Michael Chertoff, President Bush’s secretary of Homeland Security, desperately tried to refute Zbigniew Brzezinski’s cogent charge that the administration has hyped the “war on terror” to promote a “culture of fear,” in a recent Washington Post op-ed.The op-ed was called "Make No Mistake: This Is War" and it was published on Sunday. Why Ivan Eland declines to link to it is beyond me.
Brzezinski's column was called "Terrorized by 'War on Terror'" and I understand completely why Chertoff declined to link to it.
In addition to shamefully smearing Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter’s former National Security Advisor, by associating him with the fringe opinion that the administration plotted the 9/11 terrorist acts, Chertoff also declared, “Al-Qaeda and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st–century global network.”Chertoff's "smearing" of Brzezinski, if indeed that's what it was, is very subtle:
Since Sept. 11, a conspiracy-minded fringe has claimed that American officials plotted the destruction. But when scholars such as Zbigniew Brzezinski accuse our leaders of falsely depicting or hyping a "war on terror" to promote a "culture of fear," it's clear that historical revisionism has gone mainstream.This false denial from Chertoff may have been required, but that doesn't make it any less ridiculous. It is painfully obvious that our "leaders" have indeed falsely depicted and hyped a "war on terror", and Mr. Chertoff -- one of the guiltiest parties in this regard -- knows as much.
This is the same Michael Chertoff who proclaimed that the alleged "Liquid Bomb" plot -- which was supposedly foiled in the UK last August -- was designed to destroy 10 or 12 airplanes and kill hundreds of thousands of people in the process, as if each airplane could carry tens of thousands of passengers.
But Michael Chertoff "smears" Brzezinski only by referring to him in the same paragraph as what he calls the "conspiracy-minded fringe".
Ivan Eland is much less subtle, levelling a much more blatant smear against those who recognize 9/11 for what it was, and who -- unlike Ivan Eland (and unlike Robert Parry, for that matter) -- have the courage to say so. (Parry, once among the most fearless of journalists, won't talk about election fraud, either. So it goes.)
On the other hand, Eland is right when he says that Chertoff's
rhetoric makes it seem as if al-Qaeda is more dangerous than Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin. When comparisons are made to these villainous titans, we should be suspicious.After his insane pronouncements last August, we should be suspicious whenever Michael Chertoff says anything!
The same kinds of comparisons have been used before. When Bill Clinton wanted to bomb Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, he compared both leaders to Hitler. In the lead up to the invasion of Iraq, President George W. Bush also used the same comparison.Yes, it's all perfectly true and it's also perfectly obvious. Somewhat less obvious -- but still visible -- is al-Q'aeda's role as an instrument of western intelligence services. But Ivan Eland doesn't seem to know -- or care -- about that.
Yet, the small countries of Serbia and Iraq, as well as the rag-tag group al-Qaeda, have nowhere near the resources of a Nazi Germany and have not tried to completely overrun an important and wealthy continent.
And he doesn't really have to, because his target -- Chertoff -- can be demolished with virtually no ammunition whatsoever.
Chertoff’s overheated rhetoric doesn’t stop there. He adds yet another implicit comparison -- to communism. He opined, “Today’s extreme Islamist groups such as al-Qaeda do not merely seek political revolution in their own countries. They aspire to dominate all countries. Their goal is a totalitarian, theocratic empire to be achieved by waging perpetual war on soldiers and civilians alike.”Maybe in some fifty-year-old dream, the implicit comparison is to the "universal communist movement", a movement which, by the way, never existed but which was nonetheless hyped and falsely depicted for decades.
Here the implicit comparison is to the universal communist movement, which tried to spread its revolution around the world.
Eland misses the more obvious comparison: to the modern-day United States, the one force in the world which is -- even as we speak -- waging a self-proclaimed endless, limitless war against the rest of the world.
This endless war doesn't really have much to do with terrorism, and that fact is becoming clearer by the day. It does have a lot to do with oil, though.
Does Ivan Eland mention oil? Does Chertoff mention oil? Does Brzezinski mention oil? Or are we looking at a trilogy of more-or-less total lies?
Here's a hint. Eland continues:
Although Osama bin Laden does try to kill both soldiers and civilians -- and is justifiably deemed a vicious terrorist -- his real objective is not to dominate “all countries” by fomenting an Islamist revolution. If bin Laden had this as a genuine goal, it would be laughable to think that he could get any significant public support in Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, or Hindu countries for a revolution to convert them to draconian Islamic rule.No kidding. It seems ridiculous when phrased that way.
But on a more pragmatic level, it is equally ridiculous to base anything on what Osama bin Laden says, considering that it's been more than five years since he's said anything! We might as well base our notion of bank security on the pronouncements of Bonnie and Clyde.
In fact, his officially stated goal of recreating a caliphate that would put all of the diverse Islamic countries under one ruler is preposterous enough on its own. Even Chertoff admits that the Islamist extremists’ intent is “grandiose.” Should bin Laden ever create such a caliphate, it would not have the economic or military power of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.Should bin Laden ever create such a caliphate, it would be one of the most amazing feats ever achieved -- because everybody knows dead men don't create caliphates.
Chertoff himself acknowledges that his own comparison is weak: “To be sure, as Brzezinski observes, the geographic reach of this network does not put them [sic] in the same group as the Nazis or Stalinists when they achieved first-class military power.”These may have been his real aims when he was alive. On the other hand, he may have been nothing but a figurehead -- a CIA asset through and through. His main job may have been to do and say things which would give the folks like Michael Chertoff ammunition.
Despite bin Laden’s inflated rhetoric, his real aims -- which are also supported by many mainstream Muslims -- are to remove a non-Muslim military presence from Islamic lands and compel the United States to stop supporting what bin Laden sees as corrupt regimes in the Middle East.
Most mainstream Muslims, however, reject bin Laden’s despicable means of targeting civilians to achieve his goals.Supposedly.
Non-Muslim intervention in and occupation of Muslim lands has driven Islamist violence in Chechnya, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan (during both the Soviet and current U.S. occupations), and Lebanon (during Israeli invasions and the U.S. nation-building mission during the Reagan administration). The U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf initially motivated bin Laden to strike U.S. targets, eventually resulting in the horror of 9/11.
Personally I find it very disturbing that a supposedly dissident journalist would continue to parrot the official government line in the face of the facts that the government has been demonstrably lying about virtually everything, virtually all the time, and that even now -- five and a half years after the attacks -- we still have not seen any credible evidence linking Osama bin Laden to those attacks.
We've seen much more credible evidence to support the contention that al-Q'aeda doesn't even exist!
The amount of incredible evidence we have seen makes the situation much worse.
But Ivan Eland is blissfully unconcerned with any of that; he's more interested in the blowback theory.
The 9/11 attacks were treacherous acts of terrorism, but Chertoff and the Bush administration, the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and the American media act as if they were the beginning of history. Only in religion and quantum physics are there events without cause.Clearly Chertoff and the Bush administration are interested in deception -- they've virtually made it a religion. So why on Earth should we pay them any more heed?
On the other hand, Ivan Eland is right when he says that
Most Americans are unaware of their government’s history of unnecessary and profligate meddling in the affairs of countries throughout the Middle East. For their own safety and security, Americans cannot continue to ignore that the Islamist venom resulting in 9/11 was rooted in this U.S. interventionist and quasi-imperial foreign policy.Certainly it would be a step forward to acknowledge the roots if Islamic and Arabic venom. But to claim without a shred of evidence that it resulted in 9/11 is extremely irresponsible.
It's nothing like the sort of reporting readers of Consortium News once enjoyed. But apparently it's all we're ever going to get.
Fortunately, in this case where the target is an outrageous pack of transparent lies, it's almost good enough.
Instead of perpetuating the myth that the United States is at war with “fanatics” who have a reflexive hatred of America, the nation’s homeland security chief could better spend his time examining the real motivator for such terrorism—U.S. foreign policy—and recommending a policy of military restraint in the Middle East to reduce the chances of terrorist attacks at home.This is a great point! Finally. I knew there would be one, eventually. Or at least I suspected as much.
If there is any doubt that this strategy would work, the case of Lebanon during the early 1980s should be examined. After the bombing of the Marine barracks and Ronald Reagan’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from that country, the number of anti–U.S. attacks by the Islamist group Hezbollah plummeted.
But perhaps creating a “culture of fear,” as Brzezinski put it, is more politically useful to the Bush administration than actually carrying out what should be the first and foremost responsibility of any government—the protection of its people.Nobody in his right mind could argue this point -- or the previous one, for that matter. Creating a culture of fear has been tremendously useful to the Bush administration. There's no "perhaps" about it.
Without the culture of fear which this administration has created, they would have all been executed for treason a long time ago.
But all Ivan Eland can bring himself to say about this is "perhaps".
What are they afraid of? Why can't Ivan Eland and Bob Parry bring themselves to state the obvious truths of the matter? It's not as if they are in danger of losing a paying gig. They are essentially only blogging already.
And given that context, it's a shameful display, in this frozen writer's opinion. But it is also sufficient.
Despite missing the point -- over and over and over -- Eland still manages to shred Chertoff's position, and this to my mind is the clearest possible evidence that Chertoff is lying.
I mean, if you can be taken apart quite easily, by somebody who hasn't a clue ...