Wednesday, August 16, 2006

When you spend your life being told your politics of peace and community sharing our “outside the mainstream” a lot of second guessing comes with the territory.

For instance, when this whole WAR ON TERROR thing started and the Bush administration responded, as is its wont, by literally rearranging the landscape of Afghanistan through bombing, but letting the leader of the Taliban movement and Usama Bin-Laden get away, it looked like a failed strategy.

Who was responsible for 9/11? (the scribe asked himself).

Well, it looked like a bunch of fervent intellectuals advocating violence while residing in European provincial cities like Hamburg. That, of course, fit the mold set by terrorist groupings like Spain’s ETA and the Irish Republican Army.

It seemed these groups resorted to terror as a semi-efficient way of offsetting the state’s monopoly on power and the overwhelming force at its behest; that the idea was to take conventional warfare off the table and make use of a lower intensity type of conflict.

It seemed to the scribe that Spain’s central government was never taken with the notion of bombing the Basque Country to do away with ETA. Great Britain, while maintaining overwhelming force in Northern Ireland never figured out how to impose such strength against cowards who left bombs in parked trucks to kill whomever fate had placed in the unfortunate position of passing by when they detonated.

But that’s the highway scribe who is, admittedly, no military scientist.

In fact, when the scribe goes off to New York and Washington D.C. on occasion he’s always taken with the brilliance and exemplary preparation of people holding positions of power, and flattened with a sense that there are many people smarter than he in this world.

Then John Kerry came out during the 2004 campaign and said pretty much the same thing. Kerry’s a titan, a U.S. Senator who went to Yale, just like the genius in the White House, so he added a little heft to the scribe’s sentiments.

Of course, Kerry did not fare well with his position, spending most of the time defending the fact he’d gone to Viet Nam and got shot while the other guy, well, the other guy we're still not sure what he was doing, although we’re pretty clear he wasn’t in Viet Nam getting shot.

But now George Will, he of the pinstripes and bow ties, has joined our ranks in an intriguing article entitled, “The Triumph of Unrealism”.

And here we engage in a highwayscribery tradition, wherein the thoughts of an august and consecrated member of the commentariat are conjoined with those of a guy he'd rather not have anything to do with... the highway scribe.

Will’s article covers much ground in few paragraphs. He’s quite frank about the disastrous result of Israel’s invasion of Lebanon where a lot of innocent people were killed and almost none of the bad guys.

He points out that the new Middle East we are witnessing being born, brainchild again of the White House, looks a lot like the prior one and “reflects the region’s oldest tradition, the tribalism that preceded nations.”

He was talking about Hezbollah triumphing, “often using World War II-vintage rockets” and suddenly embodying, “as no Arab state ever has, Arab valor vindicated in combat with Israel.”

As Will switches gears to discuss the proper way the WAR ON TERROR should be conducted, it seems as if he’s engaging in non sequitir or writing a different, second article.

Alas, that’s not Will’s fault, he’s simply trying to bridge the policy gap between the conventional bombfests and occupations the administration has struck, and the actual way things work.

Here’s some of it: “The London plot against civil aviation confirmed a theme of an illuminating new book, Lawrence Wright’s ‘The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the road to 9/11.’ The theme is that better law enforcement, which probably could have prevented September 11, is central to combating terrorism. F-16s are not useful tools against terrorism that issues from places such as Hamburg (where Mohamed Atta lived before dying in the North Tower of the World Trade Center) and High Wycombe, England.”

So, you see this aversion to bombfests and occupations is not just a kooky, left-wingy type thing.

He goes on to point out how Kerry (if not the highway scribe) told the “New York Times” back during the campaign that, “many of the interdiction tactics that cripple drug lords, including governments working jointly to share intelligence, patrol borders and force banks to identify suspicious customers, can also be some of the most useful tools in the war on terror.”

The administration, confronted with the British success in defusing the threat of MASS MURDER ON AN UNIMAGINABLE SCALE and the fact Kerry had a point, answered in a way typical of the FOX News-shop talk it loves to generate in lieu of genuine debate.

“The idea the jihadists would be all peaceful, warm, lovable, God-fearing people if it weren’t for U.S. Policies strikes me as not a valid idea. [Democrats] do not have the understanding or the commitment to take on these forces.”

highwayscribery would like to point out that jihadists are nothing if not “God-fearing,” but Will is more to the point, and he’s having none of it:

“This farrago caricature and non sequitir makes the administration seem eager to repel all but the delusional. But perhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike ‘the law enforcement approach’ does ‘work.’.”

By George, the scribe thinks he’s got it!


Shaun Mullen said...

Hi Scribe:

The Will column is indeed good and Wright's "Looming Tower" is terrific. Along with Steve Coll's "Ghost Wars," they are the two must reads on the pre -9/11 years.

I blog today at Kiko's House on one of the central points that Wright makes:

A central irony of the success of Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda and failure of American intelligence to stop the terrorist group or kill its leader is imagination.

I'm talking about OBL's ability to harness imagination for his own evil ends and the utter lack of imagination in a spy community that was more concerned with protecting turf than deciphering the many signs that an attack of enormous consequence was being planned on the homeland.

Be safe, Shaun

highwayscribery said...

Thanks for checkomg in Shaun. I'll drop by later. I still have problems getting "Kiko's House" to behave when I visit, which it tough on me, but hopefully others aren't having that problem.