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.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail