Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Foolish War on Terror and a Student Essay on CNN

CNN has this ridiculous essay up on its site today about our response to terrorism. There is actually little substance to it, and oddly features a big picture of The Who in concert. Why? They sang their song "Won't Get Fooled Again" at a concert to benefit the victims of 9-11 a few weeks after the tragedy occurred. Apparently this was particularly memorable for the author as he witnessed "the crowd, as if one, raised their fists in the air and let out a scream of their own:'WE WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN!!'"

Very good Mr. Zickar! You get a B+ on your essay about "What 9-11 Means To Me."

He continued with this narrative: "At that same moment, one could almost picture President Bush watching from the residence at the White House doing the same thing."

Really? You imagined President Bush watching on his television, raising his fist, and screaming? Bush probably was watching television, but my guess is that Dick Cheney was the person thinking most intently about our response to the September 11 attacks; and the scene was probably far more sinister.

But Zickar believes that "if anyone had reason to vow to never let something like this happen again, it was the one individual who took an oath to keep this nation secure." He may or may not be right about what was going on in Bush's head, but it simply isn't true that the president takes such an oath. Rather, the President takes an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," not to "keep this nation secure."

Apparently for Zickar, The Who song is really the perfect explanation for everything the Bush administration did in their so-called "war on terror." It doesn't really matter whether the decisions they made were horribly wrong; this "Won't Get Fooled Again" idea was driving it and it ought to be driving our decisions today.

Zickar argues: "The decision to invade Iraq is a good example. The wisdom of invading this country is still being debated, but the rationale behind the decision to do so was clear: Saddam Hussein claimed he had weapons of mass destruction, and most of the world's leading intelligence agencies claimed he had them, as well." Well, that's true if you turn the clock back to the 1980's and early 90's, but by 2001-2003 that is just false. Leaving aside the factual dishonesty, however, even shaky information justifying war seems good enough for this author.

Sure, we now know the intelligence community felt like its information was being misused and there was enormous pressure on some to produce a link between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, but ultimately we did get some information about yellow cake uranium or something, and that ought to be good enough. That's where the "Won't Get Fooled Again" part comes in: "In light of the fact that he had ignored intelligence reports before 9/11, it is understandable that Bush did not want to make the same mistake again."

Well good. Sure thousands of soldiers are dead and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dead; and yes, we've spent billions of dollars on that war, but "as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently stated, 'I'd rather, in the interest of protecting people, overreact rather than underreact.'"

Well then, why not presume people guilty until proven innocent? Why not allow police to get a search warrant after they invade peoples' homes? Better to put a thousand innocent people behind bars than let one guilty person go free. Right Dianne? Can you hear me from inside your enormous mansion in Pac Heights? That kind of idea is what our country is built on right?

But wait! I'm talking about crime; This high school essay is about war; And not just any war; The war on terror - a war that is everywhere and has no end in sight.

Zickar writes, "The administration now reports the would-be [underwear] bomber [Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab] is cooperating and providing useful information. That may be true. But it's also true that we are engaged in a conflict that cannot be litigated. We are fighting a war, not fighting crime."

So even though the war in Iraq was an enormous, tragic mistake, and even though providing Abdulmutallab with his Constitutional protections appears to be providing law enforcement with more reliable information than the sadistic practices at Guantanamo ever did, we are supposed to buy this guy's argument that the Obama administration isn't doing enough and not acting with the "sense of urgency" they ought to be?

That is the point of his term paper: the lessons of 9-11 were that we are fighting a war, terrorists or enemy combatants don't deserve Constitutional protections (which after all are just privileges only lucky people deserve), terrorists or enemy combatants should be tortured and humiliated if the President thinks it's a good idea, and if we can scramble together some information connecting any country to terrorism or a terrorist organization, we ought to seriously consider starting a multi-billion dollar, deadly war with that country, lest we "get fooled again."

You understand? Yes in some ways one could argue that we were fooled into invading Iraq, and we were fooled into believing Guantanamo was full of evil terrorists (many of whom have been released after being held and tortured for years because they weren't guilty of anything - oops), but the real fools are those who would not allow our government to engage in more of this recklessness.

Why? Because "According to Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, an attack could come in the next six months." You should be very afraid! You should be so afraid you would be willing to send your children to die in unnecessary wars and give up your Constitutional rights. Come on. Don't get fooled again.