9/11 Commission’s Report Promises Unending War

The 9/11 commission’s 500-plus-page report is filled with

suggestions on how to reorganize the nation’s defenses against sneak attacks.

So great and so positive has been the reaction to this latest offering that

Congress is getting off the dime and cutting short one of its interminable

vacations to consider acting on its recommendations.

Part of the document’s power is that the report is touted as

bipartisan and therefore deserving of special respect. But that is TV-news-host

palaver. In truth, if it’s bipartisan it is deserving of special suspicion,

because “bipartisan” really means a put-up job, a behind-the-scenes deal,

something in which the fix is in between the two political parties.

Bipartisanism is what has gotten us into the foreign-affairs fix we are in.

Years of bipartisan agreement on foreign policy brought us 9/11 and the Iraqi

disaster. There is no more poisonous apothegm in American politics than the one

which has it that “politics stops at the water’s edge.”

A bipartisan foreign policy is a policy decided in the back room,

out of sight and without meaningful public debate. It is smother politics-that

is, politics played by both parties and the ruling elites to cast a blanket of

silence over foreign-policy decision-making. Whenever there is no argument,

when debate is suspended in favor of locking arms and singing “God Bless

America,” no good comes of it, and no good will come of this report.

There is debate aplenty about some of the report’s

recommendations. Already, screaming, yowling and shouting are audible as the

elected ones and their appointees argue over whether or not to have an

intelligence (not intelligent) czar and whether or not to consolidate various

agencies under such a person, as well as how to reorganize the Congressional

oversight committees-which amounts to little more than a fight among

steatopygic politicians over who gets what in the spoils and honors department.

All that carrying on is secondary to the report’s major premise,

which, if accepted and acted on, commits us to a dreary and even dangerous

future. In the deepest sense, what these 9/11 commissioners would turn the

country into is a vast walled fortification within which we are to immure

ourselves, except when we issue out the sally ports to act against a real or

fancied enemy. Bunker America. If you are in, you don’t get out, and if you are

out, you don’t get in.

They would have us make ourselves into the world’s largest

Israel, a nation surrounded by concertina wire, search lights, sensors, patrol

boats, electric fences, and a thick magnetic field of suspicion and secret

detentions. We are to become a bleak land of police officers asking for picture

ID’s. We are to be a fingerprinted, bio-recognized people whose irises are

photographed and kept in a Washington database, whose movements and words will

be the common property of ever-expanding police forces, security guards, rapid

responders and impolite imbeciles manning X-ray machines. We will be the

world’s anti–Motel 6, where the light is off and the unwelcome mat is out.

If Bunker America were to be a temporary, short-time thing while

we win the war, we could endure its costs in liberty lost, money spent and

wealth foregone. But that is not the thrust of this report. It promises us war,

terror and mayhem long into the future, inasmuch as it does not envision a

peace settlement of any kind at any time. It opposes an Arab/Muslim jihad with

an American/Judeo-Christian crusade, although that word-“crusade”-hasn’t been

spoken since that one time George Bush used it.

Yet the war aims in the report and the suppositions visible

behind them reveal a desire to all but extirpate Arab/Muslim life as it now

exists. “The catastrophic threat at this moment in history is the threat posed

by Islamist terrorism, especially the al Qaeda network, its affiliates, and its

ideology,” says the report, which continues: “Islamist terrorist leaders draw

on a long tradition of extreme intolerance … [which is] motivated by religion and does not distinguish

politics from religion, thus distorting both. It is further fed by grievances

stressed by Bin Ladin and widely felt throughout the Muslim world against the

U.S. military presence in the Middle East, policies perceived as anti-Arab and

anti-Muslim, and support of Israel. Bin Ladin and Islamist terrorists mean

exactly what they say: to them America is the font of all evil, the ‘head of

the snake,’ and it must be converted or destroyed.

“It is not a position with which Americans can bargain or

negotiate. With it there is no common ground, not even respect for life, on

which to begin a dialogue. It can only be destroyed or utterly isolated.” No

deals, no negotiations, no agreements, no compromises, no peace treaties, no ententes cordials , no summits, no

détentes, just unconditional surrender, but not of a nation-of a religion and a

civilization.

In its rational, quiet way,

this 9/11 commission is cuckoo. They tell us in their report that we must

proselytize and even wage war in the following countries and regions: western

Pakistan and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region; southern and western Afghanistan;

the Arabian Peninsula, especially Saudi Arabia and Yemen; the Horn of Africa,

including Somalia and extending southwest into Kenya; Southeast Asia from

Thailand to the southern Philippines to Indonesia; West Africa, including

Nigeria and Mali; and various European cities with Muslim communities,

especially cities in Central and Eastern Europe where security forces and

border controls are less effective. Are these people crazy or what?

The report would have our agents going into schools in tens of

thousands of Islamic communities, replacing their textbooks and the teachers of

their religion with our teachers and our textbooks. Evidently the commission is

willing to have the United States force its way past the enraged hostility of

hundreds of millions of people to inculcate their children.

“Right or wrong,” the commission says, just in case the

impracticalities of what it’s proposing are not understood, “it is simply a

fact that American policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and

American actions in Iraq are dominant staples of popular commentary across the

Arab and Muslim world. That does not mean U.S. choices have been wrong. It

means those choices must be integrated with America’s message of opportunity to

the Arab and Muslim world.” Yeah, there’s a welcome message of opportunity if

the sons and daughters of Allah ever heard one. From Morocco to Indonesia, our

glad tidings are already being barfed back in our faces.

The commission admits as much when it says: “The United States is

heavily engaged in the Muslim world and will be for many years to come. This

American engagement is resented. Polls in 2002 found that among America’s

friends, like Egypt, the recipient of more U.S. aid for the past 20 years than

any other Muslim country, only 15 percent of the population had a favorable

opinion of the United States. In Saudi Arabia the number was 12 percent. And

two-thirds of those surveyed in 2003 in countries from Indonesia to Turkey (a

NATO ally) were very or somewhat fearful that the United States may attack

them.”

Note in the quote above the tone of injury implicit in the aside

about Egypt’s ingratitude for American aid. We call it aid, but do the

Egyptians? Or do they call it a bribe? And what about the crack about Turkey,

“a NATO ally”? Everything which Turkey feared would come of an invasion of Iraq

seems to be coming to pass, namely an independent Kurdistan threatening Turkish

interests and thus driving Turkey, the NATO country, away from its Israeli

alliance and toward common cause with Syria, Iran and Jordan.

Much of the commission’s writing revolves around misunderstanding

Muslims or presuming to understand Muslims on the thinnest of evidence when

some effort might have been spent understanding ourselves. Less attention

should have been paid to Muslim “extremism,” which is hardly an undiscussed

topic in the United States, and more devoted to Judeo-Christian extremism.

Christianity is a one-god-one-truth-and-we-Christians-own-it type of religion.

Leaving aside abstruse arguments over the separation of church and state, a

more immediate danger to the peace of the world is an America whose policies

are controlled by the intolerant spirit which lurks in this religion and from

time to time dominates the civic life of its practitioners. You don’t have to

be a Muslim to wonder if the highly organized Christian elements in the United

States hold the levers of power and drive policy. It sticks out all over this

report, which seems to neutral, agnostic eyes as a battle plan by one religion

to destroy another. That’s all fine and well, but when holy wars are fought,

there is hell to pay.

9/11 Commission’s Report Promises Unending War