"We live in fictional times, with a fictional president elected by a fictional election, leading us into a fictional war justified by fictional evidence." pseudo-documentary filmmaker Michael Moore
Michael Moore was right about one thing: The war on terror is pure fiction.
America is not at war, at least, not with terrorism. We have soldiers in harm's way in Iraq, but they must be part of some peacekeeping mission or nation-building charity work, or bizzaro-world reality show, because the country they serve is certainly not warring against Islamo-fascism or the terrorist violence it inspires.
I know we're not at war with terrorism because I just read a New York Times story about a member of the Taliban who is also currently a student at Yale University. In the weeks before 9/11, Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi was the Taliban's representative in the US, a high-profile member of the notoriously Osama-friendly Afghan government.
Today, Hashemi calls himself "the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale." All because the Bush administration issued a student visa (!) a to a member of a radical Islamist government with whom we are (theoretically) at war.
War on terror? If so, we wouldn't have a Secretary of Transportation who insists on an airport security system that treats Swedish grandmas and Sudanese men as identical security risks. If this were a war, we wouldn't have sent millions of dollars to Palestinians operating the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, or be considering still more aid, this time to the Palestinian governed by Hamas.
During wartime, presidents don't send out State Department stooges to criticize cartoons that insult the enemy. Governments on a war footing don't urge the media to abandon the principles for which its soldiers are fighting. You know, like free speech and freedom of the press?
And if we were really, truly in a war against Islamist terrorism and the people who support it, any government official who even suggested giving operational control of our ports to the United Arab Emirates would be standing in front of a bullet-spattered wall with a cigarette and a blindfold.
This is war?
No, war involves sacrificing, like say, when a nation with a 30-year history of funding terrorists is required to "sacrifice" the opportunity to oversee port operations in the United States. Or like when the country whose banking system funneled most of the money used on 9/11 "sacrifices" its bid to operate the ports that served the World Trade Center. Or when the country whose leaders met repeatedly with Osama bin Laden; and that still refuses to recognize the state of Israel but did recognize the Taliban; and whose leaders still fund anti-Semitic propaganda….
I could go on and on.
Supporters of the UAE ports deal point out that this tiny Arab nation has a mixed record on terrorism, and that right now they are cooperating with us more than any other nation in the region. That would be a fine argument to make during peacetime.
But during a time of war, there is no tolerance for "mixed records" or "close calls" or "Emirates Formerly Known As Terror Sponsors." This is doubly true in the UAE case, where the US Coast Guard warned that "intelligence gaps" kept it from determining potential terrorism risks, particularly on issues involving "the background of [UAE] employees, and foreign influence on their operations."
Despite all this, the Bush administration still put the UAE port deal on the fast track and did not give it the full, mandatory 45-day review as required by law.
Imagine FDR during World War II saying he would use his veto power to make sure American ports were run by Vichy France. Imagine a president arguing during the Cold War in favor of Soviet-occupied Poland overseeing our ports, since "it doesn't really matter who operates the ports, anyway. The Coast Guard handles all the security."
Imagine handing New York harbor over to China during the Vietnam War. It's not just unimaginable, it's insane.
And since I do not believe President George W. Bush to be certifiable, I am left with no other conclusion then that there is no war on terror.
Lost in all the unpleasant facts about the UAE tipping off Osama about our surveillance before 9/11, providing a financial home for Al Qaeda after it was kicked out of Pakistan, allowing UAE port to be used to funnel nuclear material to Iran, etc., etc what actually makes my jaw drop is what the Bush Administration is saying in the Dubai's defense. That it's "pragmatic" that it has no ideology, that it's all business. "As long as they want our money, nothing's going to happen to the port!"
If it's true the United Arab Emirates are only with us because it's in their immediate self-interest, then what should we expect the emirs to do when being on our side no longer pays off? When they get a better deal or face more unpleasant consequences from someone else? Ah, but then it will be too late. They will already be operating our ports and privy to our security secrets.
That's not a position you put yourself in while at war. No, a wartime president would have invited the head of Denmark to the White House by now for a high-profile dinner and show of support. He would have fired the person who handed a student visa to the Taliban to attend Bush's alma mater. He would be firing Homeland Security directors every hour on the hour until he found one who could secure our borders both on land and sea.
But we don't have a president like that. We have George W. Bush.
It may not be war, but it sure is hell.