Picking a Fight With a Cowboy

The web site of the new right think tank, The Heritage Foundation, has taken aim at one of my previous articles with a fusillade of fallacy, distortion and regurgitated Bush propaganda. I am disappointed. Consigning this drivel to the intellectual dustbin is light work.

Len Hart of [The Existentialist Cowboy, published in] wrote a scathing piece this yesterday entitled "Terrorism is Worse Under GOP Regimes," in which he claims that terrorism rates are worse under Republican Administrations. Hart states:

"So much so that one would think GOP regimes cause terrorism. According to FBI stats, terrorism has been worse under GOP regimes at least since 1980. Reagan's "War on Terrorism" caused terrorism, or at least, made it worse. During a period of two years, terrorist attacks against the United States very nearly tripled."
First a Sourcewatch precis about Heritage.

Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a New Right think tank. Its stated mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of "free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." It is widely considered one of the world's most influential public policy research institutes.

I will address the Heritage Foundation's "refutation" point by point.
Measuring success or failure by the number of attacks makes little sense.
Of course it does! What other yardstick is there? I suspect GOP candidates would cite a decline in terrorism, had there been one, as a measure of success. Alas! When the reverse is true, the GOP is left with a tired old tactic: numbers don't tell the whole story! Except when they are on your side, that is. What does tell the whole story? Heritage hasn't a clue.

Consider Iraq?the location of the majority of terrorist attacks against Americans. Does the volume of attacks mean we are losing the war on terrorism? No, it means the United States freed 25 million people, and some of the Baathistts and other insurgents who keep them terrorized don't appreciate our efforts.

Evidence that you failed to read my article which addressed "terrorist incidents" from the Ronald Reagan administration though the administration of Bill Clinton, a period of time under study by the FBI. If you factor out current Iraq violence, not reflected in the FBI study cited, I daresay none of the attacks could have been attributed to Iraq. Your statement is simply incorrect. Secondly, it does not address the issues I raised in my article.

Secondly, your statement that the "United States freed 25 million people" is so vague as to be ludicrous. Where? When? And what is the methodology? Did you interview all 25 million and pose the question: are you now free? Some methodology please! In fact, most Iraqis say they were better off under Saddam. [See: Iraqis Say They Were Better Off Under Hussein]

They [Baathists] want to be in charge again, and both American and Iraqi soldiers stand in their way.
Certainly not the Iraqi soldiers who were disbanded by Paul Bremer. Besides, what right have we to be in charge? We are not Iraqi. It is not our country! The US attack and invasion of Iraq violated every principle of international law and US criminal codes.

I rather think Heritage, with this kind of "logic", is making my case for me. When the US behaves irresponsibly, when it flouts every principle of law, it cannot expect passivity from conquered states, territories or races. There is a perfectly logical reason that incidents of terrorism increase during GOP regimes. GOP imperial polices cause terrorism!

Finally, your use of the term "insurgent" is loaded and emotional, and one suspects that that is deliberately the case. The term "insurgent", likewise, implies an illegitimate resistance. It's loaded. Even so, you cannot possibly know that to be the case with any methodology in use.

Even more can be said of your incorrect use of the term "Baathist". You seem to use that term as if it were synonymous with "terrorist". That is blatantly misleading. You neglect to mention the fact that remnants of Saddam Hussein's army, largely Baathist, were pro-US military until Paul Bremer issued the infamous "de-Baathification" order! At that point former "Baathists" and former Iraqi military personnel literally went underground. We made of them an enemy. Was it done deliberately?

You stated:
Baathistts and other insurgents who keep them terrorized don't appreciate our efforts.
Would you? Had you been a Baathist? Who made of Baathists an enemy? There was no "terrorism" in Iraq until Paul Bremer issued the infamous "de-Baathification order" and the dismantling of the army. The army at that time was for the most part very pro-US, a fact left out by Heritage. What useful purpose was served by Bremer's orders? Your examples, rather, support my case --not those of Heritage.

It is hard not to conclude that both groups were thus forced "underground" as the US military brass had warned. Bush did not listen to them. Bush's record of utter failure and incompetence in Iraq supports my broader thesis: US policy during GOP regimes are a direct cause of what the right wing conveniently and politically calls "terrorism". Moreover, since you've put the topic on the table, it supports my more narrow case that Bush incompetence, specifically, is the root cause of anti-American violence in Iraq today. Clearly, the situation has gotten worse during the duration of the illegal American occupation.

Report blasts US for failures in fighting terrorism.

A just-released report slams the federal government for failing to coordinate the work of US law enforcement agencies overseas to fight terrorism. The Government Accountability Office found that in one country a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have compromised several investigations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities. The GAO did not name the country in its report.

Let's consider the effect of Bush/US policy in Iraq. Clearly, there was no "insurgency" --legitimate or otherwise --prior to the US attack an invasion, a violation of the Nuremberg Principles and, likewise, US Code: Title 18: Section 2441. US policy, GOP policy, is the root cause of the current violence in Iraq. We have succeeded only in further radicalizing the Middle East!

How does that make us safer? It doesn't! Just as Ronald Reagan who threatened "terrorists": " can run but you can't hide!", Bush has made terrorism worse:

Last time I checked, effects always follow causes. It was Conan Doyle's character, Sherlock Holmes, who said: "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." I would add that the burden of proof is upon those GOP regimes most notable for their exploitation of terrorism to put forward some credible evidence that GOP/US policies of imperialism and aggression have made the world safer in any way. Otherwise, we have only the numbers of dead to support the common sense conclusion that GOP policies have never worked and are not working now. In fact, those policies are at the very root cause of terrorism and anti-American sentiment in general.

Significantly, the Heritage Foundation dare not use its own best defense: terrorism is worse under GOP regimes because GOP regimes exploit terrorism and the fear it causes. They literally cook the books by loosely defining "terrorism" itself. If it is done, it is done to alarm the public and justify numerous abrogations of civil liberties and due process of law. But would the Heritage Foundation dare admit this?


Congressman Ron Paul makes a valid point: the GOP has lost its way. What he says about the GOP having opposed "entangling alliances" may have been true in the past. The GOP under Bush/Cheney, however, has literally auctioned off the government of the US to large corporations whose imperial behavior has earned our country several lifetimes of enmity and terrorism. The CIA would call this "blowback". If the Heritage Foundation cannot see the facts for its ideology, then it is just being naive or worse --uninformed. And it dares call itself a "think tank"! Whatever do they sit around and think about?

As Monty Python used to say --and now for something completely different. You all know my enthusiasm for the writing of Matthew Stevenson [See: America's Indebted Prosperity on this blog], though I have not yet completed my review of his collection of essays, Mentioned in Dispatches: The Travel Essays of an Expatriate American ( Matthew is just back in Europe from an author trip to New York. For Cowboys in Geneva, Matthew has organized a book signing this week at Payot Books in Geneva, Switzerland. Don't miss it.

Additional Resources:

PBS Frontline: Episode #1
PBS Frontline: Episode #2
PBS Frontline: Episode #3
Terrorism is Worse under GOP Regimes
The Four Biggest Myths About the US War Against the People of Iraq
Iraq: Only Losers Get Charged with War Crimes
Pentagon Wages Deadly, Silent, Toxic War on US
Why Conservatives Hate America


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