Principalities & Powers

Prophesying War

As the summer before the first anniversary of the September 11 attack drew to a sweltering end, the Bush administration desperately sought some plausible reason for the war against Iraq that its chieftains so desperately wanted to wage.  The appeal to the “weapons of mass destruction” that Saddam Hussein supposedly harbors and which he was alleged to have deployed “against his own people” (meaning the Kurds, who live within Iraq but distinctly do not consider themselves to be Hussein’s “people”) was the main, but by no means the only, plausible reason offered.  In the months since Saddam Hussein once again became a target of American military power, every conceivable villainy was attributed to him.  Insight, the weekly newsmagazine of the militantly pro-war Washington Times, and later a vast op-ed on the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page even revived “John Doe II,” the mysterious and elusive accomplice of the late Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995.  The FBI has long since concluded that John Doe II never existed (mainly, I suspect, because they could never find or identify him, just as they have never managed to find or identify the real anthrax killer of last autumn), and the public has long since lost interest in Mr. Doe.  But Insight managed to produce a source who claimed that John Doe II not only...

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