Five years on
Five years after the terrorist attacks on New York, the best that can be said about our situation is that it could be worse. The response from our elected leaders, and particularly the Bush Administration, has been comprehensively bungled, or worse, undermined by the pursuit of private and political advantage, and pre-existing political agendas, at the expense of a concerted attack on those who are trying to kill us. Incompetence and worse has been rife at every level from the tactical (the failure to catch bin Laden when he was surrounded) to the operational (the various stages of the Iraq occupation, starting with a Provisional Administration hired from Republican job message boards) the strategic (the whole Iraq war) and the moral (the many crimes that have blurred the difference between us and the terrorists). All of these things have squandered our resources, while acting as a recruiting banner for our enemies.
The only thing that has prevented things being even worse is the gratuitous bloodthirstiness of our enemies. Brutal attacks in Muslim countries, executions of innocent people shown on video, and the continuous suicide-terror attacks on ordinary people going about their daily business have shown their true nature, and discredited radical Islamism among many who remain deeply hostile to the US and the Bush Administration. As I mentioned a year ago, in countries like Indonesia , the Iraq war has been highly unpopular, but the great achievement of JI has been to make themselves even more unpopular.
The most significant change since last year is that we no longer hear much about “good news from Iraq”, except in the same context as “mission accomplished”, “turning the corner” and similar discredited phrases. A year ago, pro-war opinion was united in the belief that the Mainstream Media were presenting an overly gloomy picture and that the truth could be found in sites like Arthur Chrenkoff’s Good News from Iraq, which cataloged steady improvements on all fronts, from electricity supplies to security. Chrenkoff ceased publication just under a year ago, and handed the baton to Good News from the front, which appears to have given up the struggle around May 2006.
In retrospect, it is obvious that the Mainstream Media have consistently got things wrong, but in the opposite direction to that claimed by the Good News. At every stage, things have gone worse than would have been expected by anyone relying on say, the New York Times, rather than bloggers like Juan Cole It’s been at least a couple of years since Western reporters could safely travel independently anywhere in Iraq, and they’ve been increasingly reliant on the Pentagon for news.
Of course, there are still some, totally cut off from reality like our own Andrew Bolt. In the alternate universe inhabited by Bolt, everything is going swimmingly, and patience is all that is needed.
Recognising that the Iraq venture has been a disastrous failure doesn’t help us that much, since all our options there are awful. But maybe some sort of partition can be managed, enabling the Coalition to declare victory and pull out without leaving too much chaos behind them. Then perhaps, we might focus on our real problems.