Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Surrender in War on Terrorism

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

 

More articles by:

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.

May 23, 2018
Nick Pemberton
Maduro’s Win: A Bright Spot in Dark Times
Ben Debney
A Faustian Bargain with the Climate Crisis
Deepak Tripathi
A Bloody Hot Summer in Gaza: Parallels With Sharpeville, Soweto and Jallianwala Bagh
Farhang Jahanpour
Pompeo’s Outrageous Speech on Iran
Josh White
Strange Recollections of Old Labour
CJ Hopkins
The Simulation of Democracy
Lawrence Davidson
In Our Age of State Crimes
Dave Lindorff
The Trump White House is a Chaotic Clown Car Filled with Bozos Who Think They’re Brilliant
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Domination of West Virginia
Ty Salandy
The British Royal Wedding, Empire and Colonialism
Laura Flanders
Life or Death to the FCC?
Gary Leupp
Dawn of an Era of Mutual Indignation?
Katalina Khoury
The Notion of Patriarchal White Supremacy Vs. Womanhood
Nicole Rosmarino
The Grassroots Environmental Activist of the Year: Christine Canaly
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
“Michael Inside:” The Prison System in Ireland 
May 22, 2018
Stanley L. Cohen
Broken Dreams and Lost Lives: Israel, Gaza and the Hamas Card
Kathy Kelly
Scourging Yemen
Andrew Levine
November’s “Revolution” Will Not Be Televised
Ted Rall
#MeToo is a Cultural Workaround to a Legal Failure
Gary Leupp
Question for Discussion: Is Russia an Adversary Nation?
Binoy Kampmark
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution
Doug Johnson
As Andrea Horwath Surges, Undecided Voters Threaten to Upend Doug Ford’s Hopes in Canada’s Most Populated Province
Kenneth Surin
Malaysia’s Surprising Election Results
Dana Cook
Canada’s ‘Superwoman’: Margot Kidder
Dean Baker
The Trade Deficit With China: Up Sharply, for Those Who Care
John Feffer
Playing Trump for Peace How the Korean Peninsula Could Become a Bright Spot in a World Gone Mad
Peter Gelderloos
Decades in Prison for Protesting Trump?
Thomas Knapp
Yes, Virginia, There is a Deep State
Andrew Stewart
What the Providence Teachers’ Union Needs for a Win
Jimmy Centeno
Mexico’s First Presidential Debate: All against One
May 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Gina Haspell: She’s Certainly Qualified for the Job
Uri Avnery
The Day of Shame
Amitai Ben-Abba
Israel’s New Ideology of Genocide
Patrick Cockburn
Israel is at the Height of Its Power, But the Palestinians are Still There
Frank Stricker
Can We Finally Stop Worrying About Unemployment?
Binoy Kampmark
Royal Wedding Madness
Roy Morrison
Middle East War Clouds Gather
Edward Curtin
Gina Haspel and Pinocchio From Rome
Juana Carrasco Martin
The United States is a Country Addicted to Violence
Dean Baker
Wealth Inequality: It’s Not Clear What It Means
Robert Dodge
At the Brink of Nuclear War, Who Will Lead?
Vern Loomis
If I’m Lying, I’m Dying
Valerie Reynoso
How LBJ initiated the Military Coup in the Dominican Republic
Weekend Edition
May 18, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Donald, Vlad, and Bibi
Robert Fisk
How Long Will We Pretend Palestinians Aren’t People?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail