Saturday, August 20, 2005

9/11, Iraq, and the war on terrorism: Stop the lying

On Saturday, President Bush once again pulled out the old chestnut about how the Iraq war is linked to the so-called war on terrorism. It's about time, however, that the old chestnut be revealed for what it is. It's not justification, it's not spin, it's not even a shading of the truth. It's bullshit, pure and simple. Once again, Bush is lying to us -- and we shouldn't put up with it any longer.

Let's look at what Bush said in his radio address. First, he made this statement:

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy."

There is no reason to accept this statement at face value. I would wager that the typical new recruit knows nothing at all about who or what he'll be fighting, beyond what the recruiter told him. (And, if recent reports are to believed, the average recruiter is lying out of his ass in a futile attempt to meet his unachievable recruitment numbers.) Even if our soldiers think they're fighting for some higher cause when they first enroll, they're disabused of that notion once they get on the ground in Iraq and find themselves knee-deep in a messy civil war where the only factor unifying the different factions is their hatred for their American occupiers. The "savage enemy" that Bush talks about isn't some terrorist group, it's a variety of "freedom fighters" battling guerilla-style to take back their homeland. To them, we're the savage enemy.

Next, Bush had the gall to say this:

"[Our troops] know that if we do not fight these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail."

Lies, nothing but lies. But let's take them one at a time.

The statement starts with the well-practiced line that we're fighting the terrorists in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here in America. This implies, at the very least, that Iraq is full of terrorists who are just itchin' to travel across the Atlantic to do damage here in the U.S. Nothing could be further from the truth. The so-called terrorists in Iraq are a rag-tag bunch of stone throwers and car bombers, nothing much organized about them at all. They certainly don't have the financial wherewithal to purchase a plane ticket to New York and fund a terrorist campaign here in the States. We have to fight them there because they couldn't get to the U.S. if they wanted to. These militants are not, nor have they ever been, a threat to the American homeland.

Bush then goes on to claim that "the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war." Now, this is just total bullshit. If we lose in Iraq, which we probably will, no American (save for our troops in Iraq, of course) will be put at risk. The rag-tag Iraqis will not follow our retreating troops across the Atlantic to attack our major cities. No American will be less safe when we abandon the fight. It's not a war that endangers Americans -- again, save for those poor souls we're sending there to do our fighting for us. The notion of this being the kind of war that that is necessary for our national safety, or that even requires national sacrifice, is laughable.

Bush ends that little statement with the phrase, "and they know we will prevail." If they (our troops) know this, they know more than I do, and more than our military leaders, as well. Iraq is a quagmire, an unwinnable situation similar to what we faced in Vietnam. It's not a matter of if we're going to pull out, it's a matter of when and how. And, yes, we'll leave that country in worse shape than it was before we got involved; a bloody civil war is most definitely in the cards, and there's not much we can do about it. (Though it does make one marvel at the effectiveness of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in keeping warring factions at bay; dictatorships aren't always all bad.)

Bush wasn't done talking, however. Our so-called elected leader had the audacity to draw a direct relationship between 9/11 and the Iraqi conflict:

"In a few weeks, our country will mark the four-year anniversary of the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that vast oceans and friendly neighbors no longer protect us from those who wish to harm our people. And since that day, we have taken the fight to the enemy."

In other words, we're in Iraq because of 9/11.

Once and for all, let's put an end to this lie. There is no -- absolutely zero -- connection between Sadaam Hussein, Iraq, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The 9/11 attackers had no ties to Iraq. Hussein had no connection to Al Queda. Hussein was not involved in the planning or the funding of the 9/11 attacks. There is no there there. Iraq was no more involved in 9/11 than Canada or Switzerland were.

Bush didn't attack Iraq because of 9/11, or because of terrorism in any way, shape, or form. Maybe he attacked it for the oil, maybe he did it in the name of some neo-con plan for world domination, maybe it had something to do with his daddy. I don't know. The only thing I do know is that saying the war in Iraq is somehow justified as revenge for 9/11, or to prevent some vague future terrorist attack, is pure bullshit. Let's call it that and treat it as such.

But there's more. The President had one last statement to make:

"We're fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan, Iraq, and around the world, striking them in foreign lands before they can attack us here at home."

What a whopper. Again, there weren't any terrorists in Iraq, so there goes the initial justification. Of course, there are terrorists in Iraq now -- but only because our troops are there provoking things. In other words, we have made Iraq a haven for terrorists. Thanks, George.

Then there's the notion that if we fight them there, they won't attack us here. The recent bombings in London put lie to that theory. Fighting Islamic terrorism isn't like fighting a country, with physical boundaries and organized troops. Terrorists are everywhere and nowhere. Attacking them in one country with conventional armies doesn't affect their ability to strike at will anyplace else in the world. We're not tying them down; we're only pissing them off.

If we truly want to minimize the danger from Islamic terrorism, we'd call off the troops and sic the CIA on them. Terrorist groups are small and shadowy, best fought with subterfuge and counterintelligence. That's what's worked in the past (against all manner of Middle Eastern terrorist groups from the 1970s and on), and the only thing that will work in the future. Fighting a virtual enemy with hundreds of thousands of physical troops in a single location is pure folly.

It's also pure folly to imagine that we're really in Iraq to fight a terrorist threat. That's not why we invaded, and it's not why we're still fighting today. It may be what Bush and his cohorts would like us to believe, because "fighting terrorism" plays well in the polls. But it's a sham justification, a lie so enormous and so criminal as to warrant prosecution in international courts. Why anyone ever believed this -- and why anyone might still believe it -- is testament to the power of propaganda.

Here is my request of our so-called leader: Mr. President, quit lying to us -- and bring our boys home now.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.

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