Ruminations on the war on terror

May 11, 2004

Gotta say something about the latest turn of events in this Iraqi adventure of

I wasn’t particularly surprised by the prison abuse photos; I was more surprised
that people who raised no objections to invading a sovereign country and killing
God knows how many innocents along with the guilty few got themselves tied in
knots of indignation over terrible ordeals that many hardy Iraqis managed to

So far the atrocity-hardened folks in Iraq have given us a bit of a pass —
they too must be privately thinking “Saddam never would’ve let ’em come
home.” Things quieted down a bit in Fallujah after both sides tired of hospitals
overflowing with non-combatants and somebody got the bright idea to let Iraqis
solve their security issues.

I suspect things were beginning to cool down in far too many quarters in Iraq.
Some Iraqis may have concluded there are two ways the Americans can leave: peacefully
and filled with kind thoughts of their nation (in which most Iraqis save their
skin), or blasting everything that moves in the midst of a forced retreat (in
which thousands more die needlessly).

There were even reports that some of the young hotheads intent on chasing us
out of their country might be on the run themselves, from our guns and the wrath
of their own neighbors.

Then word came out that a small band of lunatics had killed an American —
beheaded him with the video camera running. The video’s probably still online
somewhere — if you’re not angry and disgusted enough already, be sure to track
it down and watch it till you can take no more.

Then take about a dozen deep breaths and try to get your brain working again.
It worked for me. (I didn’t actually see it but I read comments of many who
did; I took them at their word).

The point of the video was to drive us into a blinding rage that would provoke
us to do something stupid. The best public response is silence. No rage, no
promises of revenge, nothing that would give the terrorists what they need the
most: violent retribution that justifies further terrorism.

Lust for revenge is the nuclear fuel of terrorists. The more we unleash ours,
the more shit they blow up. Remember how we felt on the morning of 9/11? None
of us remembered what provoked them to attack us; all we remembered was the
attack — who did it and who had to pay.

I’m no counterterrorism expert but it seems fairly obvious that the best bet
for defeating a secret network is to infiltrate it and paralyze it with distrust.
I don’t see how invading a whole country with over a hundred thousand troops
does that — unless the goal is for our Army to be a fanatic magnet that brings
’em out of their holes so we can shoot ’em. If so, though, I suspect the decoy
business will be left out of the “Army of One” ads.

The retribution I prefer is the Hollywood-vigilante variety, in which the evildoers
are hunted down and dispatched in the dark of night, not by a smartbomb but
by a smart person armed only with a sharp knife. For kickers we make it look
like their own people did it.

A lot of people noted that Osama’s network moves along the corridors of commerce
and that the global economy makes his work a lot easier. Less obvious to the
professional worrywarts in the American press is that our war against him can
be outsourced to exploit similar cubbyholes and hiding places.

Who knows how many former Seals and Delta Force dudes in the employ of private
security firms are doing this work already?

I’ve probably read too many Robert Ludlum novels, but I can’t help thinking
the war in Iraq is a diversion that allows the secret warriors to go about
their business behind a smokescreen of media controversy.

That sorta makes us newsies out to be useful idiots in the war on terror. Well,
it’s nice to be useful.

(OK, no more war talk till next year — I promise).

5 Responses to Ruminations on the war on terror

  1. Paul on May 12, 2004 at 4:24 am

    Just curious… what exactly did we do to provoke 9-11? I mean, clearly that was our fault and we should never try to put the responsibility on the people who actually did it. Can you just remind me on how exactly we caused them to fly airplaines into our buildings and kill thousands of people again?
    Some of your phrasing is interesting… we “invade a sovereign country” (implication that we had no reason to do so) but “provoke” terrorist to attack us (implication that its really our fault we got attacked).
    None of this is really a defense of going into Iraq. History will be the ultimate judge of that decision. And it probably never was about WMD, but about trying to restructure the Middle East.
    But I definitely take issue with the concept that the U.S. “provokes” all this hatred. They hate us regardless of what we try to do, because we don’t worship their god, because we are powerful and because we are free. There is no pacifying or coddling them, they simply want us dead. The more we worry about not provoking them, the more vulnerable we become.

  2. tom on May 12, 2004 at 6:29 am’s defintion of “provoke”:
    1. To incite to anger or resentment.
    2. To stir to action or feeling.
    3. To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter.
    4. To bring about deliberately; induce: provoke a fight.
    The first three say nothing of intent.
    The 9/11 plotters were clearly provoked, otherwise why go to all that trouble?
    Thing is, life is full of a zillion provocations large and small. What matters is how we respond. Like you I don’t see how we can paralyze ourselves worrying about how a few nutcases will respond to the provocation caused by our mere existence.
    Just being the top dog provokes challenges. Sane critters know better than to screw with the top dog, but we’re not dealing with sane people.

  3. KP on May 12, 2004 at 10:15 am

    (OK, no more war talk till next year — I promise).
    Feel free to break this promise.
    Personally speaking (writing), I best absorb information about the Iraq situation when it is written in “layman’s” terms, and in general, I always seem to learn from what you write, and others’ comments on your musings thereafter…
    Thank you.

  4. The Sanity Inspector on May 14, 2004 at 2:40 pm

    Speaking of letting the prisoners go home, read this military press release:
    Where’s the love, man?

  5. tom on May 14, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    that is twisted. A couple wisecracks spring to mind but they are in terribly poor taste.