"Weapons of Mass Deception"


Defending The Neocon War

John Brown
July 26, 2005

John Brown, a former Foreign Service officer who resigned from the State Department over the war in Iraq, compiles a daily “Public Diplomacy Press Review” available free by requesting it here.

“We are only in the very early stages of what promises to be a very long war, and Iraq is only the second front to have been opened in that war ...”
—Norman Podhoretz, Commentary , September 2004

In recent weeks, commentators from both sides of the political fence have tried to make sense of the recent London bombings. The neocons and their fellow travelers are among these. But they have another, more immediate concern. They’re eager to decouple the tragedy in England from the U.S./British occupation of Iraq. That’s because they seek to prevent further erosion of popular support for the Iraq war, which could mean the end of their imperial ambitions in the Middle East.

There’s some historical irony here, if one considers what the neocons and their allies were saying in the fall of last year. At that time of the presidential elections, über-neocon Norman Podhoretz announced in a long Commentary article (September 2004) that a reason we were in Iraq—a campaign, he argued, of World War IV—was to prevent the terror of Islamic jihadism, including from Iraq, from reaching our shores. But today, the neocons—who long argued for a link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein—claim there’s no connection between the coalition’s presence in Iraq and the terror outbreak in England. “Islamist malignancy long predates Iraq,”declared Charles Krauthammer in The Wall Street Journal (July 18) “[I]t is ludicrous to try to reduce [the London bombings] to Iraq,” says Christopher Hitchens (Slate , July 7).

According to the neocons’ “It’s not Iraq, stupid” updated version of terrorism, what happened in England really represents is the reprehensible behavior of evil, delusional fanatics with Islamic slogans but no real political program. They will strike anywhere, any time, anyone and without reason. There is no place for wishy-washy academic illusions about the complexity of human nature in trying to analyze terrorists’ motivations, actions and psychological make-up. They’re mad killers, pure and simple. In the words of Cal Thomas, in The Baltimore Sun (July 19): “I don't want to understand why they hate us ... since the jihadists have declared war on us, I want to kill them before they kill me.”

Given the brutality of the London tragedy, it’s hard to argue rationally against this reaction to terrorism, which on a rudimentary level does appeal to a basic human emotion, the desire for vengeance against unjust, inhuman acts directed at persons with whom we share common experiences and values.
But it doesn’t tell the whole story about terrorism. Terrorists may indeed be driven by hate and resentment, but their actions are also determined by geopolitical considerations, as professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago, among others, has pointed out. Many terrorists—and they include persons with formal educations—have reasons for carrying out their horrible deeds: “The central fact,” notes Pape, “is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland” (interview in The American Conservative , July 18). This statement, far from empathy, is an effort to explain terrorism—which we have no choice but to understand if we want to overcome it.

“The central fact,” notes Pape, “is that overwhelmingly suicide-terrorist attacks are not driven by religion as much as they are by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland”

The neocons’ response to these observations is to repeat that terrorists are ogres with nothing on their minds other than death and destruction (even though, in Commentary , Podhoretz claimed jihadist fundamentalists had long-term geopolitical plans against the United States).

This crude caveman analysis—to be fair—could be an honest effort to expose the nature of terrorism to ordinary citizens without over intellectualizing the issue. But it is naïve to assume that the neocons are only interested in enlightening the public. They have a political agenda, and their current decoupling of terror from international politics is at heart an attempt to maintain declining popular support for their number-one priority: a forceful, aggressive U.S. military presence in the Middle East that will assure permanent American-led control of the area (for reasons the neocons have never made entirely clear). Their catchword for this bloody, expensive, universally despised attempted U.S. domination? “Democracy in Iraq.”

The neocons can’t fail to realize that terrorist acts—no matter how they dismiss the current impact of these deeds—threaten their own imperial ambitions. Let’s face it: If the public in the United States and Europe increasingly sees a cause-and-effect relationship between the intervention in Iraq and present and future abominations such as the ones in London, support for the Iraq war could decline even more than it has in recent months.
Of course, the United States and Britain are not “pacifist” Spain, and many in these two countries will continue hoping that “staying the course” in Iraq and keeping a stiff upper lip at home is the only answer to fighting terrorism on their own turf.
But according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 45 percent of Americans believed “soon after the subway bombings in London that the war in Iraq was raising the risk of terrorism in this country. That's up from 36 percent last fall” (The Washington Post , July 22). Although “about half of the public, 52 percent, favors staying in Iraq until the country is stabilized,” the calls for an American withdrawal from Iraq could increase, especially if other terrorist attacks occur. And if American troops leave Iraq in the near future, the neocon “Project for the New American Century” —imperial hubris gone awry—is all but over, at least in the Middle East.

To be sure, the thought of what could be interpreted as the United States acceding to the demands of terrorists is by no means comforting to some. But, rather than expressing surrender or hopelessness, a serious reconsideration of our role in Iraq would suggest that Americans are not buying the neocon idea that Iraq and terrorism aren’t connected. Americans, with the latest barbarity in London, are becoming increasingly aware that the war in Iraq is a misadventure into which they were misled by weapons of mass deception, many of them invented by the neocons. Lying and neoconservatism are becoming synonymous in the American language, and “liberating” Iraq is now seen as the neocon fabrication par excellence. So why should we believe their latest fiction—that terror has nothing to do with Iraq—so that they can keep us fighting in the Middle East for reasons we don’t even know?

Source: TomPaine

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Milton Frihetsson, 18:20


Post a Comment