November 19, 2010

The War On Terror Is Over: Synopsis

Filed under: Afghanistan, Global War On Terror — Tags: , — Russ @ 2:58 am


I don’t write much about the wars anymore, simply because I can’t write about everything and had to whittle down my topics. But I wanted to sum up the rational case against the war in one short post, perhaps as the basis for a set of talking points if anyone wanted to use it that way.
I won’t go again into the true corporatist nature of the war. I’ve written extensively about that in the past, for example here, here, and here. Let me just again cite two choice pieces of evidence: War Secretary Robert Gates assuring an audience of weapons racketeers that the administration’s main priority is escalating Pentagon budgets solely for the sake of spending escalation itself, i.e. for the sake of corporate welfare; and Nick Turse’s account of how Pentagon contracting extends to a whole menagerie of “civilian” consumer goods and services companies. This gives an overview of how the military-industrial complex extends much further than most people think. The corporate-militarist state has already become far more integrated than it ever was under classical fascism prior to WWII.
So here’s the basic facts:
1. Terrorism is not a real threat to America. If you don’t believe a pinko like me, how about the neocon consultant corporation Stratfor? Stratfor, unlike some blowhard in the jingo NYT or WaPo, actually gets paid for the actionable quality of its opinions. That’s how it makes its living. And as it’s an imperial consultant, for Stratfor to support war would be talking its book.
Yet according to this and many other pieces, terrorism “does not represent a strategic, existential threat”.
In fact, Stratfor’s basic position on the Global War on Terror goes as follows:
A. Terrorism is not a strategic, existential threat.
B. Al-Qaeda’s capabilities have been greatly degraded.
C. Whatever diminished action international terrorism can undertake, it can undertake it outside Afghanistan Yemen, or any other particular place.
D. Most Afghans reject the Karzai government. (So according to Petraeus’ and McChrystal’s own counterinsurgency doctrine, which declares the necessity for a legitimate indigenous client government, the Afghanistan war cannot be won.)
E. The Taliban cannot be defeated.

Nietzsche wrote that, “The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place.” The stated U.S. goal in Afghanistan was the destruction of al Qaeda. While al Qaeda as it existed in 2001 has certainly been disrupted and degraded, al Qaeda’s evolution and migration means that disrupting and degrading it — to say nothing of destroying it — can no longer be achieved by waging a war in Afghanistan. The guerrilla does not rely on a single piece of real estate (in this case Afghanistan) but rather on his ability to move seamlessly across terrain to evade decisive combat in any specific location. Islamist-fueled transnational terrorism is not centered on Afghanistan and does not need Afghanistan, so no matter how successful that war might be, it would make little difference in the larger fight against transnational jihadism.

So we have Stratfor making the whole case right there. We should end the wars and get out.
And it’s not just them. Even arch-neocons like Zakaria admit that terrorism is no threat remotely commensurate with what we’ve lost and spent in pretending to fight it.
2. Any actual war on terror element of the “war on terror” has already been won. Administration experts themselves say so:
CIA chief Leon Panetta: “We’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
Terror “czar” Michael Leiter: Maybe “more than 300” jihadists in Pakistan.
National Security Adviser James Jones: “Fewer than 100” AQ in Afghanistan.
ABC news quotes an intelligence official who sums it up: the DoD, CIA, and other intelligence agencies agree that there are at most around 100 jihadists in Afghanistan and several hundred in Pakistan.
So actual jihad has been smashed, like Stratfor says. The US government and military agree. The actual war on terror is over. It was won a long time ago.
3. The one and only thing now driving insurgencies and what little jihadist sentiment is left is the imperial war itself. This Pew study demonstrates that jihad is unpopular in Pakistan, but that American aggression is even less popular. The same public opinion is common throughout the Muslim world. Most people are sick of jihad and don’t want caliphates. The only thing they’d prefer it to is Western domination. And the one thing which causes them to look favorably upon insurgency and jihad is Western aggression.
In July the NBER released a study which found that the Afghan occupation itself is the driver of insurgency.
“Local exposure to violence from Isaf [NATO’s “International Security Assistance Force”, i.e. the invaders] appears to be the primary driver of this effect.”
Meanwhile as Petraeus took over from McC, he was mulling whether to relax McC’s relatively restrictive rules of engagement. Those were the same rules under which McC himself admitted they were doing little but slaughtering civilians:

We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force . . . . [T]o my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”

From the report: “When Isaf units kill civilians, this increases the willing number of combatants.”
That’s the main thing driving the insurgency, and it’s the only thing still breathing life into jihad. And Petraeus wants to escalate it. What did they say this war was about again?
4. The people are increasingly realizing this and are turning against the war.
So anyone who starts to doubt the war should be told that he’s not alone. On the contrary, he’s joining the majority, although you’d never know it from the normal MSM coverage.
So the war on terror is over and has been won. Terrorism is no strategic threat. The power elites admit as much. Whatever the real reason is for the “war on terror”, it’s not to defend against terrorism.
Maybe the best way to educate against the war is to start, not by directly calling it a corporate imperial boondoggle and war crime, but by proving that whatever it is, it’s not a war against terror.
In the same way that people are coming to reject the banks as they realize how the banks produce nothing but are only parasites, maybe more people will reject the wars as they realize how the wars have zero to do with terrorism or any other kind of defense, but are only a project of corporate aggression. (And maybe focusing on the “corporate war” angle can help do an end run around residual “patriotic” delusions about the wars.)