Rumsfeld's Paw

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. In W.W. Jacobs' famous short story, "The Monkey's Paw," a magic talisman grants its owner the basic elements of his wishes but always with unforeseen and often terrible consequences. A wish for great wealth, for example, might arrive in the form of compensation for an arm suddenly lost or a child suddenly killed.

For years before the Iraqi invasion neocon ideologues like Paul Wolfowitz dreamed that a US-led removal of Saddam Hussein would unleash a flowering democracy in the Heart of the Middle East that would revolutionize the region. With the election of Bush II and the assent of the Vulcans, the neocons finally found the magic talisman they were looking for.

The dictator is now gone and the region may be undergoing revolution. But if Jeffersonian democracy was supposed to make the Heart of the Middle East pump transformative progressive change, what will be the effect of bloody sectarian civil war coursing through those veins?

Battle tactics honed in Iraq have already turned up across the border in Jordan and more recently in Saudi Arabia where Saturday Al Qaeda claimed credit for an attempt to blow up the Abqaiq oil refinery. Meanwhile a radicalized Iran, vastly empowered by Iraq's collapse, threatens to dominate the region.

The big difference between the short story and the unfolding chaos in Iraq, however, is that in the story the consequences of the monkey's paw were unforeseeable. Iraq, on the other hand, was pawed by monkeys who were told by the State Department, by the counterterrorist center at the CIA, by the military, and by millions of demonstrators around the world exactly what was likely to happen.

"The Monkey's Paw" ends when its owner, finally realizing that no good can come of this evil charm, throws the offending item away. Unfortunately there are no easy solutions to the mess this administration has foisted upon our country -- however, it should by now be clear to even the thirstiest Kool-Aid consumer that the sooner we get these monkeys off our backs the safer we will be.