Sunday, September 17, 2006

And the Hits Keep On Coming

Switzerland's 24 Heures has also weighed in on the aftermath of 9/11. large measure, September 11 is the story of the tragic failure of the response to these traumatizing attacks. War in Afghanistan; in Iraq; a hysterical and counterproductive struggle against terrorism, with its slip-ups that tarnished the image of our democracies. When intelligence was required, brutal force against the wrong targets was employed instead. [Emphasis in original article]

Let's be clear about this. After September 11, America could not remain with her arms crossed, merely resorting to diplomacy. Such an attitude would have been interpreted as a sign of weakness; as though the world's hyperpower is incapable of defending itself. In this context, the war in Afghanistan was undoubtedly legitimate. After all, bin Laden had found refuge amongst the Taliban. And for the record, these same Taliban, and this must be understood, didn't achieve power in Kabul without the benefit of several backers, including indirect support from the United States.

Even so, there was a certain coherence to the idea of striking the enemy at the heart. The result? pitiful. Bin Laden is still on the loose, the Taliban are making a strong comeback and the country is again covered with fields of poppy. Afghanistan is at the edge of collapse.

The case of Iraq is worse again. To blindness was added a messianic ideology. Saddam was surely a criminal, but he didn't represent a real threat. He had neither contacts with terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda nor weapons of mass destruction. In this bad American case file all that remains is a helpless rage and the vengeance associated with the desire to control Iraq's oil resources. In a word, an operation guided by ideology and meant, moreover, to bring home a "jackpot." As delirious an adventure as was the departure of the Crusaders a thousand years earlier. After all, their motivations while marching to the Holy Land were not only religious.

...Where we should have isolated those who practice terrorism, Washington supplied the compost of fantasy that confirmed their own thesis and reduced reality to a black and white world. As the Americans developed their response, they found echoes and confirmation [of their thesis] amongst stricken populations, who were the first victims of the American steam roller.

At the end of the day, the result is stupefying. Bush's America, victim of September 11, has become a torturer in the eyes of most of the world's residents.
[Emphasis added]

I would disagree that going to war in Afghanistan was absolutely necessary, especially for the reason given: it was important that Americans not look like wimps. The crime was horrific and should have been treated as a crime. A punitive war against the people of Afghanistan was not justified.

The rest of the analysis, however, is on the mark. What I have found interesting in my recent survey of the foreign response to this five year anniversary has been how often the religious metaphors have arisen, especially that of the Crusades. Of course, the language used by the US regime, especially recently, certainly fosters such such a response. However, President Bush has used messianic language for a long time, so the harvest was certainly forseeable, and, sadly, accurate.


Anonymous Nora said...

I have to agree with you on Afghanistan. Going after al Qaeda, or specifically against bin Laden, made sense to me at the time. Starting a war against the country in which he was operating seemed like a big stretch.

I remember a wingnut I knew on a different board, who happened to be in the Pentagon on 9/11, swore up and down that we were going to do it right in Afghanistan this time. We weren't going to do what we'd done at the end of the USSR war in Afghanistan. I think he meant it. Pity the people in charge didn't. That particular wingnut has not, in the years since, said anything in that forum about Afghanistan. I think he's ashamed.

And yes, the Taliban was awful, and treated women terribly. But the invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with that, any more than the invasion of Iraq had to do with a love of democracy

6:17 PM  

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