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October 24, 2004

Illegitimi Non Carborundum

On the eve of the election, Foreign Affairs serves up yet another overwrought jeremiad. Tragically, George Bush has single-handedly destroyed our legitimacy in the eyes of the world.

Give it a rest, guys. It's a bad sign when even the URL needs its own executive summary.

In the halcyon days before the rise of the BushReich, peace and harmony were the order of the day and lovely Lady Liberty was universally loved and respected by all. This dewy-eyed view of history required the authors to gloss over that unfortunate Southeast Asian escapade that had all the world throwing roses at our feet... But no matter. The formation of academic theories often requires a few facts to be sacrificed upon the altar of Eternal Truth.

Their outrage quickly becomes apparent, as does their central premise: under George Bush, America abandoned her previous gentle ways and become an imperious Giant run amok on the world stage. Our only path to salvation lies in performing the Thousand-fold Prostrations as we inhale cleansing drafts of sandalwood and patchouli from a million wavering candles. Only then will we regain the true inner Dharma.

All of which is very nice, but it relies upon an outmoded concept of warfare.

When one lives in an ivory tower, this is, perhaps, not surprising. But I never cease to be amazed at the simple lack of logic that besets critics of the Iraq war. Why can they not see the obvious?

On September 11th, we were not attacked by WMD, or nuclear weapons, or any such sophisticated weapon. We were, essentially, attacked with boxcutters. By terrorists. They might as well have used sporks.

The thing about terrorists is: they don't have formal armies, or uniforms. They don't declare war. They don't even have to use fancy weapons. And they don't wage war in the conventional sense, so they don't always attack the normal targets we're used to defending. Their object is not necessarily to destroy ports, buildings, cities, or governments. Those things are incidental. It is to kill people and create terror and disruption. The terrorist's weapon is surprise - his hallmark is that he is unpredictable: he can strike anywhere, at anytime. He travels light.

He is almost impossible to defend against.

For obvious reasons, this new warfare has been dubbed asymmetrical. In this new war, we no longer have armies of equal, or nearly equal, size. We face an invisible enemy who melts into crowds with ease: who doesn't announce his presence, who doesn't owe allegiance to a nation, wear an identifiable uniform, obey the Geneva Convention, or try to minimize harm to non-combatants. In fact, he targets them.

He doesn't recognize international law.

In the wake of 9/11, when we were attacked by such an enemy, our President was charged with our national defense. He could not be sure exactly who had attacked us, or if we would be attacked again. In the aftermath of that horrible day, when it became shockingly plain that we had been attacked with boxcutters for Pete's sake - that that was all it took to send human beings plummeting to their deaths from the heights of the World Trade Center in an image that none of us will ever forget, it was a wake-up call. They had sent another plane crashing into the command center of our military in Arlington, Virginia and yet another into the ground in Pennsylvania. With nothing more than boxcutters.

Looking outward from the smoke and ash and rubble of New York City, it was obvious that America had two deadly enemies. One, Osama Bin Laden, claimed responsibility for the attack. George Bush, appropriately, took action. He did not do so precipitously - he took his time, gathering consensus in Congress and going to the United Nations.

One other thing was startlingly obvious, or should have been to anyone paying even cursory attention. We had one other deadly enemy: Saddam Hussein. Alone among world leaders, he applauded the 9/11 attack . Alone among world leaders, he had already tried to assassinate a sitting US President. We were currently spending billions of dollars maintaining a no-fly zone over the northern region of his country. He had kicked UN weapons inspectors out of his country and defied 12 years of UN resolutions intended to contain his aspirations to build nuclear and WMD programs. Several documented attempts at defying containment had been allowed to go unpunished.

And we knew then (as we know now) that Saddam had been a generous state sponsor of terrorism worldwide. Indeed, there are links between Saddam and several terrorists involved in the 1993 bombing of our own World Trade Center:

Ramzi Yousef, the Iraqi architect of the 1993 World Trade Center (WTC) bombing which killed six persons and wounded 1,042 others, entered America on an Iraqi passport before fleeing after the attack on Pakistani papers. Abdul Rahman Yasin, indicted for mixing the chemicals in that WTC bombing, and still on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list, fled to Baghdad after the attack and lived there for years afterwards. Murdock adds that according Richard Miniter, author of this year's bestselling book, Losing Bin Laden, documents discovered by US forces in Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, showed that the Iraqi government gave Yasin both a house and a salary.

Interestingly for John Kerry's "law enforcement" theory of terrorism (and not so fortunately for his oft-stated claim that there is "no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda"), both the 9/11 commission and US courts have actually looked at the evidence and discerned connections:

Significantly, a Clinton-appointed Manhattan federal judge, Harold Baer, recently ordered Saddam Hussein, his ousted regime, Osama bin Laden, and others to pay $104 million in damages to the families of the 2,750 victims of the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers. He found “by evidence satisfactory to the court, that Iraq provided material support to bin Laden and al Qaeda.”

Given that we had just been attacked by one madman (Bin Laden) and threatened by another who had sheltered our attackers in the past, tried to kill our President, and was an active state sponsor of terrorism, what kind of President would ignore the very real threat of our two deadliest enemies joining forces against us?

And worse: if one madman, armed only with boxcutters, had been able to wreak such havoc with a surprise attack, what nighmare scenario would result if our two greatest enemies were to join forces? What if, instead of boxcutters next time, they had sarin? Like the sarin-filled shell that exploded in Iraq this May? What if they had money this time? What if they had chemical or biological weapons? Or simple bombs, that a state sponsor of terrorism like Saddam Hussein could provide? And lest you think it far-fetched that al Qaeda operatives would journey from Afghanistan to Iraq, that is exactly where Abu Musab al Zarqawi came from. When the Taliban fell, he fled to Iraq.

Tactically, to attack Bin Laden in Afghanistan, leaving the back door open for him and his operatives to flee to Iraq, and our other most dangerous enemy in power to continue to sponsor terrorism as he had for thirty years, would have been sheer lunacy. The 9/11 commission would have had a field day looking at that decision in hindsight. History has already shown that al Qaeda members could - and did - flee to Iraq.

Yet the sages at Foreign Affairs believe we should have respected "international law". That argument might work when you are facing a conventional enemy who invades your borders with a recognizable army you can identify and retaliate against. How does it apply when a foreign leader uses terrorism as a weapon?

How does it apply when the United Nations itself is complicit in the use of terrorism?

This month, the United Nations Security Council voted to condemn terrorism. The resolution was introduced by Russia, still grieving over the terrorist attack on a school in Beslan, and perhaps the unanimous vote will give it a measure of solace.
After the Security Council vote, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John C. Danforth tried to put the best face on the resolution. He said it "states very simply that the deliberate massacre of innocents is never justifiable in any cause. Never."
But in fact it does not state this. Nor has any U.N. resolution ever stated it. The U.S. delegation tried to get such language into the resolution, but it was rebuffed by Algeria and Pakistan, the two OIC members currently sitting on the Security Council.
This boils down to saying that terrorism on behalf of bad causes is bad, but terrorism on behalf of good causes is good. Obviously, anyone who takes such a position is not against terrorism at all — but only against bad causes.

So much for international law. The murder of innocents is, apparently, acceptable to the International Community: provided it is in a good cause.

The removal of a sadistic dictatator for torturing and using weapons of mass destruction on his own people, for having defied a UN ceasefire and 12 years of UN resolutions, and the right of self-defense of a nation after she has been attacked are apparently not good enough causes.

We have established that the United Nations will never condemn terrorism, so the United Nations is never going to allow America to defend itself against terrorists. What, then, are we expected to do?

Apparently, Mr. Bond, we are expected to die. We can console ourselves with the comforting thought that, when we at last depart this veil of tears, our legitimacy in the eyes of the global community will have been fully restored.

Oh, and we will have their heartfelt sympathy.

- Cassandra

October 24, 2004 at 11:08 AM | Permalink


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If the OIC took a stance against terrorism - as defined by most of the world - they would be taking a stance against Palastinian suicide bombers and (indirectly) in favor of Israel. [Read More]

Tracked on Oct 24, 2004 6:01:47 PM


Perhaps the most disturbing thing that I have seen in several years was televised on C-SPAN last year, following (or leading up to, I'm sorry, I honestly don't remember) the Iraq invasion.
A gathering of academic "historians" was having a panel discussion, with one of the panelists being Douglas Brinkley. You may know Brinkley as the son of the late David Brinkley, and hagiographer of John Kerry and several books on Jimmay Carter.

Brinkley was by far the most moderate and reasonble speaker there. The rest of the speakers/panelists and attendees conducted an un-moderated Marxist-style denunciation of the Bush administration. It was fascinating and yet darkly disturbing to watch this, like watching a car wreck in slow motion and unable to tear your eyes away from the carnage. The real face of Leftist-Marxist academia was revealed and displayed at this "seminar". The ugly secret revealed that day was the energizing intellectual force behind A.N.S.W.E.R., MoveOn (and "Foreign Affairs") and other organizations (many 527c-organizations) that are not "co-ordinated" with the Kerry campaign, but are none the less, "in cahoots".
After the published sentiments of the BBC (their recent news magazine program downplaying "terrorism"), the Guardian (yesterday linked on Instapundit), and the subtle statements of the Kerry campaign, plus my own ears in hearing my company's French fearless leader, all saying the "terrorism" isn't really significant national "threat", this is no suprise. It's the Euro-think answer spoonfed to the masses in Europe. Vicious anti-semitism is part of it, too.
If Mr. Kerry is elected (and probably even if he is not), expect a lot more of this to appear in the mainstream national "news" in this country, and continuing efforts in Iraq to be dismissed as being a part of the WOT.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Oct 24, 2004 12:14:08 PM

And yet, if we are attacked again, none of the blame for being shortsighted will be borne by them.

It will be the Bush administration's fault. No menation that they were literally hamstrung by these idiots.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 24, 2004 12:36:14 PM

Blame is irrelevant to them, and fixing blame is only an expedient to gathering politcal power.

They wish for a political 'apocalypse', as it were, which would give them an opportunity to grab more political power. If the Islamofascists supply it, so much the better.

This is the hard, idealogical Left, embedded within part of the Democratic party. This is not the mainstream of the Democratic party. Most Democrats would be revulsed by this if they were truly aware of it, just as most Republicans are revulsed by groups such as the Aryan Nation, the KKK, etc. (Groups that are typically associated with the 'Right', neo-fascist in nature).
But these people have 'credentials' in the academy, and aren't a group of angry fools gathered in the hinterlands of America. They are at the center of the intellectual life of many universities.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at Oct 24, 2004 8:11:02 PM

The thing that really scares me is how many of these 'hats really think we're skipping madly down the path to another Pax Amerikana - as though Iraq were just the first in an endless series of dominoes that were going to topple, one after another until entire nations were going to be stocked neatly down at the local US branch of HegemonsRUs on aisle one. It drives me nuts.

One minute they're chattering away madly that our army (the world's largest and most powerful) is sorely overtaxed and on the brink of disaster.

The utter illogic of this just kills me. You'd think we were facing the entire combined armies of the Soviet Union at it's height and ... oh, I don't know... China instead of a ragtag bunch of insurgents. WHAT A BUNCH OF PANTYWAIST COWARDS. If we can't kick what's left of the resistance in Iraq's butts, then we jolly well deserve to get beat. Good God, I wonder if these people ever stop to listen to what they're actually saying???
If we're on the ropes now, we have some more serious fricking problems in our military than the war in Iraq. We need to completely revamp our entire armed forces because we're a bunch of milquetoasts. I don't buy it.

Then we magically go from being on our last gasp to being on the verge of taking over the known *&^&%^ galaxy without so much as a by-your-leave.

WHICH IS IT? Are we toast or are we imperialist warmongering invaders straight from Hell? Make up your mind. There are not, at present, sufficient mood altering substances (legal or illegal) in the state of Maryland to make me want to listen to more of this crap in a social setting without becoming openly hostile. My innate sense of politeness is becoming severely strained.

Posted by: Cassandra at Oct 24, 2004 8:38:11 PM

We are neither an expansionist empire, nor a nation about to collapse. We are a republic trying to be an empire-lite, following in the footsteps of the British Empire in a lot of places, trying to police the world without the native British advantages of imperial instinct and disregard for the lives of subject people. Churchill, as Colonial Secretary, suggested using mustard gas bombs against the restive Iraqi tribesmen. We don't have the stomach to do this.

Cass says: "...under George Bush, America abandoned her previous gentle ways and become an imperious Giant run amok on the world stage." No, Americans have long been willing to run amok, and have done so with very little justification at various times in our history: 1846, 1898, 1965, etc. Since World War 2 we have been increasingly willing to use covert operations to meddle in the affairs of other sovereign nations, using the Cold War as an excuse. George W. Bush didn't invent this stuff.

I think Bush's biggest problem is that he has been willing to strip the smiley-face mask off our aggressive instinct in front of the rest of the world, and this scares them. Because to acknowledge it too openly makes the future use of force more accepted and easier.

As far as the armed forces, it is mostly the Army and Marines, the ground forces that are stretched thin. They can win militarily against any force, but the occupation is slow and grinding, because the enemy hides among innocents. Our Army is not especially large by historical standards, although it is more formidable than any opponent. What's needed in Iraq is not necessarily more of the hi-tech stuff, but basic well-trained leg infantry. For these duties, less-capable allied contingents are desired and useful. Plus native Iraqis. Britain did not hold India with just a redcoats, they held it with native sepoys.

There's a lot of blaming Clinton going on, about the reduced size of the Army, but I think this is misdirected. What was going on in the 1990's was a restructuring of forces which had been designed for large-scale armored combat in Europe, to meet future threats that, at the time, were not clearly defined. Congress and the armed services committees had to go along with these changes, or they wouldn't have happened.

Posted by: Al Peck at Oct 24, 2004 11:56:34 PM

And it still didn't need to happen, Al. Clinton was asleep at the switch (no pun intended...or maybe I do intend it) and his advisors were too. He had three chances to get Bin Laden and turned them all down.

His hero, John Fitzgerald Kennedy penned a tome worthy of study in that regard and is still in use in military libraries world wide.
It was an ambitious work and earned him the enmity of his father who was the US Ambassador to the Court of St. James when the book came out.

JFK we 24 years old when he wrote the book, and the title pretty much sums up the Clinton administration's parallel attitude with the Chamberlain government: "Why England Slept."

I read it a long time ago when we were stationed at Fort Knox, (I have some pieces of the Berlin Wall)and I asked myself the question then: "Who are the new enemies and will they be in the pay of our old enemies?"

If you don't ask the questions, you don't learn to analyze your positions and where you are weak and strong. We had eight years of Clinton weakening the military and the intelligence community.

Bush is starting to put all that back, and everyone is blaming HIM for the oversights that occured in the previous administration.

Posted by: Cricket at Oct 25, 2004 12:29:29 PM

That was supposed to be 'He WAS,' not 'he we.'
I shall now prostrate myself 10 times, saying mea culpa and inhaling incense, instead of becoming incensed.

Posted by: Cricket at Oct 25, 2004 12:32:06 PM