Bush’s October 6th speech at the National Endowment for Democracy was so close to self-parody that for once, Bush’s smirks were actually humorous. It was like a Friar’s Club Speech, if the friars were experts on Middle East affairs.
The theme of this speech is the comparison (more precisely, the equation) of Islamist terrorism to Communism. Way to set up your upcoming ‘we will stay the course in Iraq and Afghanistan’ speech where you ask for more money for the war effort. Hey, if you think about it, every billion in mysteriously ‘lost’ funds to contractors like Halliburton is a billion the taxpayers don’t have to spend on education! Everybody wins!
A small aside to those intrepid “Porkbusters” who want to cut various services in lieu of reversing tax cuts for the wealthy to pay for Katrina aid: How about the 9 billion Bremer lost in Iraq’s oil funds which could have helped the reconstruction effort in a time of dire need? Or at least helped to foot the burgeoning war bill? Can we go after government contractors who are constatly misapproriating funds, like Halliburton? I mean, it’s only a billion dollars here and there, but maybe that could pay some of the reconstruction costs. Just a shot in the dark there, especially considering how KBR just got a bunch of contracts to protect New Orlans militia-style. The future of warfare is truly the mercenary army; if they weren’t so damn expensive everyone would have them. Sometimes I wonder; if every GI were being paid as much as the government-contractor private security armies in Iraq, would we have been so quick to rush to war? Could the market pressure of occupation be a force for peace? Not likely, as we keep paying assloads of money to be in Iraq all the time, but it does kind of make you wonder about ‘business conservatives’ who might apply a cost/benefit analysis to the Iraq war.
Anyway, here’s the first half of the speech–I’ve been really busy lately and working on this piece since the 7th. The rest will have to come later, sorry. I swear I’m not consciously invoking Festinger’s theory of Cognitive Dissonance. However, while we’re at it, I would like people to think that when, say, I don’t post for a week, that in the words of Kibo’s brilliant FAQ:
KIBO HASN’T POSTED ANYTHING FOR TWO DAYS. IS HE DEAD? No, he’s just busy writing a carefully-crafted one-line posting which says “DOIDY. DOIDY. DOIDY. DOIDY.” only a million times better ’cause it’s taking him days to write it.
Back to our the terrorism speech. There’s a theme Bush develops in his speech, although he doesn’t do it consciously. What he’s really decrying are the beliefs, the ideology of radical Islamists. But as for their goals… well, you’ll see. At any rate, it shows you something about how the neocon moral system works: it’s wrong if they do it, but not if we do it. But more importantly, might makes right. We have the means to pursue global hegemony, and by God, we’re going to do it. Even if it means costly military engagements, or war crimes, or anything else we have to do
.Seriously, if you want to have a serious discussion about ideology with the Arab world, don’t send the great theologian George Bush. Send someone ‘sensitive,’ like a chick. Maybe send PR queen Karen Hughes, they love that shit over there. And the worst thing you can do is to quote the other guy’s brutality as evidence of their evil aims–you don’t even mention our brutalities. Didn’t you want to make the argument that their war crimes justifies ours, like you do in US courts? It just makes the choice for Iraqis and Arabs around the world more muddled; our hypocrisy doesn’t help us in the slightest. The news media around the world aren’t under Bush’s thumbs they way they are here.
So, the speech. Our illustrious presdient–who has previously said, mind you, that he gets his news from the most objective people he knows (his staff), said (emphases mine, of course):
All these separate images of destruction and suffering that we see on the news can seem like random and isolated acts of madness; innocent men and women and children have died simply because they boarded the wrong train, or worked in the wrong building, or checked into the wrong hotel. Yet while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil, but not insane.
When 25 Iraqi children are killed in a bombing, or Iraqi teachers are executed at their school, or hospital workers are killed caring for the wounded, this is murder, pure and simple — the total rejection of justice and honor and morality and religion.
Way to set ourselves on the moral high ground! I think he just called our troops murderers. Because I can think of a few examples (check this page for a complete accounting of internationally reported deaths).
Coalition forces have killed the following civilians (and these are only a few examples excluding those killed in crossfire with insurgents): a family in car driving too close to US convoy (Karbala, Sep 2005); 56 people in ‘suspected safe-houses’ (Husayba, Karbala, Qaim area, Aug 2005); 9-15 people, including 3 or 4 children outside a mosque (August 2005); 12 bricklayers from Abu Ghraib, who suffocated in a police van (July 2005); TV producer Ahmad Wail Bakri, Maha Ibrahim, a local television news editor, and an unnamed Iraqi news reporter (Baghdad, June 2005); a family of six, including 4 children (Hit, 6 May 2005), 14 people killed by laser-guided bomb targeting the wrong house (8 January 2005); A family of 4 in a taxi near Abu Ghraib (23 Dec 2004); 20 people–demolishing four houses by air raid, 1 child playing soccer–and eight of his friends (al-Fakhirya and Abu Ghraib, September 2004); countless civilians in the destruction of Fallujah: “Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English! They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and shot people because they didn’t obey their orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English. Ninety-five percent of the people killed in the houses that I saw were killed because they couldn’t speak English” (November, 2004); another family of 6 with four children in an air strike (Fallujah, October 2004); at least 30 people in air raids on (Fallujah September 2004); up to 84 people in air strikes (Al-Sharkia, Kut, August 2004); 15 people in an air strike on a suspected safe-house (Shuhada, Fallujah July 2004); 29 people during air-strikes of suspected Zarqawi hideouts (Fallujah, June 2004); 9 people in air strikes (Karbala, May 2004); 42 people at a wedding party by air strike (Makr-al-Deeb, May 2004); 9-15 people by gunfire, including ABC cameraman and 3 children (Fallujah, March 2004); 2 people in a station wagon including a 10-year old (Baghdad, January, 2004); 4 people in a taxi by heavy-calibre machine gun fire (near Tikrit, January 2004); 4 policemen, 5 demonstrators, 1 vegetable seller, and one “70-year-old man ‘died of fright, apparently a heart attack’ when U.S. troops put a bag over his head in preparation to detain him'” (Mosul, Samarra, Baghdad, Sleiman Beg, December 2003); 3 people at a market by “gunfire from passing armoured vehicles,” possibly testing recently purchased guns (Sadr City, Nov 2003); 6 people by gunfire at an “unnanounced U.S. checkpoint” (north of Basra, August 2003); 7 people by gunfire during the hunt for Saddam Hussein and family, including 14-year old son of Qusay (Baghdad, July 2003); 1 child run over by U.S. convoy (Basra highway, June 2003); 1 child run over by U.S. convoy (Ramadi, May 2003); 85 people in air strikes (Rashidiya, April 2003); 78 people in coalition bombings (Hillah and surroundings, March 2003); 1,473-2,000 people who ended up in 19 Baghdad hospitals (20 March-09 April 2003); 2 people in aerial bombardment of a children’s hospital (Rutbah, March 2003); 201 people in the aerial bombing of Baghdad’s General Hospital “incl. consequent loss of electricity” (March 2003); 226 in air raids over Nassiriya (March 2003); 22 in air attacks and cluster bombs (Manaria, Talkana and Zambrania villages, Mohammedia district, March 2003); 2 people in the Palestine Hotel by tank fire (Baghdad, April 2003); 5 people in a Red Crescent Maternity Hospital (Baghdad, March 2003); 22 people in the vicintiy of Khurmal by air strikes and bombardment (March 2003); 5 people in a Syrian passenger bus by air-to-surface missile (Al-Rutbah, March 2003).
The list literally goes on and on, but you have to remember, these people are less dead than those killed by insurgents. Therefore they have less power to sway Iraqis to the Dark Side, q.e.d.
Many militants are part of global, borderless terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, which spreads propaganda, and provides financing and technical assistance to local extremists, and conducts dramatic and brutal operations like September the 11th.
If only they would incorporate in Delaware (or Bermuda), they’d be under the aegis of a multinational corporation–then they could act with impunity! Al-Qaeda’s real problem is they haven’t fully realized the benefits of Westernization–they get the Internet and cell phones but haven’t quite figured out corporate structuring. Wait until they discover outsourcing.
The militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.
Why bother using a vacuum created by an American retreat when the one caused by the American presence is working so well for them? Iraqis are embracing radical Islam because the U.S. is fighting so hard against it–the enemy of my enemy is my friend-type thinking. It doesn’t help that our hypocrisy and deceit are so bold-faced. And the fact that the whole world is watching means that insurgents and Al-Qaedaists are coming from “bases” all around the world, including terrorist strongholds like Britain and Jamaica.
Over the past few decades, radicals have specifically targeted Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, and Jordan for potential takeover. They achieved their goal, for a time, in Afghanistan. Now they’ve set their sights on Iraq. Bin Laden has stated: “The whole world is watching this war and the two adversaries. It’s either victory and glory, or misery and humiliation.” The terrorists regard Iraq as the central front in their war against humanity. And we must recognize Iraq as the central front in our war on terror.
Does Bush even realize the bin Laden quote he uses disproves his (much earlier) point about Saddam being in league with the terrorists? It is precisely the chaos caused by America’s invasion which makes Iraq such a tempting target for Islamofascism. Having rebooted Afghanistan’s cycle of violence, we decided to bring a new terrorist training ground online in the most visible failure of our understanding of global political realities to date.
Third, the militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region,
Cold war references complete with domino theory! Of course, the neoconservatives who launched this war have been advocating “democratic domino theory” so that presumably we can rally the Muslim masses to overthrow their ‘moderate’ governments…
and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia. With greater economic and military and political power, the terrorists would be able to advance their stated agenda: to develop weapons of mass destruction, to destroy Israel, to intimidate Europe, to assault the American people, and to blackmail our government into isolation.
Good thing we delivered all those weapons and fresh recruits to the terrorists, because otherwise they might actually have to shop around for a state to support them. You know, besides Iran.
As Zarqawi has vowed, “We will either achieve victory over the human race or we will pass to the eternal life.” And the civilized world knows very well that other fanatics in history, from Hitler to Stalin to Pol Pot, consumed whole nations in war and genocide before leaving the stage of history. Evil men, obsessed with ambition and unburdened by conscience, must be taken very seriously — and we must stop them before their crimes can multiply.
You know, for a second there I thought he was quoting Zarqawi as an inspiration. Bush, are you burdened by conscience?
Defeating the militant network is difficult, because it thrives, like a parasite, on the suffering and frustration of others.
On the other hand, the job of America seems to be provide, or at least exacerbate, this nourishing suffering and frustration, so that we can continue to fight the terrorists abroad and not at home.
The radicals exploit local conflicts to build a culture of victimization, in which someone else is always to blame and violence is always the solution. They exploit resentful and disillusioned young men and women, recruiting them through radical mosques as the pawns of terror. And they exploit modern technology to multiply their destructive power.
Except for the radical mosques, this is a farily accurate description of our military recruiters’ job. In fact, it’s a pretty accurate description of our military. I mean, I can’t even tell the difference between them any more…
Instead of attending faraway training camps, recruits can now access online training libraries to learn how to build a roadside bomb, or fire a rocket-propelled grenade — and this further spreads the threat of violence, even within peaceful democratic societies.
…oh, right, al-Qaeda has a more cost-effective basic training program.
Some have also argued that extremism has been strengthened by the actions of our coalition in Iraq, claiming that our presence in that country has somehow caused or triggered the rage of radicals.
Some of these so called “experts” have even infiltrated the CIA.
I would remind them that we were not in Iraq on September the 11th, 2001 — and al Qaeda attacked us anyway.
The hatred of the radicals existed before Iraq was an issue, and it will exist after Iraq is no longer an excuse.
Master of logic! Behold, an excerpt from bin Laden’s 1998 fatwa establishing The Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders where he lists those unaddressable grievances:
First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples. If some people have in the past argued about the fact of the occupation, all the people of the Peninsula have now acknowledged it. The best proof of this is the Americans’ continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post, even though all its rulers are against their territories being used to that end, but they are helpless. Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the huge number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million… despite all this, the Americans are once against trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors.
Third, if the Americans’ aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews’ petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state, and their endeavor to fragment all the states of the region such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan into paper statelets and through their disunion and weakness to guarantee Israel’s survival and the continuation of the brutal crusade occupation of the Peninsula.
So, not only are their grievances mostly about America’s foreign policy before the Iraqi war, it’s also about the embargo of Iraq which, all will agree, killed at least a million civilians. Call it a “conspicuous abscence” from Iraq, then.
The government of Russia did not support Operation Iraqi Freedom, and yet the militants killed more than 180 Russian schoolchildren in Beslan.
It’s called Chechnya, numbnuts. You have to be banking on a pretty ignorant public to hope this line resonates. Talk about bald-faced bullshit.
Over the years these extremists have used a litany of excuses for violence — the Israeli presence on the West Bank, or the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, or the defeat of the Taliban, or the Crusades of a thousand years ago. In fact, we’re not facing a set of grievances that can be soothed and addressed. We’re facing a radical ideology with inalterable objectives: to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world. No act of ours invited the rage of the killers — and no concession, bribe, or act of appeasement would change or limit their plans for murder.
Good thing all we want to do is impoverish whole nations and intimidate the world (“you’re either with us or against us”). Also, we are totally blameless, because all this is is a bunch of wackos in some cave somewhere with weird stories about “the Muslim world’s unhappy collision with the modern West. Triumphant for a thousand years, Muslims have now witnessed three-hundred years of unrelenting defeat… the Arab Middle East easily takes solace in a ruthless despot who can intimidate America.
“Ooops, that wasn’t bin Laden, it was Reuel Marc Gerecht in The Weekly Standard (May 14, 2001). My mistake.
On the contrary: They target nations whose behavior they believe they can change through violence.
And that’s just wrong. Unless we do it, because we’re on a mission from God.
Our enemy is utterly committed.
Against such an enemy, there is only one effective response: We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory. (Applause.)
He better hope there aren’t any impressionable young Muslims listening.
The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century. Like the ideology of communism, Islamic radicalism is elitist, led by a self-appointed vanguard that presumes to speak for the Muslim masses. Bin Laden says his own role is to tell Muslims, quote, “what is good for them and what is not.” And what this man who grew up in wealth and privilege considers good for poor Muslims is that they become killers and suicide bombers. He assures them that his — that this is the road to paradise — though he never offers to go along for the ride.
The strain of comparisons to Communism aside, bin Laden has always vowed he will never be captured alive. But then again, even money says he’s already dead.
Like the ideology of communism, our new enemy teaches that innocent individuals can be sacrificed to serve a political vision. And this explains their cold-blooded contempt for human life.
Remember Secretary Albright’s response when she was asked about the million Iraqis killed by the embargo? She said, “It’s worth it.” And we’re not even talking about casualties from air strikes.
These militants are not just the enemies of America, or the enemies of Iraq, they are the enemies of Islam and the enemies of humanity. (Applause.)
I’m going to take a small break from humorously skewering our sneering dunce of a President to agree with the above statement. Anyone who kills civilians is the enemy of humanity, whether those civilians are American or Iraqi. The insurgents, terrified and frustrated with the U.S. occupation, have chosen the worst possible response to their predicament, to kill innocents and destabilize their country in the name of god-knows-what. But the alternative isn’t all that appetizing, either:
We have seen this kind of shameless cruelty before, in the heartless zealotry that led to the gulags,
Hey, look, he worked in a Guantanamo reference. Very classy.
I’m going to stop here and pick this up again, but I leave you with one more tibdit:
Its leaders pretend to be an aggrieved party, representing the powerless against imperial enemies. In truth they have endless ambitions of imperial domination, and they wish to make everyone powerless except themselves. Under their rule, they have banned books, and desecrated historical monuments, and brutalized women. They seek to end dissent in every form, and to control every aspect of life, and to rule the soul, itself. While promising a future of justice and holiness, the terrorists are preparing for a future of oppression and misery.