Monday, October 04, 2004

"Bush Think" Gets and Airing

It's encouraging to see that Bush is having some trouble slipping his bullshit by the electorate. His performance on the first debate cost him his narrow lead. Something likek 65% of viewers thought Kerry "won" the debate. Of course, most Republicans won't change their vote even if Kerry makes more sense than Bush.

The debate pissed me off so bad I lost sleep that night. I kept waking up in a rage over something that probably slipped right by most viewers. I'm bothered by Bush's characterization of the "enemy" in his so-called "war on terror". Even years after the crap about Saddam being behind 9/11, many Americans still connect the Iraq war to 9/11. Chaney never lets up on this, even without a shred of evidence and in the face of the obvious implausibility of a link between Osama and Saddam. But the lie that gets me so upset is more subtle than that. Here is what we're supposed to swallow now as a justification of $200 billion down the drain, over 1,000 Americans dead and tens of thousands of Iraqi's dead and/or wounded.

1. All terrorists are part of a worldwide conspiracy. In practice, the Bush administration gets to say who is a "real" terrorist and who isn't. This logic allows Cheney to equate Saddam's contribution to the family of Palistinian martyrs to support of Osama Bin Lauden. Along with all his other blind spots, Bush cannot really come to terms with the fact that Israel is enthusiastically hated throughout the Muslim world for reasons that are perfectly understandable. Support for the Palistinian cause comes from all over the Arab world. It's a motherhood issue there.

2. Terrorists hate us. They hate liberty. Their goal is to take away everything we value. This flies in the face of everything we know about terrorism in general and Osama in particular. Far from hating freedom, they are mostly fighting to obtain it. For example, the Chechnians want the Russians out of their country. Osama wants the Americans out of Muslim countries and he wants despots like Saddam deposed. Terrorism has been the tool of choice for independence movements since Roman times. The fact is that disenfranchised groups don't have the luxury of dropping "precision weapons" on thousands of civilians. That's not terrorism. Terrorism is armed resistance to the status quo. I can't resist pointing out that the "status quo" was maintained for the second half of the 20th century by nucear terror. There is only one country in the world still capable of terrorizing the entire world.

3. There are a short list of possible targets of terrorism. Bush is doing a credible imitiation of a complete fool on this issue and Kerry isn't far behind. As pointed out in the debate, the ports are still wide open. Transport trucks can get close to a virtually unlimited number of high-value soft targets (think of Oklahoma times 10). Our water supplies are open to contamination. There is no effective control over radioactive materials used in Science and Medicine. Control over the nuclear arsenal of the USSR is sloppy at best. The list goes on and on and on. This is the fact: the terrorists will hit us again and again for the forseeable future. Eventually, they will hand us a disaster that makes us wonder what got us so excited about 9/11.

By demonizing the enemy, Bush raises the stakes and buries any hope of piece in rabid rhetoric. Kerry showed a bit more sense when he said that job one in Iraq should be to convince the Iraquis that America has no intention of staying in Iraq. This betrays a glimmering of understanding of the Muslim way of thinking. Resistance to an invader is required of a good Muslim. If you act like a conquerer in a Muslim country, you can expect vigorous resistance. You can also expect a lot of help to arrive from other Muslim countries (as we saw in Afghanistan when the Russians tried to annex it).

It's impossible mount a defence against terrorism that will prevent an endless string of catastrophes. We can bleed ourselves dry trying. On the other hand, terrorism has no "end game". They can cause lots of trouble, but they can't win. This means the war can go on forever (as it has in Palestine, Spain and Columbia), weakening the State without killing it. It's like a Malaria infection, which is an ongoing nuisance. The big danger is from the body's own immune system.

It's sensible to think about what we can do to bring peace in this situation. Step one, I think, is to appreciate where the other side is coming from. They're not demons from Hell. They don't want to deny us our freedoms. They want our attention. They want us out of Muslim countries. They want peace and justice in Palestine and Chechnia. These are not the demans of Satan's agents. I know this is a distasteful point of view (for those who lost loved ones on 9/11, for example), but we cannot end this war without dealing with the enemy. Bush's rabid policies spreads hatred from legitimate enemies to the whole Muslim world. Instead, we need to embrace and respect the Muslim world and hope that we can shed a little light in the dark corridors of the "extremists". Instead of waging a war that turns good Muslims into terrorists by the tens of thousands, we can hope that terrorists will see that there is no need to die (and kill) for causes that can be achieved by peaceful means.

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