The War Against Strawmen

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The Bush Administration continues to maintain that its war in Iraq, and
its adventures anywhere else, are aimed at ending worldwide terrorism.

But such a feat is not only impossible, it is absurd.

Terrorism is a crime, not a war. Terrorism is committed by gangs of
criminals u2014 not soldiers representing a
sovereign government. And no one in his right mind can believe that our
government can eliminate every criminal gang in the world.

If our government could do that, why wouldn't it start with the drug
gangs that terrorize areas of Washington, D.C.? What a perfect opportunity
for the politicians to demonstrate their crime-fighting abilities.

October 4, 2001
, I wrote:

Because the September attacks were a crime, the government’s job is
to locate and bring to trial any perpetrators who didn’t die in the
attacks. If some of them are located in foreign countries, our
government should request extradition u2014
not threaten to bomb the foreign country if we don’t get our way.

I was criticized by some people, who asked, "But what if all the
u2018criminals' aren't caught"

And yet, here we are four years later, tens of thousands of people have
died, and still not all the criminals have been caught regardless. Osama Bin
Laden not only hasn't been apprehended, he isn't even talked about anymore.
As I
said in 2001

If not all the criminals are found and brought to trial, it doesn’t
mean that bombing innocent people would have brought the criminals to

So why do the politicians talk about a War on Terrorism that makes no

Because it opens the door to all sorts of aggressions against foreigners
and Americans.

And it allows the politicians u2014 most
notably the leading members of the Bush administration
u2014 to pose as noble warriors against
enemies that are really only Strawmen.

Charley Reese,
in a recent article
, quoted Dick Cheney as claiming a
U.S. pullout from Iraq would leave it in the hands of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,
Osama Bin Laden, and/or Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Charley points out that "Zarqawi is a Jordanian, not an Iraqi; he has
been denounced by his tribe and his family; and he has killed more Iraqis
than Americans. It is just a matter of time before some Iraqi drops a dime
on him and he's packed off to Islamic hell."

But he's a worthy Strawman, a bogey man, whose name is worth a hundred
million dollars or more in Congressional appropriations.

Charley goes on, "As for bin Laden and his Egyptian adviser, they are
u2014 assuming they're still alive
u2014 hiding out in some cave or
rat-infested village in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They
could not control a small town, much less a country of 25 million people of
which neither of them is a native."

As we all know, the U.S. government has since World War II been financing
and arming various foreign dictators u2014
such as Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, the Shah of Iran, and others
u2014 only to denounce and attack them once
they become wealthy and aggressive enough to be worthy Strawmen.

It's also true that the U.S. government has financed and armed various
opposition groups that supposedly represent the opportunity to topple the
mean old dictators. Often these groups oppose each other, and engage in
violence against one another. But no matter, the object of our government is
to be doing something to fight a Strawman.

Robert Dreyfuss, in
excellent article
, catalogs a number of the groups that
opposed Saddam Hussein and are now battling for control of Iraq. There is
far more than the Iraqi National Congress. The strongest groups are SCIRI
(the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution), Al Dawa (The Islamic
Call), SCIRI's paramilitary arm, the Badr Brigade, the Muslim Brotherhood ,
represented by IIP (the Iraqi Islamic Party) u2014
not to mention Al-Qaeda. The first three originated and are based in
u2014 guess where
u2014 Iran. In fact, SCIRI was founded in
1982 by Ayatollah Khomeini.

Today these groups are fighting each other as much as they're fighting
Iraqi insurgents, Americans, or Iraqi civilians. They regularly practice
torture, assassinations, and other dastardly deeds upon one another. They
are fighting to become the rulers of the new Iraq
u2014 the "democracy" that George Bush
claims to be creating.

Is this what 2,000 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have died
for? Is this what $200 billion dollars has financed? Is this why we have
given up so much of our freedom?

And whoever wins the battle to rule Iraq will eventually become Strawmen
against whom the Bush administration can get on its horses and ride off to
protect us.

There is no War on Terrorism. There is only a War on Strawmen, a War on
Shadows, a War on Fantasies u2014 allowing
George Bush to do whatever he, or his advisors, choose to do.

It is time to quit pretending that the War in Iraq serves any purpose
relating to world peace, democracy in the Middle East, the first line
against terrorism, or any other salutary goal.

It is simply part of the War on Strawmen.

14 , 2005

Harry Browne [send
him mail
], the author of Why
Government Doesn’t Work

and many other books, was the Libertarian presidential candidate
in 1996 and 2000. See his website.

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