Sunday, April 22, 2007

chertoff's latest misdirection

Michael Chertoff continues in the de facto Bush Administration's tradition of lies, misdirection, and self-delusion. The latest example was in his fevered missive in the Washington Post today. Chertoff writes to counter what former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in the same pages on March 25: "The 'war on terror' has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us."

Chertoff said Brzezinski just doesn't get it. We really ARE at "war" and not with the tactic of terrorism, but with "a global movement and ideology whose members seek to advance totalitarian aims through terrorism." After calling Brzezinski naive and bringing up the Iranian revolution (which did happen on Brzezinski's watch), Chertoff says we should look at the threat Al Qaeda and "others in its ideological terror network" pose.

Now Chertoff, the Hero of New Orleans, says that the struggle IS a war. Why? Because Osama Bin Laden said so. Oh, well that's easy then. At least Chertoff recognizes that Bin Laden is important. Wonder why we haven't caught him, over 5 1/2 years after 9/11?

But let's recognize the fact that it isn't a war in the normal sense of the word, any more than the War on Drugs or the late War on Poverty are. And it certainly does NOT warrant comparison to the Cold War. If Chertoff doesn't remember, Brzezinski certainly does -- that was a war with the world's second-most powerful military and a couple of dozen client states aligned against us, where large-scale conflict against a well-equipped modern military was a very real possibility. Not to mention the thousands of nuclear warheads we aimed at each other. Now THAT would have been a war.

Chertoff said that Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups "aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike. That includes the use of weapons of mass destruction."

Well, actually Mr Secretary of Homeland Security (hey, why are YOU writing this? Wouldn't this be better from Condi Rice or Bob Gates or old whats-his-name, the current National Security Advisor? Maybe they weren't willing to put their names to this fanciful piece of crap.), they don't. They would like to bring Islamic rule to Islamic countries. Some of them even dream of reestablishing the Caliphate, from Spain to India. Of course, there are also people who dream of reestablishing the Bourbon monarchy in France. Dreams don't equal capability.

And speaking of capability, Chertoff would have us believe that their goals are "not entirely fanciful." Sure, they "sometimes achiev(e) control of territory" -- but that is only of territory in failed states like post-Soviet invasion Afghanistan or Somalia. Or post-2003 Iraq. In functioning states, they have YET to take control of anything significant. But if we continue to destabilize enough states as we have Iraq, I'm sure their odds of gaining control of somewhere will improve. Hey, the Taliban is on the verge of regaining control in Afghanistan...

As for Chertoff's consequences -- it is true that 9/11 was pretty damn bad, especially for those poor people who died in New York, Arlington, and Pennsylvania, and their families. (Maybe Bush should have listened to his anti-terror chief Richard Clarke in 2001, eh?) Same for those killed in Bali, Madrid, London, Morocco, etc. But as terrible as that attack was, it didn't pose a threat to the existence or form of the United States.

Chertoff does say something I agree with. We can't win this so-called war with guns; "'soft' power matters." Right. Soft power as in influencing people in important places to convince them that our side in the campaign against terror is the right side.

But Chertoff doesn't note that Iraq is only a theater in this campaign because we INVADED it. Remember, Iraq and Saddam had absolutely ZERO connection to 9/11. About the same involvement as Idaho, and way less than Saudi Arabia. And our soft power has if anything been aimed firmly at our own feet, as the de facto Bush Administration consistently chooses the options that make us LESS identified with being right and just.

It is amazing how much post-9/11 good will we have pissed away by our actions. By invading Iraq without good reason. By giving reasons for our actions that are demonstrably false. By torturing people in the name of protecting our rights and freedoms. By proclaiming that anybody who doesn't agree with us 100% is against us. By locking people up without trial for years. By arresting people based on the flimsiest of evidence -- as in a denunciation by an Afghan tribesman who can settle an old family score AND make a few thousand bucks by accusing his neighbor of being a terrorist. By kidnapping people from other countries and flying them to places where our friends will torture them on our behalf. And I don't mean just taking people out of places like Iraq and Afghanistan -- I mean the CIA kidnapping people from the territory of a friend and ally like Italy without asking permission of Italy's government. How would WE react if Italian secret agents grabbed somebody on the streets of Dallas and bundled them off to another country without our permission?

Not to mention the fact that by killing some huge number of Muslims in Iraq -- tens of thousands or more likely, hundreds of thousands -- we are, as Egypt's President Mubarek predicted, creating many more recruits for anti-US Islamic terrorist groups.

Chertoff closes with an exhortation we would all do well to heed: "history teaches that the false comfort of complacency is a dangerous indulgence in the face of a determined enemy."

That's true. And that's why we can't afford to see the actions of the de facto Rove I mean Cheney I mean Bush Administration as just dirtier-than-usual politics. The Great US Attorney Massacre is one front in Rove's effort to create a permanent Republican regime by pushing greater levels of voter suppression. Alberto Gonzales and others in Bush's inner circle want to criminalize media reporting. They want us to shut up, be happy, and let our superiors -- that is, this small elite of theocon/neocon Republicans -- tell us what to believe and how to behave, in exchange for them keeping us safe. Maybe.

And that's what this op-ed piece by Chertoff is about. Misdirecting our attention from the corrupt and power-grabbing nature of the unitary executive Bush regime.

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