“THE war on terror, the long war, just now is going badly. Very badly. Our enemies are making solid progress, geographically, organisationally and in their brilliant public relations campaigns. The West is divided and in key battlefields losing resolve.”
This is Greg Sheridan, the Oz’s foremost neocon commentator over at the Oz, Australia’s foremost partisan paper for the A’s and B’s (in advertising demographic terms).
Sheridan gives a snapshot on the war to date and makes some interesting points. And no not all of them are right wing knee jerkery, though many of them are. These are the ones I am going to have umbrage with.
“Both US Vice-President Dick Cheney and former US deputy secretary of defence Paul Wolfowitz have told me that they all along believed - and still believe - that Saddam Hussein had substantial connections to al-Qa'ida. In the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, the then deputy secretary of state Rich Armitage told me that the danger of Saddam co-operating with terrorists, especially in the provision of weapons of mass destruction, was at the top of US concerns.”
Of course Sheridan does not define exactly what constitutes “substantial” but Cheney et al certainly and with great breathiness used these apparent links to underscore the reason why into Iraq. Despite the best “hold on” from other government sources, though Tenet himself does note in his recent memoir that he believed Iraq did have WMD or were seeking it at the time. However the substantial links to AQ on the other hand were not a huge slam dunk as those dickheads claim.
“However, Tenet makes absolutely clear (as several other memoirs have in less detail) that Saddam did indeed have a relationship with al-Qa'ida that was rightly of grave concern to Washington. In evidence that should be sensational, but has only really been given prominence by Bill Kristol in The Weekly Standard, Tenet describes how 200 al-Qa'ida fighters relocated to Iraq with Saddam's permission and how an al-Qa'ida camp in Iraq worked on the production of poisons such as cyanide. Intelligence reports led to the arrest of nearly 100 al-Qa'ida operatives in Europe who had planned to use such poisons.
Other senior al-Qa'ida figures relocated to Baghdad with Saddam's permission. According to Tenet, there was evidence that al-Qa'ida associates in Iraq were planning operations against the US. Tenet also makes it clear that al-Qa'ida was trying hard to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
The reason why Kristol is bringing up these bits is because Kristol’s hands are pink with the blood of innocents killed in Iraq because of this war, as indeed are Sheridan’s, who was jumping up and down with the rest of them on the urgency to go get Saddy as much as any fuckwit in the right wing media over in the states. By continuing to harp on about AQ and Saddam it in their mind still justifies the war was genuinely fought on real grounded fears as opposed to dodgy intel cooked up by a cabal of insiders that ignored a lot of the qualification for that intelligence, including by Tenet, carefully chosen excerpts not withstanding. Oh - and intel is always worried about anyone getting access to WMD irrespective of who and what is behind it. It's the number one fear of all intellos.
As Bill Moyer noted in the recent doco on the Media and the Iraq war that the US administration was drumming up the AQ and Saddy link in the immediacy of the war: “Strobel learned that within two weeks after 9/11, senior intelligence officers were growing concerned that the bush administration was stretching 'little bits and pieces of information….' to Connect Saddam Hussein to Al qaeda — with no hard evidence.”
You can see the transcript here
BILL MOYERS: Within the month Strobel found out the Pentagon had already dispatched James Woolsey to Europe looking for any shred of evidence to incriminate hussein....
WARREN STROBEL: He did this even knowing that the CIA had already analyzed this carefully and found no such links. So, the more I thought about that, the more it just didn't seem to make sense.
And some more
BOB SIMON (60 MINUTES 12/8/02): The administration has been trying to make the link to implicate Saddam Hussein in the attacks of September 11th and they've been pointing to an alleged meeting between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker, and an Iraqi intelligence officer in the Czech capital of Prague.
BOB SIMON: If we had combed Prague and found out that there was absolutely no evidence for a meeting between Mohammad Atta and the-- the Iraqi intelligence figure. If we knew that, you had to figure that the administration knew it. And yet they were selling the connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam.
And on it goes.
BOB SIMON: Saddam as most tyrants, was a total control freak. He wanted total control of his regime. Total control of the country. And to introduce a wild card like Al Qaeda in any sense was just something he would not do. So I just didn't believe it for an instant.
This is not to say Tenet is wrong about there being camps in Iraq and that people were not trained to do nefarious things (he’s the ex head of the CIA so I am sure that is likely the case). But the administration in the US deliberately skewed available “evidence” to try and link Saddy to S11 as a means to go to the most disastrous war the US has been involved in since Vietnam. Furthermore it painted Saddy and AQ as like best buds who’d go cruising in their pimp mobile in big floppy hats as opposed to types who were at best in a very uneasy alliance and at worst plotting against each other for diametrical viewpoints (secular dictatorship by a family Vs theological dictatorship by clerics). And the idea that Saddy would give AQ a nuke is frankly ludicrous since A) Saddy would need ALL the nukes for himself and B) he could never ever be sure AQ wouldn't use it to try and get him.
Sheridan also brings up these points.
“The ability of the terrorists to create dramatic international events that feed into its single narrative, and play on pre-existing Muslim paranoia, which is greatly amplified by the anti-Western bias of much of the Western Left and media (as outlined in the seminal book What's Left by Nick Cohen), makes it extraordinarily difficult for the West to win the hearts and minds battle at the centre of the war on terror.”
“This shows the awesome power of what the boffins call al-Qa'ida's "single narrative" for Muslims everywhere. The single narrative is the most powerful propaganda tool yet devised. It presents all of Muslim experience worldwide as a story of Western and Zionist persecution of Muslims. This embraces obvious cases such as Palestinians, Kashmiris and Bosnians, but also the experience of Muslims in the Middle East under corrupt governments, the experience of Muslims in India, the marginalised status of Muslims in western Europe, the conflict in Iraq and everything else. The beauty of the single narrative is that any grievance at all, real or imagined, whether based in fact or fantasy or conspiracy, can be fitted into it.”
Sheridan of course by tying in yummy words like Zionist and fantasy and conspiracy makes it all seem exactly that. What a crock ‘o’ shit. There is real and aggrieved reasons why fuckwits imagine getting recipes for nail bombs off the internet then meeting with like minded to go and kill innocents is acceptable because they genuinely believe their faith and brothers in their faith are being fucked on. Yes, there is a huge amount of X files esq bull dust that jihadist websites and sermons propagate. That’s completely true. Hell the Protocol’s of the Elder’s of Zion as still being treated as ridgy didge in some Islamic themed countries – despite the fact they are a 100% total crock of poo likely crafted by sneaky Russians as part of early cold war mischief.
But there are genuine areas of concern that as irony would have it Sheridan actually listed. Palestine has been a contentious issue ever since the Brits bugged out because of Jewish terrorism in the late 40’s. Throw into that heady mix you also have the West Bank which is still under occupation by Israel (sure Israel pre-emptive attacked to seize it ahead of forces marshalling against them, but they also pinched the Sinai, settled it, then gave it back to Egypt to ensure peace – and look it fucking worked!).
Bosnia, Kosovo, backed of undemocratic regimes by western powers (Saudis, Iran under the Shah, Iraq under the Ba’athists until they pinched Kuwait) etc etc show that western powers have form on interfering with the internal governance of Islamic themed nations to the detriment of those within it. Part and parcel unfortunately of western economies being tied to the reliable provision of oil.
The cockheads that blew up bombs in London cited Iraq as a reason to do what they did. However misguided they were, that was the reason cited – to whit western interference in a part of the world they felt kinship with. Yes, it’s fucked that Briton raised Muslims would think their martyrdom for a place thousands of miles away was required, but then seeking support from fellow expats overseas in safety is straight out of the copy book of insurgency (witness the IRA and US Irish links; the Tamils across the world; Cubans in the US etc - hello Bay of Pigs!).
Britain ended up home to so many Muslim people as a result of their collapsing empire (Pakistan and Indian Muslims) and as a result of accepting them when they were persecuted by dictatorships they backed anyway either directly or indirectly (Iraq, Iran). Hell, Khomenni himself was kept on ice in France as a hedge if needed by the French in case the French could whack him in if the Shah left and the French get in there and get some of the oil. Pity it backfired on everyone forcing the west to then back Saddy in a war where he gleefully used WMD on Iranians and Iraqis alike and only got smacked for it as part of the kick him out of Kuwait campaign several years later.
The reason the single narrative works so well is a combination both of AQ using propaganda, and seriously they are very skilled at using it as Sheridan notes, but also because there is genuine feelings of persecution by Muslims across the world because of actions by the west in backing regimes that fuck on them – from Israel through to dictatorships of a Muslim hue.
Why does the west do it? Because democracy is messy and dictatorships bring certainty of supply. So the west is happy enough to deal with people who take people off the street, tie them to a bed frame, and add electricity. Hell they’re happy to deal with people who boil people alive it means access to air bases.
Our addiction to oil meant that the west treated the Middle East people poorly. By treating them as nothing more as pawns of the governments that owned them these pawns eventually bit back. Sometimes at their own governments. A lot of the time against their customers – the west.
At any rate, Sheridan is right. The “war” is going badly. Largely because of fuckwits like him on the right that insist on backing unpalatable regimes, refuse to force Israel to treat fairly and defuse one of the major issues in the region, then invading a country under false pretence then proceed to cock up the hand over to the people and encouraging the deaths of hundreds and thousands of people giving violent insurgency a fucking proton energy pill to fuck up the west for a period of 20 years or more.
If you want to read Sheridan go here.
However we can’t let him go unless we laugh at this comment.
“The Western commentariat, not least in Australia, has embraced the pro-terrorist proposition that almost the only people not morally responsible for terrorism are the terrorists.”
No we haven’t. There’s hardly a commentator around that piously declares that people who blow people up are not to blame. They are. At the end of the day killing people is wrong. Sure, there are degrees of wrong. But what we are focussed on here are the drivers for the decision to be made to do these things – to remove the conditions that allow fuckwits to fester and come to the boil with nail bombs and car bombs. And to infer somehow that because people criticse foreign policy that allows genesis of terror means they think terrorists are justified in what they do is pathetic slander. That's not to say there are not some who do think it is justified - but the vast majority do not.
Speaking of pathetic slander. I read a recent review by Sheridan against his arch rival Hugh White, a former member of the Defence department. Sheridan naturally slammed the hell out of White’s paper claiming it was nothing more than a thinly disguised revamp of Fortress Australia – which was a strategic organisation of the Australian military to focus on the conventional defence of Australia by sinking invading seacraft then using the army to take care of anyone that makes it. You see – because we’re a fucking island. Anyway, in Sheridan’s booting into White Sheridan made merry note of White’s dark past as a hand picked staffer to Labor pollies who then migrated to the Defence department because of it. Inferring that White was nothing more than an ALP stooge and had no business directing Defence policy.
He of course completely ignored the fact that White not only once wrote for The Australian in a similar capacity to Sheridan himself (I don’t know if they were at the paper together) but also neglected to point out the White had been a senior analyst as the Office of National Assessments prior to staffing at parliament – the premier overarching assessor’s of intelligence in this country.
Sheridan can bitch and moan and wank on with his righty “Kristol-esq” armchair strategic theories all he wants. But White has something Sheridan will never have. Practical experience as an Intelligence analyst, foreign affairs advisor to government, and direct oversight of Defence policy.
So I tell you what Sheridan. If you think you’re so fucking great at policy analysis and can write a better policy paper I challenge you to leave your lofty comfie perch as Australia’s leading armchair speaker for the right and attempt to join the government in that capacity.
It would be quite the challenge as I doubt you wouldn’t even make it past the psych interview.