The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the saying goes. It’s been 12 years since the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists, and 10 years since President George W. Bush announced the U.S. invasion of Iraq. It was a theatrical tragedy that bombed at the box office and got almost universally bad reviews, but as usual, that’s no reason not to try again with a flashy remake. The cast has been replaced across the board, from sinister new villain Ayman al-Zawahiri to Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Barack Obama, but unfortunately, they’re still reading from the same old screenplay.
More interesting than the actual 9/11 anniversary were the two speeches that bracketed it like bookends. On Sept. 10, Obama addressed the nation on the subject of the Syrian civil war. While it has raged for two years without U.S. intervention, the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime supposedly changed everything.
“Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure,” Obama said. “The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder.”
Wait, sorry. That was Bush in 2003, announcing the Iraq invasion. Obama’s speech, however, was markedly similar.
“Let’s imagine the future,” Obama said. “What if he fails to comply and we fail to act, or we take some ambiguous third route . . . Well, he will conclude that the international community has lost its will. He will then conclude that he can go right on and do more to rebuild an arsenal of devastating destruction.”
Obama went on to say, “He’s already demonstrated a willingness to use these weapons; he poison-gassed his own people.”
Darn, messed it up again. Actually, those quotes are from Bill Clinton and Al Gore, respectively, talking about Saddam Hussein in 1998. Here’s what Obama really said on Sept. 10:
“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them.”
Different speeches, different years, different dictators, different wars. And yet, all of these nationalistic, fear-driven platitudes sound the same, and Obama’s version was essentially just a rewrite.
Meanwhile, on Sept. 12, the forces of radical Islamism dutifully recited their part in the script, as al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri addressed the world about past victories and future endeavors.
Among other forms of hateful rhetoric, al-Zawahiri advocated drawing America into economically devastating wars.
“So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.”
Or not, those were in fact the words of Osama bin-Laden in 2004.
Al-Zawahiri actually said, “We must bleed America economically by provoking it, so that it continues its massive expenditures on security.” Same speech, different words.
The backdrop behind this situation is strangely similar, too. In 2003, we attacked Iraq, even though Hussein was a well-known enemy of al-Qaeda. Now, some politicians want to aid the Syrian rebels, who have the military and financial support of that same terrorist organization. Hussein’s chemical weapons use was part of the justification for Iraq, even though the Reagan administration had sold thiodiglycol, a key ingredient in mustard gas, to Hussein in the 1980s. Now, even as we attempt to justify an attack on Assad with his use of chemical weapons, it’s been revealed several British companies have spent the past few years selling sodium fluoride, a component of sarin gas, to Syria. Finally, while the prospect of war in Syria grows increasingly unlikely, we need only look at Iraq today to discover how such a conflict would probably have ended.
Despite America’s apparent retreat from the brink, it’s scary to realize how easily world leaders can be drawn back into the same old narrative. However, there’s something to be said for the fact that most Americans were not drawn back in, as evidenced by the overwhelmingly negative public opinion on a Syrian intervention. After all, you can only see the same movie so many times before you start to realize how awful it actually is, and there’s also that other saying about those who fail to learn from history being doomed to repeat it.
Originally published in The Lumberjack (http://jackcentral.com/opinion/2013/09/opinion-obama-and-al-zawahiri-act-out-the-same-script-as-bush-and-bin-laden/)