Under the Black Flag

The Education of W

It sounds presumptuous, but I wish I had written this column in October 2002, and some eagle-eyed George W. Bush assistant would have noticed it and shown it to his moron boss.  Let’s just play the What If game for a minute.  Had the moron read it and taken what I’m about to write into consideration, Uncle Sam might be one trillion dollars richer, and thousands of our dead and maimed might still be alive and kicking—and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, ditto.

Well, it’s nice to imagine it, as no one close to George W. would have dreamed of telling the idiot boss the truth.  Certainly no fifth columnist such as Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, or Abrams, not to mention the Likud Bobbsey Twins, Kristol and Podhoretz.  The great secret they kept from the boss was not a very complex one.  The Middle East is a place dominated by the bitter, bloody feud between two branches of Islam, the Sunnis and the Shiites, and this feud has gone on for centuries, long before baseball, oil, or Texas were invented or discovered.  (Remember, Bush had no idea about Sunnis and Shiites well after the fall of Baghdad.)  They could have also shown him a book by Charles Glass, an American close buddy of mine, called Tribes With Flags, published way back in the late 80’s.  Glass explains that in the Middle East there are very few real countries—such as Egypt, Tunisia, and Iran—with strong national...

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