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Report from Skopje, Macedonia

Bush War II

By James T. Phillips
09 October 2001

Eleven years ago George Bush the Elder distributed money and threats to America's allies, then waged war against the people of Iraq. More than one million Iraqis, many of them children under five years of age, have died since the opening salvos of Mr. Bush's War in 1991. And, despite claims to the contrary, that war did not end with the dramatic (and brief) ground campaign orchestrated by General Norman Schwartzkopf. It just goes on and on.

The thump-thump of war drums lasted almost six months before the thump-thump of very large munitions slammed into Iraqi soil, cities, buildings and people. The American media played the war songs, the American people listened attentively and the American government manipulated both media and citizenry as it presented Mr. Bush's War as a conflict against the forces of evil. Six weeks after the first bombs dropped on Baghdad, victory was declared and the American military was feted with parades for the enlisted personnel and paychecks for the officers who led them into battle.

The death toll caused by bouncing rubble has never been officially recorded, and most Americans have not concerned themselves with the number of dead Iraqi men, women and children. Mr. Bush's War was the war to end all Vietnams, and Americans were grateful about not having to build another long black wall of remembrance. The first hot war fought after the end of the Cold War would produce few American casualties; their names could have been scratched on a small stone. The honored black granite monument located in Washington D.C., etched with tens of thousands of other names, would not be challenged as the nation's Wailing Wall.

Bush War II, the war against terrorism initiated by the attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, is now being fought in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. A new international alliance of nations, many of them well versed in the tactics of terrorism, has been created by George the Younger. These new allies of America, like those during Mr. Bush's War of 1991, have also been paid off or threatened. It is a coalition built upon money and fear, as well as the dead bodies of those Americans buried beneath the rubble in New York City.

Eleven years ago, Saddam Hussein was the new Hitler, the leader of the fourth largest army on earth and the invader of the small nation of Kuwait. American leaders knew Saddam and, until the invasion of Kuwait, he was their friend. He was a bought and paid for ally. Saddam had fought against Iran, America's enemy, for more than eight years; Saddam invaded Iran, he terrorized the innocent and he killed hundreds of thousands of Iranis. But, he was America's friend. Until early August of 1990.

America's enemy du jour during the autumn of 2001 is Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the attacks in New York City and Washington. American leaders also know Osama bin Laden. He, too, was a friend of America during the last hot war fought during the Cold War. It was a war pitting the Soviet Union against the people of Afghanistan, and America covertly aided and abetted a motley crew of fighters, including Osama bin Laden, in their battle against the evil Red Menace. American leaders knew Osama. He was once a friend of America. But, Osama is no Saddam.

Osama bin Laden won his war. The Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan; and, as America turned its back on the ragged and rugged people who fought against the superpower, the Afghanis turned their guns on each other and continued the fighting. Afghanistan would disappear from the headlines. A civil war in a Texas-sized Central Asian nation, with limited resources to exploit, was of little importance to America. Osama bin Laden was no longer a friend, just a forgotten cog in a forgotten war.

Osama disappeared into the caves of Afghanistan, and began plotting a new war against a different superpower. His initial attempts to draw America into a war failed; the body count of innocent victims killed on American soil was minimal. However, his actions did land him on a list of terrorists who had to be neutered instead of nurtured. Osama bin Laden, America's friend during the Soviet Union-Afghanistan war, had become an enemy. And, on a late summer day in September 2001, Osama bin Laden would, allegedly, finally bring the war home to his enemy.

From a cave in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, according to rhetoric-laced orations and hidden evidence, directed the actions of the terrorists who, on September 11, destroyed the World Trade Center, damaged the Pentagon and shattered the illusions of millions of Americans. The terrorists killed an estimated 7,000 innocent people in less than two hours.

From his office in the White House, President Bush, George the Younger, accepted the declaration of war. He would fight against those "barbarians" who killed Americans, and he directed his government to engage the enemy. Blueprints detailing how to fight a new war against an old friend were available from previous Bush wars (Panama, Iraq). However, the President's advisers had the common sense to understand the difficulties of winning a war against an enemy fighting from caves that are surrounded by mountains, scarred by battle and steeled by ideology. Osama bin Laden, the terrorist allegedly responsible for the murder of thousands of people, especially Americans, is a difficult target to hit.

The government of Afghanistan, a group of former students known as the Taleban who were fed up with the civil war in their country, took power in 1996. They allowed Osama bin Laden to hunker down in their country. The Taleban have created a nasty society of oppression and fear, one that has been unwilling to ally itself with the new coalition against terrorism. So, the Taleban have become the new enemy and are, unfortunately for them and the innocent people of Afghanistan, an easier target to search out and destroy than is the elusive Osama bin Laden. Bombs away.

The war against terrorism, Bush War II, will be a never-ending battle of perceived good versus alleged evil. Target number one: the Taleban (with Osama's death a bonus). Target number two: former friends turned terrorists; check the list, Saddam's name is at the top. The war against terrorism, like Bush War I, will go on and on.© The News Insider 2001James T. Phillips, who sent this report from Skopje, Macedonia, is a freelance journalist who has previously reported on the conflicts in Iraq, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Currently, Phillips edits the web publication

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