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by Paul F. Heller
Friday, Feb. 14, 2003 at 6:21 AM
Too bad they don't sell common sense at the Army-Navy Surplus Store
The Bush Administration has finally figured out how to spur the economy, at least for a day or two. They simply thumped on the Fear Meter a little bit; the needle bounced up to Orange, and the rush was on. For some reason, many Americans today are buying what this same government, which was blindsided so badly on 9/11, is selling. The media reports that people are finally out shopping, picking up requisite items like canned goods and batteries in preparation for the next attack. They’re also grabbing odd things from the shelves, the kinds of things you wouldn’t normally see Americans buying, like gas masks and water purification tablets. Don’t be surprised if the FDA soon decides that Cipro, the anti-anthrax drug, can be cleared for over-the-counter sales; that’d really spike the pharmaceutical economy.
The irony is that it won’t be terrorists that wipe out humanity on a grand scale, at least not out here in the West. They might kill some more people in New York or Washington, D.C., which is where the military has violated posse commitatus by taking up civilian law enforcement duties this week, but all the gasmasks and milk of magnesium in the world won’t save us out here. We’re much more at risk than that.
While the U.N. weapons inspectors have found something of a smoking gun in Iraq’s already-deployed al-Samoud 2 missiles, designed to exceed the sanctioned limit of 90 miles in range, the North Koreans have made serious strides in their missile technology. Their untested, three-stage Taepo Dong 2 is believed to have a range of over nine thousand miles, meaning that whatever they choose to stuff in their warheads can be delivered to North America’s west coast, and beyond.
As I type this page, a tanned and privileged citizen in front of his home computer, my ass sits less than four hundred miles from Venice Beach. In other words, I am in the dead zone. Now there is no longer a concern for the people of Tokyo or Seoul, so much as there is about my fellow countrymen in Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or San Diego, or Seattle, or Portland, or Las Vegas, or Phoenix. Combine the populations of those cities (and their suburbs) and you come up with about twenty million Americans within striking distance of a legitimate nuclear threat. That’s somewhat beyond the qualifications of any terrorist group, yet Bush remains fixated on the Arab world, for a variety of reasons. And his blind, single-minded leadership could easily result in the largest loss of human life this country has ever known.
But try to find a conservative who cares. They’re too busy comparing Saddam to Hitler, too concerned that Osama will forge “an unholy alliance” with Baghdad, as Ari Fleischer tried to assert yesterday. True enough, the latest bin Laden tape did encourage the people of Iraq to run suicide missions against the United States, but he also called Saddam Hussein a communist, a socialist and an infidel. So far, anyone who gets labeled as an “infidel” by Islamic fundamentalist killers has not been seen handing over much of anything to them. In fact, Saddam’s ruling Baath party is a purely secular government, known for its heavy-handed oppression of Shiite Muslims in southern Iraq, so Fleischer’s attempts to link the two entities is either a farce (if he doesn’t understand this fact) or a blatant lie (if he does). Either way, call it what it is: Spin.
So, while the agents of Level Orange have shaken some Americans into stocking up on those horrible MRE’s (the military’s famous “meals ready to eat”) and expensive French wine, those sundries may simply become artifacts that future three-eyed scientists will be extracting from the black glass. With their plutonium reactor up and running, North Korea is sure to take full advantage of our dithering in the Middle East to escalate their nuclear weapons capabilities.
In the meantime, Bush will leave it up to China, Japan, South Korea and Russia to do their own little kabuki dance of negotiation with Pyongyang, even as we condemn France and Germany for doing the same thing in the matter of Iraq. And the minute we do decide to roll up our sleeves and flex our muscles on the Korean peninsula, Kim Jong-il’s war toys will begin obliterating western U.S. cities. But hey, it won’t be New York or D.C., so don’t expect those lucky politicians bunkered up on the East Coast to care any more than do the simpletons who voted for them.
Knowing all of this to be true, I must say I still sleep pretty well at night. For I know deep in my heart that if North Korea does decide to incinerate half of the Lower 48, George W. Bush will respond in kind, sending our nukes into orbit to circumnavigate the globe, coming down hard on the Reds with a mushrooming vengeance. Such a response would be immediate and decisive, and would certainly save more American servicemen from having to relive the horror of the first Korean War… and then we’ll see how the whole nuclear ball of yarn unravels across the world.
And isn’t that just enough to make anyone feel better? Let us then raise our goblets in a toast to our Presiden’t, before we all become toast ourselves.
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