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May 16, 2005

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Am I too paranoid if I find plausible the oft-bruited notion that there's not supposed to be a V-T Day? That a permanent state of quasi-war is what the Republicans want? (Hence their choice of an abstract "war on terror" that by definition can't end?)

(Hence their choice of an abstract "war on terror" that by definition can't end?)

Well, technically, it can end if we all just stop being terrified. Me, I managed that several years ago and hey, I'm still doing my part! Anyone else want to join in?

This is a good summary of why the WoT is really better understood as an umbrella under which whatever Bush wants he can get.

Rather than rehash all the details here, I'll just say that I think Bush has not done a good job at all on these fronts,

Is there any place where Bush has done a good job?

So when, exactly, can we expect VT Day?
I would not hold my breath. I expect that it will occur about a couple of years after we get a Democratic President, Senate and House.

And how many lives will be lost before we get there?
More than you care to imagine, it's allready killed a 100,000 Iraqis, over 1,600 Coalition Troops and lord knows how many Afghanis.

One cannot fight a war on terror. One cannot fight a war on crime. One cannot fight a war on drugs.

America has been spectacularly bad at all three of these so-called wars, because they are not and cannot be wars. They are law enforcement problems that need the best possible evaluation, not merely sound bites and PR claims.

Remember the "war on drugs" That is how long it will be:
as long as this war is politically convenient; then it will be slowly forgotten.....

We have not caught Osama bin Laden or Ayman al Zawahiri

We catch the #3 guy every other week or so, that ain't too shabby.

So when, exactly, can we expect VT Day?

When we get an electorate that does not reward fearmongers.

And how many lives will be lost before we get there?

Counting them is not a national priority.

You are not being paraniod. Pearle said the "war" would last at least fifty years. And Anarch is exactly right. Drunk drivers are more of a athreat to us than terrorists. It isn't worth being scared.

Freelunch: "One cannot fight a war on terror. One cannot fight a war on crime. One cannot fight a war on drugs."

One thing which is different in the war on terror is the use of real war weapons; in the war on crime and drugs there were no B52-bombers taking out Detroit crack-houses but in the war on terror there are(with inevitable collateral damage).
In this way, the use of the term "war" has shifted between the "traditional" and "new" meaning, whith dire results.
I wonder who realised this - Rumsfeld? Bush? the media? the voting public/

The comparison to the Cold War is a better fit, not WWII. Even then, it's not a good comparison. Different enemy, different tactics, etc.

The comparison to the Cold War is a better fit, not WWII.

Really? Who's playing the part of the Soviet Union?

The comparison to the Cold War is a better fit, not WWII. Even then, it's not a good comparison. Different enemy, different tactics, etc.

This stuff kills me. CB, do you honestly mean to tell me that you consider terrorism or whatever to be an existential threat of the same level as a nuclear superpower? Or is that difference subsumed in "etc."?

"V-T Day"? Well, just IMHO, we will either never see it, or, it has already happened (can't figure out which).
"Victory" is a useful concept when one really is, you, know, fighting a real "war" - except that in the hands of the Bush 43 Administration the notion of "victory" is vitually meaningless, since their much-touted "War on Terror" isn't really a "war" per se, but just a cheap glib, political catchphrase designed to whip up public support for their regime and lead the public to believe that something is actually being done about the problems of "global terrorism".
That, and of course, to whip up backing for their little adventure in Iraq, and, probably most importantly, act as a useful stick to beat any of the Adminstration's opponents with ("don't you know we're in a war?" is still a heavily loaded phrase).

Wolcott

Speaking of the WoT...I know it's Wolcott, a foul (but funny) hyper-partisan, but I have a couple of other cryptic veiled sources hinting at a summer/early fall air attack on Iran. I believe them. I also believe the WH is vastly underestimating how much stuff will hit the fan.

Be prepared. And think about SS coming up for votes during a military/economic crisis. One isn't the cause of another, they are independent events with purposefully coincidental timing.

CB, do you honestly mean to tell me that you consider terrorism or whatever to be an existential threat of the same level as a nuclear superpower?

It blows me away, too, but I'm finally beginning to accept the idea that some folks really believe this. To me, it suggests some kind of a really strong need for an enemy and a crusade as organizing principles for one's view of the world, but what do I know.

No opinion one way or another as to whether CB actually holds such views. I'm thinking more of stuff I've read on my occasional visits to Winds of Change.

To me, it suggests some kind of a really strong need for an enemy and a crusade as organizing principles for one's view of the world...

that's a crazy Liberal Media view pushed upon us by the Militant Secularists who want to Ban the Bible and turn this country into a Communist Utopia.

No opinion one way or another as to whether CB actually holds such views. I'm thinking more of stuff I've read on my occasional visits to Winds of Change.

Winds of Change is a great blog, run by some very intelligent and well-sourced people who have the most incredibly batshit insane ideas about how America should handle the rest of the world.

I can sort of see Charles' point, insofar as one might suggest that the so-called War On Terror is really a war against a particular ideology -- militant Islam -- rather than a particular enemy nation or set thereof. Of course, one has to ignore away the fact that militant Islamists aren't the only groups that engage in terror, and that wars of ideology are rarely if ever won by invading and bombing this-or-that nation, and that militant Islam -- like Communism before it -- is an easily transportable idea not limited by national borders, and . . . well, you can see where this all leads, right?

Wolcott has some interesting quotes from people who should know what they're talking about. I've been reading similar reports at other blogs. War with Iran is utter lunacy, but that's par for the course with the Bush crowd.

They want John Bolton at the UN by June. Figure he's being positioned to make a transparently idiotic case for war. The UN says no dice; Bush announces the US will go it alone. Cue heroic music, with bombers flying by overhead. So, the bombing starts in, what, late summer? Early autumn? So by winter Iran will be in chaos, and major combat will be spilling over back into Iraq.

Our soldiers will get chewed up from both sides. Even if Bush pulls everyone out of Germany, Japan and wherever else we have large military bases, that's only another 70,000 troops. If we couldn't control Iraq with over 100,000 soldiers, how in hell are we going to handle two countries with less than 200,000? And that's assuming the whole ME - plus Pakistan, for god's sake - doesn't go up in flames - not an assumption I'm comfortable making.

The cherry on the sundae will be if N Korea does pull off a nuclear test. Or if the Arab world decides to invade Israel en masse, and Israel resorts to its own doomsday scenarios.

My god, I can't believe how bad this would be. But if Bush wants it, it's going to happen.

"My god, I can't believe how bad this would be."

In reaction, and as oil shipping tanks, China gets PO'd and dumps its dollars. Nope, it will be unbelievable. The world will be changed. Bush will be as consequential as anyone in history.

Maybe I'm and others are wrong, it won't happen. But Farber wonders why I am all testy recently. This is why. Bush has always used foreign policy to push domestic, and I have been expecting something.

There are some crucial differences between what we've got now and the Cold War, though. First of all, we had no prisoners of war in the Cold War. We had people arrested for espionage and other crimes, and subject to criminal justice. The real problem with what this administration is doing is that there's no end condition. In a real shooting war, you have an enemy whom you will either defeat, be defeated by, or negotiate a settlement with, so there's an actual duration, as in "for the duration".

This stuff kills me. CB, do you honestly mean to tell me that you consider terrorism or whatever to be an existential threat of the same level as a nuclear superpower?

So Germany is a better comparison? Osama = Hitler? The point is that neither wars are very good comparisons.

Why the assumption that the GWOT and the war on Iraq is a mistake or being poorly executed? Many of us seem to be taking what the administration has put out for public consumption as the measure of success for Iraq (spreading democracy, stabilization, schools open, insurgency quashed, and bad guys in jail). We then look at the events reported and conclude that the whole thing is coming off very poorly. However, a simple but important focus should be maintained here: exactly whose success are we talking about?

The focus should properly be the administration’s measure of success for itself and its associates since it was their project, and we should ask what they sought to gain from the GWOT and the war on Iraq. Let’s look at the interested, and instigating, belligerent parties and see how they have or have not succeeded. Just about everybody but Colin Powell and George Tenet are still around. Several have even been promoted. (If you really want to get a good sense of whose success we are talking about here, note that Lindy Englund was recently found guilty and may face up to 5 ½ years at Leavenworth, while Donald “The-Torture-Buck-Stops-Here” Rumsfeld (read the paper trail correspondence between SouthCom’s commander and the Pentagon regarding Guantanamo Bay) was congratulated by the president and still runs the Pentagon.) Oil companies are reaping unprecedented profits. The economic laws of Iraq have been completely rewritten for the benefit of, largely, American firms so that they may control Iraq’s infrastructure by being able to own 100% of an Iraqi corporation and “lease” the nation’s oil for a period of up to 50 years. Iraqi oil revenues for the first year of the occupation (up to the dissolution of the CPA), which amounted to around $20 billion, have been taken for the “reconstruction” of the nation by US corporations. A little less than half of that money has, at best, been poorly accounted for – in layman’s terms, missing. The neo-cons are still in favor (Robert Kagan just gave a lecture today (16 May) at the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth). The US military now has a presence in the region with Afghanistan and Iraq – and the permanent bases constructed there – that is not entirely dependent on the favor of other nations nor needs to rely on its problematic presence in Saudi Arabia as a base of operations. We may now have, in the form of control of more Middle Eastern oil, greater leverage against our principal imperial rival, China (the larger, strategic target of the neo-cons), who, since becoming an oil importer for the first time in 1994, now imports almost 50% of its oil needs, is the world’s second largest oil user after the US, has a growing consumer economy, and holds $600 billion worth of US Treasury bonds. The administration has installed a favorable puppet government (we need to knock off this nonsense about the triumph of democracy for the benefit of a free Iraq: the Kurds want political and geographic autonomy, the Shi’ites are heavily influenced by their clerical leaders, and the Sunnis were mostly absent for the whole affair – they were recently unwilling to fill some of the few governmental positions reserved for them). Puppet government too strong a term? Ahmad Chalabi is now Deputy Prime Minister and the acting Minister of Oil. Far from being unsuccessful or “a poorly defined mission that has led to poor results,” the GWOT, and Iraq in particular, have gone rather well and been quite profitable for those Americans in positions of power close to the administration. At least this is holding true for the short term.

In the long run, this may indeed turn out to be the failure that some see it as now. It seems to be increasingly difficult to prevail against colonial nations that wish to nationalize their resources. And it is this very effort that has often been the cause of US intervention abroad (see Mossadegh’s ousting in neighboring Iran or just about any country in Central or South America). For example, communication technology makes it increasingly difficult to keep regional events from gaining international attention. Also, there is the older dynamic of the violent relationship of empire to colony: if the empire kills a colonial insurgent today, and next year there is another to fight and die in their place, and none of the circumstances that motivated them both have changed, then all the carpet bombing in the world will not wring an imperial success from that conflict.

Lastly for the GWOT, there is the measure of success ascribed to the capture of terrorist leaders. One of the central lessons following the collapse of the Soviet Union, in relation to US foreign and domestic policy, is that in order to maintain corporate liberalism and a free market, capitalist, consumer economy, the Military Industrial Complex, and economic hegemony over Third World markets and resources, it is imperative to have an enemy to justify such militant corporatism and silence dissent at home. If communists/terrorists didn’t exist (and for our purposes they are synonymous) it would be necessary for us to invent them. This is why the administration is “not that concerned” with the likes of Zawahiri, for they are an essential part of the equation. Osama bin Laden will be captured when there is someone to replace him.

We'll win the War on Terror (oops, War on Extremism -- WOE) before we win the War on Poverty.

Some of you are also old enough to remember when Jimmy carter called for the moral equivalent of war ("MEOW") on wasteful energy use. What the current Admin is waging is the Legal Equivalent of War. It's very convenient to call it a war, both for the government and for its friends in business, to have this be "war." I don't expect the war to end until the convenience caused by the nomenclature ends.

When do we get to wage Peace, anyway? Weren't we going to get a department of Peace at some point? Whateva happened to that?

The interesting analogy to the Cold War (tho I doubt Charles had this in mind, correct me if wrong CB) is that the Cold War was a *mistake*. The Soviet Union was *not* trying to take over the world. It was *not* interested in fighting America.

The more we discover about postwar Soviet history, the more we learn how swamped the Soviets were with their domestic troubles, how intimidated they were by the U.S., and how utterly incapable they were of any direct military challenge to the U.S. They seem to at best have hoped to hang onto Eastern Europe and to get some good publicity by funding a few 3d world conflicts on the cheap.

Yet the Soviet "threat" was used by successive presidents to justify all kinds of amazing and dangerous b.s., not to mention our good friend the military-industrial complex.

Al-Qaeda is actually a greater threat than the Soviets insofar as they really are wanting to kill lots of Americans. But Bush has been trying to reinvent the Cold War (not such a bad time for Republicans). So it's not surprising that Charles picks up on the resemblances, while simultaneously acknowledging it's a poor analogy.

Slightly OT -- anyone else catch the clip of Galloway telling Coleman where to shove it? I wanted to cheer. Woo hoo!

Slightly OT -- anyone else catch the clip of Galloway telling Coleman where to shove it?

Good when Galloway does it, foul when Cheney does it. Well, I don't have much problem with inconsistent standards, provided that you're consistently inconsistent.

Oh, come on -- Galloway is a much better speaker than Darth Cheney. And when did Cheney ever say:

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims, did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11, 2001." "Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever, on a pack of lies."

Not to mention him saying that he'd met Saddam two times, exactly as many time as Rumsfield had met Saddam but "The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and give him maps."

What did Cheney say?
[raspy] "mushroom clouds wooo wooo" [/raspy]

;P

Ah, you said Galloway told them to stick it, without any sort of cite. I assumed you meant that literally.

You didn't see the clip? It's great. It's all over the net -- here's one at Crooks & Liars
I don't know if Galloway has any involvement in oil skimming, but it was a very refreshing (liberating?) to see someone say something a lot of us have been thinking.

"I don't know if Galloway has any involvement in oil skimming, but it was a very refreshing (liberating?) to see someone say something a lot of us have been thinking."

And it's a shame that it takes a politican who is a maverick even in Britain's Labour Party to say it.

Galloway isn't in the Labour Party anymore. He formed his own Respect Party after Labour threw him out.

Wasn't he labelled a "maverick" after he opposed Blair on going into the Iraq War? And that's basically why they threw him out?

Wasn't he labelled a "maverick" after he opposed Blair on going into the Iraq War? And that's basically why they threw him out?

Let's put it this way: even my leftie British relatives (left by British standards, I mean) consider Galloway "dodgy". That said, I think I just creamed my jeans watching that clip. I'm going to have to go lie down now...

"Wasn't he labelled a 'maverick' after he opposed Blair on going into the Iraq War? And that's basically why they threw him out?"

No. Not even close. There were five distinct charges:

The charges faced by Mr Galloway were that:
· he incited Arabs to fight British troops
· he incited British troops to defy orders
· he incited Plymouth voters to reject Labour MPs,
· he threatened to stand against Labour
· he backed an anti-war candidate in Preston.
This is not secret information; it was published in newspapers, even, and can be found on Google within five seconds. Robin Cook, Blair's former Foreign Minister, resigned from the Cabinet rather than support the war, and has spoken against it and Blair on countless occasions, as have many dozens of Labour MPs, and none have ever had a finger lifted against them by the Labour Party (which, like all British Parties, and unlike all American Parties, maintains formal membership rolls and which you must formally join, signing papers and agreeing to certain things) despite their opposition to the war. Opposition to the war wasn't, didn't, and doesn't do it. Calling on foreigners to kill members of your own military: that will do it.

While Gary is right to note that the main charge was incitement, the notion that Galloway called on foreigners to kill British military is obviously, contested. It stems from two TV interviews, and it is not altogether clear that he did 'incite'. One should also note that the charge about inciting Plymouth voters to reject Labour MPs was dismissed and Labour stalwart Tony Benn was one of those defending Galloway. This article defends Galloway, while this article discusses the rather eerie parallels between Galloway and the Scargill case. I suppose one could argue that it was only Galloway who was expelled and this proves that the Labour party was not motivated any animus, however it strikes me as much more of pour encourager les autres

"While Gary is right to note that the main charge was incitement, the notion that Galloway called on foreigners to kill British military is obviously, contested."

Indeed. He didn't plead guilty to any of them, and was found innocent of one of the five. I was responding to the question of what the charges were -- why he was expelled -- not to the justice, fairness, and objective correctness of the charges. But the notion that he was simply a "maverick" expelled by a Party intolerant of disagreement on the war is demonstrable nonsense. Labour is chock-a-block with mavericks who disagree about the war.

Sorry. I thought all maverick were like John McCain *bats lashes innocently*

Actually, votermom, that's a very interesting point. I wonder if 'maverick' has a slightly different connotation in the UK as opposed to here. I've been searching in the new BYU frontend to the BNC corpus, but the distribution of maverick doesn't yield any clear cut patterns. My reading is that maverick applied to pop culture is a good thing, but maverick applied to politics is a bad thing. However, my impression for US English is that maverick is always an admirable quality. Any brits out there with some native speaker insights?

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