No need to rehearse the persuasive and convincing critiques of Bush-Cheney creating a War on Terror (especially after the failed metaphor of the War on Drugs) instead of forming an alliance with all the countries that offered help to form a global police action to root out AQ wherever they might be; no need to rehash the malicious folly of Iraq, which still bleeds copiously. No, it is the political use of “War” that dawned on me just as Obama is getting so much flack for the failed Nigerian knicker-bomber in Detroit and the justifiable, if hyped, dismay at the dingbat intelligence bumbling that let him pass.
Of course, others have pointed out, again convincingly, how the War on Terror was the execrable excuse for shredding civil rights, international law, and personal privacy while erecting a great wall of secrecy between the public and now unaccountable elected and appointed officials. Okay.
But the real evil genius of “Declaring War” was that it was a complete and brilliant diversion from holding the Bushies responsible for the cosmically horrendous failure of the total national security system, with so many red flags and warnings for months ahead of time. To quote the unconsciously candid Candy Rice, “We would have stopped the attacks of 9/11 if only we knew about them in advance [!?!?!]. But who would dream of planes crashing into buildings?” (In Congressional and 9/11 Commission testimony).
“We are at War, no time for finger-pointing, especially no time for narrow party-partisan politics.” — “Support the Troops and the Commander-in-Chief.”
The many questions about the colossal security/defense/intelligence screw-up were put on the back burner, where they remain.
So now there is a Medusan festival of fingers pointed at Obama because the poor man has not treated the knicker bomber as an Act of War from the terror breeding ground of Yemen. If only he had screamed that we were now at War with Yemen/Al Quaeda and sent sorties of fighter-bombers from nearby bases to make toast of vast swathes of country, and then the next day if not simultaneously turn the pirate haven of Somalia into a stone age wasteland. Ah, then he would be our Commander-in-Chief, showing the evil ones that they can run but they cannot hide.
Any criticism of the Security/Intelligence/Defense failures would be silenced and Detroit would have shown how strong America is! With that great gut-instinct, Dubya saw this dynamic as the decade began its disastrous spiral.
I should have remembered that Reagan invented this tactic by going to war with Granada, with spectacular irrelevance, after the tragic and immense intelligence/security/defense failure which left hundreds of marines dead in Beirut in one afternoon.
But Reagan was smarter yet in attacking utterly helpless and friendless countries for quick headlines and then on to the next diversion. [Lockerbie bad – bomb bad Libya: good] Even the comparatively civilized elder Bush, deeply complicit in Central American corruption and death squads as VIP and former CIA head, proved he was no sissy sneak by attacking Panama and killing well over 1000 civilians to kidnap Noriega. The Commander-in-Chief kicks ass right out in the open.
So I am grateful to Obama for not publicly fibrillating over the dangerously groined Nigerian, less happy about his delayed grim-faced denunciations that feed Medialand obsessions with imminent end-of-the-world scenarios, and totally disillusioned with his borrowing the War Ploy to show what tough warriors Democrats are as we prosecute a “war” with a relentless enemy instead of relinquishing an elective occupation of a country that does not want us, for a purpose we cannot honestly define, at a price, in both blood and treasure, that we cannot afford. McCain may be right: Real Men don’t Think.