Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The day after 9/11, 2007

Here is a collection of links that nay be of interest in coming years...

Hilzoy is tired (and so am I)...her post is elegant.

Yes. And I am so tired of it. Tired of people who casually conflate Iran and Al Qaeda -- oddly, the same people who used to conflate Iraq and al Qaeda. Tired of "explanations" of Islam that have as much intellectual integrity as, say, an explanation of Christianity that took its central texts to be "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I come not to bring peace but to bring a sword", and "Happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us -- he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks." Tired of people who act as though any attempt to understand people in the Middle East and how we might best respond to them is a sign not of plain common sense but of weakness. (Here is a sentence from Kamiya's article: "It was vital that we think clearly about our response, who attacked us, why they did, and what our most effective response would be." And here's how Flopping Aces glosses it: "In the Left’s twisted world, they would rather fall to a knee and bow a head to their Islamic master, although they either don’t know it yet or won’t admit it.") And tired of the insinuation that minding, or even noticing, the fact that we have thrown aside our ideals for nothing is a sign of hating my country.

But I bet I'm not nearly as tired of this as the average Iraqi. And I bet I don't mind the uses to which 9/11 has been put -- the deployment of it for partisan ends, which I find obscene -- nearly as much as someone whose husband or wife or child or father or mother was murdered that day.

It's time for this to stop. It's time for us to recover our honor, try to help put our country back together again, and mourn 9/11 the way it deserves to be mourned: soberly, thoughtfully, seriously, for itself, and not in the service of any extraneous end.

Cernig notes plans for an extended war with Iran.

Despite the experts at the IAEA saying they are making progress on resolving Iran's outstanding nuclear questions and haven't found any evidence of a weapons program at all. Despite accusations of Iran meddling in Iraq being so feeble that even Petreaus can't find a powerpoint way of talking up the actual figures.

The wingnuts want their new war - the one they (erroneously) believe will save Iraq, Bush's legacy and the GOP's chances in '08. Oh, saving the world? That can go hang as long as the Republicans own what's left.

Helena Cobban notes the obvious, which seems to have gone unmentioned by other observers. Maybe that's how we have come to expect our leaders to behave.

I did watch a bit of the Petraeus-and-Crocker show on C-SPAN this afternoon. Oh how handy for the administration to have this whole thing happening during the week of September 11, eh?

Today it was a joint hearing of the House Foreign relations and Armed Services Committes. I guess the main thing that struck me was the cock-a-hoop way that Petraeus preened his way around the hearing room, gladhanding everyone like a seasoned politician... Whereas Crocker looked anguished, concerned, and very uncomfortable.

Also, whenever the Congress members asked questions that were not specifically directed to one or other of the two "witnesses", Petraeus jumped right in and answered them without even seeming to ask Crocker if he wanted to go first. Even when they were on clearly political (as opposed to more military) subjects.

It was alpha-doggist discourse-hogging of the first order. Fairly nauseating, all in all.

Digby points to an essay in Salon by Gary Kamiya she calls "indispensible.
I think she's right.

Democrats have effectively challenged the reign of nature and instinct in the domestic realm. But they cower when it comes to war. They are afraid to criticize the irrational, instinctive nature of Bush's "war on terror" because they believe their political Achilles' heel is the perception that they are "weak on national security." They are afraid they'll be seen as wimps. Beaten down by Republican propaganda that asserts that America's only choice is between the GOP's macho John Wayne and the Democrats' dithering Hamlet, they pathetically don their cowboy hats and tank helmets, a tactic that actually reinforces the very image of weakness it is intended to dispel. Unchallenged by the Democrats, the right wing's master narrative about American power and the need to carry a big stick has carried the day.

Tom Watson gets the prize for finding the tackiest commercial exploitation of a national tragedy.

Meanwhile, our Diana-like self-rending and its attendant mass hysteria continues, though blessedly muted (no special sections in today's papers). That the memories live on, that one living American will ever forget, that no living New Yorker will ever forgive are a stipulation to human nature. We don't need to be reminded of it by Presidential campaigns and talk show hosts. Indeed, dredging up that mass wave of grief on the same date each year does the event itself - and its very human survivors - a disservice. It's offensive to tell New Yorkers to remember, as if these grief-sellers and fear-mongers and campaign managers think that any one of us doesn't know what the number 343 stands for.

Yes, this goofy coupon for cheap fries "in honor of our fallen heroes" is a sad commentary. So too is the request for more soldiers in the wrong country - or for primary votes - written on Twin Towers requisition forms.

Professor Bainbridge points to George Will who concludes...

A democracy, wrote the diplomat and scholar George Kennan, "fights for the very reason that it was forced to go to war. It fights to punish the power that was rash enough and hostile enough to provoke it -- to teach that power a lesson it will not forget, to prevent the thing from happening again. Such a war must be carried to the bitter end." Which is why "unconditional surrender" was a natural U.S. goal in World War II, and why Americans were so uncomfortable with three "wars of choice" since then -- in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.

What "forced" America to go to war in 2003 -- the "gathering danger" of weapons of mass destruction -- was fictitious. That is one reason why this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end. The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president's decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war -- the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.

After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?

Good questions. I'm beginning to wonder about them myself and it's not even four years into the future.

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