Let’s Start a War on Nonsense

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War on Terror

The dreadful events in Mumbai are a reminder that during the time the U.S. has waged a “war on terror,” incidents of terrorism around the world have increased dramatically. Copious hard data back up this assertion.

The Status of George Bush's War on Terrorism

Look at the “fatalities” line on the graph above. I’m assuming the big spike after 2000 is 9/11. See what happens after. Which makes me wonder where peoples’ brains are when they write

America has been going after Al-Qaeda and the nations that harbor and fund terrorists for 7 years now. To blame the attacks in Mumbai on American policy in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever is just wrong.

Righties can’t see how phenomena interconnect. It’s something like a learning disability. As far as this guy is concerned, because the U.S. “has been going after Al-Qaeda and the nations that harbor and fund terrorists for 7 years now,” then the increase in incidents of terrorism can’t possibly have been caused, directly or indirectly, by U.S. policy. That our “policy,” whatever its intentions, is failing, and in fact is making the problem of global terrorism worse, because it is a stupid policy being carried out by twisted people, is too subtle an idea for some brains to handle.

The rightie linked above was objecting to something Deepak Chopra (who, as a rule, annoys the hell out of me) said —

Ultimately the message is always toward Washington because it’s also the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror. They fund our side, then our petrol dollars going to Saudi Arabia through Pakistan and ultimately these terrorist groups, which are very organized. You know Jonathan, it takes a lot of money to do this. It takes a lot of organization to do this. Where’s the money coming from, you know? The money is coming from the vested interests.

I don’t know that the attacks in Mumbai took all that much money, but his larger point is right. We can declare wars on terror and send troops all over the place to fight jihadists, and the fact remains that our support of people like Musharraf of Pakistan, who appeared to be using our tax dollars to play both sides of the fence, fuels “the perception that Washington, in their way, directly or indirectly funds both sides of the war on terror.” The ham-handed way the occupation of Iraq was carried out, and the obscene amounts of money shoveled to Dick Cheney’s private contractors for which there is no accounting, also creates “perceptions.”

Later in the same interview Chopra says the terrorist attacks in Mumbai are “not Washington’s fault,” a bit that the rightie blogger linked above missed.

A few basic points —

  1. Not everything is about America. There are all manner of feuds and enmities in foreign places that don’t involve us (except in a “six degrees of separation” kind of way), don’t directly affect us and of which most of us are ignorant. However,
  2. Item #1 is a big reason why sending troops into hot spots to make people behave isn’t always a good idea. Generally it just pisses people off more and sometimes forces our troops to take sides in conflicts they shouldn’t be involved in to begin with, because they weren’t about us until we poked out noses into them. This is pretty much what got 241 marines killed in Lebanon in 1983.
  3. Not everything bad that happens in the Middle East happened because the U.S. did something evil. First, see item #1 — not everything is about us. I doubt anything in the Middle East is entirely about us. U.S. policy is often a factor, but there are always myriad other factors. However, when we act in ignorance of those other factors, as if everything is just about us, we can make things worse.
  4. Sometimes stuff is in part about us, but saying that is not always “blaming America.” Bin Laden got pissed off at America because U.S. troops were stationed on Saudi soil, but that was not a “bad” thing. Bin Laden is a whackjob. Whackjobs get set off by just about anything. I remember reading about a guy in Europe who became a serial killer after watching Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments.” To say that our stationing of troops in Saudi Arabia was a factor in bringing about 9/11 is not “blaming America.” It’s just a statement of fact.
  5. Whenever we do something in a foreign country, we ought to stop and consider how we’d feel if some foreign power came along and did that same thing in our country. However that might make us feel, we should assume that’s how people in that other foreign country feel about us. Sometimes we have to take action in foreign countries, in our own self-defense, but there will always be messy repercussions.
  6. Because there will always be messy repercussions, messing around in foreign countries needs to be kept to a minimum. Sincere people will disagree on where that “minimum” line might be drawn. But military action requires a sense of reluctance. When people are fired up and eager to go to war, beware. This is a sure indication that emotions are overruling intellect.
  7. As far as righties are concerned, I propose an “automatic tax increase” amendment. Whenever we send troops to foreign soil, taxes (especially on capital gains) must be raised to pay for it. If the thought of a tax increase causes people to think twice about sending troops, we probably don’t need to be sending troops.
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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. D.R. Marvel  •  Nov 28, 2008 @11:05 am

    Maha sez: “When people are fired up and eager to go to war, beware”.

    Truer words were never blogged…

    And as long as we maintain a military establishment bigger than those of every other nation in the world combined, it’s going to be the business of the “military” to create the conditions for thoise wars…

    ‘You gotta have a war every 10-12 years…”

  2. felicity  •  Nov 28, 2008 @11:14 am

    Your # 7 would definitely do the trick. I don’t know of a word for tax phobia, fear of taxes, but I do know, because they keep a steady rant against them going, that righties are terrified of them.

    I recently heard a reporter relate an incident when an Iraqi took him to his home to show him what our troops and/or ‘contractors’ do to a person’s home when ‘looking for’ a suspected terrorist. Slashed and upturned furniture, broken dishes, slashed mattresses…The Iraqi made the astute observation that it was highly unlikely that a person could hide in, say, a couch. I doubt that I would like anyone who trashed my private space all in the name of liberating me – or is that bringing me democracy. Perhaps trite but also true that we reap what we sow.

  3. Gordon  •  Nov 28, 2008 @12:03 pm

    …Deepak Chopra (who, as a rule, annoys the hell out of me)…

    Man, am I happy to hear you say that!

    Someone gave me one of his books, that promised to reveal the secrets of being happy, healthy and holy. 400 pgs later all I knew was that I, too, would be happy, healthy and holy if I only knew the secrets.

  4. s  •  Nov 28, 2008 @12:04 pm

    Maha! I love the idea of an automatic tax increase for war. That would definately make everyone consider if it was worth it to them. It would also have the money people this admin is listening to speaking out one way or the other.

  5. paradoctor  •  Nov 28, 2008 @12:13 pm

    #6 echoes George Washington’s warning against foreign entanglements. #7 is an excellent idea, probably too good to be enacted under the present system.

  6. paradoctor  •  Nov 28, 2008 @12:16 pm

    All three graphs seem to be declining lately… but then there’s Mumbai…

  7. biggerbox  •  Nov 28, 2008 @3:48 pm

    It occurs to me that it would help our society immensely if grade schools spent a fair amount of time teaching concepts related to “cause and effect”, so that people grew up able to understand historical precedent, and also learned about coincidence, counter-effect, and irrelevance.

    That would probably lead to an end to the phenomenon we call “modern Republicanism”.

  8. William Teach  •  Nov 28, 2008 @3:57 pm

    So, what are your ideas, Maha? Shall we just ignore the problem and hope it goes away? Because it won’t.

    Shall we negotiate with people who would find it just as easy to slit your throat?

    I’m looking forward to you slamming Obama as he comes to realizes the reality of international and regional terrorism, and continues to fight it with military and Intelligence forces.

  9. maha  •  Nov 28, 2008 @5:55 pm

    William Teach — I think the first priority is for you to learn to read. I’ve given up any notion that you can think, but even simple minded people can read if they try.

    For example, what part of “Sometimes we have to take action in foreign countries” did you not understand?

    Here’s another quote to work on — “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Something that the Bushies should have thought about before they invaded Iraq.

  10. erinyes  •  Nov 28, 2008 @9:07 pm

    It will be interesting to find out who was involved in the Mumbai attacks. Some internet sources place the blame on Kashmiri separatists, others claim a false flag operation aimed at drawing India into a war with Pakistan…
    In these crazy times, even what appears to be absurd may not be so far fetched.
    I’m anxiously awaiting the opinion of the expert (Eric Margolis)regarding the India/Pak/Kashmir conflict.

  11. QrazyQat  •  Nov 28, 2008 @9:37 pm

    William Teach no doubt keeps a shotgun handy during mosquito season; only thing that keeps ’em down. And there is no connection between the increasing numbers of mosquitos in his house and the huge holes he keeps shooting in the walls!

    So put that thought right out of your head… or are you objectively pro-mosquito?

  12. moonbat  •  Nov 28, 2008 @11:44 pm

    Righties can’t see how phenomena interconnect. It’s something like a learning disability.

    It’s less that they can’t and more that they don’t want to. Righties begin with the conclusion – their pre-conceived idea of how the world works – and try to fit or twist the facts to fit. They reason backwards. They are habitually incapable of letting the facts speak to them, of learning from what the data itself is saying.

    In this way, they are unscientific and medieval. They are incapable of learning new things, because they refuse to let go of their old ideas.

  13. Guy Blaise  •  Dec 1, 2008 @11:29 pm

    The recent terrorist attacks at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai showed how difficult the fight against terrorism is for any government. Many questions are still unanswered about how a small group of well-trained foreign terrorists were able to kill so many people without help within India. India has been battling terrorism for a while on its soil. The largest bombings of recent months have been carried out by Indian Muslims who called themselves the Indian Mujahideen. As usual, when bad things happen, people have a tendency to blame their own government for “not doing enough” to prevent the tragedy. Time will tell if this spectacular attack was carried out without “cooperation” of the Indian Mujahideen. As the Mossi of Burkina Faso say, ” When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”



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