The New York Times recently ran a story on Secretary of State Colin Powell’s pending resignation. Here’s an excerpt: ‘In his remarks, Mr. Powell said that he intended to remain active in carrying out his diplomatic duties until his last day, noting that ‘we have to make sure that we continue to pursue the global war against terror, we have to consolidate the very significant gains we’ve seen in Afghanistan and we have to make sure we defeat this insurgency in Iraq.”
Oh, I see. Hunting terrorists, keeping one boot in Afghanistan and killing noncompliant Iraqis have been redefined as diplomatic duties. Well, if this is America’s idea of diplomacy, I’d hate to see what its idea of warfare looks like.
Wake up, America. Your nation-al leaders are all militarists.
It’s hard to say exactly when the slippage took place. Was it the Sept. 11 attacks that turned us into a nation of flag-wavers and revenge-takers? Was it the failing economy and the burgeoning national debt that led U.S. businessmen to view war as the best solution? Or is it all just a blatant bid for world domination cooked up by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and the U.S. Congress?
Whatever the explanation, America is now on the march. ‘Preemptive war’ is our rallying cry.
With the current U.S. bias in favor of military solutions, there’s no reason to assume that the Iraq conflict will remain within its present bounds. Recent U.S. military intelligence reports suggest that many of the world’s active terrorist organizations are sending operatives into Iraq to participate in the ongoing carnage. As many as 5 percent of the dead combatants in Fallouja, for instance, have been non-Iraqi citizens. Just as we ‘advise’ other nations on their military operations in order to gain combat experience for American officers and NCOs, so terrorist organizations toughen up their cadres through participation in America’s newest war.
Once the identities of these groups are established, is there anything that can stop President Bush from widening the scope of the war? Nope. Bush has a blank check from Congress to fight whomever he wants, wherever he wants, for as long as he wants, and using whatever amount of force he wants. The only requirement is that he assert a connection between the target nation and al-Qaida. H.J. Res. 64, the ‘Authorization to Use Military Force’ of Sept. 14, 2001, lays it out succinctly. This one-page exemplar of Constitutional nose-thumbing contains but a single operative paragraph:
‘That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any further acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.’
Remember how Powell, in his capacity as the senior U.S. diplomat, insisted on a ‘direct link’ between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein? And remember how no one living outside the United States believed a word of it? Even though the ‘direct link’ claim was long ago shown to be utterly false, no serious legal challenge to the constitutionality of the invasion has been made since. We cheated, and we won.
Well, we’re getting ready to do it again. Powell’s recent on-the-record remarks about Iran’s efforts to put nuclear warheads atop their Sahab-3 missiles are eerily reminiscent of the administration’s past tales of Iraqi WMDs. Same unsubstantiated rumor, same discredited messenger.
Conveniently, bin Laden’s whereabouts remain a mystery. It would be relatively easy to produce another videotape ‘proving’ he’s now in Iran, or satellite photographs ‘clearly showing’ new al-Qaida bases in Iran, Syria or any other place we Westerners don’t particularly like.
Bush has been given carte blanche to widen the war and there’s no reason to believe he won’t use it. So long as bin Laden remains miraculously at large and the Islamic community remains implacably hostile, the administration has all the excuse it needs.
This is why we must proactively resist the draft. Soldiers are to armed conflict what oxygen is to fire; starve the war of recruits, and the will to fight wanes. On the other hand, if rightists expand the standing military to 5 or 6 million young men and women and simultaneously convert the U.S. economic engine to war production, America could make a credible bid for world domination. We’ll say it was the terrorists that made us do it.
Along with reinstatement of the draft would come follow-up legislation authorizing the punishment of anti-war speech and protests as acts of sedition, the shuttering of any media outlets critical of the government or its war aims, and the curtailing of free speech for the duration of hostilities. What’s the maximum duration of a war on terror? You tell me.
We have one chance to get it right. Force a withdrawal from Iraq, now. Then call for a reexamination of U.S. economic policies, particularly globalization and predatory World Bank/IMF lending practices.
Open a cultural dialogue with Islamic and other Middle Eastern nations, declare an end to the war on terror and forget Osama bin Laden. Must the entire world remain hostage to one man? I predict that bin Laden will never be found, not while he is so useful to all sides of the conflict.
The U.S. pursues but does not catch, Islam suffers but does not denounce and the Saudi royals protect their own. With a wink and a nod to Bush, leader of the faux crusade to bring democracy and prosperity to the Holy Land on the back of an M1A1 Abrams tank.
Brett Miller is a second-year literary journalism major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.