Monday, June 15, 2009

Let the good wars roll

Financial Times:

They [Islamic militants] have a global agenda, they have a regional agenda, they are not confined to Pakistan. They could go in to the [Persian] Gulf, they could go in to India, they can go anywhere,” [Pakistani foreign minister, Shah Mahmood] Qureshi said. “There is a collective interest and there has to be a collective realisation that this is not Pakistan’s problem. It’s a larger problem”.

One of the most salient features of the war formerly known as "on terror" is that the enemy is so pitifully conceived as to be virtually ubiquitous. Do they have two legs? Then they are not confined to Pakistan. Do they have a particular way of seeing the world? Then they have a global agenda.

It is an insurmountable handicap in any war to define an enemy in no greater terms than having the ambulatory capacities of a human being and a "suspicious vibe." This only gets many, many people killed -- or as the folks in Special Forces like to say, "How the fuck am I supposed to tell difference between a goat-herder and an insurgent, unless the goat returns fire?"

Of course, there is utility in setting the bar so low that anyone with two feet and a gripe can readily cross the threshold: the enemy is whoever you want them to be. Today they are the Taliban. Yesterday they were al-Qaeda. Tomorrow they will be the world -- rest assured, plenty of it is poor and pissed-off; has dark skin but never had Communion; and lives on top of resource wealth that incorporated private interests would prefer to call their own.

But who is brave enough to stick their hand into someone else's livelihood in order to take it for themselves? Of course, no one is. That is why it is done in the name of national defense, for the benefit of others -- or by soldiers who just needed the cash and wanted the education. It is the poor who take land from the poor, just as it is the poor who take bullets for the rich.


cemmcs said...

Well said!

IOZ said...

If they run, they're VC. If they stay still, they're well disciplined VC!