The Bush administration's attempt to justify an invasion of Iraq by tying Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda is so transparently desperate that the advocates of war would be better off not even trying. Yesterday, for instance, Secretary of State Colin Powell asserted that Osama bin Laden's latest message to his followers demonstrates his alliance with Saddam.
"He speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq," Powell told the Senate Budget Committee. "This nexus between terrorists and states that are developing weapons of mass destruction can no longer be looked away from and ignored." State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the tape showed "that bin Laden and Saddam Hussein seem to find common ground."
But according to the tape, this "common ground" was created by the United States. "This crusader war is mainly targeting Muslims, regardless of Saddam and the socialist party," bin Laden (assuming it really is him) says. "The fighting should be in the name of God only, not in the name of national ideologies, nor to seek victory for the ignorant governments that rule all Arab states, including Iraq. All Muslims have to begin jihad against this unjust war."
In other words, the threat of war forces bin Laden's Islamist followers to make common cause with a secular dictatorship they despise. The "partnership" that Powell cites to justify war is a product of the plans for war. The fact that Powell is resorting to such circular logic at this late stage suggests that the case for this war as an act of self-defense is as wobbly as ever.