Being scared of being scared is pretty frightful, and more than a little neurotic.
On this early Friday morning as I tap the soft keys of my laptop, the US is involved at least three major war zones — Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya — while at the same time being wrapped up in drone missions, special ops forays and all kinds of other military adventures around the globe, all in the name of national security.
Apparently, US GIs are killing and being killed in order to secure the nation a security from fear.
Terror scares the shit out of everybody, it seems.
And how is this nearly-a-decade’s worth of dumb-ass world-wide global war on terror doing?
Back-ass backwards at best.
(Illustration found here).
In a long detailed piece last fall, Foreign Policy pointed the trembling finger not at Islam and its hatred of “our values,” but instead at the real root of terror — the US dumb-ass theme of invading and occupying Moslem countries.
In the decade since 9/11, the United States has conquered and occupied two large Muslim countries (Afghanistan and Iraq), compelled a huge Muslim army to root out a terrorist sanctuary (Pakistan), deployed thousands of Special Forces troops to numerous Muslim countries (Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, etc.), imprisoned hundreds of Muslims without recourse, and waged a massive war of ideas involving Muslim clerics to denounce violence and new institutions to bring Western norms to Muslim countries.
Yet Americans still seem strangely mystified as to why some Muslims might be angry about this situation.
But in a broader sense, America has become perilously unsafe.
Each month, there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.
From 1980 to 2003, there were 343 suicide attacks around the world, and at most 10 percent were anti-American inspired.
Since 2004, there have been more than 2,000, over 91 percent against U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries.
For nearly a decade, Americans have been waging a long war against terrorism without much serious public debate about what is truly motivating terrorists to kill them.
In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, this was perfectly explicable — the need to destroy al Qaeda’s camps in Afghanistan was too urgent to await sober analyses of root causes.
A simple narrative was readily available, and a powerful conventional wisdom began to exert its grip.
Because the 9/11 hijackers were all Muslims, it was easy to presume that Islamic fundamentalism was the central motivating force driving the 19 hijackers to kill themselves in order to kill Americans.
Within weeks after the 9/11 attacks, surveys of American attitudes show that this presumption was fast congealing into a hard reality in the public mind.
Americans immediately wondered, “Why do they hate us?” and almost as immediately came to the conclusion that it was because of “who we are, not what we do.”
As President George W. Bush said in his first address to Congress after the 9/11 attacks:
“They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.”
Thus was unleashed the “war on terror.”
The research suggests that U.S. interests would be better served through a policy of offshore balancing. Some scholars have taken issue with this approach, arguing that keeping boots on the ground in South Asia is essential for U.S. national security.
Proponents of this strategy fail to realize how U.S. ground forces often inadvertently produce more anti-American terrorists than they kill.
In 2000, before the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, there were 20 suicide attacks around the world, and only one (against the USS Cole) was directed against Americans.
In the last 12 months, by comparison, 300 suicide attacks have occurred, and over 270 were anti-American. We simply must face the reality that, no matter how well-intentioned, the current war on terror is not serving U.S. interests.
The late great Chalmers Johnson goes more in depth on this same subject, but from a different angle in his “Blowback” approach. (An article in The Nation, and from his book, ‘Blowback‘)
So, fast forward to Thursday and outgoing CIA head Leon Panetta’s testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee on being Bullet Bob Gates replacement as Defense Secretary (that department should revert to its old name, Department of War, with a Secretary of War — more in line with reality nowadays).
Panetta had the gall to say this: “I have to tell you there are 1,000 al Qaeda that are still in Iraq,” Panetta said, in what was generally a warm reception from the assembled senators.
Of course, Leon didn’t mention and nobody asked about why and how these al-Qaeda boys got to be in Iraq.
The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported al-Qaeda wouldn’t be in Iraq if the US hadn’t invaded and the Iraqi war and all the other US war-making moves have hurt, not helped the terror war: But “a really big hole” in the U.S. strategy, a second counterterrorism official said, “is that we focus on the terrorists and very little on how they are created. If you looked at all the resources of the U.S. government, we spent 85, 90 percent on current terrorists, not on how people are radicalized.”
And on this bogus terror war, Tom Engelhardt, at tomdispatch has a good post up on US national security and the real absence of security.
A couple of nuggets for thought:
In other words, in terms of damage since 9/11, terror attacks have ranked above shark attacks but below just about anything else that could possibly be dangerous to Americans, including car crashes which have racked up between 33,800 and 43,500 deaths a year since 2001.
The National Security Complex has, in fact, grown fat by relentlessly pursuing the promise of making the country totally secure from terrorism, even as life grows ever less secure for so many Americans when it comes to jobs, homes, finances, and other crucial matters.
It is on this pledge of protection that the Complex has managed to extort the tidal flow of funds that have allowed it to bloat to monumental proportions, end up with a yearly national security budget of more than $1.2 trillion, find itself encased in a cocoon of self-protective secrecy, and be 100 percent assured that its officials will never be brought to justice for any potential crimes they may commit in their â€œwarâ€ on terrorism.
And since there’s been reported that only about 100 al-Qaeda types are in Afghanistan, the effort there seems more than tragic — a week ago, an ABC News/Washington Post poll poll showed just 43 percent of those surveyed felt the war was worth fighting, while 73 percent said a shitload of US GIs should be pulled out of there this summer — as promised by President Obama.
In mangling E.T., the US shouldn’t just call home, but go home — bring the troops back to the US where we can use their help with flooding, tornadoes, forest fires, hailstorms and too many weiners on the Internet.
Shit, I’m getting scared of how weiners are just tossed about with such gay abandon — could it be…weiner fright!