Monday, September 19, 2005

Last Throe Update

With much of the month's news thus far being swept up by Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war has sort of floated under the radar. But in the week after 9/11 (which also seemed curiously dowplayed, even with the ridiculous, underpopulated propaganda walk), hundreds of people were killed by a spate of bombing all over Iraq.

As always, Juan Cole keeps his eye on the ball. On 9/11 he had this to say:

Bush has given us the worst of all possible worlds-- a half-finished job against al-Qaeda, an Iraqi imbroglio that could still explode into civil or even regional war-- and which serves as an al-Qaeda recruiting tool--, a government starved for funds, an enormous windfall for the rich at the expense of the middle class (which saw average wages actually fall recently), and an inability to respond effectively to a major urban catastrophe.

Four years after September 11, al-Qaeda's leadership should have been behind bars or dead. Four years after September 11, Afghanistan should have been stabilized. Four years after September 11, the government should have been ready to save lives in an urban disaster.

Bush recently started likening his poorly conceived and misnamed "war on terror" to World War II.

What his handlers have forgotten is how long World War II lasted for the United States.

Four years.

In four years, Roosevelt and allies defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In four years, Bush hasn't managed even to corner Bin Laden and a few hundred scruffy terrorists; or to extract himself from the deserts of Iraq; or to put the government's finances in good order so that it can deal with crises like Katrina.

Four years. I think about the victims of 9/11, and now 7/7. We have let you down.

He's absolutely right, and nobody in the co-opted corporate media will ever say it quite like this, even if Bush tumbles another 10% in the polls. But the fact is, Bush has had four full years now to get bin Laden, and instead he's gotten us mired in this tar baby. Meanwhile, bin Laden gets a highly-publicized "close call" every six months or so, as Pakistani forces storm this or that village in darkest Buttfuckistan.

If you didn't know better, you might start to think that bin Laden is worth more to these guys by remaining at large. Indeed, he may be. It's not terribly unlikely that Musharraf's government would be overthrown by either popular revolt or military coup, were bin Laden to be captured. But of course they can never say that. You can't handle the truth.

Back to Iraq. Prof. Cole had a rather pithy analogy for our current Iraqi prospects:


Sistani has a great deal of moral authority, but you really worry whether he might be a level three levee facing a level five hurricane.

Ouch. Yes, between that and the bizarre British assault on the Basra jail to break out two of their commandos, the Iraqis are just getting more and more restive. Freedom is not marching; it's alternating between enforcing medieval dress codes and strapping itself with Semtex and luring day laborers to their doom.

Hope the moron's git-tar lessons are coming along swimmingly.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Katrina seems to have provided perfect cover to do away with the Posse Comitatus law.

The head of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday urged the Pentagon to review laws that limit the use of U.S. troops to restore order after a disasters like Hurricane Katrina or a terror attack.

"The only entity in the United States that has the personnel, the equipment, the training and the logistical capacity to lend support to the National Guard and other state entities in an emergency of this scale is the Department of Defense," Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a letter released by his office.

He said the hurricane was followed by looting and disorder, partly because state and local authorities were unable to cope with the crisis, which he described as the "greatest natural disaster to hit the United States in a century."


"The president should not have to worry about misperceptions by the public based on outdated wording that does not accurately describe what the armed forces may be doing in a particular emergency," Warner said.

Warner named the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits troops from doing domestic law enforcement in most cases, as well as laws that require the federal government to pay for National Guard deployments, even while they remain under the command and control of the states.

Gen. Peter Pace, designated as the next chairman of the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week also called for the laws to be examined to ensure the military could be engaged as effectively as possible.

Some believe rigid interpretations of the 1878 law, enacted during the post-Civil War reconstruction period, may have slowed down deployment of active-duty troops after the storm. Others argue there are exceptions to the law, and it can be waived by the president.

There's not an even a doubt in my mind -- the next attack here (or possibly even against one of our allies), and we're looking at martial law for a while.


alena said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

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