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Forever War
September 10, 2005 10:17 PM   Subscribe

Taking Stock of the Forever War. "A terrorist leader four years ago, Osama bin Laden is now an ideology as well — and a viral movement. Terrorist attacks worldwide are on the rise. Iraq could well end up a 'failed' state. Maybe it's time to stop fighting on their terms." Also, Osama bin Laden: Lost at Tora Bora. (bugmenot)
posted by homunculus (31 comments total)

 
Previous post on another article by the same author.
posted by homunculus at 10:20 PM on September 10, 2005


The last article indicates that the now-public Pentagon analysis is that Bin Laden was present at Tora Bora and had escaped into Pakistan. By private admission of the Bush administration, its deliberate failure to deploy larger numbers of ground troops to this campaign was directly responsible for Bin Laden's escape.

This kind of reporting from the NYT would have been more helpful had it been published before November 2004. Any other president and commander-in-chief but Bush would have been chased out of Washington by the electorate for such gross dereliction of duty.
posted by Rothko at 10:41 PM on September 10, 2005


As for Al Qaeda's fundamentalist religious mission: "We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before. They are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions - by abandoning every value except the will to power - they follow in the path of fascism, and Nazism, and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way, to where it ends: in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

Reading this initially, it came across as Al Qaeda's fundamentalist religious mission: that is, I thought it was Al Qaeda speaking about the USA.

Maybe that interpretation is a sign that I hang out here too much?
posted by sharpener at 11:49 PM on September 10, 2005


Meanwhile, rampant lawlessness in Gaza.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 11:55 PM on September 10, 2005


This was something that I remember John Kerry being straight on target during the election debates, but it never seemed to be a nation-wide discussion. Namely, why in the hell did we not keep hunting down a relatively small number of men, and America's Most Wanted OBL? Dubya stopped, turned around, and started in on Iraq.

It's mind-numbing, really. BTW I can't get bugmenot to work, so I didn't RTA.
posted by zardoz at 12:20 AM on September 11, 2005


Good old Mark Danner, had him in J-school. Glad to see he is taking on the futility of an interstellar war fought with time machines
posted by johngoren at 12:22 AM on September 11, 2005


I think that the problem with any information that supports the pre-war anti-war arguments is that the pro-war people have to admit that they were wrong. People in the US (and probably most places) do not like to admit that they were wrong. Public support of the war has eroded because those formerly supporting the war do not like the death toll, spending of money, unclear mission, etc. Those reasons are all things that have arisen since the invasion. They can contemplate those factors and change their opinion about the war.

But no Downing Street memo or news story or administrative confession is going to get people to admit that they were wrong in the first place. I do not know if there is any information in the world that could be revealed to get original war-supporters to admit that the anti-war folks were right all along. As such, I am not sure exactly what the focus of the anti-war people should even be right now.
posted by flarbuse at 12:37 AM on September 11, 2005


Terrorist attacks worldwide are on the rise.

Such a claim should be looked at, as events previously classified as property crimes are now also coded as 'terrorist'.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:52 AM on September 11, 2005


But no Downing Street memo or news story or administrative confession is going to get people to admit that they were wrong in the first place.

In some cases this is because they were not wrong. I suspect I might fit into that category. I somewhat supported the war in Iraq on a 'let's see' basis - for reasons other than those voiced by the administration. Once it became clear that not only the presented front was a morass of lies, but that the underlying strategy had been in part abandoned I felt decieved and betrayed.
I suspect many people might feel they were lied to if they bought into the admin's B.S.
The only one's who are wrong right now are those who continue to defend it. And of course I agree, they're not going to admit to anything. I defer to the anti-war folks on this as well. Right again, wars are usually based on bullshit and stealing other people's gear.

Terrorist attacks worldwide are on the rise.

Yeah, see, but now we can nuke 'em!
"the decision to employ nuclear weapons at any level requires explicit orders from the president."

Just when you think it's completely crazy, it gets crazier.

Were I a paranoid cynic I would suspect that the powers that be were in league with OBL (as they were under Regan). They couldn't have done this worse unless they tried and are too incompetant to pull it off well.

I'd give complete absolution without admission that one was wrong or even decieved if we could wrench the controls from the ones who put the US into a nose dive on many levels.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:17 AM on September 11, 2005


Good old Mark Danner, had him in J-school. Glad to see he is taking on the futility of an interstellar war fought with time machines
posted by johngoren at 2:22 AM CST on September 11 [!]



Glad to see you misinterpret a play on words based off of a Joe Haldeman novel into actual thoght.

I suppose we're still winning, right?
posted by sourwookie at 4:04 AM on September 11, 2005


You are doing a heck of a job Brownie Bushie.
posted by caddis at 5:06 AM on September 11, 2005


"We have taken a ball of quicksilver and hit it with a hammer".

I like that. Seriously, I cannot - still - get over the mad naivete of people who supported the Iraq invasion for any reason. It was so obviously insane - never mind the illegality and immorality of it. And damn them all for refusing to own up to their grotesque error, after all that's gone down since. The shameless denial these people are in nauseates me.
posted by Decani at 6:30 AM on September 11, 2005


I think that the problem with any information that supports the pre-war anti-war arguments is that the pro-war people have to admit that they were wrong.

Given how many of them were Democratic politicians there is no real effective political opposition, as pointed out in the article.

Today's al Qaeda tape targets LA and Melbourne.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on September 11, 2005


[snip] I somewhat supported the war in Iraq on a 'let's see' basis [snip]

*gasp*

Is this the extension of "kill them first and let god sort them out"?
posted by uncle harold at 7:08 AM on September 11, 2005


I somewhat supported the war in Iraq on a 'let's see' basis

Yeah, that one left me speechless at first; glad someone didn't let it lie.

Me, I'm thinking of knocking over the local bank on a "let's see" basis. Hey, I might get away with it and I'd be rich afterwards, right? Then I'm thinking of raping that hot chick next door on a "let's see" basis. I think it'll be good for her, you know? What? Illegal? Immoral? Unjustifiable? Come on, you never know how things might turn out unless you try them.
posted by Decani at 7:14 AM on September 11, 2005


Juan Cole has a ten point plan for withdrawal from Iraq.
posted by caddis at 7:22 AM on September 11, 2005


"This kind of reporting from the NYT would have been more helpful had it been published before November 2004."

I doubt it would have actually. Having (as a conservative republican at the time) argued vehemently with friends and relatives against the initial build-up to the Iraq War, I doubt highly that any NYT article would have mattered any.

Something happened to a large portion of this country during 9/11. All of us were devastated, all of us wept for our brothers and sisters but some of us just lost our fucking minds. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, I know folks with a much better edumacation than myself that would hear none of it. It literally did not matter what the reason for going to War was on a Monday, by Tuesday, they were already puppeting Tuesday's message. I've really never seen anything like it. To this day, they don't budge. This goes beyond just not wanting to admit you are wrong, the pathology of it is fascinating and also scary as hell.

Before 9/11, had George Bush suggested we "liberate" Iraq by invading it and deposing a dictator (thus ridding us of WMD's and the million other reasons), he wouldn't have needed the NYT to do anything. Americans would have gleefully handed him his walking papers.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:22 AM on September 11, 2005


I've really never seen anything like it. To this day, they don't budge. This goes beyond just not wanting to admit you are wrong, the pathology of it is fascinating and also scary as hell.

You're not the only one who sees it. Men I had admired for years for their independence and critical thinking have completely shut themselves down.

I have seen something like it before, in editorials from 1920's Italy and Greece. But I don't know what to do about it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:32 AM on September 11, 2005


The War on Terror is as bogus as the War on Drugs. I'm not a fan of either Terror or Drugs but neither of these are national threats of the military kind. They're ongoing criminal activities. Fighting either is law enforcement, not war.

The War on Drugs or the War on Terror are never going to won in exactly the same way as the War on Armed Robbery will never be won.

Major military force, such as one would deploy to fight an actual war, should never have been used to react to 9-11 which was an act of criminality not war-making.
posted by scheptech at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2005


Today marks four years of war. Four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. troops ruled unchallenged in Japan and Germany. During those 48 months, Americans created an unmatched machine of war and decisively defeated two great enemies.

When I read those words chills went down my spine. Bush's mix of lies, religious fervour and just plain ol' craziness has led us to this dark, dark spot.
posted by haqspan at 8:57 AM on September 11, 2005


What?
posted by johngoren at 9:23 AM on September 11, 2005


By private admission of the Bush administration, its deliberate failure to deploy larger numbers of ground troops to this campaign was directly responsible for Bin Laden's escape.

I think they didn't get bin Laden for two reasons:

1) It would have required large numbers of troops, and large numbers of casualties on both sides. The American public does not have the appetite for this and may not have tolerated it.

I'm relatively certain we could still to this day capture/kill bin Laden at the time of our choosing, but it would require dozens of American lives and hundreds of Pakistani tribal lives.

2) bin Laden was an ideology before Tora Bora. Capturing or killing him wouldn't do much to crush the ideology. Many people would insist the war was over after his capture, which would prevent Bush from continuting the War on Terror. Depending on your view of the WOT this could be a good or bad thing.
posted by b_thinky at 11:24 AM on September 11, 2005


Today marks four years of war. Four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. troops ruled unchallenged in Japan and Germany. During those 48 months, Americans created an unmatched machine of war and decisively defeated two great enemies.

Yeah, but what was the death toll on all sides in those 48 months? Certainly much greater than what's gone on in this war. This is a slower paced battle with smaller battles. Comparing this to WWII or any other war in terms of timeline is not useful at all.
posted by b_thinky at 11:27 AM on September 11, 2005


Comparing this to WWII or any other war in terms of timeline is not useful at all.

Tell it to the president. Unfortunately, the comparison doesn't reflect well on Bush. During World War II, Americans had food rationing, gas coupons, blackouts, war bonds, and higher taxes. Bush cut taxes and told everyone to go shopping.

Also, we started World War II caught flatfooted with an undersized army, and defeated two industrialized countries with modern armies in less than four years. Bin Laden and Zawahiri are still on the loose.

In 1993 Mir Amir Kansi killed two people in front of CIA headquarters, hid out in the same Afghanistan/Pakistan border region that Bin Laden is most likely hiding in, and was caught 4-1/2 years later. We can catch a guy that killed two people, but can't catch the guy responsible for killing 3000.

One of the things that bothers me about the administration's response to the September 11 attacks is their focus on the supply side and ignorance of the demand side. They talk like the United States is in a James Bond movie (although to be fair, "terrorism" does put the "T" in S.P.E.C.T.R.E.), and we can win by killing all of "the terrorists," as if all terrorists everywhere were aligned in some sort of axis of evil.

There's no discussion, no serious discussion anyway, of why terrorists might want to attack us. We get platitudes about them hating our freedoms, and there's no discussion about our dependence on Middle East oil and the resulting ties we have with autocratic governments. There's no review or reevaluation of our lengthy history of undemocratic intervention in the politics of other countries. None of this excuses the September 11 attacks, but they do help explain them.

Juan Cole has an assessment of how we're doing in the War on Terror (hint: not good). "I don't personally believe there is any question whatsoever that 7/7 was an al-Qaeda operation of the old sort, with Zawahiri actually involved in comand-and-control."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:07 PM on September 11, 2005


Then I'm thinking of raping that hot chick next door on a "let's see" basis. I think it'll be good for her, you know?

I didn't and don't support the war either, but be fair with your analogies. If anything, it's more like, "The hot chicks next store are being raped and beaten and killed by their old man. I'm thinking of going over and doing something about it."

(I'm assuming Smedleyman and others thought Iraq would be better off without Hussein than with. And give him some credit for changing his mind.)
posted by IndigoJones at 1:37 PM on September 11, 2005


If anything, it's more like, "The hot chicks next store are being raped and beaten and killed by their old man. I'm thinking of going over and doing something about it."

Your intentions may have been good, but the evidence that exists says you went over there, shot their old man, and began raping them yourself. When the hot chicks' families come over to complain, you shoot them, too.

I think the problem is we are too fixated on the hot chicks.
posted by Balisong at 1:59 PM on September 11, 2005


If anything, it's more like, "The hot chicks next store are being raped and beaten and killed by their old man. I'm thinking of going over and doing something about it."

Your intentions may have been good, but the evidence that exists says you went over there, shot their old man, and began raping them yourself. When the hot chicks' families come over to complain, you shoot them, too.


Actually, I think the appropriate analogy would be that a woman got raped next door so I blew up the apartment building down the street where my dealer lived.
posted by srboisvert at 3:02 PM on September 11, 2005


I think the most appropriate analogy would be if someone named frankie convinced people to kill your best friend. So you went to the place that was the last known whereabouts of frankie and fucked shit up, but didn't find frankie. In fact, during one of the squirmishes, frankie was there, but you didn't bring along enough friends to the fight. Frustrated, you go off and beat up this guy lou who used to beat his wife like ten years ago but only every really met frankie like once, and they didn't get along. Lou runs a local conveniance store that has turned into a anarchistic state because Lou is in the hospitable, and the friend you put in charge knows nothing about running a conveniance store. Meanwhile, you're eyeing up the store next to Lou's because they sell Godiva chocolates, which you really like.
posted by drezdn at 5:43 PM on September 11, 2005


Bravo, drezdn.
posted by uni verse at 6:28 PM on September 11, 2005


Last night Colin Powell in defending himself had the audacity to say "no one knew it would become a mess", a refrain that I am so tired of hearing..
posted by uni verse at 6:45 PM on September 11, 2005


I was against the war (in Iraq) when it started. I thought Bush was bluffing. I thought he would get make a deal with Saddam that involved him somehow satisfying us on WMDs in exchange for us dropping the sanctions, which would have been a total win -win for us and the Iraqi people (I'm of the belief that sanctions don't do much but further cement the current power structure).

I'm now more pro-war simply because Iraq was going nowhere and now it has a chance to be something in a couple decades. It could also be even worse in 20 years, which is probably why we need to stay there until things stabilize.

I try to look at it in the context of historic wars. In some wars, people died for noble causes (the Civil War and WWII come to mind). In others, people died for nothing (Vietnam). I hope when it's all said and done we can say this war was worth it. But when is it all said and done? 1 year? 5 years? 50 years? (The Civil War was probably not a popular war at all at the time and didn't become "worth it" until much later).

If we leave Iraq now, it's Vietnam. If we stay longer, will it turn into something better? But do I even have the right to advocate staying longer when it entails more lives lost? My answer to this question changes frequently.
posted by b_thinky at 9:57 PM on September 11, 2005


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