Opinion Official Washington has been buzzing with the language of belligerence since this weekend. The President, who, incidentally, isn't authorized to declare war, declared war. He also did something we've not seen since the Vietnam era - he promised victory.
"My administration has a job to do... We will rid the world of evildoers," he chirped. "We will win the war and there will be costs," he explained Monday. The US military "is ready to defend freedom at any cost," he assured us.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the House obediently passed a resolution Friday night authorizing the administration to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against organizations and governments involved in Tuesday's catastrophic suicide attacks. The Senate had obediently passed it hours earlier.
The measure also releases $40 billion to the administration, for rescue and recovery and to beef up the national securocracy. The administration will be given a nearly free hand to spend the money as it pleases without Congressional oversight.
There is now serious talk on the Hill of easing restrictions on the securocracy which forbid them to recruit foreign agents suspected of human rights violations and to pursue assassinations of foreign heads of state.
US Attorney General John Ashcroft has asked Congress to loosen the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to make it easier to detain people suspected of terrorism and to monitor them more freely. He also wants expanded wiretap powers, so that a suspect's entire range of communications devices may be monitored.
Ashcroft said that the Department of Justice (DoJ) would bring a comprehensive package of bills to Congress suitable for hasty, patriotic rubber stamping later this week.
There is even talk of new crypto regulations aimed at ensuring that the Feds can crack any scheme the populace might use.
Thus Dubya is preparing to set into motion a vast law-enforcement, security and military operation whose ultimate consequences he can't possibly grasp, and which no one will be able to control. Afghanistan looms large as the primary venue of American wrath and Osama bin Laden the prime suspect.
Assuming the sort of military operation we suspect is in the works, we can be sure that innocents will die by the thousands in America's pursuit of vengeance. Throughout the Islamic world, a hundred new enemies will be created with each new outrage in the name of 'justice'.
This is nothing new. More tons of high explosive were dropped on Vietnam in the name of 'democracy' than were deployed throughout the Second World War. More innocent civilians were slaughtered by American B-52's in the name of 'democracy' than could fit inside a hundred World Trade Centers. And as the war crimes accumulated, the NVA and VC became only more confirmed in their hatred of America, and in their determination to defeat her.
Which they did, hands down.
The more things change
Dubya's vague war on evildoers will be grotesquely expensive and everlasting. It will lead the United States into alliances of the most unholy variety and further soil its already sketchy international reputation; it will exhaust good will among her Islamic allies; and it will involve attacks on sovereign nations.
It will exhaust the American people's appetite for vengeance long before it bears fruit. It will eventually be despised at home as it is abroad.
It might even initiate wars among Islamic nations, as may already be the case. According to recent news reports, troops are massing on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. The issue is Pakistan's acquiescence to American demands. Soldiers may die for that and nothing more.
It will vastly increase the worldwide population of those who despise the United States, and proportionally decrease American security against the sort of sneak attack it wishes to thwart.
We will see Muslims who today grieve with America for the tragic loss of over 5,000 innocent souls devote themselves to her destruction.
Perhaps Dubya feels some wistful nostalgia for the Vietnam war, which he sat out happily 'polishing his brass' in the Air National Guard while real men were dying of wounds in an alien land, in real service to their country.
One plausible scenario (and surely there are others) would have the USA easing into an Afghan war progressively by first striking an 'enemy-of-my-enemy' deal with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, such as it struck with numerous other glowing paragons of American values like Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, Chiang Kai-Shek, Syngman Rhee and Ngo Dinh Diem.
The Afghan Northern Alliance, led by Ahmed Shah Massoud until he died this weekend of wounds inflicted by Taliban poseurs, are now highly motivated to strike, and might even gain recruits from aging royalists and recent victims of grotesque Taliban prudery. They're ripe for exploitation as an American proxy force.
We are reminded of America's futile attempt to cultivate a counter-revolutionary army in southern Vietnam. We are reminded of military advisors and donated weapons and war by proxy. We are reminded of 'mission creep' leading to a full scale military intervention marked by tragedy and ending in humiliation.
The problems in Vietnam were that the terrain was jungle, nearly impossible for an invading infantry to penetrate, and that the people quite simply refused to be conquered by infidels. The problems in Afghanistan are that the terrain is mountainous, nearly impossible for an invading infantry to penetrate, and that the people will quite simply refuse to be conquered by infidels. Russia knows what I'm talking about. So does England.
Does America really have to learn it the hard way? ®