Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Terror Gang

Both Barack Obama and John McCain are chomping at the bit to use military force, a strategy that, according to a recent Rand center report, is effective only 7% of the time.

The study also asserts "there is no battlefield solution to terrorism," that the phrase "war on terror" only perpetuates what is essentially a criminal act, and what we already know, that there is no such thing as a terror "war." (AP) Indeed, the think tank financed by our tax dollars says good intelligence, and policing, are the most effective ways of dealing with counterterrorism efforts.

Notably, in Berlin, Obama not only echoed JFK's ardent pledge to fight communism, he acknowledged that he will continue the so-called "war on terror," adding that "we must defeat terror." But, how does he propose to do that and, more importantly, what will he do with the terror infrastructure we ourselves created in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Iran with the introduction of mercenaries, a.k.a. war contractors?

We're growing insurgents in Iran, and fighting insurgents in Iraq. It's now conventional wisdom that the U.S. entered a sovereign country illegally, seized its assets, pummeled its president and his palace, and now has the gall to call the resistance "insurgents." Don't believe the "surge" freaks, like McCain, who tell you the insurgency, in Iraq, is disappearing. Anywhere there is illegal occupation, there will be justifiable insurrection.

And, judging by his latest foreign policy photo ops, don't expect to see any seismic shift in an Obama administration, but instead the same old preemptive military war games of his predecessor, that is, unless we call him on this, and do it now.

Moreover, while he's making noises about "torture," we need to hear that, as president, Mr. Obama will stop the heinous practice of using international airspace to fly those we detain to countries that openly torture.

As a prospective commander-in-chief, he must also make it known that he not only has an exit strategy for our troops, in Iraq, but for Halliburton, Blackwater, and the countless bloodsuckers who have been carpetbagging in that stolen country for the past 6 years. It's time to tell the terror gang to fold up their tents, and come home.

It's also time for Obama to speak out against the latest outrage coming from the desk of Attorney General Michael Mukasey who now urges Congress to issue a "new" declaration of war against Al Qaeda. Does anyone remember an old declaration of war against Iraq, or Al Qaeda, being ratified by Congress? Yes, of course, Congress approved funding, but for an undeclared war.

But, why this sudden urgency, on the part of the Justice Department, to legitimize a bastard war? Can it be that the attorney general is worried that the promise of immunity from war crimes, given by the Military Commissions Act of 2006, will be rescinded by a new Congress, and/or president?

If Mukasey succeeds and, despite the findings of a governmental research group that treating so-called terrorists like warriors flat out doesn't work, he manages to get a formal declaration of war against Al Qaeda, George W. Bush won't be the only commander-in-chief who can sleep better at night knowing that waterboarding, and other "enhanced alternative interrogation techniques," can be applied with impunity, and that we can call whomever we please an "unlawful enemy combatant," continue to hold them indefinitely without ever charging them, or giving them access to the evidence against them.

John McCain is right. We know way more where he stands on "national security" than we do about Barack Obama, but that may not be such a good thing. After all, we know where McCain stands on what he calls Islamofascism. Let's just say that it's in keeping with his stand on affirmative action, and a stone's throw from his position on electronic eavesdropping. Remember, too, that his campaign advisors are also on the boards of AT&T, and other telecoms who will benefit from the new F.I.S.A. retroactive immunity clause.

Who can believe, but it was nearly 50 years ago that we got to see a presidential debate for the first time on television with Kennedy and Nixon. And, with Obama and McCain, we now know what a presidential chat room looks while the pair talk at each other as if text messaging. If the medium is the message, then presidential politics may be forever trivialized, and substantively neutralized.

"No one welcomes war," says Obama. Not true---the holders of those huge military contracts, like Halliburton, do; Blackwater does, manufacturers of battle gear, and cluster bombs, do. The question isn't who welcomes war, but who will do something to prevent it, and who has the moxie to stand up to the war machine? Not McCain, of course, who's angling for a way to keep a base of operations in Baghdad for generations, and not Obama who intends to redeploy troops into Afghanistan, Pakistan, and is eyeballing Tehran. But if not Mr. Obama, then who?

What Barack Obama's argument boils down to is---right war, wrong theatre. Or, put differently, the notion of a "war on terror" isn't inherently flawed, only our execution of it is. In the end, do we have any more confidence that a President Obama will oppose those forces in the Pentagon, and intelligence agencies, who are working overtime in a clandestine effort to topple the Ahmadinejad leadership, as well as those who strive for a military strike against Iran? Can we expect fairness, and balance, from a Barack administration, or just the usual laissez-faire policies when it comes to the shameful Israeli embargo of Gaza?

With his talk of nuclear non-proliferation, Obama is clearly heading in the right direction while McCain is still waiting for that 3 A.M. phone call, but nuclear non-proliferation is not the same as disarmament. A world without nuclear weapons must start with a world without cluster bombs, and those who gorge themselves on profits from their manufacture.

When, in the 1920's, Al Capone and his gang terrorized New York, and the country, then President Calvin Coolidge didn't declare a "war on the Mafia." Ironically, too, a war of that nature would have been far more winnable than a war on "terror."

And, if more members of Congress had bothered to read the USA Patriot Act before signing off on it, making it law, we wouldn't be facing such a grave threat to civil liberties today.

Both Senators McCain and Obama will be well-advised to familiarize themselves with findings that admonish American leadership for using hackneyed, and hopelessly abstract, phraseology like "war on terror," and instead call for "counterterrorism" efforts.

Counterterrorism doesn't sound as sexy, and won't be nearly as profitable, but is guaranteed to save more lives, and to keep us from continuing to be a global embarrassment.