Thursday, October 06, 2005

I found out at last night's Crack practice that Rami's apartment was burglarized this week, so she may have some other, more pressing concerns than writing my guest blog at the moment (like replacing all of her worldly possessions). Sorry to hear about your place getting sacked, Rami.

And have we all forgotten about the Iraq war? Not really.

Bush gave a speech on Thursday in which he said that the Iraq war had become "an excuse" for terrorists to hate the United States, but that in reality they had harbored hatred for the U.S. long before we invaded Iraq, and that they would continue to hate us long after the war was over.
Bush probably gave the speech as part of a new push to shore up support for the war in Iraq. Poll numbers have shown support for the war steadily waning since last spring.
I actually sort of agree with Bush's statement that extremists are using the war as "an excuse" for the U.S., and I agree that they hated us long before the war started. The problem is that we keep giving them examples of why the U.S. should be hated (I mean that we keep lending them evidence to support their argument, not that the U.S. should actually be hated). We created prisons without trials or oversight at Guantanamo, we photographed our own blatant mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, and we invaded a country, incidentally killing untold numbers of civilians, so that we could insist upon our version of democracy- a version of government that I am still skeptical about ever being successfully implemented as the Iraqis create their new constitution and elect new leaders (what are we gonna do when a bunch of Muslim clerics are voted into power?). Anyway, whether these things are "excuses" or not for the hatred of the U.S., the point is that we keep managing to feed the fire of anti-U.S. sentiment in the Muslim world, and the continued building of this animosity is probably not going to end until we withdraw our troops from Iraq (and probably not until a long time after that). I'm really not sure what to do about the Iraq war at this point. I just know that it's a godawful mess, and that we never should have gone in in the first place.
Bush is also now stating that terrorists around the world are now using Iraq as their "main front" in their war for world domination. Is anyone else getting sick of Bush using "terrorists" like some sort of made-to-order boogeymen that he can pull out of his pocket and throw into a debate whenever he needs to scare American citizens into giving him support on some issue?

Here's the thing. Terrorism is a tactic. Terrorists are people who employ that tactic. As much as Bush wants to believe the contrary, terrorists are not some kind of monsters who can be hunted down and wiped out once and for all. You can't just wipe out all terrorists, because the moment that someone decides to attack innocent civilians in order to further their own political agenda, they become terrorists. Terrorism is that tactic of the dispossessed- the tactic of people who don't have the money or resources to wage a full-out war against a military juggernaut, but who still insist upon putting up a fight. People who feel that their lives are threatened seem to be capable of making these kinds of decisions every day (and not just Arab Muslims- the Chechens have been using these tactics for decades in Russia, and the I.R.A. was going like gangbusters with the bombs before that). While Bush angrily spits out the word "terrorist" to describe insurgents in Iraq, other people are considering these people freedom fighters- especially when their attacks are against the U.S. military rather than civilian targets. Using bombs and sneak attacks against a far superior military force is not terrorism- it's just smart strategy. And sadly, I think many people in the Muslim world even understand the terrorist attacks against civilians. Having watched the Palestinians struggle in Israel for decades, they know that one of the most effective ways of applying political pressure (especially when you have only a relatively weak military force) is to bring your "appeal" directly to the constituency of your oppressors through terrorism. I'm not saying Iraqis approve of this method, but they understand it and lack the outrage and shock that Americans feel when terrorist tactics are implemented. Anyway, I'm mostly just saying that terrorism is not going to go away, even if we were to win the war in Iraq tomorrow, so long as there are people out there who feel that it offers an effective tool (and possibly the only tool) for fighting enemies that are much stronger than themselves.

Anyway, as the insurgency seems to continue to gain strength and new deaths pile up in Iraq on a daily basis (and we continue to have no exit strategy or foreseeable date to begin withdrawal), I can only say that for those of you who still don't see the similarities to Vietnam, you would have done very poorly in your history classes. I'm not sure what to do with this war now that we're stuck in the middle of it (I have a feeling that the old, "you break it- you bought it" mantra applies), but I sure wish we'd never gotten into it in the first place, and I'm not about to forget that it was George who told the lies and made the mistakes that led us down this road.

"I went out into the night,
I went out to pick a fight with anyone..."
-The Arcade Fire

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