Monday, June 7, 2010


In the background of the current disaster filled news and opinions there is still ranting on the part of certain voices on the conservative side about the War on Terror. Actually, the opinion pieces I've seen are not about the W.O.T., they're about how much of a failure President Obama is. They run the usual list of presidential failures, including his apologizing for America's past actions, bowing to foreign leaders, not treating attempted terror attacks as acts of war and so on. It's that last one that bothers me.

The drum beat to treat every act of terrorism, or attempted terrorism, as an act of war carries with it certain baggage which the right wing pundits just seem to ignore. Like, what constitutes a terrorist act? Or more precisely, is it an act of terror if it's done, or attempted, by a non-Muslim actor? You know, like shooting an abortion doctor in his church. Or, is it an act of war, rather than a criminal act, if done by an American citizen? The Times Square car bomb attempt fits this category. See how this might get sticky?

The right wing seems to just assume that any action, taken by a Muslim, against American interests, is a terrorist act of war. Simple and straight forward. But here in the world of reality it's not so simple.

There are all those Miranda Warning problems. We can't stop interrogating some Muslim guy even if he is a citizen, so let's strip him of his citizenship! That is, in fact, what Senator Lieberman suggested. We just strip suspected terrorists citizens of their U.S. citizenship and we can then ignore all the rules.

Of course, once we have these bad guys, we sure don't want to house them in the good old U.S.A. No sir, just because we've got more than 300 convicted terrorist prisoners in our prisons now, we sure can't keep these new bad actors here. Now, does it ever bother these folks (the right wing pundits, not the terrorists) that they appear scared stiff of guys who can't even make a bomb go boom.

But the big issue to be is the whole war versus crime comparison. The right, and in particular the so called Neocon right is, and has been, utterly wedded to the War on Terror way of looking at this. They backed (and pushed) the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so they're sort of stuck with that solution. Even though, as had been much reported after the Christmas crotch bomber's failed attempt, the Bush administration had used the Federal Courts to prosecute guys like the shoe bomber. The Neocons just ignore that. Their position is that it's always an act of war because, well, we're at war.

Now, can we stop for a minute and explode that thought. Writers far smarter than I have explained, slowly and carefully, in words of only one or two syllables, that the "War on Terror" is an empty concept involving as it does the declaration of war against a tactic. May I be blunt? It's stupid! It's stupid because it assumes (wrongly) that the U.S.A. has a right to enter any country, at any time, to kill or capture anyone who we deem to be a threat to us. It's stupid because it ignores the basic human values of protecting family and tribe if the ones doing the protecting are not of our particular tribe. It's stupid because it completely ignores the fact that for every civilian death in Iraq or Afghanistan we create more people who hate us and want harm to come to us. And it's stupid because the current crop of attempts were made by a guy from Pakistan and a guy from Yemin and we aren't at war with either of them (yet).

So, if I may paraphrase that great American thinker, Sarah Palin, when it comes to protecting the homeland from the threat of terror my dear Neocons, how's that War on Terror thing workin' out for ya?  

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