Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The left and terrorism

Photo from The Petrelis Files

Conservatives in the US rightly come in for a lot of criticism for their obstructionist tactics in Congress and their unhinged rhetoric about President Obama, but the country's left seems equally unhinged.

The recent kerfuffle (an earlier post on the issue) over whether Bradley Manning should be a grand marshal in the city's Gay Pride parade brought the city's lefties out to demonstrate---all 1,000 of them---as reported in Fog City Journal:

The contingent spanned two blocks as it made its way down Market Street comprising a coalition of organizations including Gays Without Borders, the Harvey Milk LBGT Democratic Club, Code Pink, and SEIU Local 1021. Ahead of the flash mob dancing to Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us,” Daniel Ellsberg, 82, who famously released top military documents known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971, rode as Manning’s stand-in.

Ellsberg deserves credit for releasing the Pentagon Papers, but that was a lot different than what Manning, Wikileaks, and Edward Snowden are doing now. The Pentagon Papers were simply a history of the country's involvement in Vietnam, which the Nixon administration tried to keep classified only because of the potential political impact the release would have. But the information Manning gave to Wikileaks and Snowden gave to Glenn Greenwald contained classified information about exactly how the US is now dealing with the very real threat of terrorism. 

Ellsberg tries to conflate what he did with the Pentagon Papers with what Manning and Snowden are doing, but his motive was a lot more focused than theirs: "I was, after all, part of a movement against an ongoing war. Helping to end that war was my preeminent concern." But the US role in both Afghanistan and Iraq is now essentially a historical issue, since President Obama has ended our involvement in Iraq and is in the process of ending it in Afghanistan.

Fog City on Manning:

Manning took responsibility for releasing more than 700,000 classified military and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks in 2010 that lead to his arrest. He is currently being tried at Fort Meade, Maryland. In a March 1 pretrial statement, Manning said his decision to blow the whistle was intended to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan...I also believed the detailed analysis of the data over a long period of time by different sectors of society might cause society to reevaluate the need or even the desire to even to engage in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations that ignore the complex dynamics of the people living in the effected environment every day,” Manning said.

No one can seriously believe that Manning carefully reviewed all those cables to make sure that no US servicemen or anyone working for/with the US overseas would be endangered by their release. It was a huge, indiscriminate document dump. Like the radical left, Manning downplays the real threat the country---and our allies abroad---face from Islamic jihadists, which supposedly has something to do with "the complex dynamics of the people" living in Afghanistan and Iraq. If only we were more understanding of the people who are trying to kill us, maybe they would stop! But it's Afghani and Iraqi religious fanatics who are killing their fellow citizens, not the United States.

This is a necessary assumption of the left's understanding of terrorism: that it's a direct result of US foreign policy and/or it isn't really serious enough to require what the US is now doing to fight it (An example: an exchange I had with the Guardian's Steve Jones a few years ago). 

Whenever he's in town, Noam Chomsky is embraced by city leftists. Chomsky's view of the world: "According to Chomsky, the US has had plans for its domination of world politics and resources for many decades, that the current oil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are merely the forceful extension of these policies." It's all about oil, you understand. (Oil in Afghanistan? Never mind.) This is an example of what C.Wright Mills, in a different context, called "crackpot realism."

From a story in the New York Times about Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn:

When the play[The Designated Mourner] was first produced, during the Clinton era, “It was very well received, but I couldn’t imagine why,” Mr. Gregory said. “Then a few years ago, we did a reading of it at Hunter College---Bush was president---and there were things in that play that were shockingly relevant.”
“For me, it’s even more relevant now,” Mr. Shawn said, “because Obama has made the crimes of the Bush era an acceptable part of our history, and everyone is taking it very calmly. It’s insane! If there is a future, people are going to say: Why weren’t they upset? What were they smiling about?”

What "crimes" are being committed by President Obama? Drones? NSA's surveillance? The writer doesn't follow up on Shawn's statement, because the story was about his plays, not his political views, but this is a lot like the anti-Obama garbage we routinely get from the right. 

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