Monday, March 20, 2006

Number Three

It seems like everyone in the media is talking about the third anniversary of your Iraq adventure, Bush. Another milestone, and the media love milestones. Not much to celebrate though. You and your people have been busy talking up the marvelous strides you have made--the strength of the Iraqi military and police, the elections, the constitution, the progress toward democracy... But no one really believes you, Bush. All we expect from you now is more hot air and more desperate attempts to salvage some political advantage from what we all know to be a national disaster. You lied in your teeth to lead us into a war that was necessary only in the eyes of those who nursed an arrogant and misguided view of America's role in the world, and you botched the job with inexcusable incompetence and lack of foresight. What worries me is the thought that next year we'll be marking the fourth anniversary, then the fifth, ad infinitum.

If you really wanted to fight a war on terror after 9/11, you should perhaps have followed the model of the New York Police Department--at least if you believe the report on last night's Sixty Minutes. They have the right idea: the counter-terrorist effort should be a continuing intelligence and police operation, not a war. I've said this before: a war requires an enemy in the form of a country, or an alliance with specific geographical borders and territory. It requires the common acceptance of certain rules and procedures. It allows of a clear outcome, whether victory or loss.

Your war on terror is no such animal, Bush. It's amorphous, extra-territorial, and unwinnable because there is no army to defeat. At best, it's an unending series of actions and counter-actions, a shifting ground with a constantly shifting cast of characters. Except in image and inspiration, there are no chiefs, just Indians. Even if successful, the hunt for Bin Laden will achieve very little in this "war" except to produce another martyr, another hero, this one still larger than life and all the more inspiring for his capture or his death. You keep insisting that the war in Iraq is a part of the war on terror, but all you're doing there is creating the best of all possible training grounds for more and more of those terrorists you seek to eradicate. In short, you're doing even worse than defeating your own stated purposes: you're creating the very thing you vow to oppose.

The NYPD, according to the report, is learning counter-terrorist tactics for a real world context. They're learning to listen attentively to the chatter on the internet, and to develop an ability to respond on an ad hoc basis to whatever might happen on the ground. Effective policing is surely a much more appropriate and eventually effective way to respond to the terrorist threat than a war, with all its cumbersome military hierarchy, its heavy armor, its slow-moving fronts. Three years in Iraq have certainly produced no increased security in this country, despite what you like to tell us, Bush. It's clear now that you need to show some progress, for political purposes. Most pundits seems to be betting that you'll reduce troop numbers this year, whether approriate or not. I don't see how that's going to help with the war, but I suppose it might still help out with your party's election prospects in the fall.

I thought you might like to hear about the bumper sticker that a friend told me about yesterday. It belongs to a (female) friend of hers and it reads: THE ONLY BUSH I TRUST IS MY OWN. But you've probably heard that one already. Have a good week.

1 comment:

Fred said...

Sadly, This administration is incapable of making the about face in policy that will be required to bring peace to Iraq and stability to the region. We have been so wrong for so long, perhaps no administration could make a quick difference. Can we quickly reverse 39 years of allowing Israel to practice ethnic cleansing on the Palistinians? Can we reverse years of support for corrupt tyrannical regimes like the House of Saud, the Shah in Iran, and yes, for many years (when it suited our purposes) Saddam Hussein? Can we quickly erase the memory of these cynical exploitations from an angry and humiliated region? I doubt that we have the humility, or that the Islamic world can muster the forgiveness and willingness to make the required fresh start.