FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Surrender in War on Terrorism

by David Vest

Nine months into the global war on terrorism, if we can believe the Bush administration, al Qaeda is stronger than ever, its tentacles wrapped around the planet, running wild from Iraq to the Philippines, all along the Axis of Evil from Nowhere to North Korea.

I was discussing this the other day with my old friend Leon Despair, who wanted no part of it. “Christ, you people make it sound like we’d have been better off if the U.S. had surrendered on 9/11. Just run a white flag up from the Nebraska bunker where Bush was hiding.”

The thing you have to know about Leon is this: he’ll accuse you of something outrageous, and a minute later he’ll turn around and be advocating it himself, while you’re still trying to organize a defense.

“Look,” he said, “desperate measures for desperate times. If this was an actual war we’d have surrendered months ago.”

And off he went, making the “case” for surrender. Let me see if I can remember his main points. His argument went something like this.

For starters, after nine months of all-out war the general public certainly appears to be no safer than it was on the morning of September 11. Airline security has not noticeably improved. It took the government almost as long to develop a terror alert color scheme no one understands (or uses) as it did to process the visa requests of some of the dead hijackers.

And now we have the “reorganization” of Homeland Security into a new department. Suddenly the guy with the color scheme is running the Coast Guard. With all the turf fighting, Washington looks like the loya jirga.

John Ashcroft, chief among the Bush warlords, likes to be called simply “General.” Has this ever happened before with an Attorney General? Did anyone but a mail room intern ever call Janet Reno or Ramsey Clark “General”?

If Bush calls Ashcroft “General,” what does he call the Acting Surgeon General (assuming he ever sees him)?

On an almost daily basis, either “General” or Fleischer or Rumsfeld backtracks from the warning of the day before, as the administration tries simultaneously to explain earlier warnings it failed to heed. “Explain” and “clarify” have become synonyms for “change the subject.”

It’s important for them to get their story straight, says Leon, because it’s hard to scare people with dirty bombs from Brooklyn and sell them on a Star Wars missile shield in the same news cycle without being caught “off message.”

Meanwhile, whoever mailed the anthrax is still at large (so is Eric Rudolph, North Carolina’s very own bin Laden).

In between fits of nostalgia for Nixon, the media run stories accusing journalists of “treason” for even reporting the story. On Sunday, June 16, the Washington Post ran an op-ed piece by a senior State Department intelligence analyst blaming “our system of open information” for terrorist initiatives.

“You know what that means?” says Leon. “It means that the best and the brightest yet walk among us.”

According to these guys, the “public” and “terrorists” are virtually the same thing: you can’t inform one without informing the other. So we have to forget about our civil liberties and our freedoms, otherwise the terrorists win. It’s like what we used to hear in the Vietnam era, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” This time it’s not a village, it’s the Constitution.

Sooner or later, as public officials display an increasing willingness to destroy the values and principles of the country in order to defend it, a critical mass of people are bound to wonder what’s really the greatest threat, the attack from outside or the assault from within.

We have already reached the point where the idea of torturing prisoners and executing the families of suicide bombers are acceptable topics in the public discourse.

And that’s just the home front.

Abroad, in the months since 9/11 the Middle East has exploded into new depths of savagery while India and Pakistan have moved to the brink of nuclear war. It was enough to cause the president to display a hitherto-unremarked interest in foreign affairs: only a couple of weeks ago in Europe he asked the president of Brazil, in front of witnesses, whether he had any Blacks in his country. At this rate, he may be able to name all the continents by the time he leaves office.

After tons of smart bombing in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar remain as elusive as they were on the tenth of September, assuming they are alive. “For all I know, they’re sitting in the loya jirga right now, making deals,” says Leon.

Every day the hints about an invasion of Iraq grow stronger. But consider this scenario: What if, after nine months of pounding Iraq, Saddam Hussein were still at large? Would we look for him in North Korea?

Thirty years ago, when we were mired in Vietnam, waist deep in the big muddy, groping in the silt for an exit strategy, cynical (i.e., wise) people were saying the U.S. should just declare victory and come on home.

“Is that the kind of surrender you had in mind?” I wanted to ask Leon, but he was gone again.

David Vest writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He is a poet and piano-player for the Pacific Northwest’s hottest blues band, The Cannonballs.

He can be reached at: davidvest@springmail.com

Visit his website at http://www.rebelangel.com

 

DAVID VEST writes the Rebel Angel column for CounterPunch. He and his band, The Willing Victims, have just released a scorching new CD, Serve Me Right to Shuffle. His essay on Tammy Wynette is featured in CounterPunch’s new collection on art, music and sex, Serpents in the Garden.

Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Richard Falk
If Obama Visits Hiroshima
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Eva Golinger
My Country, My Love: a Conversation with Gerardo and Adriana of the Cuban Five
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Vijay Prashad
Political Violence in Honduras
Paul Krane
Where Gun Control Ought to Start: Disarming the Police
David Anderson
Al Jazeera America: Goodbye to All That Jazz
Rob Hager
Platform Perversity: More From the Campaign That Can’t Strategize
Pat Williams
FDR in Montana
Dave Marsh
Every Day I Read the Book (the Best Music Books of the Last Year)
David Rosen
Job Satisfaction Under Perpetual Stagnation
John Feffer
Big Oil isn’t Going Down Without a Fight
Murray Dobbin
The Canadian / Saudi Arms Deal: More Than Meets the Eye?
Gary Engler
The Devil Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Is Washington Preparing for War Against Russia?
Manuel E. Yepe
The Big Lies and the Small Lies
Robert Fantina
Vice Presidents, Candidates and History
Mel Gurtov
Sanctions and Defiance in North Korea
Howard Lisnoff
Still the Litmus Test of Worth
Dean Baker
Big Business and the Overtime Rule: Irrational Complaints
Ulrich Heyden
Crimea as a Paradise for High-Class Tourism?
Ramzy Baroud
Did the Arabs Betray Palestine? – A Schism between the Ruling Classes and the Wider Society
Halyna Mokrushyna
The War on Ukrainian Scientists
Joseph Natoli
Who’s the Better Neoliberal?
Ron Jacobs
The Battle at Big Brown: Joe Allen’s The Package King
Wahid Azal
Class Struggle and Westoxication in Pahlavi Iran: a Review of the Iranian Series ‘Shahrzad’
David Crisp
After All These Years, Newspapers Still Needed
Graham Peebles
Hungry and Frightened: Famine in Ethiopia 2016
Robert Koehler
Opening the Closed Political Culture
Missy Comley Beattie
Waves of Nostalgia
Thomas Knapp
The Problem with Donald Trump’s Version of “America First”
Georgina Downs
Hillsborough and Beyond: Establishment Cover Ups, Lies & Corruption
Jeffrey St. Clair
Groove on the Tracks: the Magic Left Hand of Red Garland
Ben Debney
Kush Zombies: QELD’s Hat Tip to Old School Hip Hop
Charles R. Larson
Moby Dick on Steroids?
David Yearsley
Miles Davis: Ace of Baseness
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail