Monday, August 25, 2008

Daddy Dearest

It’s as though the pixilated people we see on television
are real and the actors are only secondary manifestations.

--The Theory That Ate The World

We have to start teaching ourselves not to be afraid
--William Faulkner

Jump down turn around

pick a bale of cotton,

jump down turn around

pick a bale a day

--Pick a Bale of Cotton

Ranger Question of the Day:
How can a Bible filled with warfare
lead to humanitarian (Christian) actions
in international relations?


Chapter six (“An Amiable Monster”) of Jacob Weisberg’s The Bush Tragedy (Random, 2008), mentions the role of Laurie Mylroie’s book, The Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America, in animating George Bush’s tragic crusade against Saddam Hussein’s government.

Unfortunately, the plot outlined by Mylroie was mostly cobbled hearsay presented as verified agenda. When did Saddam ever attack the U.S.? Even in Gulf War I his troops seemed more intent on running than fighting.

It is doubtful that Saddam ever intended to fight the U.S. – what could he have possibly gained? In a charitable light, our wars with Iraq are misinterpretations of intention and facts.

In addition to Vice President Cheney’s unfounded faith in Saddam’s biological weapons program, he followed Mylroie’s “unified field theory” of terrorism:

“. . . Mylroie argued that Saddam was behind every major terrorist attack against America in the 1990’s, including the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 and the OKC bombing in 1995.”

In Gulf War I, Saddam did not utilize chemical or biological weapons vs. the U.S., although he possessed the capability. He never exhibited the intent, though he possessed the means. Nevertheless, these facts did not dissuade Mylroie, who knew her audience.

Her book, published by the American Enterprise Institute (where she was a fellow) included jacket praise from Scooter Libby, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, a veritable choir boy triumvirate for someone like Cheney. These men had an as-yet unbesmirched pedigree. Cheney “followed these men into the tortured pathways of Mylroie’s conspiracy theory, including her tantalizing suggestion that 9-11 ringleader Mohammed Atta had met with intelligence officers in Prague.”

This blind faith and bum rush to war is reminiscent of the scenario played out in President Reagan’s National Security Council chambers vis-à-vis the USSR.

Ranger recalls that for Reagan, the book was that of another right-wing fanatic -- Claire Sterling’s The Terror Network. Sterling’s book claimed that all terrorism was the result of Soviet leadership and influence, both operationally and functionally. In fact, he remembers Sterling's book was even integrated into Army coursework in the mid-late 80's.

Both Bush 43 and Gipper 40 accepted false premises from flawed books, and used these as the basis for aggressive U.S. foreign policy and governmental doctrine. Sterling was wrong in the 80’s and Mylroie is wrong now, but their doctrines were dear to warhawks and spawned disastrously misled national policy.

The problems and confusion in the current Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) can trace their genesis to the false assumptions of Sterling’s diatribe, which ushered in the idea of using one subjective book to justify military intervention (that is, excluding the always useful, Good Book.)

Both Reagan and Bush had false assumptions and beliefs that were based upon and buoyed up by solitary pieces of borderline fictional works. Both administrations accepted bibles that verified their dogma, flawed as it was.

Terrorism is not centrally organized, nor do terrorists follow clearly delineated organizational charts like good corporations. If they did, they wouldn’t be terrorists; they would be Coca Cola or the U.S. Federal Government (on a good day.)

U.S. leadership tries to measure groups by our yardstick, but these groups resist easy measure or quantification by definition. Terrorism is dynamic and amorphous: it is right-wing, left-wing, Islamist, Christian, separationist, Maoist, atheist, environmentalist, and pro- and con- animal rights. Terror groups have internal tension and dissent; there are hard-liners, middle-of-the-roaders and extreme elements.

In these ways, Terrorists resemble political parties. The best response to disrupt terrorist networks is to encourage their internal strife, thereby destabilizing the system.

This is a realistic course of action, more reasonable than trillion-dollar phony wars, but one unfortunately ignored by the Gippers and Dubyas. Unfortunatelty, it’s hard to get a rally going on game day for a dialog, versus a war.

But neither dialog nor war will work if not based in reality. Notre Dame couldn't win a War on Terror, even with their Hail Mary.

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Blogger The Mad Celt said...

War is not something abstract. War is waged between one group of individuals and another. The reasons for war are also not abstract. We have not yet had a war started and directed according to logical paradigms programmed into a computer. It is individuals who decide to wage war. Even if the war is global, its beginning can be traced back to the decisions of individuals. And so before we talk about global war, let us first talk about war on the level of the individual.

Wars begin because the people of one country, or at least their rulers, have unfulfilled desires — they are greedy for benefits or wealth (i.e., economic greed) or power, or they are angry or hateful. Either their desires have been thwarted or their pride, their sense of self, has been offended. This can also manifest as racial or national arrogance. They wrongly feel that the answer to problems, which are essentially within their own minds, a matter of attitudes, can be sought externally, through the use of force.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


Monday, August 25, 2008 at 6:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Utterly sensible, and in agreement with Bacevich and other thinkers, who point out that the source of dissent is within (the culture; the individual), and projection outward will never solve the problem.

I am also glad you inc. St. Francis's prayer, which inc. the wonderful line which Steven Covey shamelessly co-opted as his own cardinal rule: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 6:37:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

goddamned right war is not something abstract. i remember my wars with every single painful step i take. everytime i wake up breathing hard with an unidentifiable sense of dread. . .looking around the room to remind myself that i'm not there tonight.

terrorism is odious. but it, by its very nature, almost precludes a military solution. it's like taking a parchesi board to the chess club. you're bringing the wrong game.

but, i am always reminding myself, i'm a documented attitude case. shit, i would have taken saddam up on his offer to fight it out on horses with swords. i would have brought my own of both.

Monday, August 25, 2008 at 10:10:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

MB, and after you brought your chessboard to the parchesi match or visa versa then they change the rules of both games and hide the location of the tournament.I steal this concept from Alan Watts- i read this particular book while in class at IOAC- Army schools are good for something .
For a personal comment;Yes indeed you are an attitude case but you've earned the right to be what you want to be. jim

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 9:37:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Labrys said...

The “unified field theory” of terrorism"....what is that? New-speak for "domino theory"?

The Celt is right...we need to work on understanding, and that has never been our strong suit. And the Minstrel is right, playing parchisi is about like Nero and his mythical violin just now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 10:30:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

And MB. . .

That you speak the truth doesn't make you an attitude case, save in these willfully blind times.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 12:05:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous sheerahkahn said...

War is a racket.

Someone always benefits from it, but it's never the guy, or gal, who slogs through the mud, the blood, and entrails.
It's the suit in the back who sells the weapons, the uniforms, the "battle rattle" that reaps the fortunes of war.
The guys and gals who do the heavy lifting, sifting, and fighting...the only thing they reap is the trail of tears.
War is a racket, and only a fool would rush to embrace it.

Which pretty much sums up our current leadership...a pile of fools in a love embrace with Aries.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 2:32:00 PM GMT-5  

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