( – promoted by buhdydharma )
But I couldn’t think of anything to say that I didn’t say last year on March 19 when I posted this at Edgeing, or think of anything to say that hasn’t been said many times before, and by many other than myself.
Tomorrow marks the
four FIVE year anniversary of the attack on and invasion of Iraq as American missiles hit targets in Baghdad on March 20, 2003 in the start of a US led campaign to topple Saddam Hussein. In the following days US and British ground troops entered Iraq from the south and over the next few weeks rather quickly overcame the little resistance the Iraqi Army was able to offer.
On May 1 of that year George W. Bush, in a needlessly theatrical stunt, landed in a jet on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and wearing a flight suit in a staged attempt to look as macho as possible for the photo opportunity, announced that “In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed”, standing with an enormous banner displaying the words “Mission Accomplished” as the backdrop for a ridiculous, deceitful propaganda event.
Since “Mission Accomplished” more US soldiers have died in Iraq than the number of Americans who died in the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, an event that George W. Bush and the White House propaganda machine has repeatedly tried to insinuate was carried out with the backing and involvement of former Iraq President Saddam Hussein as part of their attempts to justify the Iraq invasion and subsequent occupation as being the central front in Bush’s so-called War On Terror, which I have often renamed the “War On Thinking”.
Since “Mission Accomplished” tens of thousands of American soldiers have returned home to their friends and families crippled, blinded, burned, poisoned, and maimed, or dead.
Since “Mission Accomplished” the invasion and occupation of Iraq has become known as George W. Bush’s Iraq and Mid-East Debacle.
Since “Mission Accomplished” nearly one million Iraqis, about seven hundred and fifty thousand of them defenseless Iraqi children and women, have died needlessly.
Since “Mission Accomplished” George W. Bush’s accomplishments have become “in horrible reality a cowardly War on Women and Children, a War on Asian Women and Children and a War on Muslim Women and Children.”
Since “Mission Accomplished” the anti-war movement has steadily grown, but has made little real progress towards ending the Debacle in Iraq.
Since “Mission Accomplished” the approval ratings of George W. Bush and the Republican Party have steadily declined, but has resulted in little real progress towards ending the Debacle in Iraq.
Since “Mission Accomplished” the Democratic Party has retaken majority control of the House Of Representatives and of the United States Senate, but has made little real progress towards ending the Debacle in Iraq.
Yesterday March 18, Katrina Vanden Heuvel writing in the Editor’s Cut Blog at The Nation noted:
As we mark what may well be the most colossal foreign policy disaster in US history, we mourn the death and destruction–which has not ended. We mark the lies and delusions that launched this war–since they too are continuing.
The majority of the American people have found their way to the truth and are demanding an end to this catastrophe. Yet the political system continues to crawl hesitantly toward accepting the enormity of this failure.
She then moves quickly to the real heart of the matter, to the deeper questions that will need to be addressed and answered if the Debacle, which terrifyingly is only a symptom of a larger problem, is ever to be ended:
But as we mark the anniversary of the Iraq war, it is also time to consider the longterm damage the misconceived “war on terrorism” has inflicted on our security and engagement with the world. Eventually US troops will leave Iraq because the brutal facts on the ground will compel it. But even as we struggle to get out of this failed war, our political system continues to evade the challenge of finding an exit from the “war on terror.” At a time when we need a coherent alternative to the Bush doctrine and an alternative vision of what this country’s role in the world should be, we see both parties calling for intensifying the “war on terror” –even for increasing the size of the military, and for expanding its ability to go places and do things. But who is asking the fundamental question: Won’t a war without end do more to weaken our security and democracy than seriously address the threats and challenges ahead?
Katrina then moves beyond the questions to begin making some concrete suggestions:
Fighting terror requires genuine cooperation with other nations in policing and lawful and targeted intelligence work; smart diplomacy; withdrawal of support for oppressive regimes that generate hatred of the US; and real pressure to bring about negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians with the goal of achieving peace and security for Israel and justice and a secure state for the Palestinians. (There are other effective means of combating terrorism; what is important is that they are harnessed and coordinated so as to provide a true alternative to hyper-military ventures.)
Katrina is on the right track here, and she has some heavyweight agreement with her thinking and perspective on how to fight terror.
Last June author Salman Rushdie was interviewed by Bill Moyers on Moyer’s Faith and Reason program. The video is here and the transcript here. Rushdie drew a very apt and instructive analogy to the long history of ‘terrorism’ troubles Britain had to deal with from the IRA that can be of help in understanding what we are dealing with when considering what we can do about fringe groups like Al Qaeda:
ALMAN RUSHDIE: There are people, as I say, you have to defeat, you know. But I’m talking about the enormous culture of which they’re the pimple on the nose of it. And I think in the end the way in which radical Islam will be defeated is when ordinary Islam, you know, when the regular world of the Muslim faith comes to reject the idea that they will be represented by, defined by that kind of extremist behavior.
BILL MOYERS: But many people say that that kind of extremist behavior is part and parcel of the ideology of the heart of Islam. What do you–
SALMAN RUSHDIE: I don’t think necessarily. I mean, the IRA was not intrinsically– was not somehow arising from something intrinsic to Catholicism. And actually the IRA is a relevant example. Because when the Catholics of Northern Ireland became disillusioned by being represented by the IRA that is what brought the IRA to the peace table. At that moment their power disappeared. And that’s why I’m saying that it is in a way incumbent on the Muslim world to reject Islamic radicalism, because that is what will remove the power of Islamic radicalism.
BILL MOYERS: Is America doomed to live under a fatwah as you did? Under the threat of terrorism for a long time, as you did?
SALMAN RUSHDIE: Yes, I think. But I mean, I think everywhere is dangerous now. You know the world is not a safe place; and there are no safe corners of it. And actually, there probably never have been. I think, in a way, America was insulated from that for awhile by the enormous power of America. But even that no longer insulates. So I think we do have to accept that the world is like that now. And I think ‘ one of the reasons I can say this is that, having lived in England during the years of the of the IRA campaign ‘ it became something that people, in a way, came to accept. That every so often a bomb would go off in a shopping mall, shopping center, and in the end, people refused to allow that to change their daily lives and just proceeded. And I think that refusal to be deflected from the path of normality also played a great deal of the role in the defeat of the IRA, that they didn’t achieve their goal. And I think it is, I mean, it’s something I’ve written quite a bit about, that the answer to terrorism is not to be terrorized, and it becomes important to continue–
Continue we must learn to do, and Katrina Vanden Heuvel concludes her article with still more concrete ideas, that I think taken in the spirit that Rushdie delineated, are the only reasonable way left forward.
If we are to go forward:
With the 2008 elections looming, it is unlikely that the Democrats (with a few honorable exceptions) will rethink their official national security strategy in any significant way. But citizens committed to a vision of real security can launch a debate framed by our own concerns and values. If we have learned anything in the past six years, it is that even overwhelming military power is ill suited to dealing with the central challenges of the 21st century: climate crisis, the worst pandemic in human history (AIDS), the spread of weapons of mass destruction, stateless terrorists with global reach, genocidal conflict and starvation afflicting Africa, and a global economy that is generating greater instability and inequality.
A real security plan would widen the definition to include all threats to human life, whether they stem from terrorism, disease, environmental degradation, natural disasters or global poverty–a definition that makes it clear that the military is only one of many tools that can be used to address urgent threats. A last resort. This alternative security strategy would also reconfigure the US presence in the world – reducing the footprint of American military power, pulling back the forward deployments drastically and reducing the bloated Pentagon budget by as much as half.
Yes, at home, all this will take time and have to overcome the fiercest kind of political resistance. Yet this is not an impossible political goal, now that Americans have seen where the military option leads. Dealing intelligently with reality is not retreat. It is the first wise step toward restoring real national security.
Princeton Universities Wilson School has in fact been working on devising a new cogent and workable foreign policy for America that may show promise. The Princeton Project on National Security on September 29, 2006 released their final report in the form of 96 page PDF document titled “Forging a World of Liberty Under Law, U.S. National Security In The 21st Century, which according to thir mission statement was developed by 400 contributors over a 2 year period, to “set forth agreed premises or foundational principles to guide the development of specific national security strategies by successive administrations in coming decades”.
The Princeton Project’s report is here. Trust Albert Einstein’s old alma mater to take up this challenge. How apt!
“He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
Perhaps the War On Thinking is being won after all? And how could it be otherwise, really. Everything begins with an idea. Bush and the Republicans never really had any. And liberals by their nature cannot help but have many.