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Bush's Desperate Gambit: Finding Another Scapegoat

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Every autocrat uses the same ploy to keep himself in power--he wraps himself in the flag and screams that an enemy is at the gates. It's the oldest trick in the books: "It's not my fault, it's those bad people over there."

The irony is that the two countries Bush has used as scapegoats--Iraq and Iran--have (or had, in the case of Iraq) two of the most westernized, secular, non-fanatical populations in the Middle East. Especially compared to our major 'allies', Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both of which are deeply repressive, especially of women, and both of which are primary agents of terrorist training. Pakistan gives major support--covert, but hardly secret--to the Taliban, and is therefore a major source of American casualties in Afghanistan, while Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 terrorists were almost all Saudis.

Iran is a democracy--limited, but viable. It is also a nation in flux, deeply resentful of the Ayatollahs as well as anti-American. But two-thirds of the Iranian population is under thirty. They never lived under the brutal dictatorship of the American-imposed Shah, nor can they remember the CIA coup that overthrew their democratically elected national hero, Mossadegh. It's ancient history to them. Now that Iraq has been handed over to the fanatics, Iran is perhaps the least misogynistic Muslim country. Sixty percent of Iranians attending college are women. Women run major businesses, are professionals, firefighters, even taxi-drivers, whereas in Saudi Arabia--our 'ally--they can't even drive.

What most Americans know about Iran is that they have a nutty, fanatic, Holocaust-denying President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But he no more represents Iran than George Bush--a man who can't put two sentences together without lying or blundering--represents America. Both men, after all, have recently suffered major setbacks at the polls.

Unlike Americans, however, Iranians are not abysmally ignorant of what goes on outside their borders, and are capable of distinguishing between another nation's people and its corrupt and incompetent leader.

The rationale for Bush's planned attack on Iran is that Iranian-made weapons have been used by Iraqi terrorists. So have American-made weapons and Russian-made weapons. It's a pathetic excuse by a man who has in six years done everything possible to weaken America--undermining our financial stability, destroying our environment, sabotaging our children's education, eroding our influence internationally. He has mortgaged our nation's future in a vain attempt to make little Georgie Bush--who never in his life had to face enemy fire--a military hero. A man who dearly wanted to be Teddy Roosevelt charging up San Juan Hill, but ended looking a lot more like Mussolini trying to conquer Albania.

The reality is that a pact with Iran is the only way to salvage the Iraq mess. But reality has never been a big player in the Bush administration.