02 May 2011

A list of thoughts

- Apologies for the delay, I'm fighting a cold and just got in from out of town.

- Does this mean we can keep our shoes on and take toothpaste on the plane again?
- Where's the long form death certificate? I'd expect there are plenty of morons waiting on that one now to give them proof he was really killed....
- I suppose in one sense, this was the objective, originally. I had no real beef with going into Afghanistan to clear out some bad guys who attacked us. I had a huge beef with occupying the country under the illusive (perhaps impossible) pretense of liberating it with a democracy. You don't just give people voting rights and call it a democratic state. Sorry. That's not how that works.
- So if it was the objective, does that mean the war is over?
- If not, then clearly we have a problem with how we conducted this war and its overarching strategies. I mean, almost 10 years to kill one guy? The Russians got Hitler in under 4 and he had the full power of a nation-state with imperial designs at his defence. I suppose he was a little easier to find (and killed himself), but still.
- I submit that our problem was that never in our strategy was it defined "what causes terrorism". We failed to understand the course that the war was taking. In so doing, large numbers of people who were doing little more than defending their homes and way of life were deemed to be terrorist threats to America and a (much) smaller number of people took it upon themselves to wage an active campaign on their behalf to attack Americans.
- A couple hundred thousand people are dead here. I'm not sure "rejoice!" or "dancing in the night" was the appropriate response. Even if the overwhelming majority of them are not Americans, the overwhelming majority of them were innocent people. Unless you're one of those "kill all ragheads!, they're ALL terrorists!" Islamophobic morons (and there are plenty of them out there in the country), this statement is true and should be sobering.

- So in summary: If it is somehow necessary to kill many, many thousands of (mostly innocent) people, many of them in a completely different country/region, in order to kill one guy, then Yay us. USA! USA! and all that. I'm pretty confident in saying that we failed this equation. So the correct answer is not to celebrate but to ask when we can stop doing what we're doing. It has way too high a cost and probably does nothing to keep us safe and now with this guy dead, doesn't have a clear end point.

- Addendum. I suppose it goes without saying that there was also these
- Gitmo
- Torture
- Civil liberties abuses involving rendition and wrongful detention, or even guest appearances on the no-fly list and our inability to get these overturned or penalized as inappropriate policy choices. To say nothing of now being able to claim someone is a terrorist and summarily kill them anywhere in the world without having to adjudicate the claims and without them being actively involved in combat or a terror plot.

But if I had to look back on this whole episode, this would be one way to look at it. We should not come away holding our heads high. We should be ashamed that in our collective rage we descended to levels well beneath the means available, and useful, to a powerful liberal democratic state.
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