The news today is dominated by the events in the Azores, where U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, U.S. President George W. Bush and Spanish Prime MInister José MarÃa Aznar delivered a deadline to … the United Nations.
The Axis of War (hey, there are three of them!) told the world body that its members had “overnight” to think about supporting the U.S.’s efforts to march on Baghdad.
“There’s a simple choice,” Blair told reporters after the council of war. “People have got to decide whether they are going to allow any second resolution to have the teeth to make it clear that there is a real ultimatum, and that’s what we are going to have to find out overnight.”
As Bush declared tomorrow is the “moment of truth” for the world to demand that Iraq disarm completely and unconditionally, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein responded by threatening to unleash war “wherever there is sky, land or water.”
This, obviously, is either a warning or call for terror retaliation, which many — OK, me — have feared for a while. (Hearing the first plane snarl overhead at 8:45 a.m. Sept. 11, 2001 and watching both towers fall from blocks away makes one leery of a misguided foreign policy that has a goal of war without end, amen, and a blowback that invites and encourages terror attacks like suicide bombings on the subways.) The New York Times reports that anger at the Iraqi campaign is boosting al Qa’ida recruitment on three continents, something I mentioned two weeks ago (scroll down.) In the Palestinian territories, Islamic factions are calling explicitly for a jihad against the West, and the United States in particular. In a communiqué distributed to journalists during a march in Gaza City, Hamas Leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin called on the Islamic nation “to strike at Western interests everywhere if Iraq is conquered. … The hate-drenched West, headed by America, declared today a crusade on the [Islamic] nation and on the Muslim belief when it gathered to strike Iraq.”
Yassin called on the Iraqi people to join ranks under the banner of jihad, and demanded that Iraq “open its borders to all Muslims across the world so that they can play their part in the defensive battle of the [Islamic] nation.”
Oddly enough, this happened once before when a superpower invaded a Muslim country and set up a puppet government. Thousands of radicalized young men poured into the country and began a guerilla campaign that eventually led to the the humbling of the superpower and its retreat. The country eventually fell into chaos, gangsterism, rule by warlords and ultraharsh Islamic fundamentalism. The country, of course, is Afghanistan and the superpower was the Soviet Union.
And, ominously, I received an email today from a Muslim man in France who promised to become an “explosive martyr” — with no specifics given — in the event of a U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“Irak after this war, where childs and parents will die, Irak will recognize this zionist project [Israel] as [a] state but the world will cry and scream.
“Yes, I will be an explosive martyrs [sic] as you said.”
If all that’s not enough to scare the crap out of you, in upstate New York a 20-lb. carp, just prior to being killed, allegedly began to yell in Hebrew, shouting “Tzaruch shemirah” and “Hasof bah,” which in essence means account for yourself for the end is near. (Can some Hebrew speakers check that translation?)
The fish was eventually butchered and sold, prompting a gefilte fish company to toy with the idea of adopting the slogan, “Our Fish Speaks for Itself.”
Jokes aside, the world seems closer to midnight than ever. “I am living at the Villa Borghese,” wrote Henry Miller in the opening line to _Tropic of Cancer_. “There is not a crumb of dirt anywhere, nor a chair misplaced. We are all alone here and we are dead.”
It’s a beautiful day today in New York.