Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A "Proportionate" Response

Greenwald unleashes on the Obama administration for its continuation (and deepening) of the Bush-era policy in Afghanistan. Money quote:

[W]hen we decide that an American citizen is Guilty of Terrorism, there is no need for a trial, or due process, or even any public presentment of evidence. It suffices that we have concluded this in secret, with no checks or external review. Once we decide that, the death penalty is imposed and we will execute it ourselves. We are literally Judge, Jury and Executioner. And, despite the fact that we have been continuously wrong in our accusations of Terrorism and have even knowingly imprisoned innocent people, you'll just take our word for it, on blind faith, that the citizen we want to kill is really an Evil Terrorist. Yes, it's true that you refused to accept that same rationale when the Bush administration used it merely to eavesdrop on or detain American citizens -- in fact, you screeched that those less extreme policies were tyranny and a shredding of the Constitution when they did it -- but you should nonetheless accept this mentality when we use it to murder your fellow citizens who have never even been charged with any crime.

The piece also links to a story about an email exchange -- forwarded unwittingly by Gen. David Petraeus -- between Petraeus and neocon columnist Max Boot. In the exchange, the general discusses statements Petraeus submitted during testimony before Congress about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. You might recall that that statement was seized upon by proponents of the administration's position on the conflict that Petraeus was realistic and pragmatic re: Israel than many in the administration and Congress were publicly willing to admit. But, in his exchange with Boot, he clearly downplayed that statement as though he had no real investment in it:

[2:27 p.m.] From: Petraeus, David H GEN MIL USA USCENTCOM CCCC/CCCC To: Max Boot Subject: FW: On the Middle East: It's Palin vs Petraeus
As you know, I didn't say that. It's in a written submission for the record...

[2:31 p.m. reply from Boot]: Oh brother. Luckily it's only [blog] media matters which has no credibility but think I will do another short item pointing people to what you actually said as opposed to what's in the posture statement.

From: Petraeus, David H GEN MIL USA USCENTCOM CCCC/CCCC 2:37 p.m.
Thx, Max. (Does it help if folks know that I hosted Elie Wiesel and hiswife at our quarters last Sun night?! And that I will be the speaker atthe 65th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps inmid-Apr at the Capitol Dome...)

[2:45 Boot]: No don't think that's relevant because you're not being accused of being anti-Semitic.

[2:57 Petraeus]: Roger! :-)

I sort of like that Petraeus, at least in this exchange, comes across like a neophyte in the area of world politics. Considering that he has a Masters in Public Administration and a Ph.D. in International Relations, and has risen to the top of the military and advised two successive presidetial administrations, one could easily draw the conclusion that he is merely faking the naivete that permeates this exchange. But that would be just wrong.

That Petraeus would think there is a difference between what he says during testimony and what is contained in a "posture statement" submitted for the record is sickeningly disingenuous. What we now know about Petraeus, who has repeatedly claimed not to have any political ambitions outside the military, is that he is a schemer of the highest order who will (clearly) have to do a better job of policing his communications to avoid looking like a schemer of the highest order.

Back to Greenwald's piece for a moment -- Greenwald also has a fit over the fact that the US is involved in the longest war in our history over what one Obama administration official has confirmed in a Newsweek interview is about 300-400 al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and Pakistan combined. Over these 300-400 people, the Bush and Obama administrations have conceived, implemented, hidden, and then defended positions on activities that range from mere eavesdropping without warrant to torture to outright assassination of US citizens without due process. All because we want to take the battle over there so they don't bring it over here. Well, Greenwald is, of course, right to point out the overwhelmingly disproportionate response the US has waged, especially since our involvement over there is very likely the #1 reason Terrorists can recruit new blood to continue perpetrating their cult of death. However, another BIG reason is because these people perpetuate a cult of death! Not to get all ideological, but there is an element of wild-eyed, Kamikaze-like fanaticism in the actions of jihadist terrorists, no? Better to have us over there, doing as earnest a job as we can to convince people who live there that there is something better than what they have had, and what they could have if we leave the Taliban to continue doing what they're doing. If you want to call it nation- or empire-building, then do so. But to me, a long-term presence there to monitor developments (the way we did in Japan, Korea, and Germany) can have benefits if there is the support of the local people.

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