Katrina vanden Heuvel writes: “Jan — Enjoyed your post this Sunday.” Nice of her to say so. But here’s the real import of her message:
The WashPost editorial page is beyond the pale at this stage not only on Iraq, but on fundamental issues of justice. A week or so ago it was attacking efforts to strengthen the right to organize among workers in this country; then it dismissed the Libby verdict; and on Russia, it crusades with a vengeful hypocrisy.
Vanden Heuvel, who is the editor and publisher of The Nation, also sent her Sunday piece “End the War (On Terror),” the latest entry in her blog Editor’s Cut. It marks the fourth anniversary of “America’s war against Iraq” as a “time to consider the longterm damage [of] the misconceived ‘war on terrorism.'”
BananaRepublicans will accuse her of “mandating failure” of course — as if they have any right to preach about success — but it’s just another of their galling pet phrases (like “micromanaging the war”) to deflect attention from their own arrogance and incompetence.
Eventually US troops will leave Iraq because the brutal facts on the ground will compel it. But even as we struggle to get out of this failed war, our political system continues to evade the challenge of finding an exit from the “war on terror.” At a time when we need a coherent alternative to the Bush doctrine and an alternative vision of what this country’s role in the world should be, we see both parties calling for intensifying the “war on terror” — even for increasing the size of the military, and for expanding its ability to go places and do things. But who is asking the fundamental question: Won’t a war without end do more to weaken our security and democracy than seriously address the threats and challenges ahead?
Witness the collateral damage to our democracy. This Administration has used the “war” as justification for almost anything — unlawful spying on Americans, illegal detention policies, hyper-secrecy, equating dissent with disloyalty and condoning torture.
The Administration has also justified the expansion of America’s military capacity — over 700 bases in more than 60 countries, annual military budgets topping $500 billion — as necessary to counter the threat of Islamic extremism and to fight the “war on terror.” What too few politicians are willing to say is that combating terrorism — a brutal, horrifying tactic — is not a “war” and that military action is the wrong weapon. Illegality and immorality aside, it simply doesn’t succeed. Yes, terrorism does pose a threat to national and international security that can never be eliminated. But there are far more effective (and ethical) ways to advance US security than a forward-based and military-heavy strategy of intrusion into the Islamic world. Indeed, the failed Iraq war demonstrated anew the limits of military power.
Postscript: Gary Hart weighs in.