December 18, 2003

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

Thanks to The Sideshow for this pointer. More than any other blog, I think Sideshow's Avedon Carol (an older woman who apparently earned her leftist stripes during the Vietnam protests) does a good job of pointing to blogs that don't get a lot of attention (hell, she even pointed to me once when I did my Cargo Cult Science post long ago, though I don't know how she found me). Anyone can point to Atrios (I frequently do) or TPM or the equivalent high-traffic blogs (see the Ecosystem for a sort-of ranking of blog importance based on inbound links), but few people cast a wide enough net to capture some of the really good stuff out there that would get lost in the sea of blogging and meta-blogging (Wampum is working on a best of blogs list that is worth checking out, too).

Liberal Oasis has some interesting stuff from David Burke, who recently finished a book about Al Qaeda's background. In the light of Saddam's capture, it is important to keep in mind that the enemy is Al Qaeda, and Saddam has nothing to do with them (in fact, was more enemy than friend prior to the war ... now it's sort of an "enemy of my enemy" thing, if any relationship existed at all). It's nice that he was captured because this may give us an opportunity (that I pray we don't squander) to turn things around in Iraq, but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with the war on terror, about which what Burke has to say makes a lot of sense:

Burke quoted by Liberal Oasis: "The biggest myth is that all the various incidents that we are seeing are linked to some kind of central organization. One of the reasons the myth is so prevalent is that itís a very comforting one. Because if you clearly get rid of that central organization, if you get rid off, particularly bin LadenÖand a few score, a few hundred people around himÖthen the problem would apparently be solved.

Unfortunately, that idea is indeed a myth and bears very little resemblance to whatís happening on the ground ... if we're talking about the phenomenon of modern Islamic militancy, within which the threat that we all face is rooted, you have to look beyond bin Laden."

Burke goes on to say that while the war on terror had weakened bin Laden and his inner circle, it also had strengthened the broader militant Islamic movement. The fact is, bin Ladenís freedom has been a useful symbol of Bushís neglect of the true threats to American and global security. But the actual problem is far larger than Osamaís ability to elude justice.

And while it may be difficult to walk away from a useful symbol, smart policy and forward-thinking politics demand it. Itís time to start stressing that the problem of radical Islamic terrorism is bigger than just one man. Itís time to start criticizing the Administration for losing the hearts and minds of the Islamic people. And itís time for the Dems to articulate their own long-term, comprehensive strategy for winning those hearts and minds, based on multilateralism, real democratic reform, and improving the quality of life for all in the Muslim world.

Is Howard Dean up to this task? I really don't know. I'm not even sure it is within the power of the American presidency, no matter how "imperial" and concentrated the president's power may become. The bottom line, of course, is that I am quite certain Bush will make things worse. He already has a brilliantly established track record at doing so. So I'll flip the bird to the bush and take the Dean with two hands. Or something like that.

Oh by the way: The 9/11 commission, chaired by the former Republican governor of New Jersey (who was appointed by the Bush administration) is now saying that the 9/11 attacks could have and should have been prevented, promising lots of revealing public testimony in the months ahead. It would be nice if the media actually paid attention to this, but I'm not counting on it.

CBS News broke this story Wednesday evening, and the local CBS affiliate's lead story was about a kid who wasn't allowed to pass out candy bags for Christmas at his elementary school because his parents stuffed a little bible story in the bags. Also, Billmon has a fascinating story about how the ultra-liberal socialist New York Times massaged a story about US efforts (led by James Baker) to relieve Iraq's debt. The story now (as opposed to the earlier version posted online) more purely reflects the administration's spin rather than the objective truth. Thanks, liberal media!.

It shouldn't be too hard to connect the dots with what's already out there in the public domain (like National Security Advisor Condi Rice saying no one had thought about the possibility of hijacked planes as weapons when it is clear the president was likely briefed on that very possibility weeks before the attacks and did nothing). What will it take to convince people that if we're going to fight a war on terror, we've got a disastrously incompetent administration to do it? And when will we have the commission on who made Saddam into such a tyrant, who helped him gas his own people and slapped him on the back with a good laugh (cough - the Reagan administration - cough) and so on? Moral clarity, anyone?

Posted by Observer at December 18, 2003 07:04 AM

Comments on entries can only be made in pop-up windows while those entries are still on the main index page. Sorry for the inconvenience this causes, but this blocks about 99.99% of the spam the blog receives.

Just a thought: If the Prez really was briefed on the idea of planes being hijacked and used as weapons weeks before 9/11, perhaps the whole war on terror and his attempt to stabilize the mid-East by overthrowing Saddam is his (and his advisors') knee-jerk reaction to attempting to rectify that huge of a blunder. Not that I'm being a Bush apologist, but I can see how it would be possible. I can also see how the guilt of that kind of mistake would blind him and his close allies to the realities of the situation. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes, in any case.

But even with my seemingly sympathetic view of the guy, I still want to get him the hell outta the White House.

"Show Bush the door in 2004!"

Posted by: Perkusi on December 19, 2003 07:48 AM

Older than who?

My god, sometimes you young whippersnappers seem older than I am.

Posted by: Avedon on December 19, 2003 12:39 PM

Errr, sorry, I just mean older than me. Having been born in 1968, I don't have a good memory of Vietnam protests. I am sorry if I was being the insensitive male there.

Posted by: Observer on December 19, 2003 04:20 PM