"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Unserious Part IV, or V, or maybe XVI, it's hard to keep track

I may have to create a new "unserious" label for my posts, as it seems to be a common theme in Washington these days and deserves continuous scrutiny, but I'd hate to be accused of copping out of creative blog entitling. This issue will receive the highest consideration by my cabinet, and I'm optimistic we can reach a decision by the end of this week. Or the end of the month. At the very latest by Christmas, or possibly New Year, but no later than Yom Kippur next year.

On the bright side, the facts that poured out about Maj. Hasan last week made it harder and harder for talking heads and Beltway denizens to be unserious about the major's motives and intent. It's been confirmed that he was in repeated contact with a radical Muslim cleric in Yemen, who also gave 'spiritual guidance' to some of the 9/11 hijackers. He made no bones about the extreme nature of his own faith, be it in PowerPoint slideshows to his classmates or on his business cards, which make no mention of his actual employment (i.e. the Army), but are quite clear about who he believed he was fighting for ("soldier of Allah"). Hasan received scrutiny from multiple federal terrorism task forces as well as his own superiors, who had several meetings on Hasan's piss-poor performance and openly debated whether the man was psychotic. The good major may also have been wiring money to terrorist groups in Pakistan, though we'll need more information to confirm it. All in all, it's increasingly clear that Hasan may not only have cultivated himself as a 'homegrown jihadist', but actively sought to sell himself as a free agent to the other team. I revise my first analysis of his rampage: this was not an act of terrorism, but an act of war and high treason.

That said, unseriousness still exists in this case, and it's unseriousness that enabled Hasan to be in the position he was at Fort Hood last week. Hasan's superiors at Walter Reed, despite their numerous conferences on the man's unsuitability as a doctor, could not find the strength within themselves to actually do something about it. Rather, they didn't want to endure the hassle of writing the paperwork required to fire him, so they did what we in the military call "shit canning": they shit-canned him to Fort Hood to make him someone else's problem. They were quite candid about what they were doing, too, consoling themselves with the knowledge that there were enough good doctors at Fort Hood to pick up Hasan's slack. Profiles in Courage, all of these men. I think a few of them should be on the stand beside Hasan for dereliction of duty.

It doesn't help, however, that the Army's chief, when presented with the bodies of 13 of his soldiers, lamented that as great a tragedy as these deaths were, the greater tragedy would be if the Army's "diversity" suffered as well. So, Gen. Casey, you'd be willing to accept a few more of these incidents so long as you can boast about the tapestry of diversity woven through the Army? That's cold comfort to 13 Army families and about as fundamentally unserious as a commander can be in time of war. Diversity be damned if it endangers American lives.

Oh, by the way, for the 1,394,758th time, "
time is running out for Iran" on coming to a peaceful resolution of its little nuclear problem. Iran is "unable" to say yes to an alternative agreement to reprocessing its fuel; that sounds better, I suppose, than acknowledging that Iran is not unable, but completely unwilling, to come to any agreement short of being a nuclear power. In the parlance of our times, not only no, but F**K NO. That, and they may already have tested a nuclear warhead design (another nugget of info buried in a U.N. report by the hard-hitting investigators of the IAEA). What will it take for the civilized world to take Iran as seriously as they take themselves? An underground test? Nuclear blackmail? A radioactive Jewish city? Or, heaven forbid, a radioactive American city? What, exactly, will make us realize that Iran wants the bomb, is pursuing the bomb, and no amount of carrots will make them relinquish the bomb?

Fortunately, we're more serious, at least, about dealing with the perpetrators of previous terrorist acts. We're so serious that we're going to bring the mastermind behind 9/11 - Khalid Sheik Mohammed - and four of his friends back to New York City, the scene of their handiwork, and give them a civil trial with all the rights and privileges thereunto pertaining, regardless of the fact that they're not American citizens, deserve no rights as such, may well present a high security risk to the city, and could expose a large amount of the intelligence apparatus we're still actually using to find KSM's friends who still want to kill large numbers of people; and we're going to let the attorney-general tell you all this while we kiss the Japanese emperor's shoes. Now, there are some who
don't think this is quite the disaster I make it out to be, and it will be great if they turn out to be right. I don't think the odds are in their favor, and I don't think the gamble is worth the test, but I hope they're right (even though 'hope' is hardly a national security strategy). All this aside, however, my biggest question is: why are we taking these risks when KSM and company are already safely put away in a high-security facility, far from jihadist eyes, and were on the verge of being convicted by military tribunals that the president himself supported? And by the AG's own admission, other prisoners at Gitmo will be prosecuted by these same tribunals; why not KSM? The president was fine with this arrangement a couple of years ago:

What changed?

Finally, addendum to two posts ago: I now appreciate that America was, in fact, too busy to celebrate the fall of Soviet communism:

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