Being Halloween, today, it seemed appropriate to write about something scary.
At last weekend’s Texas Book Festival I listened to author Kurt Eichenwald talk about his new book “500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars.”
He recounted what has become an infamous exchange between President George W. Bush and President Jacques Chirac, in which the former tried to persuade the latter to commit France to the war against Iraq based on the argument that Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East.
Chirac left the discussion somewhat bemused, and after having a theology professor confirm who the hell Gog and Magog were–biblical representations of good and evil duking it out at the turn of the millennium–decided it best France didn’t become involved.
One unintended consequence was that French fries became Freedom fries due to the disgust of many Americans who felt France had unreasonable bailed. Bad news for French fries as was how British Prime Minister Tony Blair proved not to be as sceptical as Chirac.
“The ‘War on Terror’ was a linguistic deceit, ” Eichenwald said, “and Bush’s biggest mistake: declaring a war on tactics. He should have declared war on al Qaeda.”
During the first couple of weeks after 9/11, as the Bush administration decided how to proceed with the War on Terror, according to Eichenwald, one bright spark suggested U.S. strikes against Peru, arguing that as no one would expect it this would send an effective message to terrorists around the world.
It’s hard to know whether to laugh–the link to the exchange between Bush and Chirac is worth visiting, trust me–or be very afraid.