Posted by: quiscus | June 22, 2011

June 22, 2011

1.  “If Americans don’t get hurt, war is no longer war “

2.  “The Isolationist Charge: The Last Refuge Of The Scoundrel

Samuel Johnson said patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.  Today the epithet “isolationist” is the last refuge of the warmonger.

Sen. John McCain may be Washington’s most enthusiastic hawk — supporter of war in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, jokester about war with Iran, and advocate of confrontation with Russia during that nation’s war with Georgia.  If there is blood to be shed, he wants the U.S. involved.

For someone like McCain, it doesn’t matter what the U.S. is doing so long as it is meddling overseas.  You don’t want to arm a former terrorist in the war on terror, you are an isolationist.  You don’t want to bomb an oppressive dictator, you are an isolationist.  You want to peacefully advance America’s interest, you are an isolationist.

Over the years “isolationist” has been routinely used to libel people who don’t want the U.S. government to wander the globe bombing, invading, and occupying other nations and writing checks to assorted corrupt thugs, vicious authoritarians, and incompetent socialists.  Isolationist also has been applied to those who believe the Constitution reserves to Congress the authority to start wars.  The only way to avoid the epithet is to be a profligate spender and promiscuous warmonger who routinely violates the Constitution.

3.  “Iraq Violence = Pullout. Afghan Violence = Stay Forever.”

4.  “The true definition of “Terrorist”
One can have a range of views about the morality and justifiability of Iraqi nationals attacking U.S. troops in their country.  One could say that it is the right of Iraqis to attack a foreign army brutally invading and occupying their nation, just as Americans would presumably do against a foreign army invading their country (at least those who don’t share Mitch McConnell’s paralyzing fears and cowardice).  Or one could say that it is inherently wrong and evil to attack U.S. troops no matter what they’re doing or where they are in the world, even when waging war in a foreign country that is killing large numbers of innocent civilians.  Or one could say that the American war in Iraq in particular was such a noble effort to spread Freedom and Democracy that only an evil person would fight against it.  Or one could say that it’s always wrong for a non-state actor to engage in violence (a very convenient standard for the U.S., given that very few nations around the world could resist U.S. force without reliance on such unconventional means).  And one can recognize that most nations, not only the U.S., would apprehend those engaged in attacks against their troops.

But whatever one’s views are on those moral questions, in what conceivable sense can it be called “Terrorism” for a citizen of a country to fight against foreign invading troops by attacking purely military targets?  This is hardly the first case where we have condemned as Terrorists citizens of countries we invaded for fighting back against invading American troops.  The U.S. shipped numerous people to Guantanamo, branded them Terrorists, and put them in cages for years without charges for doing exactly that (indeed, the Obama administration prosecuted at Guantanamo the first child soldier tried for war crimes, Omar Khadr, for throwing a grenade at U.S. troops in Afghanistan).

I’ve often written that Terrorism is the most meaningless, and thus most manipulated, term in American political discourse.  But while it lacks any objective meaning, it does have a functional one.  It means:  anyone — especially of the Muslim religion and/or Arab nationality — who fights against the United States and its allies or tries to impede their will.  That’s what “Terrorism” is; that’s all it means.  And it’s just extraordinary how we’ve created what we call “law” that is intended to do nothing other than justify all acts of American violence while delegitimizing, criminalizing, and converting into Terrorism any acts of resistance to that violence.

It’s hardly unusual that an empire declares that its violence and aggression are inherently legitimate, and that any resistance to it — or the very same acts aimed at it — are inherently illegitimate.  That double-standard decree, more or less, is a defining feature of an empire.  But the nationalistic conceit that all of that is justified by coherent, consistent principles of “law” — or can be resolved by meaningful application of terms such as “Terrorism” — is really too ludicrous to endure.”



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