The War Bush Isn't Fighting
11 August 2006, Eugene Robinson
Washington Post; A19


Let's check what else was in the news yesterday. In Iraq, a suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and injured more than 100 by blowing himself up near a famous shrine in the city of Najaf, which is holy to Shiite Muslims. Meanwhile, U.S. troops moved into the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad in an attempt to end a reign of lawlessness. All this violence is part of a sectarian civil war that was made possible by the U.S. invasion -- and that is growing in intensity under the open-ended U.S. occupation. Iraq, says Bush, is a vital theater in the war against terrorism.

In other news, Israeli forces continued their systematic destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure by targeting a historic lighthouse in the heart of Beirut, in an apparent attempt to knock Lebanese state television off the air. This comes after Israeli forces had already destroyed every bridge over the Litani River, all of Lebanon's major roads and much of the Beirut airport, all in the name of cutting off supplies to the Hezbollah militia -- and all with no complaint from U.S. officials. Lebanon, says Bush, is another vital theater in the war against terrorism.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks of building a "new Middle East," but the Bush administration construction plan seems to begin with setting the old Middle East on fire. The bungled occupation of Iraq has drawn new recruits to the jihadist cause around the world, and now the disproportionate Israeli assault on Lebanon is doing the same thing. We are at war with an ideology, and pounding it frontally just disperses it. It's like trying to smash mercury with a hammer.

Maybe the discovery of the airliner plot will bring us back to the real world. There are deadly enemies out there, and one way to fight them, as the British demonstrated yesterday, is through intelligence. One way not to fight them, as the Bush administration continues to demonstrate, is through reckless military action that may kill terrorists but also kills innocent civilians and thus creates a new generation of terrorists -- doubtless including some bright young man or woman who will come up with a new idea for downing civilian airliners.

We will end up boarding our flights barefoot, barehanded and buck naked except for a hospital gown they'll make us put on at the airport. And, at this rate, Osama bin Laden will be watching CNN from his cave, smiling contentedly.

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