Bush's address last evening contained all the expected outrages. The exploitation of soldiers for an aesthetic effect; the bellicose tone; the myriad falsehoods; the repetitious, Tourette's Syndrome-like delivery -- this stuff never fails to make me cringe. But there was one thing leapt out of the speech like a jack-in-the-box. It was Bush's employment of bin Laden's words not to show how cynical the terrorists are, but to quell his own critics. This is truly disturbing:
Some wonder whether Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. Among the terrorists, there is no debate. Hear the words of Osama Bin Laden: “This Third World War … is raging” in Iraq. “The whole world is watching this war.” He says it will end in “victory and glory or misery and humiliation.”
According to bin Laden's logic, Iraq is a central front in the war on terror. And therefore we must operate under the same reasoning? Unfortunately, Bush thinks so. This is an idea the neo-cons who hover within the administration's orbit impressed have been impressing on Bush since 9/11, and possibly before. Consider how similar the remarks of one of those neocons, James Woolsey, are to those of bin Laden:
I believe we won't know how to win the war on terror unless we take it seriously. I think taking it seriously means regarding it as a world war.
I think The War on Terrorism is in fact, World War Four.
The negative view of mainstream American society held by Bush and many of the Christian conservatives close to his administration also bears chilling parallels to those espoused by radical Islamic propagandists like Sayyid Qutb, whom Bush implicitly denounced. "The terrorists believe that free societies are essentially corrupt and decadent," Bush declared last night, "and with a few hard blows they can force us to retreat."
Now consider what Nixon hatchet man-cum-born-again Christian Chuck Colson wrote last October for Christianity Today:
We must be careful not to blame innocent Americans for murderous attacks against them. At the same time, let's acknowledge that America's increasing decadence is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. When we tolerate trash on television, permit pornography to invade our homes via the internet, and allow babies to be killed at the point of birth, we are inflaming radical Islam.
Colson serves as an informal advisor to Karl Rove on evangelical issues; Rove tasked him with expanding (or perverting, depending on your perspective) St. Augustine's time-honored Just War theory to fit the occupation of Iraq and the so-called "war on terror." Colson's embrace of radical Islam's dim view of American society is a clear reflection of the zeitgeist within the Christian right wing of the White House.
Bush and his minions have been staring into the abyss for a long time. Through Bush's endorsement of a Holy War on bin Laden's terms, we now know they can see their own reflection.