Archive for October, 2012

Pushing the War Button

October 28, 2012

As “intelligence failures” over Iraq indicate, governing can have serious  consequences.  Still, it’s not necessarily true that we can’t afford another corrupt  administration.   If we so wish, we can afford virtually any leadership  that comes down the pike. They can simply remind us, as Bush and his predecessors  constantly do, that the US is chiefly responsible for “the  spread of liberty and democracy” in the world.   In other words, Americans are inherently benign — provided we have strong leadership above us.  Supposedly, 9/11 makes it more so, for it apparently instantly  added legitimacy to the state. After all, as Bush said in his final State of  the Union address, “We have taken the fight to these  terrorists and extremists.” Implied is that all other questions are nonessential to this divine quest. Bush also suggested that, “wherever freedom advances in the Middle East, it seems the Iranian regime is there to oppose  it.”  This is because “Iran is funding and training militia groups  in Iraq, supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon, and backing Hamas’ efforts to undermine peace in the Holy Land,” and “Tehran is also developing ballistic missiles of increasing range, and continues  to develop its capability to enrich uranium, which could be used to create a nuclear weapon.” (1)

Of course, as always, US nuclear weapons and missile defense programs are just fine. For example, in London on Thursday, February 18, 1999, House  Policy Chairman Christopher Cox candidly assured us the following: “Some of the research and development for our current ballistic missile defense program dates back to Britain’s response to the German V-2 ballistic missile attack in the last world  war. Today, we talk of the amazing successors to these technologies: guidance systems utilizing kinetic energy, hit-to-kill intercepts of ballistic missile targets, and such things as indium antimonide and gallium arsenide quantum wells. American scientists’ attention is focused principally on advanced theater missile  defense now, to protect forward-deployed and expeditionary elements of  our armed forces,” and those of chosen “allies.” Where is the moral outrage over these weapons programs? No one is supposed to have it. Like a good salesman, Cox’s language implied that missile defense (and defense spending generally) was more important than ever before. Again, it’s okay for American missiles  to be advanced, but Iran is a different story  entirely because theirs would be against ours. (2)

Also implied in Bush’s address is that only Islamic states and terrorists have unjustly abused “the Holy Land”. Did any military-happy American President urge Israel out of  south Lebanon, or to drop its weapons programs?  No, and supposedly because “America is a force for hope in the world” and “a compassionate people,” as are its  official allies. That’s the official script. To veer away from it supposedly makes one an unsavory character. Under this principle, fire coming from “our” hostile troops, as well as “our” bombs  from above, are hopeful and compassionate — presumably unless a key  American politician declares otherwise.  Until then, everything must be well-intentioned.   If we believe something like this, we can stand squarely with President Bush.  Then, of course, Bush can ironically warn Iran (or countries  he doesn’t like):  “Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations  can begin,” and tell them that, “to rejoin the community  of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home and cease your support for terror abroad.” (1)

Supposedly, America’s control of Baghdad was never in any way oppressive or terroristic.   This is why, during his famous 48 hour warning to Iraq, Bush warned that, “For their own safety, all foreign  nationals — including journalists and inspectors — should leave Iraq immediately.” Somehow, terror of any kind is simply not implied here. In this case, any perceived terror must have been merely a subjective feeling, just some emotionally charged mental hyperbole. (3)   On the other hand, reports of a “‘two-way pipeline’  moving Islamic militants between Europe and Zarqawi’s network in Iraq”  (and other such reports) are a matter for total alarm. (4)

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hamed al-Bayati,  expressed his own interest in further alliances, urging the “international community” to “provide greater support to the Iraqi government in confronting terror groups that are active worldwide, like Zarqawi’s group,  al-Qaeda and others.”   (5)      So why stop warring now, or ever?   As Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari reminded us, “car bombs  can be exported everywhere.” Iraq’s Shia-dominated Government sensibly admits that elections didn’t end the insurgency. As al-Jaafari stated: “You all know the heavy legacy inherited  by this Government.  We are afflicted by corruption, lack of services, unemployment and  mass graves.”  (6)

And, of course, anyone against American efforts can be accused* of “agreeing” with al-Qaeda, or any other Islamic terrorist  organization.  We’re supposed to be practically ahistorical.    We’re not supposed to care about the support America gave to the radical Islamic Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, even though these same fanatics later gave as al-Qaeda  and the Taliban.   Or, if we are to look at that example, we’re  supposed to justify it because of the Soviet Union and play the “lesser of two evils” game.

However, we actually can condemn all of al-Qaeda, the US government, and the  Soviet invasion of Afghanistan for their corresponding roles.  We needn’t play the “lesser of two evils” game.  Let’s not be so dishonest as to regard 9-11 as some historical cut-off point, and that the  US (and Britain, France, Germany and others) were “leaving the  Middle East alone” until a fateful day in 2001. Unfortunately, though, “lesser of two evils” remains a very popular  game. It’s pervasive even after it was reported by the New York Times  that ISI, the intelligence service of Pakistan (“a crucial American  ally in the war on terrorism”), has had “an indirect  but longstanding relationship with Al Qaeda, turning a blind eye  for years to the growing ties between Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.”  How “indirect” the relationship has been remains questionable.   Allegedly, the ISI “even used Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan to train covert operatives for use in a war of terror against India.” Said one State Department official on the matter:  “I think the Pakistanis realized as time went on that they had  made a bad deal…. But they couldn’t find an easy way out of it.” But the C.I.A., going down the usual route, still “equipped and  financed a special commando unit that Pakistan had offered to  create to capture Mr. bin Laden.”  (7)

That Pakistani intelligence would fail shouldn’t be entirely surprising. US authorities themselves “have stated that more than a third of those rounded up after the September 11 attacks and still in custody were people of Pakistani origin.”  John Ashcroft said that, of the 641 people detained in  the US in connection with the attacks, “over 200 came  to the United States from Pakistan”. This is not to say all those detained were even guilty, but that the US government seems suspicious of Pakistanis in general. It makes an alliance of doubtful merit, at best. (8)

According to high-ranking officials, military intelligence has been a consistent problem with capturing or killing al-Qaeda members, as it was with bin Laden. During the Clinton years, “the information was usually only at the ’50-60% confidence  level, not sufficient to justify American military action,” wrote CIA Director George Tenet in his memoir. ‘As much as we all wanted Bin Ladin dead, the  use of force by a superpower requires information, discipline, and  time.  We rarely had the information in sufficient quantities or the  time to evaluate and act on it.” (9)

Now that bin Laden is dead, how much new information must the US government take in, how much more time must be spent on war-making, and must we continue to act like the full history doesn’t matter?

SOURCES: 1.  President Bush’s final State of the Union Address.  Chamber of the United States House of Representatives.  United States Capitol.  Office of the Press Secretary.   January 28, 2008:  [url]www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-13.html[/url]

2.  Address to the European-Atlantic Group. Hon. Christopher Cox Chairman, House Policy Committee London, Thursday, February 18, 1999 [located on Usenet]

3.  “President Says Saddam Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours.  Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation”:  [url]http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030317-7.html[/url]

4.  “Desperate Londoners seek survivors after bombings.” Katherine Baldwin and Kate Holton (Reuters): [url]http://redorbit.com/news/general/168696/desperate_londoners_seek_survivors_after_bombings/index.html[/url]

5.  “Steep rise in London death toll” Mail & guardian Online: [url]http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=244896&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__international_news/[/url]

6.  “Terror chief losing grip, says US,” James Hider, Times Online: [url]http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,7374-1596751,00.html[/url]

7.  “A NATION CHALLENGED: THE SPIES; Pakistani Intelligence Had Ties To Al Qaeda, U.S. Officials Say ,”  James Risen, Judith Miller, New york Times, October 29, 2001: [url]http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B03E3D61630F93AA15753C1A9679C8B63[/url]

8.  “US feared ISI during Clinton’s Pakistan visit: Report,” rediff.com, November 30, 2001: [url]http://www.rediff.com/news/2001/nov/30clint.htm[/url]

9.    “U.S. ABORTED RAID ON QAEDA CHIEFS IN PAKISTAN IN ’05,” Marlk Mazzetti, The New York Times, May 4, 2009: [url]http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9500E6D7133EF93BA35754C0A9619C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all[/url])

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