The Disaster of the GWOT

It started out so well, considering the tragic loss of 9/11. The whole world was on our side and largely supported our going after Al Qaeda and its Taliban supporters. Great article by Richard Parry at Alternet, who details how the so-called war on terror is more like a war on our Republic.

From the beginning of the “war on terror,” George W. Bush has lied to the American people about the goals, motivation and even the identity of the enemy — a propaganda exercise that continued through his 2007 State of the Union Address and that is sounding the death knell for the Republic. Since 2001, rather than focusing on the al Qaeda Sunni fundamentalist terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, Bush has expanded the conflict exponentially — tossing in unrelated enemies such as Iraq’s secular dictator Saddam Hussein, Shiite-led Iran, Syria and Islamic militants opposed to Israel, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Bush continues this deception into the State of the Union address :

“The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat,” Bush said. “Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.”

But this depiction is a continuation of Bush’s tendency to misstate the key question of what’s motivating Islamic militancy. In September 2001, Bush claimed that the motive behind the 9/11 attacks and other manifestations of anti-Americanism in the Middle East was that Islamic extremists “hate our freedoms.” Now, he says they want to “kill” Americans, democracy and anything else that gets in their way. However, this distortion of what drives the swelling anti-Americanism in the Middle East is not only wrong, it’s dangerous. It guarantees an expensive, bloody and endless war. It also could ensure eventual defeat for legitimate U.S. interests in the region.

Look specifically at the effect on our battle against the actual perpetrators of 9/11. We’re playing right into their hands:

The truth is that the motives of Islamic militants are much more complicated and diverse than Bush wants the American people to know. In Iraq, Sunni insurgents are killing Americans because the United States invaded their country and handed the reins of power over to rival Shiites, while Shiites are using “death squads” to consolidate their authority by killing Sunnis. Along the Mediterranean, other Islamic militants have fought against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and Lebanese land. Some Middle Eastern militants are resentful of U.S.-backed autocrats like those governing Egypt and Saudi Arabia; many object to the corruption that has surrounded the region’s oil wealth; others want a return to more traditional Islamic religious values; some actually favor democratic elections because they expect to win and want to unseat corrupt pro-American leaders. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas did win an election. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is a powerful political force. In Iran, radical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gained office through a limited democratic process. Even al-Qaeda has far more limited objectives than Bush has claimed. Despite Bush’s oft-stated assertion that — if the United States retreats — al Qaeda will form a caliphate stretching from Spain to Indonesia, no credible analyst believes that.

Intercepted alQaeda documents actually reveal leaders fretting about how fragile their position in Iraq would be if the United States withdrew. According to one captured letter, “Atiyah,” a senior aide to Osama bin Laden, stressed the need to exploit the continued American presence so al-Qaeda can put down roots in Iraq.

Atiyah told Zarqawi that “the most important thing is that the jihad continues with steadfastness and firm rooting, and that it grows in terms of supporters, strength, clarity of justification, and visible proof each day. Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest.

“The mujahaddin must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal,” said the “Zawahiri letter,” according to a text released by the office of the U.S. Director of National Intelligence.

Yet, even as Bush’s Iraq War strategy plays into the hands of al Qaeda, the President told Congress and the American people that he intends to confront radical Shiite movements in the region with determination equal to that aimed at Sunni extremists.

Lumping Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Iraqi insurgents and others together with alQaeda underscores the risks — and almost certain futility — of Bush’s expanding “war on terror.” With anti-Americanism across the Middle East often registering in the 90 percentiles, Bush’s strategy is more likely to accelerate Islamic extremism than put a brake on it.

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