I thought the whole reason we are slogging through the war in Iraq is to keep the Terrorists “there” and not “here?” That, at least, is the war drum President Bush has been beating and still beats. In a 2003 interview — published on the White House website — Bush makes it clear the Terrorists will remain “over there” as long as we stay there engaging them in Iraq (emphasis added):
Q: Well, what about the suggestion from your critics that while you won the war, the peace is being bungled? THE PRESIDENT: They’re wrong. We’re making great progress in Iraq. We’ve got a pretty steep hill to climb. After all, one, we’re facing a bunch of terrorists who can’t stand freedom. These thugs were in power for awhile, and now they’re not going to be in power anymore, and they don’t like it. And they’re willing to kill innocent people. Their terrorist activities — we’d rather fight them there than here.
In a September 2006 radio address also published on the White House website, Bush again warns us by scaring us (emphasis added):
America must not allow this to happen. We are a Nation that keeps its commitments to those who long for liberty and want to live in peace. We will stand with the nearly 12 million Iraqis who voted for their freedom, and we will help them fight and defeat the terrorists there, so we do not have to face them here at home.
How then, do we reconcile as a nation the arrest of six Muslim men in Camden, New Jersey yesterday who planned to kill United States soldiers at Fort Dix with Bush’s insistence that staying in Iraq removes the Terror threat in the Homeland?
Aren’t the “Terrorists” already “here” in the Homeland?
Haven’t Terrorists always been in the Homeland?
It is the latest in a series of plots, targeting sites in the United States, that authorities said they have foiled. These included one last June in which seven arrests were made in Miami after the authorities described suspects talking about blowing up the Sears Tower in Chicago and the F.B.I.’s Miami headquarters. In June 2003, the authorities said they thwarted a plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge, and in 2002, six Yemeni-Americans from Lackawanna, N.Y., near Buffalo, were arrested and linked with Qaeda interests.
Is perspective the only thing that defines the difference between a “Terrorist” and a “Freedom Fighter?”
Is treason — as Talleyrand claims — merely a matter of timetables?
If the Unites States Homeland is already an infiltrated and infected “home” for Terrorists — then why are we still embedded in Iraq?
Only the small-minded and the naive believe we won’t see many more Terrorist strikes on American soil in the years to come.
Terrorism, like it or not, is now part of the American Way of Life and we need to learn how to deal with it head-on and stop pretending it won’t touch us if we just stay in Iraq.
The military knows Terrorism is a form of warfare and they rightfully accept it as a measure of a military strategy. They do not emotionalize Terrorism. They see it for what it is — a methodical effort to enforce a plan.
The mass media and the politicians, however, color and contextualize Terrorism as a moral outrage and they inflame the rest of us with needless rhetoric on the damage done to us on levels of “unfair” and “unexpected” and “unwanted” and they harp on us why we need to understand the Terrorist from the inside out.
We need to ignore the results of Terrorism and cut them off before they are darlings of the mass media as the Fort Dix Six have now become.
Every major television network in America carried live the grotesque hour-long horn-tooting “press conference” touting the arrest of the Six and, in turn, glorifying the caught Fort Dix Six while inspiring other underground Terrorists in the Homeland we have yet to catch or to yet wonder upon.
In a wide-ranging and entirely fascinating interview with author Sir Alistair Horne, Gary Kamiya discusses with Horne why President Bush — and other Conservative Hawks — find Horne’s book, “A Savage War of Peace” so intriguing while the book so obviously addresses the failure of the colonization of Algeria from 1954-1962 by France against the rebel brew:
Given that “A Savage War of Peace” is being read as a mirror of the current war, what does Horne think are the parallels between Algeria and Iraq? “The first one is the difficulty of combating insurgents with a regular army,” he said. “Too heavy forces, too much collateral damage. The second is porous frontiers. In Algeria, they had Morocco and Tunisia on either side, so the FLN could stage raids and then go back across the border so the French couldn’t get them. Now you’ve got a similar situation in Iraq, with Syria and Iran. The third is the tactic of targeting local police. In Algeria, the insurgents were just a handful compared to what you’ve got in Iraq.
They realized that they couldn’t beat the French army, so they attacked the local police who were loyal to the French. This was enormously successful. The French had to take the army back from search and destroy missions to protect the police. So both the police and the army were neutralized. The insurgents in Iraq have copied the Algerian experience to great effect.” “The fourth thing, and this is the painful issue, is torture or abuse,” he said. “In Algeria, the French used torture — as opposed to abuse — very effectively as an instrument of war. They had some success with it; they did undoubtedly get some intelligence from the use of torture. But they also got a lot of wrong intelligence, which inevitably happens.
But worse than that, from the French point of view, was that when the news came out in France of what the army was doing, it caused such a revulsion that it led directly to the French capitulation. And not only revulsion in France, but revulsion here. JFK, as a senator, took up the Algerian cause quite strongly partly because of the human rights issue.
Horne wonders how we can gracefully leave Iraq:
The fifth parallel Horne saw between Algeria and Iraq is the one that now confronts the Bush administration: an exit strategy. “In Algeria, the war went on for eight years, and the military, rather like the military in Vietnam, had a very good case for saying they were winning it,” Horne said. “But de Gaulle decided they had to go. They were negotiating for months with the FLN, like the peeling of an onion. The French lost every bloody thing, including the rights to oil. They had to pull out all 1 million pieds noirs.”
The pieds noirs, of whom Albert Camus is the most famous, were French colonial settlers, many of whom traced their roots in Algeria back to the French conquest in 1830. “One of the worst things that happened in Algeria was what happened to the Harkis, the Algerians who were loyal to France,” Horne explained. As he relates in his book, the Harkis were slaughtered by their vengeful countrymen after the French left, with an estimated 30,000 to 150,000 perishing. “Absolutely appalling. I fear that we’re going to have a Harki situation or much worse coming up in Iraq, because of the numbers involved. The savagery in Iraq is worse than what it was in Algeria.”
“When the domino theory was applied to Vietnam, it was much despised. People said it didn’t mean a thing. But here I think it does, because an over-speedy exit from Iraq is going to leave a vacuum with possibly terrible consequences,” he said. “Take Saudi Arabia. Are we going to have another Iranian revolution there? I would think it’s really ripe for it. Even aside from al-Qaida, there’s an awful lot of opposition to the Saudi royal family. And then you’ve got the question of Iran, which could emerge as the most powerful power in the area. So I’m just extremely glad I’m not George W. Bush because I don’t know how you can get out gracefully.”
Horne on bringing in mercenaries to help diminish the impression that U.S. forces are foreign religious “Crusaders:”
“Yes, they see us as crusaders. Henry Kissinger has a very interesting theory which I go along with. I know the word ‘mercenary’ has a terribly pejorative sound in American ears — you think of the Hessians, the ‘bloody lobsterbacks.’ But Henry’s idea is that you bring in neutral people. He mentioned the Indian army. What you need in Iraq is a kind of mercenary force. Say the Indians have a huge army, which they have difficulty in paying. So we buy a division or two. We have the Gurkhas, but unfortunately, there are only a brigade of them. We need more. We need some country that is not a crusader, not tarnished, to take over.”
Horne on creating hope out of despair:
“I have a Jewish ex-Baghdadi friend in New York, Ezra Zilkha, who has made a huge fortune in banking. This is what I’d call the Zilkha plan. Take the worst place in the world, the most miserable, inefficient, god-awful, messed-up place: Gaza. Make a mini-economic miracle there. Create something like Dubai. Have a duty-free port. Dubai has nothing that Gaza hasn’t got. It’s got the sea, and if the Israelis would let them use it, it’s got natural gas.
Horne on the trouble priests make (emphasis added):
“Now, I’m reminded of one of my heroes, Talleyrand,” Horne continued. “He was a real old rascal. But among his many very wise statements, he said, ‘Wherever there’s trouble, look for a priest.’ He was a defrocked priest so he knew what he was talking about. Honestly, if you look at it, in Northern Ireland, trouble was caused largely by priests on one side or the other.
And what’s happened in Northern Ireland? The solution has nothing to do with religion. We got the priests out of there, thanks to the EU. The best thing it ever did was make Ireland prosperous. And prosperity made up for religion. This is the only hope for the Middle East, to somehow neutralize the mullahs by creating a small economic miracle. To persuade young Muslims that there’s a better life than blowing themselves up by running casinos and whorehouses and hotels and what have you.”
Horne on the ramp up to war:
“In April 2002, I was lecturing to 24 U.S. generals, four-star generals, the top brass in Europe, in France, and it was absolutely clear to me that they were all set to go to war in Iraq,” he said. “They were discreet about it, but they pretty well knew what spots they were going into. There was the commander of the 3rd Division, the commander of the 3rd Corps, and it was all set up. That was a year before the war.
Then, six months later, I was lecturing at the marvelous VMI, the Virginia Military Academy, where General Marshall graduated. At dinner there were some very bright colonels — it’s colonels who run armies, not generals — from the Pentagon. One of them said to me, ‘Remember what they said about the First World War, “the trains have left the station”‘? That was October, and the trains had left the station. Actually, I think they’d pretty well left the station by the April before.”
Horne on how the U.S. botched Iraq:
“One of the stupidest things the U.S. did, and this comes out in Ricks’ book and Rajiv’s [Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”], was disarming the Baathists, the Iraqi army,” Horne said. “I mean, honestly. To go back in history, we beat Napoleon in 1814 and sent him to Elba.
Then he had this amazing comeback in 100 days and very nearly beat the hell out of us at Waterloo. How did he manage to resurrect his army? Because the stupid fat king didn’t pay them! He stood down Napoleon’s army. They were all these old soldiers who weren’t paid. It was the same thing in Iraq. There were what, a half a million men, and we just said, ‘Go home.’ You don’t think they’re going to set up a kebab stand in Baghdad. They’re going to use their weapons. We created the insurgency there.”
Horne as The Man among mere men:
Horne’s insight and experience make incredible sense to me.
Sir Alistair Horne has the perspective of an author and the authority of a Sage — and the business of his being is to tell us awful truths in public from which we all hide in private.