The flyer sent out to those interested in joining the International Flat Earth Society declares: 'One thing we know for sure about this world . . . the known inhabited world is Flat, Level, a Plain World [sic].' Forget Columbus . Forget Magellan. Forget all those photographs from space; the space missions were no doubt fakes anyway. Forget the fact that nobody has ever fallen off the end of the earth. The earth is flat!
'Our aim,' the flyer continues, 'is . . . to be an aid to the Elite Human Being in coming to KNOW earth flat . . . to then FREE his or her mind from such blind unreasoning 'theory-superstition',' by which they mean modern science. 'Only the illogical, unreasoning 'herd' . . . prefers the way-out occult weird theology of the old Greek superstitution earth a spinning ball!' (Please forgive the irregular grammar, spelling, and capitalization. These 'Elite Human Beings' have their own way of writing English, probably as a rebellion against the established rules, which are 'way-out occult weird theology,' too.)
The Society is pretty clear: We believe'no, we know'that the earth is flat. All of the supposed evidence to the contrary is nothing more than 'blind unreasoning 'theory-superstition',' and we want to free your mind from such utter nonsense.
In like manner, the Bush administration persists in promulgating a flat earth foreign policy: We believe that Saddam Hussein had massive stockpiles of WMDs and an ongoing WMD program, that Saddam Hussein was working hand-in-glove with al-Qaeda, and that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. We believed this before the war on Iraq , and we believe it now, despite the supposed evidence to the contrary. In fact, that evidence is nothing more than superstition offered up by anti-American, pro-Saddam cultists who want you to believe that their so-called facts are superior to our elite, inside knowledge of the mysteries of the universe. The earth is flat, and Saddam was the biggest threat to the world since Hitler. Trust us.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, for example, just a couple of weeks ago announced that while he had seen no 'smoking gun, concrete evidence about the connection' between Iraq and al-Qaeda, he nevertheless 'believe[s] the connections existed.' Got that? All the evidence indicates that Saddam and al-Qaeda would have nothing to do with each other, but Powell still believes that they were best buddies.
President Bush, responding to David Kay's testimony this week that Iraq never had the WMD stockpiles or programs that the administration claimed he did, said on Tuesday: 'There was no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a grave and gathering threat to America and the world.' He added that 'given the offense of September 11, we know we could not trust the good intentions of Saddam Hussein because he didn't have any.' On Friday, while pretending to be interested in finding out where prewar intelligence went wrong, he added: 'Saddam Hussein . . . was a growing danger.'
Mr. President, may I recommend you for membership in the International Flat Earth Society? We have Kay's testimony that there were no WMDs, or even WMD programs. We have Powell's testimony that there were no connections between Iraq and al-Qaeda. We also have the testimony of the speedy takeover of Baghdad that Saddam's vaunted Republican Guard couldn't even have defeated a Boy Scout troop. Yet you persist in believing that Saddam was somehow behind 9/11 and that he was a 'grave and gathering threat to America and the world.' Apparently all of this evidence is just so much superstition designed to fool the 'illogical, unreasoning 'herd',' as the Society puts it. Only you 'Elite Human Beings' know the truth.
The flat earth foreign policy is not something that has cropped up only since the president declared the mission accomplished back on May 1. As a matter of fact, it's been in place since the beginning of the administration, if former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is to be believed. Certainly it's been in evidence since the push for war on Iraq began not long after 9/11.
How else to explain the administration's insistence on Iraq 's WMD stockpiles, weapons programs, and al-Qaeda connections all along? After all, if I, a lowly taxpayer in Pittsburgh, could know with relative certainty well before the war that there were no weapons, weapons programs, or al-Qaeda connections, how is it that the most powerful man in the world, who has access to the most sophisticated intelligence apparatus ever devised, could continue to believe such obvious falsehoods? It's no use blaming it on the CIA. They were, in general, not nearly as sanguine about the existence of the weapons and terrorist connections as the administration was. Furthermore, there were plenty of assessments from the intelligence services of other countries that did not support the 'grave and gathering threat' thesis, either. For that matter, even a cursory glance at news sources on the Internet (see, for example, the archives of STR or LewRockwell.com or Antiwar.com) should have been enough to put at least a reasonable amount of doubt into the mind of any president who had not already made up his mind that Iraq was simply overflowing with nukes and terrorists. Then again, any president who is so na've as to trust his advisers to give him objective reports without checking any outside sources, as Bush has confessed to doing, isn't really too concerned with the facts, much like a flat-earther who would rather go to a Society meeting than pick up a science textbook.
The president told us his faith-based initiative was about funneling federal money to religious charities. What he didn't tell us is that it also describes his foreign policy.
Mr. Columbus, you might as well have stayed in Italy.