June 30, 2002
RICHARD BROOKHISER has these observations on the war:
Osama bin Laden has imagination and charisma, if you find dream interpretation and Koranic midrash charismatic. But isn’t it likely that he and his network have profited from the help of a government—and not the dirt-poor kakistocrats of Khartoum and Kabul? Who is the obvious candidate, in terms of both resources and grudges? Our intelligence agents have dismissed the report that hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, but the Czechs have not backed down from it. At home, we are looking for a rogue American scientist as the source of last fall’s anthrax letters. But then came the story that one of the 9/11 hijackers checked into a hospital emergency room with lesions that the attending physician now says were consistent with exposure to anthrax. If that is true, where then did Osama bin Laden get his stash? If Saddam Hussein had been living a monk’s life, he would still be a danger, because he’s manufacturing nukes and germs to incinerate and poison Israelis and whoever else displeases him. But his vows of peace may already have been broken.
Most Americans will celebrate the Fourth of July weekend as they always have—by relaxing, partying and watching fireworks. But this year, we should reflect that not celebrating is our right; that, in many parts of the world, putting on a bathing suit or even drinking beer is forbidden; that, if we hear a sermon over the weekend, it will be a sermon of our choosing; and that when we see the fireworks, they stand for all the explosions from Long Island to Hawaii to, yes, Germany, Japan and Afghanistan, when Americans fought for their rights and their indulgences, and exacted terrible vengeance on our enemies.
Indeed. Say, it occurs to me: Everyone is saying that America might be attacked on July 4 because of that date’s importance. Has it occurred to anyone that we might launch an attack of our own then for the same reason?