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So let’s get this straight.
George Bush says that the war on terror-that enterprise which to him encompasses the special forces actions and aerial bombardments of Afghanistan and the quagmire guerrilla war of attrition in Iraq, as well as the gutting of civil liberties here at home under the rubric of the USA Patriot Act-cannot be won after all.
He used to be fond of talking cowboy talk, and saying we were going to "smoke ‘em out" and win.
Now it’s all become more like the old War on Drugs-a kind of permanent war and police state action–only this time, instead of just being in certain Latin American countries and American urban centers, it’s everywhere.
You might think that if you’re in a war you can’t win, the wise thing to do would be to start thinking of some way to settle. That’s the usual way these things go, unless you want to get into some prolonged period of torment like the 30 years’ war in Europe, or the even longer period of conflict of China’s Three Kingdom’s period. But apparently Bush expects us to just buy into permanent conflict and a life of Yellow, Orange and Red Alerts.
They’ve now grabbed the ground that Bush has just surrendered. Instead of taking this moment to denounce his winless War on Terror as a fool’s business, which they should have done long ago, but at least could do now that Bush is caving in, Kerry and his gang are blasting Bush for being a defeatist, of all things, and saying that unlike him, they can win this "war."
For the record, while at least some Democrats sensibly recognize that the U.S. invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with the fighting terror, Kerry and his policy think tankers also think they can win that war, even as Bush seems to be having second thoughts there too-at least to the point that he is finally admitting that his invasion plan was a bomb.
So here we are, with just nine weeks to go before Election Day, and we’ve got a president telling us that we can’t win any of the wars he started, and an opponent saying we shouldn’t listen to such wimpy loser talk-the presumption being that we should be prepared to fight both conflicts-the War in Iraq and the War on Terror, even harder, so we can "win."
The sad thing is that at this point, it appears that it’s Bush, who has watched his grand military schemes crash and burn in the deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, who is starting to show some signs that he may be learning humility and, dare one hope, wisdom, while Kerry is going off the deep end, pretending to be a general.
At the rate things are going, we may end up by November 2 with Bush being the peace candidate, offering to cut a deal with Iraqi insurgents to pull U.S. troops out in return for a vague promise of elections (the Nixon "Peace with Honor" solution to the disaster in Vietnam), and abandoning Afghanistan after its plebecite, and Kerry waving his medals and beating the drums of war with calls for more troops to go to both countries.
As for that so-called War on Terror, remember that the War on Drugs was started by Ron Reagan and continued by the first George Bush, but it was carried on aggressively by Bill Clinton, who introduced his own set of Patriot Act-like measures undermining Constitutional Liberties. Given that Kerry voted for the Bush/Ashcroft Patriot Act back in 2001, there’s no reason not to assume that he’ll soldier on in that war too, if elected.
It’s all enough to make your head spin.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" to be published this fall by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org