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 Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.23 Environmentalists Are Ignoring the Elephant In the Room: U.S. Military Is the World’s Largest Polluter [Since Trump had the EPA's records on global warming and pollution destroyed—and thus reporting world-wide has nearly stopped, let's pick on the US Military]

05.23 White House proposes slashing funds to clean up toxic sites despite EPA's pleas [far worse than just being stupid]

05.22 China and India Make Big Strides on Climate Change

05.22 The entire health care industry is panicking that Trump is about to blow up Obamacare

05.22 Air pollution linked to poor sleep, study finds

05.22 Trump's Fox News deputy national security advisor fooled him with climate fake news

05.21 Canada eases steps to open supervised drug injection sites amid opioid crisis

05.21 Canada First Nations reserve bars outsiders amid opioid crisis

05.20 Global Study Shows Americans Dying from Preventable Causes at Shocking Rates [“What a country!” —Yakov Smirnoff]

05.20 China claims breakthrough in mining 'flammable ice' [might greater release of methane to our atmosphere become a larger problem?]

05.20 ETP Spills Two Million Gallons of Drilling Material in Ohio

05.20 Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts

05.19 How Australia can use hydrogen to export its solar power around the world

05.19 Dirty diesel: why ships are the worst offenders

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.23 Hiding in plain sight: how the 'alt-right' is weaponizing irony to spread fascism

05.23 More Bernie, less Trump: is this how Democrats will win Montana's special election?

05.23 Trump's budget: major slashes to social programs – but $1.6bn for the wall [disgusting that this was proposed at all]

05.22 Billionaires Lay Siege to State Governments

05.22 A Living Wage: A Human Right for All

05.21 Nurses heckle Democratic leader, threaten legislators over health care [videos]

05.21 The small Texas city fighting to remain a ‘safe haven’ for immigrants [morally right & courageous]

Justice Matters

05.20 WILL ROBERT MUELLER EXPLORE TRUMP’S RUSSIAN BUSINESS TIES?

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.23 Doughnut Economics – Grab a pencil, draw a doughnut!

05.20 Americans Are Paying $38 to Collect $1 of Student Debt

05.20 The Malta Files: How the smallest EU country became a haven for global tax avoidance [why can't we play nice together?]

International

05.23 Iran's Rouhani denounces US' Middle East ignorance

05.23 Could an Islamic reformation prevent violent radicalisation in Egypt? [denied vital lives enmasse, angry youth rebel in the only way that has any effect]

05.23 Kids on the streets of Kabul get another chance at childhood

05.23 Up to 150 children under five die each day in Aung San Suu Kyi's Myanmar

05.23 At least 22 dead and 50 injured, in suicide bomb attack at Manchester Arena

05.23 Facebook flooded with 'sextortion' and revenge porn, files reveal [wake-up people, don't let kids 'play' here]

05.22 Revealed: Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence

05.22 Big game hunter is crushed to death when an elephant he was hunting in Zimbabwe is shot and falls on top of him [a fitting death to an elephant killer]

05.22 Tensions rise as Uganda refugee policy is pushed to breaking point

05.22 Outnumbering refugees two to one: how the world ignores war's greatest scandal

05.22 Kashmir conflict shifts with top militant vowing fight is for an Islamic state

05.21 UK needs more immigrants to 'avoid Brexit catastrophe' [who benefits from bad "conservative" policy?]

05.21 THE LIGHTS ARE GOING OUT IN THE MIDDLE EAST [we suggest enticing a solar panel and battery manufacturers to locate in your countries to diversify economies and create jobs. use solar to empower yourselves...]

05.21 Rouhani’s victory is good news for Iran, but bad news for Trump and his Sunni allies

05.21 Budget analysis shows some Australian women hit with effective marginal tax rates of 100% ["conservatives" are cruel to the poor and desperate everywhere, to protect themselves from higher taxes]

05.21 Venezuela: 50th day of protests brings central Caracas to a standstill [who does interventions for countries? could the UN help more?]

05.21 Brexit and the coming food crisis: ‘If you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country’ [fear-based nationalism will become a costly problem]

05.21 Massimo Bottura and his global movement to feed the hungry

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: