Codifying Bush’s “war on terror” or Confronting the Terrorist Within? (By Chris Hedges in Truthdig)

Gaan ‘we’ door met de onrechtmatige en contra-productieve oorlogen in Irak en Afghanistan en bezetting van Palestijns grondgebied? Een uitstekende analyse van Westers (neo-)koloniaal wanbeleid.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when viewed from the receiving end, are state-sponsored acts of terrorism. These wars defy every ethical and legal code that seek to determine when a nation can wage war, from Just War Theory to the statutes of international law largely put into place by the United States after World War II. These wars are criminal wars of aggression. They have left hundreds of thousands of people, who never took up arms against us, dead and seen millions driven from their homes. We have no right as a nation to debate the terms of these occupations. And an Afghan villager, burying members of his family’s wedding party after an American airstrike, understands in a way we often do not that terrorist attacks can also be unleashed from the arsenals of an imperial power.

Barack Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and leave behind tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines in Iraq—he promises only to withdraw combat brigades—is a failure to rescue us from the status of a rogue nation. It codifies Bush’s “war on terror.” And the continuation of these wars will corrupt and degrade our nation just as the long and brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has corrupted and degraded Israel. George W. Bush has handed Barack Obama a poisoned apple. Obama has bitten it.

The invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq were our response to feelings of vulnerability and collective humiliation after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They were a way to exorcise through reciprocal violence what had been done to us.

Collective humiliation is also the driving force behind al-Qaida and most terrorist groups. Osama bin Laden cites the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which led to the carving up of the Ottoman Empire, as the beginning of Arab humiliation. He attacks the agreement for dividing the Muslim world into “fragments.” He rails against the presence of American troops on the soil of his native Saudi Arabia. The dark motivations of Islamic extremists mirror our own…

Terrorists, many of whom come from the middle class, support acts of indiscriminate violence not because of direct, personal affronts to their dignity, but more often for lofty, abstract ideas of national, ethnic or religious pride and the establishment of a utopian, harmonious world purged of evil. The longer the United States occupies Afghanistan and Iraq, the more these feelings of collective humiliation are aggravated and the greater the number of jihadists willing to attack American targets.

We have had tens of thousands of troops stationed in the Middle East since 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The presence of these troops is the main appeal, along with the abuse meted out to the Palestinians by Israel, of bin Laden and al-Qaida. Terrorism, as Pape wrote, “is not a supply-limited phenomenon where there are just a few hundred around the world willing to do it because they are religious fanatics. It is a demand-driven phenomenon. That is, it is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.”

The decision by the incoming Obama administration to embrace an undefined, amorphous “war on terror” will keep us locked in a war without end. This war has no clear definition of victory, unless victory means the death or capture of every terrorist on earth—an impossibility. It is a frightening death spiral. It feeds on itself. The concept of a “war on terror” is no less apocalyptic or world-purifying than the dreams and fantasies of terrorist groups like al-Qaida…

Those who externalize evil and seek to eradicate that evil through violence lose touch with their own humanity and the humanity of others. They cannot make moral distinctions. They are blind to their own moral corruption. In the name of civilization and high ideals, in the name of reason and science, they become monsters. We will never free ourselves from the self-delusion of the “war on terror” until we first vanquish the terrorist within.

Confronting the Terrorist Within (By Chris Hedges in Truthdig)

I do so want to believe that Barack Obama is on the right track…

Unfortunately, on Monday Obama stuck with the absurd “war on terror” language he inherited from Bush in describing the attacks in Mumbai conducted by 10 lightly armed fanatics who should have been quickly dispatched by a well-functioning local paramilitary force. These terrorists did not, as available evidence would indicate, have anything to do with the Taliban or al-Qaida based in Afghanistan, where the United States continues to wage the good war, as opposed to the bad one in Iraq, that Obama invoked during the presidential campaign: “Afghanistan is where the war on terror began and where it must end.”

Both wars are bad in representing exactly the wrong way to deal with “terror,” which should properly be thought of as representing pathology to be excised with surgical precision rather than bludgeoned with conventional warfare, which only recruits new fanatics through the killing of innocent civilians…

The problem with Obama’s national security team is not that he has picked hawks whom he cannot control; they are all professionals, who took the job expecting to go along with his game plan. The danger here, as with his economic advisers, is only that Obama may stop being Obama, the agent of change who electrified a nation.

Will Obama Stay the Course? (By Robert Scheer in Truthdig)

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