The news from Washington, particularly the White House, tells us that we are fighting a war on terror. This old under-educated, inarticulate clod is baffled by that description. What war are we talking about? And are the American people genuinely terrorized? The imprecision of the language in the so-called war on terror is immense.

When a man tells me that I am in the middle of a war on terror, I am obliged to ask who is the enemy who is terrorizing me. Three and a half years after the invasion of Iraq and the claims of “Mission Accomplished”, I am still baffled. Who is this monster that threatens to destroy the American government and our way of life?

The people I know and correspond with do not seem to be terrorized of anything. The Bush administration asks no sacrifice from its citizens. On the other hand, it offers them tax cuts in the middle of a war on terror. While this alleged war is going on, Bush takes his vacations and rides his bicycle. This may be the most peculiar war on anything that this old country boy has ever seen or heard about.

The American people could well be terrorized by acts of nature or a number of other influences. For example, the people in California and the West who worry about firestorms being blown by Santa Ana winds, will likely be terrified at the thought of losing their houses and their lives. People who live along the Gulf Coast or in Florida may be terrorized by the advance of a new hurricane. The folks who live in the ghetto may well be terrorized by the armed gangs that rob and kill people. The point I am making is that there are any number of things that might terrorize the American people but the Bush administration does not include them in his so-called terror war.

The imprecision of the language leads me to conclude that the war on terrorism is either a myth or a complete fraud. If, as we are told by the Commander-in-Chief, Iraq is the central front in this war, then I must conclude that the war is irretrievably lost. If we are lucky, we will escape from a stalemate in Iraq after having lost troops at the rate of 75 to 100 per month. If we are losing troops at that rate, how can we say we are winning this terrorism war? Today, can anyone take a peaceful stroll down the capital city streets of Baghdad, which they could do under the hated Saddam?

The mythical proportions about the war on terrorism flows from our political leaders and from some generals who present rosy pictures of progress in the Iraqi war. The fact is clear that we are not making progress; we are clearly losing.

You may recall Mr. Cheney’s remark about the insurgency being “in its final throes.” You might also recall Mr. Cheney’s remark to the effect that we would be welcomed in Iraq as liberators and that people would throw roses at us as our troops marched down Broadway in Baghdad. Cheney appears to be the chief maker of myths in this unfortunate armed conflict. Doesn’t anyone in this administration speak the truth? Any reports of progress are the essence of myth-making.

This leads me to conclude that, on one hand, the war is a myth and is being kept afloat only by those who say give us another 18 months and the Iraqi army will take care of everything. Does anyone believe these pronouncements?

The fact of the matter is that the Iraqi Army will never defend American interests in the Middle East and shouldn’t be asked to do so. Whether we like it or not, it is a myth to believe that the alleged Iraqi Army will successfully prosecute George Bush’s war.

The second myth is that a democracy in Iraq will cause the rest of the Arab world to democratize also. The so-called war on terror is being fought in Alice in Wonderland proportions. Does anyone believe that the Egyptians would overthrow Mubarak or that the Syrians would overthrow Assad simply because Iraq adopted a democratic government? This is myth making of the first order.

Now let us turn to the thought that the war on terror is a fraud. The fact is that the war on terror is a Karl Rovian fraud to give George Bush the powers that we have never before extended to any American president. As long as Karl Rove and Bush can claim that there is a war in progress, the American public will be reluctant to turn out such a president. This is precisely what happened in 2004.

The fact here involves the administration claiming extraordinary powers to spy on people and to listen to their communications. It also involves denying the writ of habeas corpus to the prisoners we hold at Guantánamo Bay. And finally, the fraud permits this president, George Bush, to engage in torture even though he says that it doesn’t exist. To claim that our prisoners at Gitmo and around the world have not been tortured amounts to nothing more than the feces de la toro. The “advanced interrogation methods” that we are proudly using are nothing more and nothing less than torture.

Further, it appears to me that the so-called war on terror is basically a war on Arabs and the Muslim faith. For a while, the mantra of this administration was the “Islamic fascists.” When the administration refers to the people with whom we are engaged in Iraq, they commonly call them “the enemy.” If I were a neutral observer, it would be clear to me that the enemy is the Arabs and the Muslim faith. It would also be clear to me that this is nothing more than a revival of the Crusades.

If we were so interested in stamping out terror, why didn’t we pursue Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and try to catch him? If Osama is the heart of evilness of this world, he should have been dealt with a long time ago. But Osama remains free and there is no indication that he will soon be captured. If the destruction of the World Trade Center was an act of terror, which it was, it would be our duty to pursue and punish the perpetrators. But that we have not done. If the war on terror is going to be successfully prosecuted, Osama will have to be caught. Clearly, Osama is not in Iraq, but that is where we have taken the war.

And while we are dealing with Osama, it seems to me that there are a good many other leaders who terrorize their citizens as well as those of neighboring countries. Try Mugabe in Zimbabwe. What about Castro and Hugo Chavez here in the Western Hemisphere?. And what about the events in the Darfur region of the Sudan? If we are looking for terrorists to bring to justice, there are plenty of them.

It has always been my habit to follow international developments closely. I have followed the so-called war on terror from its inception. In the final analysis, I must conclude that it is a myth of the highest proportions in that we are being told that progress is being made while we can see from our newspapers and television screens that progress is going backwards.

And I must also conclude that the war on terror is a fraud because we are not being told the truth. Its costs are being concealed. Nor do we know what it has done to the equipment of the Army and Marine Corps. We certainly know what it has done to American prestige around the world. Friends, if this is not a fraud, I don’t know one when I see one.

The war on terrorism further detracts from our image abroad. I doubt that any Western European, for example, would cheer our efforts because sophisticated people know that this is a war with mythical and fraudulent proportions.

Mr. Bush is in Hanoi today where he made a statement to the effect that, if we lose this war, it will be because the American people have lost their will. In other words, if we lose this war it will be our fault not the fault of the great and gorgeous George Bush. Are you ready for another “Mission Accomplished” statement? Or do you want to stick with the war being “In its final throes”?

November 17, 2006
Essay 218
Kevin’s commentary: The “War on” rhetoric has become incredibly popular in the last several years. It commonly heralds failure, like in the cases of the War on Terror or the War on Drugs. Turns out it’s hard to wage wars against concepts and objects. Christians like to whine about the “War on Christmas” every winter, even though there isn’t one, and just yesterday I saw a video entitled “War on Boys,” which was a poorly-titled but nonetheless interesting piece about how we educate boys these days.

I guess everything has to be a war these days, for whatever reason. Maybe it’s that print and broadcast media increasingly default to sensationalism to get attention, and calling something a “war” is an easy way to do that while simultaneously granting the reporter immediate access to the framework of “winning” and “losing” since that’s what you do with wars — even (especially?) if those terms make no sense in the context of the particular “war” that we’re talking about. Headlines like “Losing the War on Christmas” are easy to churn out and probably get a ton of clicks. Fill up a video with a few clips of local companies that have stopped using the word “Christmas” in their advertising, splice in a few outraged suburban moms, and you’ve got a story for a slow winter news day.

Of course, the reality is that businesses started to use “holiday” instead of “Christmas” in their marketing as soon as they realized that there are a lot of non-Christians in America, and those people are probably more likely to buy your stuff when you don’t snub them with your terminology before they walk in the door.

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