verging on negligence. If war is so vitally necessary now, was it not at least worth mentioning in the election campaigns of 2000 and 2001? Why didn't Bush and Blair mention the war to their respective electorates? The only major leader who has an electoral mandate for his war policy is Gerhard Schröder - and he is against it. Why did Bush, with Blair trotting faithfully to heel, suddenly start threatening to invade Iraq when he did, and not before? The answer is embarrassingly simple, and they don't even seem ashamed of it. Illogical, even childish, though it is, everything changed on September 11 2001.
Whatever anyone may say about weapons of mass destruction, or about Saddam's savage brutality to his own people, the reason Bush can now get away with his war is that a sufficient number of Americans, including, apparently, Bush himself, see it as revenge for 9/11. This is worse than bizarre. It is pure racism and/or religious prejudice. Nobody has made even a faintly plausible case that Iraq had anything to do with the atrocity. It was Arabs that hit the World Trade Centre, right? So let's go and kick Arab ass. Those 9/11 terrorists were Muslims, right? And Eye-raqis are Muslims, right? That does it. We're gonna go in there and show them some hardware. Shock and awe? You bet.