Wednesday, September 13, 2006

the threat from Al Qaeda

Digby sez:
I just heard Tucker Carlson casually say that he told his "lesbian leftist friend" (probably Rachel Maddow), "when al Qaeda takes over you'll be the first one hung up by your thumbs."

I would really love to hear by what scenario these piddling chickenhawks see al Qaeda "taking over" the United States of America. Super secret laser beams from Mars? How?

What children these people are.

I think this is a point that should be obvious, but is not for far too many people in this country. Put another way, here's Josh Marshall's take:
The point is that al Qaida itself does not pose an existential threat to our civilization. It can kill hundreds or even thousands of us. There's the outside chance of a catastrophic attack perhaps with hundreds of thousands of death, though most of the people Fallows spoke to think that it's far, far harder for al Qaida to get, say, a nuclear device than people imagine, particularly with the reduced means of al Qaida today. But if al Qaida itself doesn't threaten our civilization itself, our possible reactions to al Qaida's threat do. This is a elementary point about assymetrical warfare and the ways that a relatively weak group like al Qaida can leverage our own tremendous power against us.

This seems persuasive to me as an argument and it also seems borne out by the evidence of the last five years.

Our geopolitical and diplomatic posture certainly seems diminished. And I don't think there's any question that our military capacity has been reduced, both in the concrete sense of the grinding down of preparedness that has taken place in Iraq and also in the way that the limits of our military power has been displayed in that disastrous endeavor. Perhaps most of all though, I wonder about what we have allowed to happen to our national character.

There is no country or militant group on the planet that can destroy America, or topple our government, or abolish our way of life except our own. Only we have the capacity to do that.

And that's precisely what George Bush and co. have been doing these last 6 years.

Edward R. Murrow once said that we are not descended from fearful men. Yet the Bush Administration specifically and intentionally uses a type of rhetoric to instill fear in the American people. Of course, they also use a number of policies to achieve that end (our ridiculous color-coded terror alert comes to mind-- quick quiz: of course you know that we have spent lots of time on terror level: red (severe) through yellow (elevated), but how many days have we spent on terror level green (guarded) or blue (low)? Think about the shape of an egg for a hint). But that's really not an end, it's a means. Then what is the end, you might wonder?

The end is always the same in these stories: it's power. People-oppressing, freedom-annihilating slippery-slope power. Perhaps that sounds alarmist, but you tell me: if the president gets what he's already openly fighting for, if his unitary executive theory wins out and the president gains the power to selectively make or break the law in wartime (and in the kind of "War on Terror" type wartime that lasts many decades), including laws enshrined in the Constitution, international treaties and congressional statute, along with the ability to punish or imprison both foreigners and American citizens for indefinite periods of time and without due process of law, how, exactly, would this still be a free society?

That is why, as many before me have said, the national discussion on the threat of terrorism and Iraq and Iran and Syria and appropriate solutions to said threats is deeply unserious. It's because we have no sense of perspective when it comes to these questions, and those sober personalities who dare to try and give us that perspective are aggressively challenged and talked down by the clowns in charge.

No comments: