Three Surprising Quotes
Some quotes in the news about Iraq and the War on Terror have surprised me lately. I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised, but what can I say, when people say silly things I still flinch no matter how many times I have heard similar. Anyhow, three is the magic number so when I saw I had three recent public statements of interest, away I went. Of course upon further research, some of the folks in question had followed up their original statements with even more disturbing pronouncements, but still, we’ll call it three quotes.
Starting the series, we have one Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo stating that the USA should threaten to attack Islam holy sites in Mecca in response to a terrorist attack in the USA. His reasoning was that this would deter said terrorists. I’m a little in awe of his thinking, there are so many things wrong with it that I’m kind of impressed in a depressing sort of way. An interesting exercise in logic though, so assuming he’s not just saying such things to get in the papers, let’s look at this.
First off, he has made the mistake of believing the “Muslim fanatics fighting for the Koran” narrative. Yes, Islam is used by people like OBL to inspire their followers, but they aren’t blindly crazy about it the way many promoting the War on Terror would have us believe. Muslims terrorists are no more going to be dissuaded from their attacks by a threat like that than the IRA would have called off attacks on Britain if Britain had threatened to bomb the Vatican. In fact if Britain had made such a threat, it would have just increased support for the IRA from Catholics. Nothing like being made to feel like you’re being persecuted for your religion to inspire terrorism. Thank you Mr Tancredo, you just helped Al-Qaeda in their recruiting efforts.
Fortunately the State Department and other voices of reason immediately said the USA was going to threaten no such thing and that Tancredo was just talking through his hat. The technical terms the State Department used to describe Tancredo’s remark was “absolutely crazy.” I also think Tancredo’s tie is on too tight, cause he followed up his assertion with a few other gems…he stated that another 911 type attack would “cause a worldwide economic collapse.” Um, what? Does he really think the world’s economy is that fragile? Are American’s so soft that the would panic as a nation and stop going to work if there was another 911? Honestly, another 911 would be a terrible thing but it wouldn’t be the end of the world, yeesh, grow a pair. And “…you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.” Again, say what? Assuming that your enemy is going to attack you no matter what and that nothing but threats can protect you is such a simplistic view of the situation that it’s creepy coming from a member of Congress.
Moving right along, in what I find to be a curious pronouncement US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the USA would be in Iraq for a “protracted period.” Specifically, he said “We anticipate trying to work out with the Iraqi government an arrangement whereby there would be a residual presence of U.S. forces at some fraction of the current level that would be a stabilizing and supporting force in Iraq for some protracted period of time.” The thing that disturbs me about that is that there is the implicit assumption that we have the power to control reality this way, and the concurrent implicit paternalistic attitude that it is somehow right for the USA to use its armies to babysit foreign governments. This makes me think that Mr Gates is either put of touch with reality, or he really thinks the USA has some God given mandate to run the planet. Neither attitude is likely to lead to happy outcomes from my admittedly limited perspective.
Lastly we have something surprising from the modern master of foot-in-mouth disease, Newt Gingrich. How could anything Newt says be surprising? Because this time he is making perfect sense. He claimed that the War on Terror is a phony war, a war we are losing, and a war the Republicans didn’t have “great success” at while they ran congress for six years. He called for a national energy policy designed to ween the USA from foreign, especially Saudi, oil.
Newt Gingrich, the voice of reason? I mean, no matter what, cutting our dependence on foreign oil is incredibly sensible. Why the hell should we let our foreign policy be held hostage by the need to protect and coddle a bunch of Muslim Sheiks on the other side of the planet? Is this a sign of an incipient change of course on the right, or another sign of the end times? Beats me.
(The above image of US troops approaching Omaha Beach on D-Day, 6 June 1944, is public domain under US copyright law. World War Two was a much different war than the current War on Terror, and I use the illustration to once again remind us that we must be very wary of applying any lessons learnt in that war to our current situation.)