Rumsfeld's chief aide, Paul Wolfowitz, earlier had purportedly complained that Schröder was "another Caesar" who was trying to recreate German imperialism. Wolfowitz concluded that the Germans as a people were showing an "intolerant, spiteful style." And he then sighed, "At least we don't have powerful, perhaps overly powerful, pressure-groups like those in Dresden and Hamburg to deal with in our own election politics."
But in what must have been the most-bizarre pronouncement, a peeved Bush in his latest press conference suggested to a French journalist that he come to America to get "himself circumcised" if he was still so concerned about our supposed brutality in Afghanistan. And when asked about Ari Fleischer's off-the-cuff remark that Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien was a "moron," Bush compounded the error: "He is not a moron or for that matter not really a cretin either. I know him."
Yet another American outburst did not help the administration's damage-control efforts as former president Clinton weighed in on Turkey's application to the EU, chuckling that it would spell the "end of Europe," inasmuch as an Islamic Turkey was a "foreign" culture.
TROUBLES WITH FRANCE?
Vice President Cheney summed up the administration's position best: "We don't want another Napoleonic-like invasion of North Africa, or more colonial adventurism on the Ivory Coast where la gloire trumps careful diplomacy. We need more evidence that Libya has ever funded any terrorists. Is there a direct connection between the Louvre bombing and Libya? If so, let the U.N. adjudicate. The days of colonization are long gone and it is time the French accept that fact and work through the U.N."
Administration officials also vehemently denied reports that Americans, in exchange for U.N. support, had secretly pressed the French to make sure that a post-Khaddafi consensual government guarantee payment of billions of dollars in arms sales still owed by the Libyan dictator to Boeing and Lockheed. Washington also denied that it had demanded oil concessions for Exxon in any proposed reconstituted Libya.
In the meantime, the bestselling The Big Fix was reported to be still on the New York Times bestseller list for the 23rd consecutive week. Americans in droves seemed to be buying the book's main argument that the French government blew up the Louvre in order to start a war with Libya to obtain its oil.
However, not all Americans were so hardnosed. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was reportedly arguing for an American presence in the French-led coalition: "Don't worry; at the end of the day we will be on board and send a frigate or at least some military police boats to show our solidarity and thanks for Lafayette." And Attorney General Ashcroft assured the French that his investigators would pass on any information concerning the Louvre murderers "as long as the American people can be assured by the French government that so-called terrorists will not face capital charges."
WORLD UP IN ARMS
In a related matter, the Saudis were still pressing the Defense Department to be more serious in its investigations of the murders of dozens of Saudi liaison officers who were blown up in their Virginia Towers dormitory, allegedly by terrorist "Knights of Malta" cells. "We are not saying that all Christians are behind these killings of Saudi citizens," Ambassador Bandar remarked, "but there is a particular strain of Falwellabism abroad that seems to incite and enrage the criminally minded and operates with apparent impunity right under the noses of the American government."
In that vein, Yasser Arafat has alleged that American television stations were conducting telethons to raise bounty money for Israeli officers who are credited with sure "kills" in their missile attacks against suspected terrorists. And according to the Palestinian Authority, when reports of Palestinian civilians killed while at work were televised on American television, there were spontaneous cheering and celebrating on American campuses.
"All that blood money from America has to stop," Arafat demanded, noting that the New York Times was running a five-part news series called the "The Arab Protocols" that was little more than a racist 19th-century slur alleging that a small circle of Arabs had conspired to rig the world energy market and form cartels to gouge the West. Arafat noted that in Israel "You have five-year-old kids dressed up with plastic Tomahawk missiles and M-16s hanging from their belts. What kind of culture is that?"
In Jordan, King Hussein expressed frustration that American authorities had not apprehended the murderer of a Jordanian diplomat in Washington, D.C. a complaint echoed by the Lebanese authorities who were still pressing the administration for action regarding the execution-style shooting of a young female Islamic relief worker in New York. And the Kuwaiti government lodged another protest, finding the American response to the arrest of a Boston policeman who "went nuts" when he pulled over and shot two Kuwaiti military attachés "inadequate," coming on the heels of the random murder of a Kuwaiti enlisted man in Chicago.
Syria was still uneasy about the recent apprehension there of the serial sniper who terrorized Damascus for weeks, Ali Jehovah who purportedly had connections to Christian groups while on a student visa in Fresno. Meanwhile, Pakistan pressed the United States for assurances that its nationals would not be gunned down in American mosques by Christian renegades. "This is quite intolerable," President Musharraf dryly noted, "and it comes on top of reports that the United States is sending nuclear material secretly to India that may well be used against us."
Moreover, the Texas millionaire-terrorist Ornery Bud Latham, the so-called mastermind of the "Wild Bunch," the fundamentalist organization that has also gunned down hundreds of foreigners in America, is still at large in west Texas, purportedly drawing on the cattle baron's vast cash reserves. President Bush assured President Musharraf that authorities were doing all they could to apprehend OBL, but "Texas is so darn big and some of those cowboy communities are still sort of wild with strong views. OBL is a hero to some of these folks in frontier towns. We've tried to shut down his training ranches, but new ones crop up out there on the prairie all the time." In response, Pakistan offered to send the United States some $5 billion in aid to assist in the investigation.
In further news on the domestic front, CBS was roundly condemned in the Arab world for showing a video of the gleeful beheading of an Islamic journalist. The Arab League alleged that a voice in the video could be heard asking, "Confess that you are a Muslim" shortly before the journalist was executed. Al-Jazeera executives formally protested the airing of the CBS tape and suggested that such sensationalism could only "inflame" the situation. The protest came on the heels of reports that CBS was facilitating the folk image of OBL by broadcasting his periodic so-called "Lepanto communiqués" demanding Texas-style justice for the attacks on Poitiers, the fall of Jerusalem, and the Ottoman assault on Vienna.
The Arab League also noted that more than 2,800 Westerners residing in Arab countries had been arrested since the Mecca bombings and charged with planning still further murders. A circumspect Egyptian spokesman warned, "It is almost as if young Western sleeper crusaders come to our countries to destroy the very culture they wish to embrace. At some point, be prepared for a backlash and a change in our hospitality. Given all these unprovoked incidents, a visitor from Mars might conjecture that the so-called West is at war with us across the globe."
Tensions rose further when thousands of Christians rioted in Montana and stormed mosques on rumors that a Muslim journalist had suggested that Jesus would like to date a contestant in a Miss Missoula beauty pageant. In response, Christian evangelicals immediately complained that they had been profiled by Muslim groups objecting to the riots and thus unfairly stereotyped. "We are not condoning these deplorable acts of violence, but mullahs and imams must realize that when people are daily insulted and oppressed they strike out in strange ways."
In other related news, Indonesia issued a strong protest to Washington that the recent explosion at Disneyland that killed 200 Muslim tourists was "no accident" and that it expected stern measures to find the perpetrators of this "foul" deed. In response, press secretary Ari Fleischer denied rumors that a member of the White House staff, in an unauthorized interview, had suggested that "Indonesia should first look inward to discover why so many Westerners spontaneously wish to act out against Islamic visitors."
Adel al-Jubeir, policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, expressed similar concern about growing intolerance toward Saudi citizens in America and predicted, "Just imagine: If America continues with this bias, pretty soon it will be illegal for a Muslim to set up a mosque or proselytize in America. And then, in effect, you will have created a monotheistic state, run by fundamentalists and the religious laws of the Old Testament. A monotheistic state no less!"
"One could argue that we simply asked for it," the chairperson of the American Studies Department of Cairo University remarked. "I can envision a scenario in which we deserve all we get from America. In some sense, I'm ashamed to be from the Middle East. It is humiliating really. And unless we go to the root causes of Western hostility, there may well never be peace. We should examine very carefully our construction of the Western "other," and our culpability for the attendant frustration and sense of helplessness that drives an angry young L.A. surfer dude, a Texas ranch-hand, or a bare-naveled Miami skateboarder to blow themselves up along with Middle Easterners across the globe and then rethink what the Egyptian or Saudi regime really stands for in the world today. They see our gender apartheid, our religious discrimination, our racial castes, tribalism, and autocracy and then all that sexism, racism, and homophobia just overwhelms these idealistic-but-impotent American kids, causing them to strap on some bombs and strike a blow in anguish, as it were, against the patriarchy of imams, mullahs, and sheiks."