Newspaper logo  
 
 
   Bungling the "War on Terror" while Dreaming of Reelection

POLITICAL COMMENTARY:

Bungling the "War on Terror" while Dreaming of Reelection

by Chris Knipp

As Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."
April 7, 2004 --The situation in Iraq has worsened dramatically in recent days, with a horrible demonstration of how the occupiers are hated reminiscent of Somalia (except that we can’t just pull out this time), and simultaneous armed uprisings in four Iraqi cities. This is not the civil war the Bush camp said it feared but massive opposition to the American led occupation that involves Sunni and Shiite alike. The country is more and more dangerous. The Coalition Provisional Authority is more and more clearly at war with the general population. The Iraqi resistance to the occupation is a fast-growing national movement involving Iraqis of every political and religious stripe. Naomi Klein speaking to Democracy Now from Iraq has said that “The poor Shiite areas of Baghdad are starting to look like Gaza,” and she described the rooftop of Muqtada al-Sadr’s headquarters covered with the blood of his guards shot by increasingly heavy handed American troops. The Iraqi opposition can no longer be attributed to one sect or one geographic region. It’s all over the country, and the Kurdish enclaves may turn out to be the only places where the American occupiers will be safe. Sooner or later the US and its allies in Iraq will have to pull out. Already a poll indicates that support for Bush’s handling of Iraq has dropped from 60% in January to a mere 40%.

Robert Fisk has recently described Iraq as being “on the brink of anarchy.” The disastrous recent situation is entirely due to the US occupation’s bungling. Paul Bremer has turned the hitherto minor Al-Sadr into an Islamist Che Guevara with his own burgeoning army simply by shutting down Al-Sadr’s 10,000-circulation newspaper and making arrests of some of his henchmen. Bremer has failed miserably in protecting the Iraqi people, and in his threats against the Falluja attackers and personal vendetta against Al-Sadr he has inflamed national passions against the occupation.

The idea of the US bringing “democracy” to Iraq, which seemed hubristic and naïve at first, is now an increasingly obvious sham. If and when the occupation “turns over” government to the Iraqis, there will be no elections, and there will be binding laws issued by Bremer and the CPA severely limiting autonomy and promoting outside economic exploitation. So whatever happens to the June 30 deadline for a “turnover,” there will be no end to US control at any time in the foreseeable future under a Bush administration.

If Iraq is Bush’s Vietnam, it’s America’s Vietnam too. A recent report by UPI’s Mark Benjamin points out that in addition to the nearly 700 American deaths (not to mention 10,000 Iraqi ones), there have been 18,004 evacuations, which represent 11,700 US military patients. And Bush has not witnessed one funeral or greeted one returning injured soldier.

In addition to the nearly 700 American deaths in Iraq (not to mention 10,000 Iraqi ones), there have been 18,004 evacuations, representing 11,700 US military patients. And Bush has not witnessed one funeral or greeted one returning injured soldier.

The administration has done all it could to stonewall all inquiries in response to its peculiar handling of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, but its timing has proved faulty. Because it held back its publication as long as it could, Richard Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror, came out just in time to be current for Clarke’s testimony before the 9/11 Commission Clarke and several translators who’ve been outspoken recently have brought out two key issues: warnings of possible aerial Al-Qaida attacks on US soil were there and ignored both before Bush took office and after, and Iraq was always a Bush target even before he took office, a theme stressed earlier this year by former Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill. As CBS summarized O’Neill: “’From the very beginning, there was a conviction. . . that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go’ . . . going after Saddam was topic ‘A’ 10 days after the inauguration -- eight months before Sept. 11.”

The global situation for Bush has altered dramatically in other ways. After a lively campaign with a number of well-qualified contenders, John Kerry has emerged unquestionably as the Democratic Party’s strong opponent to Bush in the November election. The train terrorism attack in Spain that killed 190 rapidly led to the defeat of José Maria Aznar by the socialists, thus losing Bush his major European support. Aznar’s socialist replacement José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero immediately declared the Iraq war a disaster and pledged to withdraw Spanish troops. For those who watch the US’s heavy hand abroad and care about sovereignty and democracy, the way American troops abducted Haiti’s elected president to the Central African Republic and engineered a coup simply by failing to maintain order was an extremely blatant example of illegal, self-interested meddling.

American association with the murderous Sharon government has become increasingly problematic – and passive. On Sharon’s orders Israel very provocatively assassinated Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and the US vetoed UN efforts to censure Israel for this. How to win friends and influence people in the Middle East? Hardly. A way to win popularity at home? It doesn’t look that way.

Despite a presidency that has been little more than an endless reelection campaign (relieved of course by long holidays in Crawford), Bush’s stock has not done well this year (though it has shown a slight rise recently). According to Gallup, “If an incumbent's job approval rating falls below 50% in an election year, then it historically has been the death knell for that president's re-election chances. . .Right now, Bush is on the edge.” The main reason is that his so-called “war on terrorism” is an increasingly blatant failure. But the growth in unemployment (even despite a recent addition of available jobs) isn’t any help either. Nor are the losses in public services and education caused at every local level in the United States by Bush’s wild extravagances and tax cuts for the rich.

As for the pretexts for going to war in Iraq, the missing WMD’s are a staple of late night talk show jokes now. Even Bush made jokes about his inability to find them at a TV and radio correspondents’ dinner, for which he drew much criticism. In fact he showed an admirable ability to laugh at himself on that occasion, but leading the richest, most powerful country in the world is more than goofy frat boy humor, a smile and a photo op. His jokes were not appreciated by the families of the victims of 9/11, or those who died in Iraq because of nonexistent WMD’s.

Commenting on both Bush's failures -- in the local and the international sphere -- and saying “November can’t come too soon,” Senator Ted Kennedy just declared that the President has “broken the basic bond of trust with the American people.” In Worse than Watergate, a new book by John Dean arising out of a column he wrote in June 2003, Dean declares that the current administration is much more secretive and dangerous than Nixon’s.

Bush has done nothing to combat terrorism; his wars have only strengthened Al-Qaida, strained American’s relations with countries all over the world, and multiplied our enemies. His policies have continued to rob a lot of ordinary Americans of their livelihoods and their basic freedoms. If there was any possibility of waging a “war on terrorism,” this is certainly not the way to do it.

Yes, November can’t come too soon. The question is: how many American citizens will see through the lies? How many are clear about the fact that there were no weapons of mass destruction and that Saddam was not connected with Al-Qaida?

As Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” He also said, “Common sense is not so common,” and “In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give it to the other.” Up to date fellow, that Voltaire!


Chris Knipp is a writer based in San Franciso. Visit chrisknipp.com.



Copyright © 2004 The Baltimore Chronicle. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on April 9, 2004.
  
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

12.15 The Rape of Recy Taylor: behind one of the year's most vital documentaries

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

12.17 World Bank will stop financing oil and gas exploration and production

12.17 Brazilian police foil million-dollar fraud to export precious wood to China [clear-cutting forests harshly impacts all life above and below ground-level for decades; it decreases oxygen production and seguestration of CO2 and increases area, frequency and duration of drought]

12.16 How investing in solar energy can create a brighter future for Africa

12.14 Global warming made Hurricane Harvey deadly rains three times more likely, research reveals

12.14 The long read: A different dimension of loss’: inside the great insect die-off

12.14 After years of toxic oil spills, indigenous Peruvians use tech to fight back

12.13 The US is penny wise and pound foolish on the climate

12.13 Arctic permafrost thawing faster than ever, US climate study finds

12.13 Drugs Don't Kill People, Neoliberalism Kills People

12.13 English rivers polluted by powerful insecticides, first tests reveal [Are similar tests of U.S. waters conducted by the EPA anymore? We think not...]

12.12 Ophelia Dahl’s National Health Service

12.12 Overfishing and climate change push seabirds to extinction

12.12 Macron awards US scientists grants to move to France in defiance of Trump

News Media Matters

12.17 A Report to Our Readers

12.15 Net Neutrality Fight 'Not Over': Groups Launch Internet-Wide Campaign Pushing Congress to Overrule FCC Vote

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

12.17 'Making America Stupid Again': Outrage Over Forbidden 7 Words You Can't Say at Trump's CDC [“Stupid is as stupid does.” –Forrest Gump]

12.16 Poverty in US set to increase due to Donald Trump's policies, says UN official [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]

12.16 The crisis ahead: The U.S. is no country for older men and women

12.16 Republicans Despise the Working Class [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]

12.16 Rep. Adam Schiff Warns Republicans Are Moving to Shut Down House Russia Probe, Target Mueller

12.15 The Growing Partisan Divide Over Feminism

12.15 A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America

12.15 Health program for 9 million kids falls victim to partisan squabbling

Justice Matters

12.17 Venue of last resort: the climate lawsuits threatening the future of big oil [something else Republicans are packing the courts for...]

12.15 Who Pays for Judicial Races? The Politics of Judicial Elections 2015-16 [desperately packing the courts at all levels to protect white power & unregulated capitalism]

12.13 US Concern Over 'Pervasive' High-Level Corruption Surging Under Trump: Poll [anyone surprised?]

High Crimes?

12.17 Trump’s Misuse of Intelligence on Iran [immoral behavior that could lead to War]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

12.17 How a Philadelphia nun became the unlikely face of conscientious capitalism [Why don't we teach morality in Law & Business schools?]

12.16 The Republican Tax Bill Provides Huge Benefits to People Who Don’t Work. But Only if They’re Rich. [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]

12.16 The United States Is Now as Unequal as Russia. And That’s Before the Tax Bill. [oligarchy-controlled countries are wonderful for the very rich]

12.16 EU to force firms to reveal true owners in wake of Panama Papers [what are the chances oligarchy-controlled countries (esp. America and Russia) ever agree to fight tax evasion and money landering? International agencies must all mandate common regulations as a condition for UN membership, trade agreements, world bank loans, etc.]

12.15 FCC Chair Ajit Pai 'Shows Just How Dumb He Thinks Americans Are' With Video Mocking Net Neutrality [he won't discuss how giving more monopoly power to cable ISPs will increase consumer costs and stifle innovation]

12.14 World's richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half

12.14 Inequality is not inevitable – but the US 'experiment' is a recipe for divergence

12.13 How big oil is tightening its grip on Donald Trump's White House

12.13 The “Death Tax” Cargo Cult [we lack for morals and sanity in U.S. media & politics]

12.12 Who Broke the Economy? [might the recent template legislation from Koch bros.’ ALEC be implicated?]

International & Futurism

12.17 Africa’s new elite force: women gunning for poachers and fighting for a better life [a good model that converts victims of abuse and cruelty into positive activists with good jobs...]

12.14 Mexico: murders of women rise sharply as drug war intensifies

12.14 Estonia, the Digital Republic

12.14 Israeli undercover soldiers seen arresting Palestinian protesters [Palestinians need more and better weapons for a fair fight]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web

Public Service Ads: