Well, Our Beloved Leader does his annual speech thing tonight. On NPR this a.m. they were playing the opening lines from the past few year's speeches, and one single thing stood out- the man keeps referring to America being "at war". James Carroll wrote an excellent column yesterday pointing out that this is not actually right. George may enjoy calling himself a "Wartime President", and it is an illusion that has certainly come in handy as justification for his attempts to twist the Constitution, but is he in fact a wartime President, and are we at war?
To recount Carroll's points quickly- if we are at war, whom are we at war with? Iraq? Iraq is a preumably freindly government at the moment, we are not at war with Iraq. The insurgents in Iraq? The insurgents in Iraq are not at war with the US- they make no claims on our terrritory, have evinced no wish to overthrow our government, and have no wish except to see foreign troops get out of their country.
So are we at war with Al Quaeda? Well, maybe we should be, but as Carroll points out "Al Qaeda is a free floating nihilism, not a nation, or even a network"; Osama Bin Laden may well be our enemy, but we are not "at war" with him. When is the last time we actually managed to fight him? Osama Bin Laden is, in fact, an international criminal and should be hunted down and treated as such. That would not, perhaps, be in the best interests of the Bush Administration, since it seems to be working pretty well for them to keep this "War" thing going. As Carroll sums it up-
"Bin Laden was a self-mythologized figure of no historic standing until George W. Bush designated him America's equal by defining 9/11 as an act of war to be met with war, instead of a crime to be met with criminal justice. But this over-reaction, so satisfying at the time to the wounded American psyche, turned into the war for which the other party simply did not show up. Which is, of course, why we are blasting a substitute Iraq to smithereens.
Iraq is not a war, because, though we have savage assault, we have no enemy. The war on terrorism is not a war because, though we have an enemy, the muscle-bound Pentagon offers no authentic means of assault.
In each case, Bush is presiding over a self-serving delusion, in concert with a self-emasculating Congress, his partners as would-be war profiteers. Anticipating tomorrow night, one could say Bush will, on this question, be lying to the American people again. But that would presume he is not first lying to himself. State of war? No. State of the Union? Catastrophe, pure and simple."