Friday, July 21, 2006

friday roundup

joshua holland's new piece at alternet may be the smartest thing i've read on the GWOT of late. the opening lines -- "There's never been a global war on terror. It's a sham, a ruse." -- are certainly eye-catching enough. but he's right on many levels. al-qaeda, hezbollah, hamas, hizbul mujahideen, jemaah islamiyah, etc. all have unique local reasons for their actions; eliding those differences and lumping them together under one banner actually adds fuel to their fire. perry and crooke say as much in the most recent installment of their "how to lose the war on terror" series at the asia times:
This, in fact, is the doctrine of Islamic revolutionaries: that in refusing to differentiate between al-Qaeda and more moderate groups, in refusing to empower them in their own societies, and in denying the peoples of the region the tools of democracy and self-government that the West extols, the United States and its allies would actually help to spread the jihad, just as the Soviet Union had done by its actions in Afghanistan.
in fact, following our lead in pounding afghanistan and iraq, israel is justified in pounding hezbollah, russia the chechans, china the uighurs, etc. likewise our "common terrorist enemies" are emboldened. hezbollah is not stupid, they knew they were going to take a pounding. but they also knew they'd gain serious street cred in the islamic world for taking that pounding and standing up to the bully on the block. and they also have much stronger political legs to stand on at home than the iraqi resistance for example.


i completely missed this. our president practicing more compassionate conservatism on the german chancellor. (boy, what with the whole pig-eating business, the smackdown he received from putin (how's his soul looking now, jackass?), and the off-mike lunchtime chat with tony blair, that G8 summit was a real successful outing, eh dubya?


interesting conversation between onnesha roychoudhuri and michelle goldberg, author of the recent kingdom coming: the rise of christian nationalism, which attempts to carve out "christian nationalists" as a a subset of the larger evangelical population:
Roychoudhuri: You frequently discuss the similarities between Christian Nationalism and fascism and totalitarianism. Were you conflicted about broaching this?

Goldberg: Among liberals, there is always talk about fascism and there's a kind of agreement that you can't talk about it more publicly without sounding like a lunatic. You don't want to sound like you're comparing Bush to Hitler. We have no language to talk about the intermediate stages of this kind of thing. But there are these really unmistakable parallels to fascism, not as a government system, but to fascism in its early stages. Before fascism is a government, it's a movement. It's not born in power, it comes to power. I think it's time to talk about fascism or another word for it. Christian Nationalism is one way to talk about it. But there are things that are going on that are not normal, they're not politics usual.

These things are always subtle and gradual, but there are moments when all of a sudden you think "Oh, they're drawing up lists of people who are gay at public agencies."
the "not having a language to talk about the intermediate stages" is key i think.


larry johnson making some excellent points, relative to israel but certainly substitute "united states" and the same holds true:
there is one simple question Israel cannot answer about the current operations-what is their strategic military objective.[...] The events in the next several weeks will expose as myth the canard that you can secure a nation by killing terrorists. No you can't. Killing "terrorists" has a place in policy but it is not a strategic military obective. It is a tactical objective and may serve political purposes, but achieves little in terms of securing Israel.

What about Hamas and Hezbollah? They are not terrorists. They carry out terrorist attacks, but they are not terrorists. They are something far more dangerous. They are a fully functioning political, social, religious, and military organizations that use terrorism tactics, but they are far more formidible than terrorist groups like Al Qaeda or the Basque Terrorist Organization. They do have the resources and the personnel to project force, sustain operations, and cannot be easily defeated. [...] Israel is not attacking the individuals who hit their soldiers. Israel is engaged in mass punishment.
the u.s. has no military objective either -- in iraq or in the GWOT. and likewise we still have not captured the individual responsible for the 9/11 attacks but instead have engaged in mass punishment.

now i realize by suggesting we substitute "united states" for "israel" here i am engaging eliding differences in a manner i rejected above. there are parallels, but that does not make for the easy "proxy war" arguments advanced by the likes of bill kristol, who foolishly thinks we should just go ahead and launch a military strike to take out iran's nuclear reactors. (why wait?)


do we yet realize how bad things are in iraq? 27,000 families displaced since the bombing of the shiite shrine in samara five months ago, 1,117 of them displaced last week alone? an average of 100 iraqi civilian casualties a day? 14,338 since january 2006? these are civilians, and these are probably conservative numbers.

negroponte won't produce a new national intelligence estimate because he knows it'll be worse than the last one. no one in this administration will use the words that those of us in the reality-based community have accepted: civil war. bombings and shootings in baghdad up 40%.
"We have not witnessed the reduction in violence one would have hoped for in a perfect world," [US military spokesman Major General William] Caldwell told reporters. "The only way we're going to be successful in Baghdad is to get the weapons off the streets."
get the weapons off the streets? good luck: too bad reality is so different from the perfect world.


it seems, tho, the the rest of the u.s. foreign policy establishment is, as they did in the run-up to gulf war II, willing to follow the neocon rabbits right down the hole. as jim lobe writes in the asia times ("The drums of war sound for Iran"):
the US Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a resolution that not only endorsed Israel's military actions in Gaza and Lebanon without calling on it to exercise any restraint, but also urged US President George W Bush to impose across-the-board diplomatic and economic sanctions on Tehran and Damascus. The House of Representatives was expected to pass a similar resolution on Thursday.
the sanctions aspect of this is being underreported in the U.S. media as far as i can tell: lexis-nexis isn't turning up much of anything on this yet, but a google news search is turning up "about 358" hits for me on a broader set of terms (house, senate, resolution, iran, syria) but only "about 21" hits for a more specific set including "sanctions" (house, senate, resolution, sanctions, iran, syria).

the whole is worth checking out, but i reproduce this particularly chilling passage:
"There has been a lot of connecting of the dots back to Iran," said retired Colonel August Richard Norton, who teaches international relations at Boston University. "This goes well beyond the [neo-conservative] Weekly Standard crowd; we've seen the major newspapers all accept the premise that what happened July 12 was engineered in some way by Iran as a way of undermining efforts to impede its nuclear program."

Graham Fuller, a former top Central Intelligence Agency and RAND Corporation Middle East expert, noted that there has been a "buildup of domestic forces that now see Iran as inexorably at the center of the entire regional spider web".

"The mainstream is unfortunately grasping for coherent explanations, [and] the neo-con/hard right offers a fairly simple, self-serving vision on the cause of the problems, and their solution," Fuller said.

In much the same way that Saddam Hussein was depicted, particularly by neo-conservatives, as the strategic domino whose fall would unleash a process of democratization, de-radicalization, moderation and modernization throughout the Middle East, so now Iran is portrayed as the "Gordian Knot" whose cutting would not only redress many of Washington's recent setbacks, but also renew prospects for regional "transformation" in the way that it was originally intended.

The notion that, as the puppetmaster behind Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Shi'ite militias in Iraq, an aggressive and emboldened Iran is the source of Washington's many problems has the added virtue of relieving the policy establishment in Washington of responsibility for the predicament in which the US finds itself or of the necessity for "painful self-examination, or serious policy revision", said Fuller.

"Full speed ahead - no revision of fundamental premises is required. And even though we revel in being the sole global superpower, God forbid that anything the US has done in the region might have at least contributed to the present disaster scene," he said.
down the rabbit hole we go...


so where was dubya today? fundraising in colorado. (see the denver post and cbs4 denver)

what does he have to say? "You do some hard things," he said. "It's hard work to defeat the terrorists." (clearly his thinking has not advanced since the 2nd presidential debate of 2000.)

what brilliant analyisis does the wapo's michael abramowitz offer?
When hostilities have broken out in the past, the usual U.S. response has been an immediate and public bout of diplomacy aimed at a cease-fire, in the hopes of ensuring that the crisis would not escalate. This week, however, even in the face of growing international demands, the White House has studiously avoided any hint of impatience with Israel. While making it plain it wants civilian casualties limited, the administration is also content to see the Israelis inflict the maximum damage possible on Hezbollah. [...]

"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said [one] former [senior admnistration] official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.'"
peace through protracted warfare and suffering. compassionate conservatism, Q.E.D.

1 comment:

beepbeepitsme said...

“When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.” Sinclair Lewis