Friday, February 16, 2007

Foreign Policy's "Terrorism Index" Shines No Light In The Darkness

Earlier this week, Foreign Policy released its second "Terrorism Index", a feature which purports to examine the scale, scope and nature of global terrorism, its threat to America, and America's response to the threat. But in fact it does nothing of the sort; instead it obscures the most important issues of the day, and it does so at great length. If the "Terrorism Index" is intended as serious analysis, it's very weak indeed; but if it's intended as propaganda then it's brilliant.

The report begins by noting that most Americans don't believe we're winning the War on Terror, and almost half don't believe the government has a plan to protect the nation from terrorism:
America’s leaders like to say that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, represented a watershed. After that fateful day, Americans were told, problems that had been allowed to linger -- terrorist sanctuaries, dangerous dictators, and cumbersome government bureaucracies -- would no longer be neglected and left for terrorists to exploit. Yet, more than five years later, Americans are more skeptical than ever that the United States has effectively confronted the threat of terrorism. Barely half believe that their government has a plan to protect them from terrorism. Just six months ago, 55 percent of Americans approved of the way the war on terror was being handled. Today, that number is just 43 percent — lower than at practically any point since the 9/11 attacks.
... and it tries to explain why this is so ...
That skepticism could be easily attributed to dark events in the past six months: a bloody war between Israel and Hezbollah, a plot in Britain to explode liquid bombs aboard airliners bound for the United States, North Korea’s nuclear test, a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, and Iraq’s downward slide into deadly sectarian strife. But is the public’s pessimism over the war on terror just a problem of perception? After all, the United States has yet to be attacked again at home — and that could be the most important benchmark of all.
I count seven lies or half-truths in the previous paragraph. And I will get to them in a moment. But first, to be fair, let's see where Foreign Policy is going with this line of thought:
To help determine whether the United States is growing more or less safe, FOREIGN POLICY and the Center for American Progress teamed up once again to survey more than 100 of America’s top foreign-policy experts—Republicans and Democrats alike -- in the second FOREIGN POLICY / Center for American Progress Terrorism Index. First launched last June, the Terrorism Index is the only comprehensive, nonpartisan effort to mine the highest echelons of the nation’s foreign-policy establishment for its assessment of how the United States is fighting the Global War on Terror. Its participants include people who have served as secretary of state and national security advisor, senior White House aides, top commanders in the U.S. military, seasoned intelligence officers, and distinguished academics and journalists. Eighty percent of the experts have served in the U.S. government—more than half in the executive branch, 26 percent in the military, and 18 percent in the intelligence community.
Well, there you go. The Terror Index is nonpartisan presumably because it includes donkeys as well as elephants; but if 80 percent have served in the government and the rest are distinguished academics, then it can hardly be impartial, can it?

How many whistleblowers does it include? How many academics on the list would rather tell the truth than remain "distinguished"? How many politicians, generals, intelligence analysts, and so on -- whistleblower or distinguished -- come from outside the United States? How many come from outside the mainstream?

What am I getting at? I am suggesting that had Foreign Policy seen fit to include real outside experts on global terror -- such as Nafeez Ahmed, for example -- their "Terror Index" may have been more useful, because it may have been based on a more sophisticated understanding of the world than the paragraph I set in bold above.

I counted seven lies or half-truths in that paragraph. How many did you spot?

[1] war between Israel and Hezbollah

The lopsidedness of this phrase set my detectors ringing. Why couldn't they say "War between Israel and Lebanon"? Or if lopsidedness is "in" for some reason, why not "War between Likud and Lebanon"? I mean, these people are supposed to be experts in world affairs, right?

And if they really want to understand the role this war plays in our current situation, it would have helped if they had indicated that it was fought based on a lie, and that it was portrayed as a reaction but it was planned years before it started. I keep coming back to the idea that we can't solve a problem until we understand what it is. A reality-based approach, I know, and perhaps not one Foreign Affairs can take at the moment, unfortunately.

[2] a plot in Britain to explode liquid bombs aboard airliners bound for the United States

It's amazing (or is it?) that Foreign Policy can't even manage to come up with the by-now standard phrase: "alleged plot". We know the "plot" as described would have been impossible; the reaction from British authorities was a gross overreaction (if it was a reaction at all). This incident does not illustrate heightened danger from Muslim extremists in any fashion, but it does illustrate very high danger from our governments and so-called "news" media.

[3] North Korea’s nuclear test

We're probably not supposed to remember that it was a mostly-failed test, if it was a nuclear test at all. Initially, none of North Korea's neighbors could find any trace radioactivity. Then the following Monday the US released a report saying one of their sensors had detected increased levels of radioactivity near North Korea the previous week, and the media ran away with headlines like "North Korean Nuclear Test Confirmed" and that was the end of the story, for all intents and purposes.

[4] a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan

Whose fault is that? Who's making all the money from the poppies? And where is that happening? As for the Taliban, do they really represent a threat to anyone in the United States? It would be very difficult to prove they do. But if they do, then the next question becomes: Why are they being protected in Pakistan, supposedly our number one ally in the war on terror?

[5] Iraq’s downward slide into deadly sectarian strife

And whose fault is that? We've known for a long time that the US invaded Iraq on false pretenses, and that "strategic thinkers" in the US "think tank" school of making foreign policy on the sly have been pushing for civil war in Iraq and the dissolution of the country for many years now. We know the US set up death squads in Iraq with the very purpose of instigating "sectarian strife", and recently we've begun to see evidence indicating that the US was also behind the bombing of the Golden Mosque. If there is sectarian strife in Iraq then we put it there. And why would we do such a thing? Primarily, in my opinion, to mask the fact that the primary target (and the primary cause) of the violence in Iraq is the American occupation.

[6] is the public’s pessimism over the war on terror just a problem of perception?

In other words, do we simply need more and better propaganda? The propaganda we get now is pretty good, thanks; and we get enough of it in my opinion. So I would answer NO to this question; I think the public's pessimism over the war on terror has more to do with reality than perception. But thanks for asking.

[7] the United States has yet to be attacked again at home — and that could be the most important benchmark of all.

Or else it could be entirely and deliberately meaningless.

We may not know who was behind the attacks of 9/11 but we certainly know that the official lies we've been given are worthless, or worse than worthless. The attackers had to have inside help, patsies were most certainly framed, identifiable disinformation has been spread around by government agencies and other agencies working for the government, and no legitimate investigation has ever been undertaken.

We know that all these things are true about the 7/7 London bombings as well. Other similarities between the events of 9/11 and the events of 7/7 reveal a commonality of planning, and point away from al-Q'aeda (whatever that is, if it even exists), and toward government insiders. The "government insiders" pointed to belong to many different governments, and they are way inside.

At first blush that seems like too much to swallow, but it makes perfect sense when you think about it. This wasn't all done by a postal clerk in Ames, Iowa.

And I know it may sound crazy-scary to some of my readers, but it's not half as crazy-scary as what Sibel Edmonds is trying to tell us, and if she were loony tunes they would certainly let her speak freely. Instead she is heavily gagged and supposedly for national security reasons. In other words, if she were allowed to speak, all sorts of individuals and cabals at the very highest levels would be implicated. That's not me speaking, this is is the official government position: If Sibel Edmonds were allowed to speak freely, significant international business and diplomatic arrangements would be jeopardized.

What does that tell you?

Throw in what we now know about the alleged liquid bombing plot. It was nothing but phony, on any possible level. But it has led to serious consequences: a giant step in the so-called "harmonization" of security arrangements in the EU, a boost in the insane frenzy that pushed the so-called Military Commissions Act through both houses of congress, and airline travel hassles which have all the markings of being made permanent, despite the fact that there was never any demonstrated threat!

Put these things together and give them a stir, and it's no wonder 55% of Americans think we're losing the war on terror.

The other 45% are a tribute to the most enormous propaganda machine ever built; there's no other possible explanation, unless we admit the power of human stupidity, our awesome capacity of being most certain when we are also most ignorant.

We're supposed to be under this great big threat, but we've never even made an effort to secure our borders. We're still pounding on Iraq, even though it's been well documented that our presence there is only inciting more terrorism. And now we're going to spend more time and effort and money -- and blood -- and grief -- pounding on Afghanistan, even though our previous pounding (and the pounding-by-proxy that NATO has been doing for us) haven't made things there any better (and in fact they may now be worse than ever!). So it's tough to see what the other 45% are thinking about.

But at the same time we're finding out more and more clearly that the terror we have to fear comes from inside our own government, that the people supposedly tasked with assuring our national security are far more interested in assuring their own job security, which essentially means the security of the ruling criminal regime, and it looks increasingly likely that the other 45% are not thinking at all -- they've got their heads firmly in the sand (or elsewhere) and they're waiting for all this to go away.

Through this prism it's easy to understand Foreign Policy's contention that the most important benchmark of all may be that we haven't been attacked at home since 9/11.

That's exactly what they're supposed to say. It's the only possible rationale for keeping the criminals in power. It's the only way to keep the protection racket going.

And the terrorists still have their sanctuaries, and our government bureaucracies are still cumbersome, but it's not fair to claim, as some have done, that nothing has changed as the result of 9/11, because we too now live under a dangerous dictator.

And to tell you the truth, our most important benchmark of all seems to be: It's OK because they only did it once!

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