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Wednesday, 5 May 2004

More on terror

As I read the nytimes article one page at a time.... The author talks about winning or losing the war on terror. He does not define his terms, yet he seems to imply that one more terrorist attack on US soil would constitute a defeat. Presumably, the abscence of such an attack would constitue victory. But since an attack is always possible, victory is unattainable. It is an unreachable goal state, since it cannot be assessed until the end of time. This is a problem inherent in letting the pro-perpetual war folks define the terms of debate. They create a perpetual, unwinnable war, which is ultimately against ourselves. The writer "warns" against this pehnomenon, saying we want to hang on to some of our freedoms. But since he quotes the highly reliable Rice talking about terrorists absolutely planning on tampering in the november elections (oh, i just bet they will. i feel fear, and not from angry foreigners), his biases are clearly evident.

He is also too willing to excuse government misdeeds, stating, "Even so, after 9/11 we were frightened, and Congress and the government weren't always thinking straight." Right. The patriot act, passed by congress without having been read by any of the lawmakers, was definitely an act of political expedience, if not fear. But from whence did this act come? Who wrote it? Who had it sitting ready until the time was right to broaden police powers? Somebody planned it. They wrote the legislation and then sat on it, waiting for an opprtunity. That is not fearfully not thinking striaght.

He writes also, "To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war. These are evils because each strays from national and international law and because they kill people or deprive them of freedom without due process. They can be justified only because they prevent the greater evil." Even if we accept this line of thinking as valid, it still raises numerous problems. First of all, we already do these things abroad and the result of them has not been truth justice, and the american way. The result has been Hussein, the Shaw, massacres galore in south america, human rights abuses upon human rights abuses. And who do we trust when it seems like pre-emptive war is justified? Hitler neutralized the terrible Polish menace. Now we're in Iraq, lookingin vain for Weapons of Mass Destruction. They were going to be horrible, remember? All aimed right at us. But it turned out, to nobody's surprise, that really, we wanted to increase the profits of Halliburton, get control of oil and expand the reach of the welathy elite. Hussein did not become a bad guy when he gassed the Kurds. He became a bad guy when he nationalized the oil companies. Our definition of threatening our national interest corresponds exactly with threatening corporate interests. Our government will be more than happy to defend us with pre-emptive strikes, if by "us," you mean oil companies. The greater evil, in our military adventurism since WWII, has always been the potential loss of corporate profits and power.

And how about defeating evil? When is it defeated? When we take over the capital of evil? when us troops occupy the 9th layer of hell? when jesus rises again and judges the living and the dead? Or is evil some sort of war we can win by attrition? Let's say that right now in the world, there are 1000 people in terrorist cells, currently plotting horrible things. something must be done to stop them, obviously. Let's say we bomb the hell out of villages suspected to be hiding terrorists. We kill 700 of them. And 10000 bystanders. Then there are only 300 terrorists left. And all the insanely angry freinds and relatives of the bystanders. We had 1000 terrorists. Now we have 20000. Fighting terroism with "evil" is fighting a hydra. Everytime you use violence without due cause, you inflame anger. Violence is a blunt and ineffective tool for change or communication. Moreover, it becomes the only tool. the more a stae uses violemce, the more it has to use violence. We would fall into a perpetually bloody struggle, leaving a trail of dead behind us. This is not a definition of "winning" a war on terror, unless by winning, you mean being the most effective, bad-ass terrorists. And damn, we already won that. Our elder staesmen are wanted war criminals. Look at what we did in Guatemala in the 80's! Man, look where our aid money is going. The more a country violated human rights, the more military aid they receive from us.

no, i do not have time to be worrying about this.

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