Ok. It's next year. So where are we?
Not so good. We all know that any possible War on Terror would take a long time. However, we have depressingly few bright spots to look back on:
- No Osama. We have one new tape that may or may not be real. My personal idea is that he's either dead or being held incommunicado in Pakistan. Given his convictions (and his ego), his tapes would be all over the place if he were still around.
- No anthrax suspects. Hey, there are only about 200 total suspects (people who could get weaponized anthrax without killing themselves). Unless security at our bioweapons facilities is a lot worse than has been let on.
- Afghanistan. Crumbling into ruin while the Taliban moves back in. As per all predictions, we seem to have lost interest.
- Pakistan. Musharrif put his arse on the line for us, and we haven't done squat for him. Would it be so hard to jack up the textile import quotas for Pakistan? I'm not surprised that his cooperation is fading.
- Saudi Arabia. All the al Qaeda money trails lead here. No news. Presumably, we are doing diplomatic things to make sure that they don't get any more large infusions of cash. Unfortunately, this also looks just like doing nothing, which is possible. The Saudi royal family is very well connected politically. Remember, our President and Vice President are both oilmen ....
- al Qaeda. Still active. Kenya. Bali. A few arrests. No indication that they've been significantly reduced.
- The Home Front. More bad laws. Airport screening turning into more than just air safety. Selective enforcement of our hideous patchwork of immigration laws.
- The International Scene. After 9/11, there was a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support for the US. "Yes" everyone said, "it's time to eliminate terrorism". By the end of 2002, we have managed to almost entirely fritter it away. Georgie has made it clear that we don’t care squat what other countries think.
More not so good:
- The economy. Still in the toilet. More bankruptcies, with evidence of fraud floating up like turds from a backed up sewer. Nothing's being done; these are Georgie's friends, after all.
- The election. By rolling over on their backs and waving all six legs in the air, the Democrats managed to hand the Senate back to the Republicans. The R’s of course, are treating this like a Total Mandate to do whatever they want.
- Iraq. Georgie Bush is damn well gonna invade. However, what passes for "cooler heads" managed to get the UN in on the deal. There's still no evidence that Saddam is more of a threat this year than he was last year. Common wisdom is that Georgie wants to make sure there's plenty of oil if Saudi Arabia turns off the tap. (They won’t. Without a large supply of cash, they’re dead meat. They need us like we need them.)
- Korea. Georgie screwed the pooch bigtime here. For future reference -- poking serious nutcases with sharp sticks is not a good idea, unless you have a plan for any kind of bizarre and violent behavior.
- The INS. As essentially everybody has noted, the use of trivial immigration violations to deport Muslims is seriously bad policy.
Stuff that generated a lot of words, but doesn't mean much:
- The Beltway sniper. Yah, a nut with a gun can shoot a lot of people if he works at it. May make some folks take a look at "profiling", given that all the talking heads were not only off, but way off. But I doubt it.
- Trent Lott. So? Republicans have to play to racist bigots to win elections? This is news? The Republican Party is a seriously top-down organization; the new leader will stick to the Party Line. No chance that anything will get done, like, say, getting rid of Ashcroft or formally denouncing neo-Confederate bigotry.
- The endless “terror alerts” from the Government. Never any arrests, or even any real information. Note to Gov’t: you’re getting boring.
Anyway, for a detailed review of the year’s events, pretty much the way I remember it, Dave Barry has the wrapup.
Better luck for 2003, everybody.