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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

June 30, 2004
Metaphorically Speaking

Okay, so we've handed over "legal custody" of Saddam Hussein, which is a nice gesture and makes good headlines, but we didn't hand over Saddam Hussein himself, preferring to keep him in our custody. Technically he belongs to the Iraqis but in reality, he's ours.

That's a nice metaphor for Iraqi sovereignty, isn't it?

"Explosions Wound 27 in Eastern Afghanistan"

Elsewhere, militants burned trucks supplying American troops and abducted their Afghan crews, and government forces killed three gunmen in a Taliban stronghold.

I heard on NPR last night that NATO promised (and the U.N. explicitly approved) the deployment of thousands of troops in Afghanistan, scattered around the most turbulent parts of the country to help security and peacekeeping.

NATO did pledge to send another 1,500 troops but that number falls far short of the minimum Afghan government and UN say is needed. In the past, NATO has failed to meet some of its troop commitments to Afghanistan.

[…]

Previously, NATO pledged to send five small security & reconstruction teams to the provinces, but only one ever materialized. Most NATOtroops remain in Kabul.

To-date, NATO has about 6,500 troops in Afghanistan It's not safe to go anywhere else.

That's a nice metaphor for our 'war on terror' don't you think?

Travelers of "Pakistani descent" are going to have some trouble getting around the country this summer, now that there's been a unilateral announcement that they're potentially terrorists.

Amateur climbers with the wrong ancestry had better schedule extra time for airport security since "rope burns" are on the list of suspicious possessions.

My brain being what it is…I was distracted for several minutes trying to figure out how you tell an "unusual" bruise from a "usual" one.

("That's a funny-shaped bruise, mister. Looks just like my mother-in-law's left ear. Up against the wall!")

And, of course, there's the "wounds/scars" thing…but that's not as much of a problem as it could be because even though we sent better than a hundred thousand young men and women into a war zone, we're not letting them come back, so there's no chance that airport security will be faced with thousands of military-age people sporting scars from bullet wounds, bomb shrapnel, missing limbs, "unusual" bruises, and the rest of the detritus of war.

Anyhow, it's not safe to travel because there are either terrorists or the security lines will be humongous (what with the Feds cutting funding for TSA staff and cutting back on the number of airport security screeners).

That's a nice metaphor for how much better off this country is than it was when the Bush Administration was appointment, isn't it?

Sources say there is no hard intelligence connecting the Pakistani camps to any imminent threat against the U.S.

Doesn't matter. We're not really as fussy about having actual evidence that someone is planning to attack us as we used to be. "Looking at me funny" now counts as an act of terrorism in Bush's America.

But the Customs bulletin concludes, "...it is reasonable to expect that many of the individuals trained...(there)... are destined to commit illegal activities in the United States."

As opposed to, oh, I don't know, some country Palestinians are actively engaged in warfare with, like, say, Israel?

At the same time, U.S. officials have moved to ban foreign pilots with possible ties to terror groups. Sources say at least eleven pilots -- most of them Saudis -- have now had their licenses revoked by the FAA.

Note that. Saudis. The original hijackers were mostly Saudis, too.

We're prosecuting the 'war on terror' against everyone except the people who were directly responsible for 9/11.

That's a nice metaphor for stupidity.

Why did we choose to deport a terror suspect when we had material to take him to trial? Better yet, why did we release him to Syria? I thought we-the-people had pretty much made our position clear when it comes to exporting people so that they can be tortured?

The Iowa Republican repeatedly cited the AP story and demanded that Ashcroft answer 19 questions about al-Marabh's case, including why the Justice Department didn't prosecute the man they had in custody for nearly two years either in a military tribunal or through a secret court proceeding that could protect intelligence information.

Grassley also asked Justice to detail what has happened to other terror suspects that appeared on the same post-Sept. 11 terrorism list as al-Marabh.

Aides to Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have also made some preliminary inquiries into the case.

One of Ashcroft's top deputies, Chris Wray, recently told Congress that he was concerned some terror suspects rounded up after Sept. 11, 2001, were now being deported because prosecutors were having a hard time making terrorism cases or couldn't expose sensitive intelligence information during court proceedings.

Charming. Just charming. We can't prosecute them because it compromises our security, so we deport them to a country famous for harboring terrorists, so that they can report whatever sensitive information they possess there, instead of here?

Or, we can't prosecute them because we don't have evidence they're terrorists…so we deport them to a country that, if it doesn't want to be next on the Bush Hit Parade, will torture them into confessions whether they're guilty or not.

That's a nice metaphor for…something. The incompetence of our current leadership, I guess.

Posted by AnneZook at 07:54 AM


Comments

"Okay, so we've handed over "legal custody" of Saddam Hussein, which is a nice gesture and makes good headlines, but we didn't hand over Saddam Hussein himself, preferring to keep him in our custody. Technically he belongs to the Iraqis but in reality, he's ours.

That's a nice metaphor for Iraqi sovereignty, isn't it?"

Anne - now seriously, if we handed over Saddam to a government that doesn't possess currently the capability to secure him adequately and he escapes (or is broken out), then I suspect I'd be reading a blog entry from you on how stupid we were to hand him over. If you mean the Iraqi government nows his in control, but the coalition (primarily US) forces are the main stabilization entities now and for the near-term, then you're right - and that is similar to Germany/Japan post-WWII, Korea (increasingly less, but our forces in theater and our guarantee of support post-Korean War, and Bosnia-Kosovo for over a decade (remember Clinton's only 1 year promise?). We've tended to help nations more when we actually stay and give them the support we've promised (or incurred as a result of our actions) as opposed to when we leave (Somalia, Haiti for example). Even Sen. Kerry understands what history shows.


"To-date, NATO has about 6,500 troops in Afghanistan It's not safe to go anywhere else.

That's a nice metaphor for our 'war on terror' don't you think?"

I'm not sure what you're implying. If you mean that NATO is obligated to help the US under Art 5 to do more:

On 12 September 2001, less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks against the United States, NATO declared the attacks to be an attack against all the 19 NATO member countries within the terms of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

And some of the NATO members are not willing to face up to what it means to go to war against terrorists (at a minimum AQ), then I agree with you - and I don't mean Iraq which some NATO members have argued is outside the scope of the Art 5 decision.

We've have not gotten nearly the amount of support for Afghanistan or other operations against terrorist I believe NATO could (and should) provide, especially given our financial and personnel support since WWII to guarantee Western Europe's security against the Warsaw Pact.

But I suspect you that's not what you meant.

"We're prosecuting the 'war on terror' against everyone except the people who were directly responsible for 9/11.

That's a nice metaphor for stupidity."

I take it then that the "intelligent" move is to take the war of terrorism to Saudi Arabia.

If you're familiar with the internal religious demographics (Sunni and Shia) of SA in relation to where the majority of the oil fields are (in the NE part) as well as the dynamics of the House of Saud, then you'd realize why we can't simply take the war on terrorism to SA like we did with other countries. A great question that I don't think either Bush or Kerry has an answer for is what we (and the other nations that rely on oil such as China/Japan for example) would do if the House of Saud collapsed and the Iranians pushed to take control of the minority Shia region (where all the oil resides), especially since the hard-line Sunnis have only contempt for the Shia. So, do you think Kerry is going to take the war on terrorism to SA either? No, it's all a matter of hoping that a more representative Iraqi state (although Shia dominated I suspect after elections) as well as the backlash from terrorism has convinced the House of Saud to get serious that their acceptance/toleration/support of more militant Sunnis is now coming back to haunt them.

I don't Anne - what would you do knowing a false step might create utter chaos in the middle East and in the global economy?

Easier to be the grader than the test-taker.

Posted by: Col Steve at July 5, 2004 12:46 AM

Col Steve:

#1 - I respect your opinions but I just can't accept the "this is how we did it in Germany" defense. Iraq isn't Germany. Different war, different causes, different cultures, different situation entirely.

#2 - That was, in fact, partly what I meant. Our allies did not step up to the plate on Afghanistan (but then we didn't exactly have everyone's overwhelming support for going into Afghanistan, did we?) which did not, in my mind, justify us shrugging our shoulders and moving on.

(And don't start with me about how everyone is obligated to live up to their UN commitments. Our record in that area isn't spectactular.)

The point is that we were there, and we had actual terrorists in our sights, but we left Afghanistan before the job was really done because the Bush Administration was salivating at the idea they could use 9/11 as an excuse to go after Iraq.

#3 - I did not, in fact, actually advocate taking the war into Saudi Arabia. I'm well aware that that country is precariously balanced, at best.

Yes, I did point out the nationality of the majority of the hijackers, which was misleading. I should have made direct reference to the actual source of the 9/11 attack, which was, of course, bin Laden's terrorist organization.

Many factors no doubt contributed to the fact that a majority of the attackers were Saudi Arabian. My emphasis on their nationality was merely to remind us all, if needed, that none of them were Iraqi.

Posted by: Anne at July 5, 2004 10:40 PM

Anne -
Yes, each conflict and the subsequent post-hostilities are unique to the characteristics of the nation(s) involved. My point is history demonstrates that one constant though is the transition period is not short. Regardless of whether you agree with the war or not, I find it somewhat premature to comment sarcastically that Iraqi sovereignty is limited after only 15 months. Of course it is limited at this point. But, the given the differences between Iraqi and the other cases, the fact we're this far is as much cause for optimism as pessimism. Even Kerry has stated he envisions a four year timeline to full sovereignty. But, I agree, we'll have to see how much oil is flowing, how much power is being generating, and whether elections occur as promised next year.

Our allies did not step up to the plate on Afghanistan (but then we didn't exactly have everyone's overwhelming support for going into Afghanistan, did we?

Anne - that is exactly my point in citing the NATO Article V statement. By the Treaty, the other members were obligated to support our actions, especially when there was consensus that AQ committed the act and the best know location of the "headquarters" was in Afghanistan. And it is NOT UN commitments..it's NATO obligations..there's a difference.

"The point is that we were there, and we had actual terrorists in our sights, but we left Afghanistan before the job was really done because the Bush Administration was salivating at the idea they could use 9/11 as an excuse to go after Iraq."

Anne - hate to disappoint you, but we didn't divert any troop commitments from Afghanistan
to Iraq. You can in hindsight criticize the conduct of operations in Afghanistan such as Operation Anaconda where we didn't bring in sufficient artillery and let the Northern Alliance forces conduct a part of the mission that perhaps should have been kept for US troops (and thus probably allowed a good number of Taliban/AQ forces to slip into Pakistan or out of the area where we had them trapped). But you can't claim it was because we had to divert forces to Iraq. Of course, if we had gotten even a fraction of some of the NATO members capabilities promised under Art V..

My emphasis on their nationality was merely to remind us all, if needed, that none of them were Iraqi.

Anne- you're intelligent enough to know that 9/11 was not the reason to go into Iraq. Look, WMD was a partial reason (and we don't need to run through the statements made by folks on BOTH sides that pre-date Jan 2001 nor the fact that Congress with support form both sides voted to both authorize and fund the war in Iraq)..but here's the real rub. If you believe that Islamist extremists are a real threat to a significant portion of the non-Islamic world as well as to the economies of many of those nations (because relatively inexpensive and continually flowing oil for now is still the blood of those economies), then the timing was right to take the offensive. An Iraqi state with a representative form of government that could serve as a model to both give support to the moderate elements working for reform in Iran and a wake-up call to Saudi Arabia about their internal issues would have a powerful impact on radical Islamists. Iraq by all accounts could be a source for WMD (we'll see, but clearly was probably not in 2003) and was in default of UN resolutions. So, the timing was right to take the offensive.

Now, you may disagree that we shouldn't be taking the offensive. However, I think you can make a cogent argument that if we truly believe we're in a global war against terrorists and that fight is the predominant threat (at least until our eventual conflict with China which will probably be a 21st century version of the Cold War) - then striking against Iraq is a powerful attempt to prosecute that larger war. And it wasn't done in Spring 2003, I don't think you had another window pending another attack on US soil.

Again, you may disagree. But you do a disservice to a number of people who really don't have any allegiance to one party or the other who've thought and planned a great deal even during the Clinton administration period when you state:

"We're prosecuting the 'war on terror' against everyone except the people who were directly responsible for 9/11.

That's a nice metaphor for stupidity."


Posted by: Col Steve at July 6, 2004 12:39 AM