The 'War on Terror' By Design Can Never End
by Glenn Greenwald
outgoing pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson gave
a speech at the Oxford Union and said that the War on Terror
must, at some point, come to an end:
efforts by the US military against al-Qaida are in their 12th
year, we must also ask ourselves: How will this conflict end?
. . . . 'War' must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and
unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict,
and all that it entails, as the 'new normal.' Peace must be regarded
as the norm toward which the human race continually strives. .
come a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives
of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and
the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack
against the United States, that al-Qaida will be effectively destroyed."
night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow interviewed
Johnson, and before doing so, she opined as follows:
this thing we are in now end? And if it does not have an end
and I'm not speaking as a lawyer here, I am just speaking as a
citizen who feels morally accountable for my country's actions
if it does not have an end, then morally speaking it does
not seem like it is a war. And then, our country is killing
people and locking them up outside the traditional judicial system
in a way I think we maybe cannot be forgiven for."
It is precisely
the intrinsic endlessness of this so-called "war" that
is its most corrupting and menacing attribute, for the reasons Maddow
explained. But despite the happy talk from Johnson, it is not ending
soon. By its very terms, it cannot. And all one has to do is look
at the words and actions of the Obama administration to know this.
the Washington Post's Greg Miller reported
that the administration was instituting a "disposition matrix" to
determine how terrorism suspects will be disposed of, all based
on this fact: "among senior Obama administration officials, there
is broad consensus that such operations are likely to be
extended at least another decade." As Miller puts it: "That
timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint
of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."
adopted by the Obama administration just over the last couple of
years leave no doubt that they are accelerating, not winding down,
the war apparatus that has been relentlessly strengthened over the
last decade. In the name of the War on Terror, the current president
decades-old Miranda warnings; codified
a new scheme of indefinite detention on US soil; plotted
to relocate Guantanamo to Illinois; increased secrecy,
at the camp; minted
a new theory of presidential assassination powers even for US citizens;
the Bush/Cheney warrantless eavesdropping framework for another
five years, as
well as the Patriot Act, without a single reform; and just
signed into law all new restrictions on the release of indefinitely
Does that sound
to you like a government anticipating the end of the War on Terror
any time soon? Or does it sound like one working feverishly to make
their terrorism-justified powers of detention, surveillance, killing
and secrecy permanent? About all of this, the ACLU's Executive Director,
Anthony Romero, provided
the answer on Thursday: "President Obama has utterly failed
the first test of his second term, even before inauguration day.
His signature means indefinite detention without charge or trial,
as well as the illegal military commissions, will be extended."
There's a good
reason US officials are assuming the "War on Terror" will persist
indefinitely: namely, their actions ensure that this occurs. The
New York Times' Matthew Rosenberg this
morning examines what the US government seems to regard as the
strange phenomenon of Afghan soldiers attacking US troops with increasing
frequency, and in doing so, discovers a shocking reality: people
end up disliking those who occupy and bomb their country:
attacks, by Afghan security forces on their Western allies, became
'the signature violence of 2012', in the words of one former American
official. The surge in attacks has provided the clearest sign
yet that Afghan resentment of foreigners is becoming unmanageable,
and American officials have expressed worries about its disruptive
effects on the training mission that is the core of the American
withdrawal plan for 2014. . . .
it all, many senior coalition and Afghan officials are now concluding
that after nearly 12 years of war, the view of foreigners
held by many Afghans has come to mirror that of the Taliban.
Hope has turned into hatred, and some will find a reason to act
on those feelings.
percentage of the insider attacks have the enemy narrative
the narrative that the infidels have to be driven out somewhere
inside of them, but they aren't directed by the enemy,' said a
senior coalition officer, who asked not to be identified because
of Afghan and American sensitivities about the attacks."
In other words,
more than a decade of occupying and brutalizing that country has
turned large swaths of the population into the "Taliban", to the
extent that the "Taliban" means: Afghans willing to use violence
to force the US and its allies out of their country. As always,
the US through the very policies of aggression and militarism
justified in the name of terrorism is creating the very "terrorists"
those polices are supposedly designed to combat. It's a pure and
perfect system of self-perpetuation.
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© 2013 The