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Published: Sunday, 3/28/2004

The world grows ever more dangerous

The President is banking on his record as a "wartime" president to win re-election. His campaign commercials already emphasize how the steady leadership of George W. Bush in the wake of 9/11 has made the world a safer place to live. Only the world begs to differ. Start with the Middle East where the "road map" to peace is a bad joke.

The catchy moniker given to the American attempt to negotiate an acceptable settlement between Palestinian and Israelis was as empty as the effort that went into the mission. It was doomed from the start. Only Israel and its closest ally, the United States, pretended otherwise.

Even now as the region descends into hell, the one super power with the influence to change the dark course isn't rushing to forceful intervention.

The Bush Administration has more pressing business at home.

It is fully engaged in re-election mode, defending the deceptions it has perpetrated on the American people over the past three years.

Chief among those twisted truths is Washington's evolving spin on invading an oil-rich sovereignty to make the world safe from an imminent threat that wasn't.

The administration's tactic on tying its "war on terrorism" to its war on an evil regime is being exposed by significant insiders with firsthand knowledge of the White House Iraqi mindset.

Some of the most damaging information about the administration's Baghdad blinders comes from a respected terrorism expert with a 30-year career in government.

Richard Clarke served four administrations including Ronald Reagan and Bush the elder. It's difficult to dismiss the news about Mr. Bush's duplicity as simply partisan poison when it comes from someone with such clout.

The Bush team mobilized quickly to minimize the cracks in the administration's pre-emptive rush to judgment. The White House emphasized that ridding Iraq of its evil regime has made the planet more secure even as reality rocks the globe. Iraq is in chaos, careening toward a fundamental theocracy not unlike the kind inspired by the ayatollahs in Iran.

One year after the United States launched a war against Iraq, disorder defines the country increasingly divided by sectarian strife.

A stable, representative government - if it ever develops - will take years, not months to establish, which means years, not months, of U.S. commitment in Iraq.

If nation-building in Iraq goes anything like the ambivalent task started in Afghanistan - where turmoil took over after the Taliban was routed and U.S. policy makers moved on to Baghdad - look out.

Osama bin Laden is starting to look good to the locals again and animosity toward all things American is escalating. Terrorist recruiters are having a field day filling their quotas.

Meanwhile, the hemorrhaging in the Middle East that Washington has allowed to continue without intervening aggressively is also producing more terrorist threats with ominous overtones for America.

While the Bush Administration is preoccupied with protecting itself politically, Israel is assassinating Palestinian leaders with impunity and sealing the bloody fate of the region.

With the targeted execution this week of the spiritual leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas there is no turning back.

Whatever Israelis think of Sheik Ahmed Yassin as the mastermind of a terrorist organization, the paraplegic was also a national symbol to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the same way that Yasser Arafat commands a following. The sheik's assassination created an unquenchable thirst for revenge among the masses who thronged the streets of Gaza for his funeral.

The eye-for-an-eye suicide bombings and mortar attacks that Israelis and Palestinians have become numbly accustomed to could soon include the United States because of its unwillingness to condemn Israeli violence with the same force it denounces Palestinian terrorism. Arab and European nations roundly condemned the sheik's assassination and the secretary general of the United Nations called it an affront to international law.

The U.S. said it was troubling.

So is the administration's doublespeak that proclaims the planet a safer place than it was even as savagery spirals out of control in strategic parts of the world.

And the American homeland is made vulnerable to even greater threats of terrorism than 9/11.

Troubling?



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