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Wednesday, March 26, 2003
The Dawkins analysis

Richard Dawkins, " Simonyi Professor for the Public Advocacy of Atheism", according to Junius (March 22), had a scattergun piece in The Grauniad last week. He starts in fine style but drifts off into a diatribe about the US electoral system. In marking his essay, I upbraid Dawkins for lack of focus.

Let's deal with the sound bit, only:
Imagine how it [the war] looks from Bin Laden's warped point of view...

If the American victory is swift, Bush will have done our work for us, removing the hated Saddam and opening the way for a decent Islamist government. Even better, in 2004 Bush may actually win an election. Who can guess what that swaggering, strutting little pouter-pigeon will then get up to, and what resentments he will arouse, when he finally has something to swagger about? We shall have so many martyrs volunteering, we shall run out of targets. And a slow and bloody American victory would be better still.
So it's a win-win situation for Osama bin Laden. Given the unerring ability of the US to continue shooting itself so accurately in the foot, e.g. Stars & Stripes over Oom Quasr and "It's hammer time!", the arch-religious fanatic must be chortling in his Oxford bunker.

Coalition attempts to link Saddam Hussein to al Quaeda have always been questionable. As Dawkins puts it
Whatever anyone may say about weapons of mass destruction, or about Saddam's savage brutality to his own people, the reason Bush can now get away with his war is that a sufficient number of Americans, including, apparently, Bush himself, see it as revenge for 9/11
This is worthy of detailed examination. So, Professor Dawkins, keep your eye on the ball and do not be distracted by your own prejudices. You could have highlighted the tenuousness of Iraqi links (if any) with al Qaeda.- recent TV reporting from Northern Iraq (incidentally under Kurdish, not Ba'ath control) suggests that al Qaeda's presence is minimal or even illusory. I would prefer you to have addressed the following issue: why, given that Osama bin Laden is the person who will gain most from Americano-British military adventurism, have the Americans proceeded so ham-fistedly? Leave their electoral system for another, separate rant. OK?

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