The War on Terror’s Crossroads

Mark of New Jersey

Mark is a Founding Editor of The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, the predecessor of Ordinary Times.

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43 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    Security theater works best when it’s a play the public wants to see.

    I hope to goodness this thing finally closes.Report

  2. Robert Cheeks says:

    “American governments always gain powers during wars and have never given them all back at the end.”

    Exactly. But, this might not happen so easily in a republic. Real shame we don’t have one.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Remember what flying was like in 1999?

    You could go to the airport and go through security without a ticket so you could pick up your friends at the gate rather than wait for them on the other side of a translucent plexiglass wall. (Once, we had a multi-hour stopover and met friends for lunch in Chicago.)

    You could show up, like, 40 minutes before the plane took off.

    Now, imagine going back to that… and imagine something bad happening.

    Do you see the American people screaming for “something ought to be done?”

    (I see it as less likely today than in 1999, actually… but I project a lot.)Report

    • Trumwill in reply to Jaybird says:

      Meh. I was held by Canadian customs for three hours in 1999 while my friend – who should have been preparing to *get married* waited. Don’t tell me about 1999.

      More seriously, you can sometimes pull off 40 minutes, still. It depends on the lines. It’s always depended on the lines.

      (Your point stands. I’m just feeling nitpicky. You brought up 1999.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Trumwill says:

        The first time I visited Maribou in Montreal had me in customs waiting for a while.

        It was still novel for people who met on the ‘tubes to visit each other, you see.Report

        • Trumwill in reply to Jaybird says:

          Laptops cost over $2,000. That was what nailed me. I bought $2,000 in “business equipment” for a wedding. Of a friend I met on the Internet. Who had the same name as a celebrity.Report

  4. Freddie says:

    But, of course, this “war” isn’t over, and indeed, the administration rushed to say that bin Laden’s death will not speed withdrawal from Afghanistan.Report

  5. dexter says:

    The first time I flew to Alaska was before D. B. Cooper pulled his little caper. There was a group of hunters going on an expedition for grizzly bear. They brought enough firepower, both rifles and big hand guns, with ammo on the plane to make a seal team jealous.
    I have driven the Alcan several times. Getting into Canada was as easy as saying hello to the border guards. They would look at our vehicle, ask us how much money we had and wish us good luck.
    All that has changed now and we are not as free as we once were. I find America’s actions since 9-11 saddening. America now does things that in the past got people from other nations hung.Report

  6. E.D. Kain says:

    Some funny formatting going on here.Report

  7. Creon Critic says:

    The Obama administration spent several months developing an Af-Pak strategy and now you’d advise they discard it simply because bin Laden was killed? It’s like advising America stop containment upon the demise of Stalin. While individuals in senior leadership positions of an opposing party are important, the broader strategic vision doesn’t center on them alone. The idea of dismantling Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, by the administration’s lights, envisions a handover to Afghan forces in 2014. Why would bin Laden’s death in and of itself accelerate that timetable?

    If you disagree with the strategy Obama is pursing, fair enough. Counterterrorism versus counterinsurgency is certainly a live argument. But highlighting bin Laden’s death as the critical juncture is nearly a non sequitur. Or to put it another way, have US interests in Central and South Asia been secured by bin Laden’s death? Would bringing the troops home now advance those interests more effectively than Obama’s Af-Pak plans?Report

    • James Vonder Haar in reply to Creon Critic says:

      I the notion is that a symbolic victory gives the powers-that-be cover to do what was always the strategically wise move.Report

    • I’d advise that, as far as the American people are concerned, we were fighting a war against al-Qaeda. As far as the American people were concerned, we were not fighting a war to remake Afghanistan and Pakistan in our image. Nor were we, as far as the American people were concerned, fighting a war to protect what some politicians have defined for us as being in our national interest.

      Either this war is effectively over now (or sometime in the coming weeks), or it becomes a war that no one ever signed up for, and just as bad, a war that cannot ever possibly have an end.Report

      • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        I’m assuming the Obama regime doesn’t buy into the neocon idea of ‘taking democracy to the Middle East’, which begs the question why Barry doesn’t announce an immediate withdrawal?Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

          Has it never occurred to you that the USA has a foothold in Afghanistan simply because it’s occupying a power vacuum? Democracy cannot be exported, that much is true, it must be home grown. We aren’t in Afghanistan because of Al Qaeda, there are at most a few dozen ackshul fackshul AQ operators left who survived Tora Bora.

          Look at the map. We’re there because it’s Pakistan and Iran’s back yard. We’re also in Djibouti at Camp Lemmonier.

          Forget all this business about the Taliban, we also face threats from Iran’s agents who are using the Taliban as their own proxies. China and the Stans are just over the hills and mountains. We tolerate Karzai because he’s a fixer and that’s all he ever was.

          India has a surprisingly large presence in Afghanistan, they’ve got embassy outposts in every major city and town in Afghanistan. Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar and other “outlets” all over the place, more than any other country including our own.

          Let’s put it plainly, the very last thing on anyone’s minds in the Pentagon or State is democracy. Everyone understands that’s an illusion. The Durand Line has divided the Pashtun between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the Pashtun want nothing more than their own country. They don’t observe the Durand Line, they wander back and forth across it constantly. We don’t control the Pashtun and Pakistan can’t control the Pashtun and it’s a serious geopolitical problem in the region, a whole lot more serious than you might think. The Durand Line was supposed to cut them in half and reduce their influence in both countries. They should have been given their own country, but the British did to the Pashtuns what they did to the Kurds in Iraq and Turkey and Iran, there are also some in Syria, divide and conquer by the establishment of national boundaries.

          The Uighur are an even more serious problem, they’re trying to carve out their own state from within China and all their fighters are coming back and forth into Pakistan on those nice new roads and tunnels now connecting Pakistan and China.

          Rest assured, democracy ain’t coming to Afghanistan, not now, and not for a good long while. Democracy emerges in coherent societies which Afghanistan, that poor bastard mongrel invention of the British, manifestly is not.Report

          • Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

            There’s no need for an American presence in the area, or for the USA to police any area in the world. Let India or whoever mess with these camel jockies.
            I’d have thought LBJ would have taught you that. You sound like an apologist for foreign entanglements…oh, wait you are.
            BTW, I just heard that Barry was dithering around re: the decision to kill OBL and the mlitary/intelligence boys got tired of his pusillanimous ducking and dodging and TOLD him that he would order a GO on the kill, and do it NOW…coup de tat anyone?Report

            • An Anonymous “DC Insider” whose tale is told by an even more anonymous blogger on, in effect, obscure social networking sites, is clearly a credible source.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                C’mon Mark, this is the ‘juice’ that lubs the great engine of American politics. But, we’ll have to see, though the possibilities are delicious! BTW, there was a regime insider on the side of the military/intelligence boys…Hillary!Report

              • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                And what is the source of all this? The Weekly Standards Monday night fever dreams?Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to North says:

                My dear North, for me, a Paleo, to read TWS, would constitute the same transgression as if I’d subscribed to Pravda.
                For the above, even assuming the report’s veracity, it isn’t likely to make the MSM.
                Also, since you’re my source for all things Canadian, whas up with the election? I heard there was a conservative sweep of some sort? Did you have a hand in that?Report

              • For the above, even assuming the report’s veracity, it isn’t likely to make the MSM.

                Do you really need me to put together a post explaining the myriad ways in which this “report” is demonstrably false?

                But for now, consider this: This supposed “insider” has been “leaking” sensationalistic stories to this anonymous poster on obscure social networking sites for ages (seriously – look at the anonymous poster’s archives), one or two every few weeks. Yet this is the first time one of his “reports” has even filtered its way through the right-wing blogosphere. Not once did this “source” think to himself: “Hmmm….if I actually want my whistleblowing to get out there, maybe I should start talking to some with an actual audience. Even if the MSM won’t run with this, there’s a million different conservative media sites that would love to run with this story, all with waaaaaaaaaaaay more of an audience than this anonymous dude. There’s Andrew Breitbart, WorldNutDaily, ClownHall, Newsmax, CNS, FoxNews, National Review, Forbes, etc., etc. Hell, if things get really desperate, I could even go to Alex Jones.”Report

              • North in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Ah well I stand corrected Bob ol’ boy though you didn’t answer the question.

                In answer to your own inquiry Canada has had quite a sea change. Describing it in detail would take up a lot of space but the best way to sum it up is one of polarization. The traditional centrist ruling party that I reluctantly backed (inaptly named the Liberals) suffered a historic loss of seats. The right wing party led by Harper definitely got a lot of seats and finally nailed down a majority (so presumably he can complete his Bush II program of taking a country in good shape and running it into the ground) and the left wing party (the NDP) also gained huge numbers of seats to become the official opposition.

                Really the only good things to happen is those stinky twits in the Bloc Quebecois finally got sent home and the Liberals finally have an unambiguous mandate to soul search and figure out where they stand so they’ll be in a position to clean up the terrific mess the right wing is making. I’m hoping they choose to embrace the neoliberalism that served them so well in the 90’s and early 2000’s.

                My best to the missus as always and a happy Mother’s day to her as well.Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Mark, calm down, I was just passing along a report I heard on my morning RIGHT WING radio talk show (Quinn and Rose in the Morning; The Warroom; it’s on satellite radio). The report came from “Deep Throat” Quinn reported and he added that he had no idea if it was correct. My, my I could never believe that Barry would ever be pusillanimous.
                Northie, see above, I’m having a fun time with the libruls, again. RE: my Canadian friends, Martha and I once visited a really ‘cool’ bar in Hamilton where a bunch of white boys laid down some decent jazz sets.
                Thanks for the Canuck-p0litical round up, yous guys appear to be waking up. We’ll see what ‘mess’ the evil conservatives leave…and, I know you’ll be objective in your future political analysis.
                I’ll tell Ms. Martha you sent your greetings. That’s, as always, kind of you. She asks how North’s doing all the time!Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Robert, there’s a sovereign rule of intelligence reporting. Nothing you will ever hear in public is true. Here’s why: nobody has the whole picture because there is no whole picture.

                I have been inside the intelligence community as a very minor functionary. It’s like being a frog in a well: though there are other frogs and other wells, each frog is largely unaware of the others. Each frog generates reports, detailing the facts he sees and repeating the scuttlebutt he hears in his well and sends them all up in the bucket.

                Above him, the integrators sort through the facts and rumours. They profit (and suffer) from their isolation from the frogs. It is necessary to keep the two apart, rather like the roles of reporter and fact checker in a news operation. Incidentally, this is why we got the Iraq WMD issue so badly wrong: Cheney wouldn’t let the integrators do their jobs, cherrypicking from the buckets.

                Now the policy boys sit like the gods atop Olympus, quarreling with each other about the implications of the integrators’s conclusions about fact and rumour. Nonetheless, they do come up with some coherent message for the Executive.

                But it’s never the whole picture. Nobody told the President to do anything. Anyone who said so is a liar. Doubtless, the President heard the quarreling, and I’m sure someone said “We’ve got to do this now, Mr. President, or the window of opportunity will close.”

                Your boy is a bullshitter. Over time, I’ve made a minor specialty of sussing them out.

                To say Obama dithered here is nonsense. The CIA didn’t write the OPLAN. USNAVY wrote the OPLAN, it was their resources injected into that situation and they worked well with their CIA liaisons and CONPLAN got written and they made sure they had backup plans and they built a nice little plywood compound for those operators and they got some Blackhawks and practiced day and night until they knew it well enough.

                Then they told the Navy they felt confident enough to execute on that CONPLAN and then the President pulled the trigger on it and the Navy people below the Joint Chiefs pulled a cascading set of triggers until at last some brave soul pulled a real trigger on a real rifle and put a few rounds into OBL. That’s how it works in the real world, Robert.Report

            • Chris in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

              You do know, Bob, that during the 2008 campaign, Obama said that he would go into Pakistan if he had credible information than bin Laden was there, right? At the time, he got a bunch of flack from both the right and the left for saying so.

              Also, the reports I hear was that many in his administration were opposed to the operation. Who knows, though, eh?Report

              • Robert Cheeks in reply to Chris says:

                Bp and Chris, yes, the bottom line is we’ll have to see if anything develops re: Barry’s alledged ‘dithering.’ It could be a nasty critique by a far right winger or it could be true.Report

              • BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                Well, he dithered his way to putting two rounds into OBL. If that’s dithering, hey, it’s results-oriented dithering. As opposed to Bush43’s cretinous and manichaean assertions about With Us or Against Us. That dialectic got us into Iraq when we should have been keeping our eye on the goal, you know, that one where Bush43 stood like a screeching baboon on top of the rubble of the WTC and promised he’d get the bastards who did that to us. He didn’t.

                Give me whatever Cheeks calls dithering or give me death. Dithering by his definition gets results.Report

  8. Lyle says:

    To go a bit further back, in the 70s there was no security at all, you just walked up to the gate. Then the magnetometers first showed up at the gate after the many hijackings to Cuba, and D. B. Cooper. Next the security checkpoints were moved to the entry to the concourses as it became clear that security was here to stay. Also back then you did not need to show ID to fly the ticket was the whole deal.
    Also the scanning at court houses started after people started shooting in court houses. (I don’t recall this happening before the 1970s perhaps someone could correct me if they remember back futher.
    Now blowing up a school shooting up a school happened once in a great while before in the 1920s in MI there was such an event. And of course we had the anarchist bombing of JP Morgans office in the 1920 and the mail bombings and attempted mail bombings a year before leading to the red scare at the time.
    Sometimes I wonder if the country is in the process of a national nervous breakdown that by making life more and more frenetic we have stressed folks out to the breaking point.Report

  9. BlaiseP says:

    One of the funnier bits of Chesterton :

    I have always found Americans by far the politest people in the world. They put in my hands a form to be filled up, to all appearances like other forms I had filled up in other passport offices. But in reality it was very different from any form I had ever filled up in my life…

    One of the questions on the paper was, “Are you an anarchist?” To which a detached philosopher would naturally feel inclined to answer, “What the devil has that to do with you? Are you an atheist” along with some playful efforts to cross-examine the official about what constitutes atheist.

    Then there was the question, “Are you in favor of subverting the government of the United States by force?” Against this I should write, “I prefer to answer that question at the end of my tour and not the beginning.”

    The inquisitor, in his more than morbid curiosity, had then written down, “Are you a polygamist?” The answer to this is, “No such luck” or “Not such a fool,” according to our experience of the other sex. But perhaps a better answer would be that given to W. T. Stead when he circulated the rhetorical question, “Shall I slay my brother Boer”–the answer that ran, “Never interfere in family matters.”

    But among many things that amused me almost to the point of treating the form thus disrespectfully, the most amusing was the thought of the ruthless outlaw who should feel compelled to treat it respectfully.

    I like to think of the foreign desperado, seeking to slip into America with official papers under official protection, and sitting down to write with a beautiful gravity, “I am an anarchist. I hate you all and wish to destroy you.” Or, “I intend to subvert by force the government of the United States as soon as possible, sticking the long sheath-knife in my left trouser-pocket into your President at the earliest opportunity.” Or again, “Yes, I am a polygamist all right, and my forty-seven wives are accompanying me on the voyage disguised as secretaries.”

    There seems to be a certain simplicity of mind about these answers; and it is reassuring to know that anarchists and polygamists are so pure and good that the police have only to ask them questions and they are certain to tell no lies.Report

  10. Michael Drew says:

    I share these thoughts to a large degree. I would, however, hesitate to speak for other about whether they see this as the end of the war. Anyone who wants the war to end can say that they see this as the logical end of the war, and that others do. And since there are lots of people, surely some people feel that way. But who’s to say if that is a critical mass of public opinion. It would be a complicated question to poll, and in any case polls showed that majorities wanted the wars to end regardless of bin Laden’s still being on the loose before Sunday.

    Rather, I would leave the point as one of advocacy and simply say that, since ending the war ASAP is what the president should do, and the public strongly prefers that he do so, he therefore should not fail to use this accomplishment, and the upcoming big anniversary of the attacks, as the pivot point around which to reorient our footing away from war and back toward peace. This shouldn’t be too hard for Obama, since most indication are this is what he’s been angling to do since sometime after he took office and began to see how hopless the situation in Afghanistan was/is. But there is still the matter of doing it, which has been shown to be a challenge that Obama, to whatever extent he has wanted to move away from a war footing and back toward peace, has been largely unequal to, whether because of domestic politics, civil-military power struggles, or the actual difficulties of ending a war.

    That all won’t get any easier because of bin Laden’s removal from the scene. But as was said here the other night, if Obama is bold enough to do so, it is likely his best strategy for winning reelection. For leaders, taking people were they say they want to go tends to be just that. Whether killing bin Laden will make people feel that where they want to go is back to peacetime sooner rather than later whatever the risks is hard to say, but either way they have been saying that for a while now. There’s every good reason for Obama to try to use this turn of events as a lever to give the people what they say they want, and enjoy the political benefits that he would reap, quite deservedly, as a result.Report

    • I basically agree with this. I might have been better off qualifying some of this by saying that bin Laden’s death is about the closest we can ever hope to come to a moment where we can say with a straight face that we have defeated al Qaeda. I do think a lot of people recognized this, and I certainly have spoken with my share of war supporters who have been very clear all along that getting bin Laden was, for them, the entire point of what we were doing. For a long time, you could have counted me among them, and arguably I still fell into that camp right until the very end (I tended to flip-flop a lot on whether staying in Af-Pak in order to get bin Laden was worthwhile for the last couple of years, which is part of why I never really wrote about it).Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Mark Thompson says:

        It’s odd, I’ve never felt that way, and run across few who said they did. I’ve heard people call in to radio shows and say that they regret we didn’t get him in 2001, and that they don’t understand or support what we are doing in Afghanistan now. But they haven’t that I recall said that their support always ran only to the objective of getting bin Laden and other major planners of 9/11 and that had we done that they wouldn’t have supported an effort at nation building. I tend to think that had we gotten bin Laden straight away, Bush still would have argued for a long-term commitment to Afghanistan (contra Rumsfeld), and that he would have gotten support for that, as he in fact did in the event (absent bin Laden’s kill or capture). In other words, I think it is (understandably), a sense of a lack of a clear focus for our current mission, its low probability of success and high cost, war weariness, and our fiscal situation that leads people to want us to end these wars, not a sense that its legitimacy hinged on our bringing bin Laden to justice so that now that we have, the enterprise has no purpose. I actually think the enterprise does still have a purpose (indeed, I don’t consider the mission all that unclear, only improbable), and that bringing it to a close does carry some risk to us, but that as a matter of benefits for costs this method of suppressing that risk is no longer a good use of resources and lives. That’s a very different consideration than a breach of what I considered my terms for initial support for the war. I by all means considered a long-term development mission, including supporting a fragile Afghan government against internal enemies, most specifically remnants of the regime we displaced and their allies, to be part of what I as an American (though not one who rushed down to the recruiting station to participate) was signing on for w/r/t Afghanistan, Pakistan, and a broad-scale effort against terrorism of a society-mobilizing nature akin to war in 2001 and 2002. What’s changed is what I mentioned above: ten years have passed; the terrorism threat has mutated extensively and is no longer centered in Afghanistan-Pakistan; our economy is challenged; and the difficulty of this undertaking has been shown to be much greater than I understood in 2001 (though I would argue it was made incalculably more difficulty by our decision not to focus on the task and to instead divert a huge portion of the energy and resources necessary to make it work in the ten or so years I was willing to support it to another foreign endeavor nearly as difficult and draining). Had bin Laden been captured in 2001 I by no means would have considered the war over, thought it should be over, or would have withdrawn my consent for engaging in an effort of approximately this scale. (I would quibble with the “remake in our image” description of what we’re trying to do, now or then) in that part of the world.)Report

    • Kyle in reply to Michael Drew says:

      “This shouldn’t be too hard for Obama, since most indication are this is what he’s been angling to do since sometime after he took office and began to see how hopless the situation in Afghanistan was/is.”

      Umm…what indications? Certainly not actions…like say bombing Libya, expanding drone strikes to Yemen, or the insistence that bin Laden’s death won’t really affect Afghan operations/withdrawal etc…

      I’m really confused how in 2011, President Obama can get credit for moving then nation/world towards peace…Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to Kyle says:

        Umm… read Woodward’s Obama’s Wars. Also: July 2011 was a date no one advocating for the unrestrained escalation they thought was forthcoming had any interest in before Obama strongarmed them into accepting it.

        Obama was extremely wary of following through on the escalation he had, in my recollection, clearly campaigned on. He was not politically equal to the reversal that would have been required to fundamentally change the policy in the face of that momentum he had created, but I think his impulse is laid bare fairly clearly in that book, and if one traces his language during the 2009 deliberation period, one can see the language of the aims go from “succeeding” and “eliminating al Qaeda” to “ending” the war, ultimately leading to a date for the beginning of withdrawal, however full of holes the language in the statement of that goal was.

        As to credit, certainly now in 2011 on the current policy record by no means does Obama deserve credit for turning toward peace, nor for that matter, on the current policy trajectory if it is not changed, will he by the end of his first term. But that’s exactly what’s being discussed: a major policy shift later this year executed around this event and the symbolically important tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Currently the discussion centers, contra the July objective, on concluding an agreement to keep troops in Afghanistan into or through 2014. If that were revisited and a quicker, more certain pace for withdrawal set pursuant to the initial suggestion that July would mark the start of withdrawals, and if a significant down payment were made in the form of real withdrawals and a reassessment of the extent of the mission undertaken, then I think that combined with meeting his stated goals in Iraq could by the end of 2012 earn Obama some reasonable expectation of credit for moving us back toward a peacetime footing approximately along the trajectory he described in his campaign and about as quickly as we could have reasonably hoped. I’m not optimistic that any of this will happen. But the claim of credit is only as regards a scenario in which it does.Report

  11. E.D. Kain says:

    And herein lies the crossroads: now that the literal war is at an end, will we, as a people, insist that our government now formally acknowledge that the war we signed up for was a real war against a specific enemy, that this war is won, and it is time to return to something approaching** the pre-9/11 norm? Or will we simply turn our attention away, allowing the government to treat this as a figurative “War” without an end, just with less publicity.

    First of all, they are ‘overseas contingency operations’ and second of all we just started another one in Libya. Maybe if the Syrian rebels overthrow the Assad regime and start a democracy we’ll start to rethink our strategy. Then again, maybe not.

    At this point I think we’re in too deep. I don’t think the crossroads are really crossroads at all.Report

  12. Jaybird says:

    My question is this:

    What does victory look like if this is not victory? Is it measurable?

    Is abject failure, failure so bad that we say “we need to stop”, something that is measurable? What does that look like?

    Because I want to know at what point we can say “let’s go home” or “this is like alcohol prohibition, let’s go home”. If it comes out that there is no way to measure either success or failure (or that either is so unlikely that we’ll be stuck there longer than the Russians (yeah, I know)) then I would like that written down.Report

    • Pat Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

      Basically, I’d prefer this to be conditional to any declaration of military action.

      Because then you’d have to seriously pull the curtain aside over the fog of war and reveal the ugly truth to the flagwavers who insist that justice can be wrought with the use of a gun.

      “X,000 civilians dead = we failed, let’s go home”. Put that line in a declaration of war and see how many people are willing to vote for it.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Pat Cahalan says:

        I’d be okay with civilians not being part of the measurements at all (“collateral damage”) *IF* that meant that we’d have measurable objectives for the rest of the list.

        1. OBL Dead
        2. Taliban leaders (name them!) dead or in custody or, at least, chased to the hinterlands
        3. The tabouleh place on 3rd and Maple delenda est.
        4. If this ain’t done in, oh, five years, we declare victory and go home.

        Each one of those things is measurable in theory and we can, in theory, say how well we’ve done.
        OBL is dead, all of the Taliban leaders are either dead, in custody, or outside of the city limits, the tabouleh place is still standing, and it’s five years later. Whew. Let’s go home.

        But if the objective is “establish democracy”, what in the hell does that even mean?Report

  13. Mark says:

    “They signed up to find, capture, or kill Osama bin Laden.”

    With all due respect, bullsh*t.

    They signed up for revenge and out of fear. They wanted bin Laden “dead or alive”, as Dubya offered in some sort of Josey Wales-wannabe moment. They, like so many Americans, didn’t believe terrorism originating outside the U.S. could happen here. Or had the right to happen here.

    Sure, we can have our Unabombers, our Tim McVeighs, our Eric Rudolphs. Those guys were rebels, outlaws, nuts, wackos, patriots, rednecks – but they were Amerikin (sic), as red-white-and-blue as McDonald’s, bitching about your taxes, and eating lousy wings on autumn Sunday afternoons while watching Jerry Jones make an ass out of himself.

    But some guy from the Middle East who wears a towel around his head killin’ people here? That’s like like tons too much for Amerikins. (Damn, it hurt just to type that grammatically deficient, intellectually pathetic sentence.) So these kids wanted to git (sic) bin Laden, from the preppy hills of Hahvud to the hell hole that is patrolled by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. These kids wanted to teach bin Laden and the world that such things don’t happen here without payin’ the man. Without bowing before the red, white, and blue. Without allowing Wall Street and the hedge funds to go on being Wall Street and the hedge funds.

    We got him. Good. He’s dead. American Exceptionalism’s back, right? We’re Number One. U-S-A! U-S-A! Next, we’ll take out the 1980 Soviet hockey team and then it’s on to Cuba to put Castro in his place for the Bay of Pigs. Maybe kick the snot out of a few thousand members of the Islamic Brotherhood or Hamas for Avigdor Lieberman and AIPAC.

    Question, kids: what happens now?

    Bin Laden’s dead, but terrorism’s still going strong.

    We got him, but the economy’s in the tank, the job market sucks, income disparity’s reached Gilded Age levels, the country’s buried in debt and half to more than half of the pols and the public think cutting revenue (taxes) has no impact on debt and spending’s the whole problem.

    Special Forces took out this religious madman, but now we’ve got a museum in Kentucky that proudly proclaims the earth is 6,000 years old and that the Fred and Wilma, George Washington’s kin, walked with T-Rex.

    Bin Laden swims with the fishes, yet we’ve got a Texas state Board of Education drumming Tommy Jefferson and Thurgood Marshall out of the social studies curriculum for not being “Amerikin” enough and since Texas drives the school book market, be rest assured that the Lone Star State’s decision will impact your local school district and your kids.

    The al Qaeda boss is no more, yet we’ve got Birthers, Truthers, and soon-to-be Deathers – screaming that the President’s from Kenya, Dubya launched 9/11, and that we didn’t bury bin Laden at sea but instead it was Vince Foster or Monica Lewinsky or Saul Alinsky.

    Bye-bye, bin Laden, and now Dick Carlson’s Boy and John P. Normanson own and operate media outlets, Luke Russert got the Daddy Chair at MSNBC, Megan McArdle’s pedaling her Ayn Rand line, and S.E. Cupp is actually allowed to talk to and write for the masses. That seem safe to you, gang?

    We whacked Osama, but Ayn Rand is back. So is the John Birch Society. The late-Bill Buckley and the late-Whitaker Chambers booted her ass – and the Birchers – to the extremist fringe nearly 60 years ago. Lately we’ve actually elected governors, senators, and House reps worshiping all things Rand. The same Rand who praised 1920s American serial killer William Edward Hickman for having “no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. (Hickman) has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel ‘other people.’ ” Kinda makes you pine for Alan Greenspan, don’t it?

    So, we got him. Good. Damn good. And maybe the external – those guys with the funny names and the barbarist religion – fear us, but we sure as hell fear them. Meanwhile, the country’s in the toilet, the talk radio zealots and cable television millionaires (yes, Chris Matthews, I’m writing to you) have us so wound up in the political ups and downs of the moment that few of us seem to understand our world – or even possess a rudimentary definition of Medicare, the credit default swap, alternative interrogation techniques, the adjustable rate mortgage, and/or the independent military contractor – much less an ability to explain the basic differences between communism, socialism, and fascism.

    In short, ours is a nation still filled with far too much fear, more than enough of a thirst for vengeance, and an over-amount of stupidity and willful ignorance about basic civics and the issues of the day.

    So we killed bin Laden. Yippee!

    What the hell do we do now?Report