Hey folks, been a while since I rapped at ya 😉
I am currently living in Romania again.  The weather has recently turned cold and rainy but it’s been a great summer and I’ve had a lot of fun traveling, meeting new people and generally UNPLUGGING from both the internet as well as the news in general.

But every once in a while I peep in on the blogs to see what’s going on, and that most definitely includes ye olde Frog Pond.

So why am I writing this diary, other than to say “howdy”?

Well because there’s something that bothers me quite a lot.  I remember a couple of years ago a book called “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” was getting a lot of chatter.  I never read it but I got the gist of it – how things are FRAMED is extremely important.

As someone who has shuttled in and out of the USA a bit, I’ve seen the myopia that pervades my native land and it gets so insidious sometimes it makes my teeth hurt.  Here’s a perfect example:

The Iraq War otherwise known as the war we or the United States is fighting in Iraq.  Also known to right-wing circles as the “War against Terrorism being fought in Iraq”.

Folks, we all know there is NO war being fought in Iraq.  If there’s a war being fought in Iraq then the USA fought a “war” in Somalia in January and is fighting a “war” in the Philippines as I speak and fought a “war” in Haiti during the Clinton era and fought a “war” in Panama under Poppa Bush, etc.

Yeah, I know it seems like hair-splitting, the difference between an “official” war and a “police action” or whatever legalistic term you wish to use.  But it isn’t hair-splitting at all.  That’s because an official war entails a lot of things that a police action does not.

Even more simply put, a war is an armed engagement against a fixed opponent with the PURPOSE being the military defeat of said opponent.  Therefore the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 actually was a genuine war and in this case, the said opponent (Saddam’s government) was defeated.  This is what gets all the play on the Military Channel.  But this was where the war ended.

A “police action” in Iraq or Haiti is no different than a police action in Los Angeles.  It is a government using force to REDUCE crime and MAINTAIN law and order.  The purpose of this is to STABILIZE society.  In the case of the Clinton-era Haiti “police action”, it worked.  In the case of Iraq (and poor old Afghanistan), it’s been a complete disaster.

But the righties continue to use the word “war” because to them, it actually IS a war.  It is the war on “terrorism” or “Al-Qaeda” or just plain old “terror”.  They honestly think (or some quite dishonestly frame it) in terms that a couple of countries (mostly the USA) and it’s military are engaged in armed conflict to defeat a specific opponent.

To call it a “war” is therefore completely disingenuous.  Terrorism and terrorists are literally no different than armed gangs in Los Angeles.  Terrorism is fueled by the ideology of repression, funded by illegal activity and perpetrates violence for one reason and one reason only: to preserve its existence.

It is incredibly myopic to frame Al-Qaeda’s (or the Badr Brigades or PEJAK or Mahdi Army or Hizbullah, et al) motivation for violence as one based on IDEOLOGY.  That’s like saying the barons and kings of Europe fought in the Crusades for the IDEOLOGY of reclaiming the Holy Land for Christianity.  Yes of course there is an ideology present, but there’s also an ideology present for members of the Latin Kings or La Costa Nostra.

A drive-by shooting in Los Angeles never happens because the perpetrators are outraged that someone in the next block over is an “unbeliever”.  If the Crips released press statements, it would sound completely ludicrous to say such and such person was gunned down due to his blasphemous idolatry of a false gang’s signs.  But every day we’re supposed to accept this “frame” that terrorists “hate our freedoms”?  Ludicrous.

A gang commits violence to deter attacks on itself, to defend its territory, to defend its illegal money-making activities and most importantly to DESTABILIZE the local government.  Gangs are always comprised of disenfranchised people.  If the government (or society at large) provided a better alternative, people would never join a gang.  Destabilizing the society is simply a recruitment INCENTIVE.

In the last 50 or 60 years, LOTS of countries have faced terrorism and they’ve tried every method under the sun.  In the few cases that have worked, from Senegal, parts of the Philippines to the much better known case of Northern Ireland, it’s always been a “police action” that ended up getting the job done and NEVER a war.  Countries like Colombia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar clearly show the utter futility of fighting a war against terrorists.

I suppose right wingers would actually love it if Bush called out the Army to fight gangs in Los Angeles or other large urban cities.  But imagine just for a minute if martial law was declared, the Army moved in and an actual war was waged.  It’s like trying to kill a fly with a shotgun, only when it’s real and not a cute metaphor it causes untold suffering and is completely ineffective in the long run.

Police die every day in the line of duty.  Brave Americans and other foreigners are dying every day in Iraq too.  But calling it a war and not a “police action” doesn’t take away anything from their bravery or (hopefully) valiant actions.

Calling it a war though when it’s not?  Well that leads to a whole HOST of terrible and erroneous frames.  It leads to a focus on killing rather than stabilizing a government.  It leads to ideologies like “defeat” or “victory” as if one day a weary Chief Terrorist is going to wave a white flag and sign a document of surrender.  It leads to homicidally foolish decisions to militarily occupy entire cities at gunpoint and consider brief reductions in the death count as “successes”.  It leads to crap like “bring it on” and arming different factions to fight opposing factions, etc., etc.

Once the actual “war” was over, the “police action” should’ve begun.  Soldiers should’ve been trained to “serve and protect”.  It happened in WW2 in both Germany and Japan once those actual “wars” were over and it could’ve happened again.

Instead of course we got a wholesale looting of the country at the tremendous benefit of very few.  And of course we also got the wholesale looting of the American treasury to finance the looting of Iraq and a whole lot of people have died, become maimed, homeless or injured to make it happen.

A police officer serves and protects and arrests and tries “wrongdoers” in a court of law in an open and transparent process.  A soldier does his best to kill the enemy until the leader of the enemy gives up.

As far as I’m concerned, calling this a “war” provides semantic and semiotic cover for nothing more than a modern day version of a Viking flotilla pillaging medieval Paris.


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