Coded Messages

Coded messages are everywhere, particularly since the publication a few years ago of Dan Brown’s The Bible Code. The Bush administration claimed that Osama bin Laden’s broadcasts after 9/11 might contain secret messages to terrorist cells in the US, as if people intelligent enough to figure out a plan to attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon couldn’t find a better way to communicate than the off chance that a videotape in a foreign language might get broadcast on American cable news channels. I mean, you’d have to be an idiot to actually believe that.

But the messages are everywhere, in everything we do apparently. People who are supposed to be leading this country on both sides of the party aisle are so paralyzed with fear about what “message” they’ll send with their actions that they do nothing instead of actually thinking about their next step.

Supporters of continued occupation in Iraq claim many things about the message a US withdrawal would send. In the words of Scott McClellan, for instance:

It would be absolutely the wrong message to send to set some sort of artificial timetable. It would be the wrong message to send to the terrorists; it would be the wrong message to send to the Iraqi people; and it would be the wrong message to send to our troops.

What kind of message is sent, I wonder, when we invade a country on false evidence? What message is sent when we stay in that country once we know the evidence is wrong? What message do we send when tens of thousands of people are killed because of our error?

War supporters have said Osama and his followers would be laughing at the US if it pulled out of Iraq. But would he be laughing if we sent those forces after him instead? Just asking.