NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Thoughts about the war on terror for letter writers

Some useful comments for the anti-war crowd in the Union Letters to the Editor by Thomas Barnett, author of the Pentagons New Map and Blueprint For Action. He is enjoying super access at the Pentagon and the Washington Think Tanks. You too should pay attention!

From Tom’s weblog:
I know, I know. We're "losing" the Global War On Terror. We've "lost" Iraq. We've "lost" Afghanistan.

Except it's the Middle East that's in the turmoil of civil strife and political change.

Except we have been quite successful in nation-building in both Shiite Iraq and Kurdistan (two out of three is not only not bad, it's awfully good).

Except we're likely to be pulling troops out of both Iraq (as Iraqi forces continue to step up) and Afghanistan (NATO back-fill-still to be negotiated but looking okay) over the course of next year.

Rest assured this will all be described by some as "defeat," "failure," "retreat," and so on. [Make note letter writers, I will be watching]

Except Saddam is gone.

Except the Taliban won't be coming back to power.

Except women are experiencing unprecedented freedom in Afghanistan.

Except Pakistan is moving toward peace and economic integration with India.

Except Saudi Arabia has a new king promising reform after the first local elections in seven decades.

Except Syria's army is out of Lebanon.

Except Israel is out of Gaza and getting out of the West Bank.

Except Egypt's new PM is radically reforming their economy.

Except Turkey is learning to live with Kurdistan.

Except the Iraqi Shiites have deferred from civil war with the Sunnis-for now.

Except moderate regimes in the region have never been more stable.

Except oil flows without interruption (which is good, given the constant demand pressure from rising Asia).

Except foreign direct investment into the region has roughly doubled from its pre-Iraq war levels.

Except Al Qaeda has managed no direct attacks against the homeland, being restricted to the geographic reach pattern of Middle East terrorists from the 1970s and 1980s (blow up stuff at home, reach into Europe).

Rest assured, this will all be judged by many as meaningless "incidentals." [Make note letter writers, I will be watching]

Rest assured, we are told terrorist acts are up globally (Except that's primarily a function of counting all insurgency acts in Iraq as terrorism. Which is it? A war (when we're "losing")? An insurgency (when we're "playing on their terms")? Just terrorism (when Al Qaeda is described as "growing")? Whichever one makes you feel worst.)

All of America's wars have sucked in the present tense. Go back and read the accounts on any of them.

Also go back and read how our opponents in each fought more vociferously as time went on.

That was then, this is now.

History can be a funny thing, though.

Harry Truman was one pathetic loser in his time: totally a product of a corrupt political machine, failed businessman, squeaking by in his only election, managed only a "tie" in his one war, sacked America's "best" general, belittled from all sides for his lack of style and vision and intellect, got America trapped in a long Cold War with an obviously "superior" foe, certainly one of our weakest presidents . . .

That was then, this is now.

Two big issues remain in the Middle East, of course: Sunni Iraq with its insurgency (part Baathist, part Al Qaeda/foreign fighters), and our obsession with Iran's quest for the bomb.
They are intimately connected. Iran is a spoiling factor in Iraq. Remove that spoil, weaken the insurgency, keep the ball rolling on the Big Bang.

We have got to get more imaginative on Iran.

I know, I know. I should give up on Bush. I should spend every blog from here to 20 January 2009 lambasting the man for every failing. I've voted Democrat my entire life and I'm proud of that.

But I just can't give up on the man, nor our military, nor our government, nor the next three years. They all matter too much. [Make note letter writers]

Never gave up when working with Bush the Elder's crowd. Not with Clinton's people through all eight years-even during the impeachment trials and tribulations. Won't do so now with George. [Make note letter writers]

It all simply matters too much.

And when it stops mattering that much, I will quite writing, because I will quite being useful.

Click here for a private e-mail comment. For public comment select comments below.


Blogger Frederic Christie said...

No, we really HAVE lost Iraq, even from the very narrow perspective of imperial power. The US influence is getting bogged down and can't fight back. Numerous generals have commented that they'd prefer a land war with China to a fight against a long-term insurgency like this because the former fights in a standardized fashion and has infrastructure that can actually be harmed.

No, we haven't been successful with Kurdistan. Do you honestly believe this, Russ? Are you aware that what the Kurds call Kurdistan includes segments of Turkey and Iran? We cooperated eagerly while Turkey murdered and oppressed the Kurds in its borders, and even when the mainstream talks about Saddam, they implicitly deny Kurdish aspirations by saying "Saddam gassed his own people". Kurds are NOT Saddam's own people. But in fact the resistance is not simply Sunni, or Saudi terrorists, or what have you. Even the violent aspects are very heterogenuous, and add in all the non-violent protesters who, for example, actually forced the elections (they were not a US gift but a US concession), and the resistance is, as the polls would support, the majority of the Iraqi public.

"Iraqi forces"? Translated: US imperial gendarmes? This doesn't mean we're winning in Iraq, mind you. Need I remind you that when we "lost" (we actually won in terms of achieving objectives) in Vietnam, the first phase was shifting to the South Vietnamese?

Saddam is gone, yes, something to support. A decade too late.

The Taliban came to power thanks to the US' destabilizing activities in Afghanistan and their allies, the moujahadeen. The reason the Taliban were supported was because they were in sharp contrast to the total chaos sponsored by folks like Gulbedden Hakmatyar.

In Kabul, perhaps women are experiencing freedom, but the rest of the country is returning to what it was pre-Taliban: a drug lord, rapist's haven. This may be why the RAWA OPPOSED US bombing and intervention, as did a declaration of numerous Afghani freedom fighters of all ilks.

Pakistan is doing a number of dangerous things as well, but even if they are moving towards peace with India, that's hardly Bush's credit.

The same thing is true in Saudi Arabia. Did anyone care that they were a totalitarian state before then? What does that show you about imperial priorities?

Syria's army being out of Lebanon ALSO was a matter happening independent of Bush, and more importantly, Israel also was in Lebanon, killing 20,000 people in Sabra and Shatila, yet no one mentions that. I agree, Syria should have pulled out, but numerous experts (certainly not anti-Israel by any stretch of the imagination) have conceded that Syria's role was mostly positive, and the discussion in Lebanon about keeping Syrian forces was very nuanced.

Israel NEVER WANTED Gaza and the West Bank. It was BETTER for their priorities for desettlement to occur. There are fantastic blogs about this at, if you care to read. Nor does this excuse or at all amend for the decades of their national identity being trampled upon and stolen, a process that continues.

Who the hell gave him the right to determine that oil flowing without interruption is good? No matter what you think of oil economies, Russ, it DOES NOT JUSTIFY forcing countries to export their oil against the populace's will, which is in fact what happens.

The argument that al Qaeda has managed no attacks against the homeland is silly. By that standard, Clinton was a better president than Bush: he lost fewer lives to al Qaeda. Global incidences of terror, in all the vectors the writer dismisses as irrelevant by some twist of logic that remains to be explained, are going up.

And all these "thoughts", Russ, obfuscate two rather important facts: The US has killed hundreds of thousands across the globe in Bush's presidency; it also has secured colonial occupation of two whole countries with total disregard for their welfare.

Sat Sep 17, 09:22:00 AM PDT  

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