The U.S. is Losing the War on Terrorism and, in the Process, its Soul
A portion of this year's National Intelligence Estimate, the collective view of our government's 16 intelligence agencies, was recently published in several major newspapers. The published portion states that U.S. involvement in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism. This directly contradicts the appeals from President Bush and the Republicans to continue to vote for Republicans because their efforts in the War on Terror and the War in Iraq are making us safer. However, the NIE findings are no surprise to numerous people who have been saying for years that the U.S.' ham-handed Iraq War would be a terrific recruiting tool for new terrorists. Osama Bin Laden can sit in back in his cave while the Bush Administration does a better job of creating new terrorists than Osama ever could.
At the same time, Senate Republicans caved into President Bush to let CIA personnel continue to torture suspected terrorists or kidnap them and send them to other countries where we know they will be tortured. As this op-ed by Harold Myerson in last Wednesday's Washington Post eloquently explains, when Americans lower ourselves to the level of the terrorists, we have lost our moral values. I would add that we have lost our souls. Our nation has faced far greater danger before, including the danger of nuclear annihilation from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, yet we never had to resort to a policy of torture. We should ask ourselves as Americans, what do we stand for, other than making money?
If I were a fan of conspiracy theories, I would see a juicy one here. Who benefits from a continuing War in Iraq and War on Terror? First, President Bush and the Republicans benefit, since voters are often reluctant to change horses in the middle of a "war." Even though the war may not be going well, the voters may not want the uncertainty of voting for the other party. Bush and his officials have fueled this uncertainty by selling us fear. Whether it is orange alerts, Osama videotapes or Iran nuclear threats, Bush and his underlings seem to give us new scares right around election time. Bush has also used the state of "war" to grab unprecedented power from a Congress run by cowering Republican rubber-stampers. This power includes illegal wiretapping of Americans.
Second, oil companies and defense contractors who just happen to be cronies of Bush and his Cabinet ministers benefit from the War in Iraq and the War on Terror. Companies such as Halliburton reap record profits from no-bid contracts in Iraq. Oil companies earn record profits as prices are bid up due to the threat of instability or pipeline damage in war-torn oil producing countries (remember when we were told that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the war?). In the old days, these corporations, and the people who ran them, were known as war profiteers, and the term is still apt. Indeed, some top White House and Cabinet officials directly profit from the war machine. These include Vice President Dick Cheney, who still earns money from Halliburton.
Meanwhile, the track record of Bush and his Republican-led Congress on the War on Terror and the War in Iraq isn't too good. Osama Bin Laden has not been caught. The War in Iraq remains a giant distraction from the real War on Terror, the one against Al Quaeda in Afghanistan and bordering countries, such as Pakistan, where Osama and his Al Quaeda executives may be hiding. The U.S. has devoted only one seventh of the troops and resources to Afghanistan as it has in Iraq. As a result, the Taliban is reconstituting in Afghanistan, and entire Iraqi provinces are "lost." The intelligence agencies of George Bush's own government find that Americans are less safe since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Hatred of U.S. policy spills over the podium at the United Nations. And the U.S. has lost its moral authority by resorting to torture.
If I were a Republican running for Congress this November, I think I'd run away from that record, fast.