Monday, January 17, 2005

Riding with the bad boys

I'm not comprehensive. That's part of what I love about a blog (as opposed to, say, a dissertation): there's no imperative to be comprehensive. Nonetheless, sometimes I think "Gee Trav, everybody's talking about x or y. Don't you want to weigh in?"

These past few days, there were two things "everybody" was talking about. First, the rather absurd comparison between Armstrong Williams and two bloggers on the Dean payroll. The answer to the above question, "Don't you want to weigh in?" is, in this case, no. I am not enough part of the blognoscenti to know these folks and there are plenty more hip to the scene than I who are talking about it.

The second thing showing up on blogs-a-plenty is Seymour Hersh's article in The New Yorker. That's a different matter. If you haven't read it, make the time. The short version is, welcome to the world of ceaseless, unending war perpetrated with no governmental oversight:

Rumsfeld added that America was committed to staying in Iraq and that there would be no second-guessing.

"This is a war against terrorism, and Iraq is just one campaign. The Bush Administration is looking at this as a huge war zone," the former high-level intelligence official told me. "Next, we're going to have the Iranian campaign. We've declared war and the bad guys, wherever they are, are the enemy. This is the last hurrah--we've got four years, and want to come out of this saying we won the war on terrorism."
I know I am a pessimist when it comes to these sorts of things, but does anyone really believe that it's possible to eliminate terrorism??? For fuck's sake. It's whack-a-mole with AK-47s. What an absurd mission. Why am I having a "war against drugs" ptsd moment all of a sudden? But we're not just fighting a war no one can win against country of the month, we're also rewriting the rules for accountability and checks and balances (checks and balances are, like, so last week):

The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.

The President's decision enables Rumsfeld to run the operations off the books--free from legal restrictions imposed on the C.I.A.
War with Iran? You betcha. Death squads? And how. The Pentagon answering to no one? Right on.
"Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?" the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. "We founded them and we financed them," he said. "The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren't going to tell Congress about it." A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon's commando capabilities, said, "We're going to be riding with the bad boys."
Truly, I am beginning to believe we should outlaw the western as a genre. These guys watched High Noon one too many times.

On the brighter side of things my other PhD friends who are thinking of flying the academic coop should be able to get work at the Records Department of the Ministry of Truth, I figure. They'll need a cadre of people to replace those reports about war in Eurasia Eastasia Iraq with ones about war in Iran.

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