Ed Brayton (Dispatches form the Culture Wars) has this post with a video you should watch.

I have two reactions to this. First, it is absolutely fascinating to contemplate the change (assuming this guy, in the video, is accurate) in attitude i Britain, and the post-game analysis … the extension of the “Irish Problem” by a decade and a half or more. The statement thatPhillippe Sands is making is truly astounding from the historical perspective for anyone who remembers the IRA and Britain in the 1970s and early 80s.

The second point he makes is to not call the current conflict a “war on terror.” From the very day that the planes hit the buildings on “911” this should have been treated as a criminal act. I’ve said this before. George Bush was a total boob, the way he handled 911.

And, at the end of the video on Ed’s site, you can hear an interesting comment on torture vis-a-vis the current presidential election campaign in the US.


  1. #1 sailor
    July 8, 2008

    Yes, American still thinks it is at war, backed by a lazy press. It is now common knowledge. Even my partner thought I was nuts whan some public radio news commentator said “this is the first time the US would be changing the presidencey during wartime” and I said, “America is not at war.” Now I wonder how different attitudes would be if we called the fiasco in Iraq what it is: an occupation.
    This is not to say there was not a war – there was when the US invaded Iraq. But once the then government crumbled it became and is an occupation.

  2. #2 Paul Murray
    July 8, 2008

    It’s worth noting that not only is America not at war, it has no credible military enemies at all – at least, not to it’s sovereign territories. The worst is faces are threats to its “interests”.

  3. #3 yogi-one
    July 9, 2008

    Agreed. There is no nation militarily threatening to us right now. There is no terrorist group that can take down America with scattered acts of violence.

    All the treats to America are ones we threatened ourselves with. Oil dependency – we created it, not another country. Subprime lending crisis – we created it, not another country. Outsourcing of our manufacturing base – we created it, not another country. Loss of competivieness in high tech and hard sciences – we created it, not another country. The weakening of the dollar – we created it, not another country. The astounding national debt – we created it, not another country.

    We are not at war with any other country.

    Which is not to say we are not at war.

    We are at war with ourselves – and we are losing that war, as we inevitably must.

    We are kicking our own butts and doing it so thoroughly that any would-be enemies have an easy job of it – just waiting for us to self-destruct.

    And America Just Doesn’t Get It. And I am not seeing that we will.

    The alarms have all been sounded many times over. The science is in, the lines in the sand are all crossed. America simply REFUSES TO CHANGE.

    I have never seen a level of denial like this, not even among hardened alcoholics and drug addicts.

    What the hell is wrong with us?

  4. #4 Alan Kellogg
    July 9, 2008


    Do you remember the 90s? Do you remember how we treated terrorism then? Didn’t work too well now did it. It’s not terrorism we’re fighting, but people who use terrorism as a tool to enforce their well upon others.

    When you’re dealing with small numbers of people acting independently and no real organization then it’s a law enforcement issue. When you’re dealing with large numbers of people acting in a coordinated manner and capable of conducting combat operations, then it’s war. Then you’ve got the grey areas between. If nature abhors a vacuum, she absolutely detests sharp distinctions.

    Law enforcement is simply not able to handle the situation we have now. It’s not just a case of resources, but in how the law handles matters. There is a reason we’ve seen the militarization of police departments across the country whereto the war on drugs; it’s in response to the militarization of the drug cartels in response to the actions by competing drug cartels, and the reaction to cartel actions by local authorities in their home countries and our reaction.

    The police works best against people acting alone or in small, informal groupings trying to remain undetected and avoiding contact with authorities. The military works best against organizations seeking ultimately confrontation and having an organization established to facilitate operations. With the terrorists we have the latter, not the former.

    Have Bush etc. fucked up? Badly. Could anyone have done better? Yes, Gore for example. He was expected to put a plan devised during the Clinton administration into action when he became President after all. Consider this scenario; We invade Iraq in July of 2001, and then 9/11 occurs. (I remember the Albert Gore of 2000, he’s changed a lot since then. Ralph Nader fucked up a lot of people with his antics during the 2000 Presidential election.)

    Dealing with people is not like formulating a scientific hypothesis, getting one detail wrong does not invalidate the whole. A plan does not have to be perfect, it just needs to produce results; errors can be corrected for while the plan unfolds.

  5. Alan,

    I’m not saying that the military would not have a role. In fact, the American Military should have had a role in Afghanistan at the beginning that was much more substantial than, and different from they way it was. You can’t send Eliot Ness into the caves in the mountains of Afghanistan. But by treating terorists as this:

    people acting alone or in small, informal groupings trying to remain undetected and avoiding contact with authorities. which is what they are, and using existing criminal law already designed to work wit this (including fisa) we would not need the patriot act, we would not have had to send the airline industry into a spiral that they never really came out of, and in general we ma not hav moved our nation so many steps closer to an Orwellian police state.

  6. #6 Rick Pikul
    July 9, 2008

    Yep, the correct description of terrorists is the one given to the FLQ by Pierre Trudeau: Bandits, and they should be treated as such.

    Now sometimes you have to go farther than what the police can do with their own manpower and capabilities, and no one can deny that Trudeau knew this. After all, just look at the interview where he famously said just how far he would go: Just watch him.

  7. #7 themadlolscientist
    July 9, 2008

    We are not at war with any other country.

    Smith! 6079 Smith W! We are at war with Eurasia. We have always been at war with Eurasia. Or was it Eastasia? No, wait, that was last week.


  8. #8 JanieBelle
    July 9, 2008


    Beth pointed this out at my blog:

    Want some torture with your peanuts?

    A senior government official with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has expressed great interest in a so-called safety bracelet that would serve as a stun device, similar to that of a police Taser®. According to this promotional video found at the Lamperd Less Lethal, Inc. website, the bracelet would be worn by all airline passengers (video also shown below).

    This bracelet would:

    • Take the place of an airline boarding pass

    • Contain personal information about the traveler

    • Be able to monitor the whereabouts of each passenger and his/her luggage

    Shock the wearer on command, completely immobilizing him/her for several minutes

    (my emphasis)

  9. #9 Alan Kellogg
    July 9, 2008

    My point is vis a vis Iraq and terrorists is that the situation is not a simple either or. At the same time, it is the sort of situation the military can handle better than law enforcement. The time will come when the police will be able to deal with it, and when that happens it will be the Iraqi police that do the job.

    Now, if you want a really outrageous action by the U. S. government, consider how we got Florida.

    In 1812 Kentucky militia colonel Andrew Jackson was authorized by Washington to conduct a punitive raid into the Spanish colony of Florida. Let’s just say that Andy sort of exceeded his authority.

    Since Spain was an enemy at the time (War of 1812, diplomatic considerations, and all that) We decided to keep the place for a bit. Once peace came Madrid asked for Florida back, we stalled, and Spain ended up asking, “How much are you willing to pay for Florida?” After negotiations we agreed on a price and Florida became ours. Compared to the Florida affair Iraq is an examplar of moral probity.