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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

 
Neocon Tinfoil

Susan at Suburban Guerrilla points out a statement by Wes Clark in the debate yesterday that needs some further explanation:

I saw the Democratic debate, and I think Wesley Clark made the best point: Instead of attacking terrorists, Bush chose to attack states.

Which is how we got into this mess.


Exactly so. But, it is interesting to look at how this came to pass. I wrote back in September about Paul Wolfowitz's "You can believe me or you can believe your eyes" philosophy of governance. In that post I mentioned that it was none other than Laurie Mylroie, nutcase extraordinaire, who was responsible for this absurd notion that terrorism, by definition, must be state sponsored. She testified to that fact just recently before the congress. If you want to see a full blown paranoid mind, complete with tin foil, being taken seriously by a bunch of dim-witted politicians, read her testimony.

Here is her conclusion about Al Qaeda and the threat we face from terrorism. Keep in mind that Wolfowitz and Cheney have endorsed her views and that she is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute:

A major misunderstanding regarding the nature of terrorism arose in the wake of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, with the claim that a new form of terrorism had emerged that was no longer state-sponsored.

On the contrary, the major terrorist strikes against the U.S. that were attributed to "loose networks" of Islamic militants, including al Qaeda, are much better explained as Iraq, working with and hiding behind the militants. In short, the 1991 Gulf War did not end with the cease-fire declared back then.


Read the whole thing. It makes Tom Clancy read like Nancy Drew. This woman is to foreign policy and terrorism as Ann Coulter is to civil discourse. Yet, she is influential among the highest reaches of the administration and inspired this ridiculous belief that terrorism is dependent upon, and in fact a reflection of, enemy governments rather than the far flung ideological movement it really is.

This bizarre theory was convenient for those who wanted to invade Iraq for other reasons and it certainly provided a nice excuse to continue with boondoggles like missile defense and other hallucinogenic neocon wet dreams. But, this error (a belief in which was fueled largely, I believe, by knee-jerk rejection of all things Clinton) led to a strategy that has exacerbated the terrorist threat and exposed America's strategic weaknesses with no benefit.

There was one state sponsor of global terrorism. It was Afghanistan. The rest is a delusionary obsession of one lone nut who managed to convince many of the fringe dwellers and old anti-communist comrades that inhabit the Bush administration that she is right and provided the others with a good excuse to avoid the real threat of terrorism so that they can continue on their long myopic march toward global hegemony.

If people won elections based upon fact vs fantasy, we would win this next one in a total landslide. (Unfortunately, the opposite may be true, in which case we'd better find some slick slogans to beat their "I made U Safe" mantra.) But, for those of us who actually like real information, I think the neocon intellectuals' acceptance of this totally bizarre, off-the-wall theory takes the cake. I don't know whether they are psychologically impaired or if they are stupid. But, this strategic error, as Suburban Guerrilla points out, is the single biggest reason we are in the mess we are in today in Iraq.


UPDATE: Tim Dunlop wrote an excellent piece about this yesterday and ties it together with the ongoing argument about what constitutes winning the war on terrorism. Here is an excerpt, but read the whole thing:

The Istanbul attacks do, however, reinforce that we all need to take the threat seriously. But while I absolutely applaud Bush and Blair’s recent comments about eliminating this threat, what concerns me is that they seem to be under the impression that terrorists are a discrete group that can be counted, isolated and therefore eliminated. Thus they instantly connect the “war on terrorism”, a metaphoric construct, with the actual war in Iraq:

Meanwhile, Blair said the assaults in Istanbul wouldn’t have a negative impact on Britain’s or America’s commitment in Iraq. Bush described the U.S.-led coalition’s work in the nation as “noble” and “necessary”.

This is so depressing. It not only shows an unhealthy desire to use whatever comes to hand as a prop to support anything and everything they do, this sort of talk also indicates that they are using the presumptions of state-based war to frame their understanding and responses to the threat of terrorism. By seeing the fight against global terrorism through the prism of state-based war, we are likely to respond with, well, wars on states, and this is insufficient at best and counterproductive at worst, as it has been in Iraq.







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