How Would Cheney Complete the “War on Terror”?
Vice President Dick Cheney today attacked John Kerry.
” Cheney and two other speakers at the rally also criticized Kerry for saying in a recent interview in The New York Times Magazine that, “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”
“This is naive and dangerous,” Cheney said Monday. “
Cheney went on to say that he and Bush intend to prosecute the war on terror to completion, and that Kerry doesn’t understand what it is or what that would entail.
I have to confess that I have never understood what Bush and Cheney mean by the “war on terror,” either. It is because they use the term in alarmingly vague and comprehensive ways.
It is clear that they do not mean a war on “terror.” They are completely uninterested in “terror” in general. What has the United States done about Basque terrorism in Spain? About Israeli settler terror against Palestinians? Or for that matter about Hamas terror against Israel? As I argued Friday, Bush hasn’t even bothered to do anything serious to Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Jihad al-Islami, which was part of the 9/11 attack and hit Taba.
James Woolsey and John Podhoretz have suggested that the US enter a World War IV against the Muslim world. While this is a nice daydream for the American Likud, it has the disadvantage of bearing no relationship to the real world.
Almost all the governments in the Muslim world are strong allies of the United States. Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, etc., etc. Even Libya has at least correct relations with the US now. Virtually no Muslim government is in an active posture of enmity toward the US with no qualifications. Even Iran is divided on the issue.
So the US simply is not at war with the sultan of Morocco or the king of Jordan or the president of Egypt.
The publics of the Muslim world have a poor opinion of US policy in the region, especially the extreme bias in favor of Israeli expansionism against the Palestinians, and the disaster in Iraq. But the same Muslim publics admire America and Americans on other grounds, and express more support for democracy than does the US public in similar polls.
So if the Bush administration is not at war with terrorists like ETA, not at war with Muslim governments, not at war with Muslim publics, then with whom exactly is it at war, and why?
Bush and Cheney are cynically using the trauma of September 11 as a pretext to fight a series of elective wars against weak governments that are inconvenient for hawkish goals and some US corporate interests. Iraq was a poster child of this policy. It had no weapons of mass destruction, was ramshackle, and had no significant ties to terrorism. It was invented as a dire threat to Peoria by Karl Rove and Rupert Murdoch, the latter-day Wizards of Oz.
Syria’s government acts as a brake on Israeli expansionism and hegemony, and the Bush-Sharon axis would like to overthrow it. Syria poses no threat at all to the US, and is only a minor irritant to the Likud Party. Its support for Hizbullah in southern Lebanon is “terror” only in the sense that Israeli support for Gush Emunim in the West Bank is “terror.” Indeed, the Likud policy in the West Bank is far worse than the policies of Hizbullah, since the Lebanese Shiites just want their own territory to be free of foreign occupation–they aren’t expanding into other people’s back yards.
Bush and Cheney would like to overthrow the government of Iran. This is not because poor, weak Iran is a threat to the US. It is not because Iran may want a nuclear capacity, like that of its neighbors – Israel, Russia, Pakistan, India, etc. It is because it is a major petroleum producer and they want to get their hands on its resources and install a pliant puppet regime there.
The scenario of Cheney, whereby “terrorist groups” get nuclear weapons, is at the moment ridiculous. Terrorist groups do not have the capability to build football-arena size facilities to enrich uranium. And contrary to what Cheney keeps alleging, no government is going to give a terrorist group an atomic bomb. Governments with atomic bombs don’t like to share with civilians, for fear of their own safety.
The “war on terror” of Bush-Cheney is a smokescreen for naked American imperial aggression. The sad story of how Iraq posed no threat either to the US or to any of its neighbors, despite high-decibel claims to the contrary for two years by Bush, Cheney and their acolytes, will be repeated in the case of Syria and Iran if Bush and Cheney are reelected. They hope that their project of overthrowing governments in the region will go smoothly, but they do not really care, since even an Iran and a Syria in chaos is a net gain from their point of view. Chaos creates “terror” and justifies further US involvement, aggression and control. It is inconvenient for the rest of us, but then they insist, unlike John Kerry, that we live with the nuisances they are creating.
In actual fact, al-Qaeda is just a somewhat more successful version of Baader Meinhoff. It is a small terrorist group that has been created by a particular juncture in history. It is not a reason to abolish the US Bill of Rights, as Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft are doing. It is not a reason to invade three or four countries (precisely the few countries where it does not operate!) It is a nuisance to a free society, and should be curbed.
Bush and Cheney keep shouting that Kerry doesn’t understand the war on terror. They mean he doesn’t want to overthrow the governments of Syria and Iran. As for themselves, if the war on terror is so important to them, why are Bin Laden and Zawahiri at large? Why can al-Qaeda still strike at will? We now have the worst of both worlds, with a quagmire in Iraq and Palestine, and more quagmires planned, while al-Qaeda morphs and grows and continues to form a threat.