Friday, August 09, 2013

The War on Terrorism and the Cold War

Patrick Smith raises a point that I'm glad to see people raising in There is no terrorist threat: The feds want you to think there is, compliant media goes along Salon 08/09/2013:

After a week of ghost stories about an imminent but vaporous plot on the part of an al-Qaida "affiliate" — this is the big new word — it is hard to decide which is more disheartening: 1) The White House’s blithe if clumsy deployment of factoids, 2) the supine complicity of the media (and this, frankly, is my choice), or 3) the willingness of honorable liberals and capital-D Democrats to go along with the show simply because Obama is maestro and one stays with Obama no matter what he does.

Nothing can be said for certain as to what prompted the State Department to close more than 20 embassies and consulates in the Middle East and North Africa last Sunday, and this is by design. But it is no excuse not to raise the possibility that Americans are eating a summer salad of nonsense served to justify objectionable surveillance practices now coming in for scrutiny.
There also seems to have been a rejuvenation of the term "Al Qaeda" for all Muslim terrorists and terrorist-wannabes. (Except the ones that may momentarily be on Our Side, of course, like the MEK group that was recently de-listed from the US designation as a terrorist organization.) "Al Qaeda" has taken on the role of all-purpose bogeyman that Communism was assigned during the Cold War.

And while the start of the Cold War is considerably more complicated that the following quote describes, it's a good historical reminder:

Now that we are onto history and the purposeful production of paranoia, let us revisit the late winter of 1947 — March 12, to be exact. That is the day Harry Truman began the Cold War, by the reckoning of many (not all) scholars. Truman wanted to send $400 million to the Greek monarchy to suppress a popular, mixed-bag rebellion. But would a stingy, isolationist Congress buy into this momentous move? The American public was in no mood, either. (In the bargain, the monarchy in Athens was crypto-fascist even by the accounts of State Department diplomats.)

Truman found a friend in the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Arthur Vandenberg, who delivered a line long famous among Cold War historians. Come to the Hill, Vandenberg urged. "Make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the American people." Truman did, Congress clapped, the Greeks got the military aid, and Americans got desirably scared. So ensued the wastage of the next 42 years.
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