Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Terror thrives on Bush blunders

U.S. blunders help terrorists thrive
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sometimes distance lends clarity.

I’ve spent much of August at an old friend’s Montana ranch in the shadow of the Crazy Mountains 17 miles from a town of 200. It’s as far from the everydayness of American life as it’s possible to get without sleeping on the ground. At first the silence can be almost unnerving. There’s no traffic noise, no Muzak, no omnipresent roar of airplanes overhead. During daylight, only the bawling of cows is audible above the wind. At night, coyotes sing and the Great Pyrenees sheepdogs bark gruff threats. The house dogs can hear a visitor driving up the gravel road half a mile away. There’s no morning newspaper. Telephone service is irregular, and the radio reception poor. That’s just how my friend Ansel, a literary man turned Suffolk sheep breeder, likes it. It’s 50 miles to a wireless Internet connection. In short, it’s the perfect place for the media deprivation therapy I require. I even enjoy the 1,600-mile drive from home, which involves crossing six states, two time zones and several climatological zones. What a vast, enthralling land we Americans share. The trip never fails to evoke Woody Guthrie-style effusions of patriotism.

So one morning Ansel came in from mowing pasture to say he’d heard disturbing news on the tractor radio. The British had foiled a major, 9/11-style terrorist plot. We turned on the TV, normally reserved for baseball and weather reports. Thanks to the mixed blessing of satellite TV, there’s nowhere too remote to catch CNN.

Wolf Blitzer and the gang had whipped themselves into a frenzy of terror porn. Although none of the would-be bombers arrested, British citizens all, had apparently secured tickets or passports enabling them to board transatlantic flights, the logo “Target: USA” occupied the screen all day.

Be very, very afraid. Until the Jon-Benet Ramsey murder case resurfaced to rescue them, fear-mongering was cable TV’s summer ratings builder.

Homeland Security honcho Michael Chertoff, who’d played no role in the arrests, nevertheless got lots of face time, ramping up the official U. S. government threat level to Hysterical, I think it was.

Soon the swaggering little man with the close-set, befuddled eyes appeared. Needless to say, President Bush saw in the British plot confirmation of his “war on terror.” He linked it to a “totalitarian ideology” called “Islamo-fascism,” which supposedly includes Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Sunni insurgents in Iraq, their Shiite enemies, Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and fanatical followers of Osama bin Laden. Bush conjured a single, worldwide conspiracy dedicated to the destruction of freedom, justice and the American way.

Seen from afar, the stage-managed quality was doubly clear. Should the British suspects be proved guilty (doubters suspect that Pakistani agents may have obtained false information through torture), what it will show is how determined intelligence and police work trump warfare in combating terrorism.

The larger problem is that “Islamo-fascism,” as Bush portrays it, simply doesn’t exist. While satisfying to Christian fundamentalists imagining Satan, it’s otherwise meaningless. The slogan was conceived by neo-con ideologues anxious to find an opponent worthy of their own revolutionary romanticism, a virtual Hitler for their Churchillian fantasies.

But what made European fascism uniquely dangerous wasn’t merely Adolf Hitler’s hypnotic ideology. It was German militarism and hyper-nationalism run amok. Islamic extremists control none of the world’s 60-odd Muslim-majority nations. They have no army, air force or navy. They pose no military threat to the integrity of the United States or any Western nation. At worst, they’re capable of theatrical mass murder like the 9/11 attacks.

Why is anything so elementary worth saying? Because, argues James Fallows in an exhaustively reported Atlantic Monthly article, “al-Qaeda’s ability to inflict direct damage in America or on Americans has been sharply reduced.” Groups like it “will continue to pose dangers. But its hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt or goad us into doing. Its destiny is no longer in its own hands.”

Polls show that perishingly few Muslims wish to live under the kind of 14th century religious dogmatism Islamic extremists extol. The only thing keeping al-Qa’ida going is U.S. strategic blunders. “The biggest series of mistakes all of these experts have in mind,” Fallows writes “is Iraq.” (He wrote his article before Israel’s ill-fated, American-backed invasion of Lebanon, another seeming confirmation of al-Qa’ida propaganda.) Indeed, most experts thought Bush’s smartest play would be to declare victory in the “war on terror” five years after 9/11, ratchet down the propaganda and return to honest broker status between Israel and the Palestinians. “America’s cause is doomed unless
it regains the moral high ground,” Sir Richard Dearlove, the former director of Britain’s secret intelligence agency, MI-6, told Fallows. Fat chance. Politically, alas, it’s a nonstarter as long as bin Laden remains at large and Bush occupies the White House.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


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