Thursday, September 28, 2006

They all look the same to me


It’s the pretense of pragmatism that irritates me. The pro-war spin on the semi-declassified NIE focuses on the sentence, “Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.” I’ll concede that premise, which seems common sensical enough, but, even putting aside the countervailing number of jihadists created every day the war continues, how does this add up to a case for continuing the war to make us safer from terrorism? Have they never heard of cost-benefit analysis? Let’s say that pulling out of Iraq would mean 1,000 fighters “inspired to carry on the fight.” Hell, let’s say 10,000. If we dealt with them through traditional means – intelligence, security, phone-tapping, satellites, etc – we could spend $100 million to combat each fighter, and still come out ahead.

At a fundraiser today, Bush said that the war is not increasing the risk of terrorism. “History tells us that logic is false.” How come he gets to invoke History on the same day Congress is doing his bidding in undoing centuries of legal protections on the grounds that history is irrelevant because we are fighting a totally new type of war against a totally new type of enemy?

This morning, Bush met with Republican senators. He said of the meeting, “I’m impressed by the caliber of people that serve our country.” One such person is Sen. Trent Lott, who again demonstrated his caliber by shooting himself in the foot. Several times. Asked by reporters afterwards if any of the senators had brought up the subject of Iraq with the chimperor, Lott said, “You’re the only ones who obsess on that. We don’t and the real people out in the real world don’t for the most part.” He said of the Iraqis, “It’s hard for Americans, all of us, including me, to understand what’s wrong with these people... Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? How do they tell the difference? They all look the same to me.”

So if they didn’t talk about Iraq or have a seminar on Sunni-Shiite differences, what did they discuss? According to Bush, “Our most solemn job is the security of this country. People shouldn’t forget there’s still an enemy out there that wants to do harm to the United States. And therefore a lot of my discussion with the members of the Senate was to remind them of this solemn responsibility.” So another productive and informative meeting, then.

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