Notes Book

The Battle in Iraq is Finished

That is the battle between the US army and the Iraqi army. Calling it a brilliant military campaign is like watching George Forman beat up Ann Coulter and calling it a great fight. However great the ratings, the outcome is not in doubt.

The war between the US army and the Iraqi people has not yet begun. It may never begin if the US Army is reasonable enough. That, of course, is extremely unlikely, and historical precedents are few.

The fact that US soldiers don't speak the local language is very significant. Policing consists of persuasion backed by force. The less persuasive powers the police have, the more they will have to rely on force. Even if you speak the language fluently, a slightly different culture can be a severe handicap in such situations. Solders are chosen neither for their linguistic nor their diplomatic abilities, and are rarely near the top of the bell curve of intelligence.

The battle of Iraq may be over, but the war on terrorism is not. George W said so. If you define terrorism as using violence to achieve political ends, then “War on Terrorism” is an oxymoron, and will never be achieved. Many think that's what George W has in mind. I'm not sure whether his choice of phrase is the result of stupidity or duplicity, but neither is a firm foundation for policy.

If we are to make a war on terrorism even a little bit reasonable, then we have to qualify the definition of terrorism. Acts of violence committed by agents of a nation-state are not terrorism. Acts of violence committed by anyone else for political reasons are terrorism.

According to this definition, I guess the quintessential terrorist in the modern world is Osama Bin Laden. He is acting on behalf of people who would like to see the United States leave Saudi Arabia and stop supporting Israel. But Osama is far from alone. By this qualified definition, anyone who commits violence on behalf of people who oppose their government is a terrorist. The founders of the United States were terrorists. The men who signed the declaration of independence and the constitution were terrorists. Perhaps we should move their remains to Guantanamo and ban their writings from the schools. Perhaps John Ashcroft should have the FBI question their descendants. He seems to have the notion that terrorism has a genetic correlation.

So far George W has fought two major battles in the war on terrorism--the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. We invaded Afghanistan because we believe that the government of that country ordered or supported 9-11. On the other hand, if the government of Afghanistan did support that action, 9-11 was not terrorism because 9-11 was an official act of a government. If the government of Afghanistan didn't support 9-11 then they were invaded for no good reason.

In any case, government of Afghanistan was supported by enough of the people of Afghanistan to maintain its hold on power without the support of foreign troops. So a great many of the people of Afghanistan were represented by government they supported. These people did not support terrorism because the violence they sponsored was state violence. Now, the United States Army supports the “government” in Afghanistan, but a lot fewer of the people of Afghanistan support the US occupation than supported the Taliban. I think most reasonable people agree the current government of Afghanistan would fall rapidly if the US Army left. The people who don't support the US occupation can no longer count on the their government to provide violent enforcement of their politics, so, by the qualified definition of terrorism, they have become supporters of terrorism.

Therefore, by George W's definition, the invasion of Afghanistan has increased the number of supporters of terrorism in the world, rather than decreasing it. In my view, this is true for both definitions of terrorism. The first battle in the war on terrorism has been a failure, and it seems that the second battle in Iraq is soon to fail for similar reasons.

If logical consistency has any value, a person who believes that all men are created equal cannot believe that some men are entitled to an army to support their political aspirations, and some are not. A person who supports the “Black ops” of the US intelligence establishment must also support 9-11.

Perhaps if would be helpful to require all candidates for political office to take a course in logic. On the other hand, if they truly mastered the subject, they would no longer seek the office.