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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

What Juan Cole said!

Dr. Cole has a great post which explains exactly why I always put quotes around the phrase "war on terror." Excerpts:
I have to confess that I have never understood what Bush and Cheney mean by the "war on terror," either. It is because they use the term in alarmingly vague and comprehensive ways.

It is clear that they do not mean a war on "terror." They are completely uninterested in "terror" in general. What has the United States done about Basque terrorism in Spain? About Israeli settler terror against Palestinians? Or for that matter about Hamas terror against Israel? As I argued Friday, Bush hasn't even bothered to do anything serious to Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Jihad al-Islami, which was part of the 9/11 attack and hit Taba.
Bush and Cheney are cynically using the trauma of September 11 as a pretext to fight a series of elective wars against weak governments that are inconvenient for hawkish goals and some US corporate interests. Iraq was a poster child of this policy. It had no weapons of mass destruction, was ramshackle, and had no significant ties to terrorism. It was invented as a dire threat to Peoria by Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch, the latter-day Wizards of Oz.
Bush and Cheney would like to overthrow the government of Iran. This is not because poor, weak Iran is a threat to the US. It is not because Iran may want a nuclear capacity, like that of its neighbors - Israel, Russia, Pakistan, India, etc. It is because it is a major petroleum producer and they want to get their hands on its resources and install a pliant puppet regime there.

The scenario of Cheney, whereby "terrorist groups" get nuclear weapons, is at the moment ridiculous. Terrorist groups do not have the capability to build football-arena size facilities to enrich uranium. And contrary to what Cheney keeps alleging, no government is going to give a terrorist group an atomic bomb. Governments with atomic bombs don't like to share with civilians, for fear of their own safety.

The "war on terror" of Bush-Cheney is a smokescreen for naked American imperial aggression. The sad story of how Iraq posed no threat either to the US or to any of its neighbors, despite high-decibel claims to the contrary for two years by Bush, Cheney and their acolytes, will be repeated in the case of Syria and Iran if Bush and Cheney are reelected. They hope that their project of overthrowing governments in the region will go smoothly, but they do not really care, since even an Iran and a Syria in chaos is a net gain from their point of view. Chaos creates "terror" and justifies further US involvement, aggression and control. It is inconvenient for the rest of us, but then they insist, unlike John Kerry, that we live with the nuisances they are creating.
Bush and Cheney keep shouting that Kerry doesn't understand the war on terror. They mean he doesn't want to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran. As for themselves, if the war on terror is so important to them, why are Bin Laden and Zawahiri at large? Why can al-Qaeda still strike at will? We now have the worst of both worlds, with a quagmire in Iraq and Palestine, and more quagmires planned, while al-Qaeda morphs and grows and continues to form a threat.
Actually, I disagree with Dr. Cole on the two sentences that I italicized. All Bush and Cheney mean when they say that Kerry doesn't understand the "war on terror" is that they, Bush and Cheney, want to win the election. Kerry knows what the "war on terror" is about--that is, he understands it to be exactly as Cole described it. The scary thing is that he has aided and abetted B & C in selling the cover story about scary terrorists with nukes, and continues to do so. His rhetoric about Iran and supporting Israel are every bit as hawkish as the Bushies, and he uses the same "war on terror" rhetoric (albeit in longer sentences made up of longer words).

Otherwise, I agree with Dr. Cole entirely. I'm intrigued to see him use the word "smokescreen," a word I've used a lot lately. The smokescreen changes with administrations: Monica Lewinsky for Clinton and the "war on terror" for Bush. But the American imperial aggression being screened from view remains the same.