Five-and-a-half years after the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush's war on terrorism has emerged as a wasteful, misguided exercise that poses its own threat to U.S. national security, experts say.If you had said any of these things four years ago you would have been labeled a "tin-foil hatter", or a "terrorist sympathizer", or maybe even a "traitor". But it was all true back then, just as it is all true now. So where have these so-called "experts" been all this time? What else are they saying, and how far are they willing to go?
A growing number of analysts and former U.S. officials say the global war on terrorism has undermined U.S. influence abroad, forced onerous costs in American lives and money in Iraq, and unleashed a huge government spending spree that has often funded projects unrelated to national security.
It has also produced a climate of fear in the United States that helped justify the war in Iraq and the curtailment of civil liberties at home, they said.
"The atmosphere of anxiety and uncertainty, and the vagueness of the definition of the enemy, makes the country more fearful and more susceptible to being steered in irrational directions," said Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was U.S. national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the 1970s.OK, so here's the limit, apparently. We can now say that the GWOT was an "overreaction", but it's too soon to publish anything indicating that the "overreaction" was planned in advance -- in the same way as the attack, and by the same people, too.
Unlike the muted response to attacks by Britain and Spain, experts say the U.S. has overreacted to the September 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania in 2001.
It may indeed be too soon for that, but the time is coming.
Congress has spent nearly $271.5 billion on homeland security since September 11, with money often going to projects that have nothing to do with security but that are important to politicians and their constituents, according to a survey by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.It's a money pit, and we've seen our civil liberties thrown into it too. But what is it buying us, and where is it leading?
At the same time, the number of potential terrorism targets identified by Congress has exploded from 160 in 2003 to 80,000, allowing such unlikely sites as a Midwestern apple festival and a roadside theme park in Florida to bid for funds.
Meanwhile, the private sector -- lobbyists, interest groups, industries, the media and even universities -- has also used the national security label aggressively to sell its own agendas, experts say.
"What's clear is that there is no focus whatsoever in the way we are fighting terrorism," said Veronique de Rugy, author of the AEI study.Government spokesmen dismissed the criticism, as they always do, with one lie after another.
Department of Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke dismissed the criticism as old and inaccurate, saying the Bush administration had never viewed sites such as small theme parks to be critical national assets deserving of funds. "This has no basis in fact," he said.Nobody ever claimed the administration considered these sites as deserving of funds. It was pointed out that such sites bid for funds. Thus the government spokesman has destroyed a straw man of his own making, while leaving the original cricitism untouched.
You'll notice that he didn't address any of the main points.
You may also notice that calling the criticism "old" is disingenuous at best. When these concerns were first raised, they smeared the messengers by calling their patriotism into doubt. Now the concerns are raised again, and they are dismissed as being "old".
The fact that they have never been dealt with doesn't seem to matter to Knocke. And if that's not enough, we now present more lies, from Knocke's superior being.
Knocke's boss, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, has also taken issue with the assertion that the U.S. response to September 11 is exaggerated.Utter horse manure, friends. We've lost more people trying to conquer Iraq in the past four years than we have lost to terrorist attacks at home in decades.
"If we begin to heed arguments that somehow our concern about security is overblown ... then I feel we're going to feel consequences in the loss of lives," Chertoff said in a speech outlining his priorities for 2007.
But terrorism experts say the United States has yet to develop a clear understanding of the threat posed by al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups, despite the war on terrorism and a total of $500 billion spent on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.The "clear understanding" that is needed to fight international terrorism was never part of this administration's grand plan. Every terrorist is affiliated with al-Q'aeda, in their eyes, and so is every political opponent. Unfortunately for them, the world is organized quite differently.
The most pernicious effect of the war on terrorism has been the Iraq war, which has claimed the lives of more than 3,200 U.S. troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and damaged U.S. standing in the Muslim world for generation, experts say.Au contraire; far more pernicious have been the way in which the administration has conflated al-Q'aeda with Iraq (supposedly justifying the war) and the way in which it has used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext to dismember our civil liberties -- despite never being able to show in any way that a reduction in our rights will make us safer.
"Iraq has been vastly worse than anything terrorism's ever done," said Ohio State University political science professor John Mueller, author of a book about the war on terrorism titled, "Overblown."It's hard to argue with that. But let's put it in a more precise form:
What America has done to Iraq has been vastly worse than anything terrorism's ever done.
Or maybe more accurately:
What America has done to Iraq has been terrorism.
There. That's better.
While both Democrats and Republicans have acknowledged the shortcomings of U.S. policy in Iraq, experts say politicians have not questioned the war on terrorism mainly because it remains a vote-getter.But maybe this is starting to change. Americans seem more than ever to distrust what their government tells them, except when it comes to terrorism, ironically the area in which the government tells the biggest lies of all. But seeing criticism of the GWOT -- even in a mild form -- coming from "conservatives" is somewhat encouraging.
"Politicians are acting this way because they think they'll lose votes if they don't. Basically, it's a big pork-barrel, so the pork-barrel leaders are there in five seconds," said Mueller, using American vernacular for the politics of self-enrichment.
Have we reached a point where honest forthright criticism of this so-called president and his so-called war are going to be deemed acceptable? Or is such criticism acceptable only when it comes from "conservative" sources, the American Heritage Institute?
Remember, only Richard Nixon could go to China.