Dave Meyer: Revisiting the GWOT


True to the balkanized nature of the blogosphere, a fascinating conversation on foreign policy has erupted, with little input from some of the most insightful foreign policy commentators. Luckily, Steve appears to have invited most of them to post here while he’s away (and I’m pretty sure the others are commenters), so perhaps we can expand the conversation.

“There is no exit strategy from emergency.” — Sidney Blumenthal

It’s time to kill the “war on terror.” The phrase, and the sentiment it embodies, has both inspired and been exploited to advance a pernicious agenda. It is based on fear. That fear causes us to abandon reason in dealing with enemies, both real and imagined, while undermining political institutions and traditions that have long served us well at home.
The conversation, thus far, has centered on the damage the “war on terror” has done to domestic politics. That’s due, in part, to the domestic focus of those bloggers who have already broached the issue, and in part to Glenn Greenwald’s fantastic new book.

“Attempting to persuade Americans to adopt this fear-driven mentality has become the first priority of the administration.” — Glen Greenwald

The foreign policy folks need to be brought in. I know that this conversation has taken place, sporadically, over the last five years. Now that we’ve got an opportunity to rvisit it, perhaps we can at last clear some space for a legitimate conversation about America’s priorities both at home and abroad.
Below the fold, I’ve compiled a fairly comprehensive set of excerpts on the subject from the last week.

MyDD: The So Called War on Terror is for Weaklings

There’s a blogosphere conversation around the framework of the war on terror concept, and I figured I’d weigh in because the notion of the war on terror is something that frames our politics. John Aravosis wants a real war on terror instead of the fake and incompetent Bush video game war. Parachutec, Chris Bowers, and Atrios take a different and more productive tack. Bush is not fighting a fake war on terror; the war on terror itself is a false metaphor.
Any framework for looking at global politics has to have a mechanism for judging success and failure. It has to self-correct, or it is not stable. Containment contained, and if it did not, the course of action – localized hot wars – made sense. The Cold War kept a geopolitical struggle from destroying ourselves. It was understood to be ‘cold’ by nature, and keeping it cold was a good metaphor for thinking about the concept of mutually assured destruction.

Digby: Limning The GWOT

This is the problem. This elastic war, this war against warfare, this war with no specific enemy against no specific country is never going to end. It cannot end because there is no end. If the threat of “islamofascim” disappears tomorrow there will be someone else who hates us and who is willing to use individual acts of violence to get what they want. There always have been and there always will be. Which means that we will always be at war with Oceania.
I am not sanguine that we can put this genie back in the bottle. The right will go crazy at the prospect that someone might question whether we are really “at war.” They are so emotionally invested in the idea that they cannot give it up. Indeed, the right is defined by its relationship to the boogeyman, whether communism or terrorism or some other kind of ism (negroism? immigrantism?) They will fight very, very hard to keep this construct going in the most literal sense. And they will probably win in the short term.

Firedoglake: Memorial Day Truth: There Is No “War on Terror”

If there were really a “War on Terror,” an emotion, Wes Craven would be hiring a lawyer: he scares people. The “War on Terror” is a sham. You know what changed after September 11th? We, the people of the United States, forgot how strong we are. We gave in to fear, when the only thing we should have feared was fear itself. Osama bin Laden wants you to be afraid. So does George Bush.
I know I’m not alone when I say, I’m an American and I’m not afraid. I know I’m going to die. I accept that I’m going to die, no problem. What I do not accept and will not accept is the notion that I must live as a slave to fear for the purposes of craven, cowardly men who, in their time, pissed the bed rather than fight an actual war, later to become powerful and use that power to line their pockets with my tax dollars. Give me liberty or give me death. Take your “terror” and shove it.

Apostropher: We have never been at war with Eastasia.

An important conversation is beginning to emerge on progressive blogs about the War on Terror and it is based on a notion that will prove controversial. Namely, that there is no War on Terror. You can expect the right to seize on this as evidence of the left’s essential unseriousness in the face of an existential threat, and probably to win the rhetorical battle in the short run. However, it’s past time for progressives to stop fretting about that. The right wing will say that no matter what position you take on any issue. It’s a classic case of projection, and it is what they do best (aside from running up record-breaking deficits).

BitchPhD: There is no War on Terror

We can go down fighting, or, you know, we can sink the money and manpower into finding ways not to go down. I like civilization. I’d like to keep it. I don’t wanna rush headlong into a Hobbesian state of nature.

BOPNews: The War on “Terror”

The odd thing about the Neocons is that they were on to something. Their idea that the problem is despotic states isn’t exactly wrong. In fact, I’d argue that it’s correct. Their solution, however, to impose democracy from the outside, was profoundly stupid. Real reform generally comes from within. On the rare occasion when it can be imposed from without (Germany, Japan) it still requires preconditions which most Middle Eastern States don’t meet (both Germany and Japan were industrialized nations with at least some experience with democracy. Both had been completely and decisively defeated, not occupied by a skeleton force after their armies had been bribed to stand down. Both were actually rebuilt with huge influxes of money and expertise which was not used as mainly an opportunity for graft.)

Atrios: The Central Front in the War on Terrorism

“The war on terror” was always a sham, in the sense that it was a hideously inappropriate metaphor which provided cover for a bunch of hideously inappropriate policies. As for these magical straw liberals who think terrorism isn’t an issue, I imagine they’re hiding out in Beinart’s barn along with the rest of his straw monsters. As for the real issue, which is “George Bush’s approach to terrorism,” well, yes, that’s a sham as I imagine even Beinart would acknowledge.
Perhaps someone just needs to sit Beinart down and tell him that a tendency to argue with invisible adversaries is not a sign of a deep and important thinker, something he so desperately wants to be.


13 comments on “Dave Meyer: Revisiting the GWOT

  1. Hydrocodone says:

    Welcome to Great Blog here!


  2. norm says:

    Con George-Kotzabasis,
    I will respond to your complaint for Dave, if I may, since I believe I am one with him in his thinking.
    Your previous post was irrelevant and full of untruths, thus it was banished from the thread. Also, your post instigated others to post on other irrelevancies and OT nonsense such as telling the uncomfortable truth that the feminized, effeminate state of the Democratic party, and their fatal embrace of homosexuality, has destroyed them as a force in US politics. They have yet to face this gravest of truths and go on in futile hope, but it’s over. It’s called the Gay Cringe Effect that arises in every normal human being when they see men kissing men. One does not vote for The Gay Party. Game, set, match.
    So that’s what happened Kotzabasis; your blatant untruths gave entrance to devastating truths and they were all cast down, as lisa lovingly calls it, “the memory hole.”
    There will come a time when they won’t even be able to whistle past the graveyard, they’ll be in it, in a final fatal embrace with gayness and effeminancy, a road no political organization has ever dared go down for it was certain death. And these fools did it, basically because they were already weaklings.
    But other good news George!
    “We have eliminated Zarqawi,” Mr Maliki said at a news conference in Baghdad, sparking sustained applause.
    Zarqawi was considered the figurehead of the Sunni insurgency. He was leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, blamed for killing thousands of Shias and US forces.
    The US said he was killed in an air strike “approximately 8km (five miles) north of Baquba”.
    PS: Send Dave an e-mail for confirmation of what I related above.


  3. Con George-Kotzabasis says:

    May I ask you why you deleted my first post, and you wont accept my second one?
    Con George-Kotzabasis
    P.S. Your email is dysfunctional


  4. Glenn Ullman says:

    fargo, I take exception to your calling the Left “sexual freaks.” God’s creation allows for all degrees of psycho-sexuality in humankind wherein you find all possible admixtures of the masculine and feminine natures in widely differing degrees of ascendency. Some biological men are effeminate in nature, no doubt, we see it everyday day. The same with women, some of whom are decidedly masculine to different degrees. They ARE NOT sexual freaks but merely an expression of God’s diversity in His creation.
    That said, the Liberals, represented by the Democratic Party, are merely people who were once relugated to the faint background noise in American politics, but who now have a voice gained through their struggle to be recognized which predominately occurred in the 60s and 70s with an explosion that had been building slowly for many decades. The effeminate men and masculine women now have their voice in the Democratic party, and their voice has become the dominant voice for the Left and has permeated the psyche of the Left to an extent that they exude the classic feminine weakness when set along side gender comfortable conservative Republican men and women who carry on the traditional roles of their sexes without having any weakening crosscurrents dividing their true beings.
    To reiterate, Liberals are not “sexual freaks” per se just because they naturally have an untraditional gender mix. This is God’s work and they MUST accepted for who they are fated to be. If the gender confusion leads to sexual abnormality, it should be understood in the light of their condition, not as disturbed freaks.
    Politically, they’ve had their day; they have been heard; they have been recognized; mission accomplished and all for the good in God’s family on Earth. But they must earn a sturdy trust if they aspire to leadership in this nation, or any nation, and nations DO NOT choose the effiminate to lead, its against ALL nature. It is the role of the Masculine Nature to lead in Life, and for the true women to support them, while the effeminate men and masculine women (the Left) now can chime in, but had better get out of the way lest their feelings be hurt.


  5. lisa says:

    God Bless you Dave for editing out the commentary of Con-Geo, Mandigo, and others to do not have the proper views or politics to be included as commenters on this thread or any others on this blog.
    We need far more editing or your kind to keep away the riff-raff and other babblers who don’t know or do not contribute to our mission here on this blog.
    They should not and need not be heard in this icy cold polar iced political world we are going through.
    Again, God Bless You Dave and God Bless America.
    PS: Get rid of ‘fargo’ above too, he calls the Left ‘sexual freaks,’ and edit ‘sdemitri’s’ reference to ‘mandigo’ so that there is no trace left of his/her comment on this thread. The ‘memory hole’ is handy sometimes. Thanks.


  6. fargo says:

    Sdemetri, perfectly responds in the feminine. Perhaps, she is a natural female which would make it more likely that her response was effeminate which it clearly was, i.e., run away and wait till one is cornered before resisting. All feminist training teaches that in order to confront masculine aggression a female must act aggressively immediately in return, not run away screaming only to be caught and had in a corner backed into.
    And, right, sdem, Man draws deeply from his primitive Neandrathal nature when faced with danger and in quest of power. The effeminate have always denigrated this basic instinct in the masculine because the feminine amongst us have no power against it except ridicule ending in their resignation and subsequent subjugation.
    The eternal battle of the sexes has been distilled out in the American political scene. The cultural revolutions have become a double edged sword. The effeminate secured some power, but the American people split into the masculine vs. the feminine in a crescendo that finds itself now as the defining factor in today’s political landscape. And the division is not between men and women as they are biologically divided, but between men who are men / women who are women vs. men who are women / women who aspire to be men instead of who they are.
    No wonder the Right has a condescending smirk when dealing with the Left, the sexual freaks.


  7. sdemetri says:

    Fear might have its origins in the fight or flight response, but it seems to me, and I am no behavioral scientist, that when presented with a great danger it is prudent to remove oneself from the danger as much as possible first, the flight response, and fight when backed into a corner. This seems to be the biological imperative when talking about fear.
    The use of fear as a tool to further a pernicious agenda is really creating a smokescreen under which those in fear are prevented from organizing a clear picture of the actual threat. I think a great number of Americans have been able to take that step back out of the fog and have clearly assessed the real threat is not as much from an external source as an internal one’s mis-interpretation or mis-appropriation of the external threat. This is not to say the external threat doesn’t exist. Bush’s response to it has become the greater threat to our security and liberty, however.
    Con G-K makes the error of falsely assuming the only response to the threat of terrorism is the one Bush has taken; all other responses are cowardly or uninformed. That error seems to follow the logic of Mandigo’s post, a brutish, Neanderthal mentality, (though it is unfair of me to denigrate Neanderthals by comparing them to Mandigo’s ever so manly right wing conservatives.)


  8. John says:

    mandingo, comments such as yours are not welcome here nor should they be welcome anywhere as such statements reduce all subsequent discussion to “Yup,” and it is extremely difficult to extract oneself from this truth of life, if one is honest, and not be anguished with having to reframe one’s world view onto more sound ground from where it had been driven by the experimental cultural revolutions of the 60s and 70s which effeminated throughout the land. As a Liberal, I can be satisified with being assertive and knowing that my voice was heard and respected whatever the outcome of the decision at hand. I can be contented with that, as those with literal balls fight it out for top dawg. I only ask that I am listened to, not obeyed.
    You’ve freed me Mandingo from trying to be what I was not made to be, and finding my place in the struggles of this world.
    And to all out there who are resisting the realization of your true self, I can only say, a little humility will go a long way, and you and your society will be stronger for it when all bees who they really are and are happy to have come home to it.


  9. Pissed Off American says:

    Hurry up folks, our democracy is under seige.
    Posted by Carroll
    You will be waiting awhile. Until you deprive the average American of Big Macs, their SUV, and batteries for their dildoes, I doubt they will show much concern.


  10. Carroll says:

    The “Green Peril” terror war is a fake.
    The war on the actual terrorist hasn’t begun yet.
    When are we going to get started? I am still waiting for the call up to the Revolution. Hurry up folks, our democracy is under seige.


  11. Noel says:

    The sad part is that we were warned from the start about this war.
    It’s not really a “War on Terror”, it’s a “War on They”:
    I’m also running because I want to keep the peace, keep the peace. When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world and you knew exactly who they were. It was us versus them and it was clear who them was. Today we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they’re there.
    — George W. Bush campaign speech, 23 Jan 2000, Council Bluffs, IA


  12. just john says:

    Here’s my first draft of a “Defense of ‘War'” amendment, intended to fight the abuse of the word “war” by members of our Government. Note that I’m not saying we should stop fighting things like poverty, terrorism or drunk driving; I’m just saying we should stop calling those efforts wars. The Constitution has things that apply only in wartime, so we should be clear what war really is. And I think a clearly identified enemy is one requirement. So here goes:
    1. War is defined as a specific conflict involving two or more specified groups of people, most often nations or states.
    2. In any declaration of war, Congress must state clearly who is being warred against, and why.
    3. Other than within the specific state of war, no Government entity shall describe its activities as “war” or being equal to war, and no Government entity shall claim wartime powers.
    4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.


  13. Pissed Off American says:

    Bush has fostered and nurtured a whole new generation of third world malcontents whose hatred of America has become justified and understandable. Everything from the sodomization of prisoners in our custody to the death of tens upon tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, Bush has proven himself to be an ENEMY of the people, both in the Middle East, and here at home. There IS NO legitimate “Global War on Terror”. It is all one big God damned LIE, told by the most despicable CRIMINAL this nation has ever had the misfortune of harboring.


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