Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 13, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DRAINING THE SWAMP....Last week John Edwards proposed the creation of an international Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO). Henry Farrell has some minor objections, but nonetheless likes the idea because:

it clearly puts the emphasis of combatting international terrorism where it should be — on policing and domestic intelligence. Metaphorically and intellectually muddled plans to drain the fever swamp of the Arab Street etc have not only proved wrong-headed, but catastrophic.

In comments, James Wimberly doesn't disagree, but adds:

And we must not cede the wingnuts the monopoly of the "draining the swamp" idea. Tackling the root causes or predisposing factors of terrorism — political grievances, wacko readings of religious traditions, culture shock, unemployment and underdevelopment — is commonsense and essential. It should not be discarded just because the neocon idea of how to drain a swamp is to bomb it.

I don't have anything significant to add to this. But both comments seem worthwhile, so I thought I'd toss them out.

Kevin Drum 12:26 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

"the neocon idea of how to drain a swamp is to bomb it"

Why does Kevin blandly peddle lies?

Posted by: am on September 13, 2007 at 12:32 AM | PERMALINK

But how do defense contractors benefit from common-sense, effective solutions that don't require hundreds of billions in additional expenditures?

The goal is not to defeat terrorism, but to profit from it.

Posted by: McCord on September 13, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

The US is spending half a billion a day (of our kids' money) to turn Iraq into a swamp.

Just imagine for a moment what a trillion dollars could do in the way of turning swamps into lovely gardens. Beginning at home.

Solar and wind projects, scholarships, the boldest school rebuilding plan ever dreamt, ...

It's astounding to imagine. Then imagine the ceaseless deafening howling from the rightwing machine about the sheer WASTE of money, and compare that to the passive acceptance of the current counterproductive spending.

Posted by: tubino on September 13, 2007 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

"the neocon idea of how to drain a swamp is to bomb it"

Why does Kevin blandly peddle lies?

Indeed. The neocon idea of how to drain a swamp is to bomb stuff near the swamp, fail at doing that, redefine success, threaten to bomb the swamp and other stuff near the swamp, redefine success again, and blame liberals for the mess.

Posted by: asdf on September 13, 2007 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: bob on September 13, 2007 at 1:10 AM | PERMALINK

Cooperation among allied intelligence agencies is essential but, as the cited article points out, there is a good reason why such things are usually bilateral in nature. Can anyone imagine both Israel and Saudi Arabia joining CITO? Half of the member nations would probably join with the sole idea of seeing what they could pick up on the other members. How would they keep their HUMINT assets confidential?

Then too, there is the problem of what to do when a hostile or helpless government has a large terrorist organization within its territory. In those cases, neither policemen nor intelligence officers are likely to be effective in excising the terrorists.

Come to think of it, though, there is no reason to limit the CITO idea to policemen. All of the member nations could contribute troops, as well. We could call it, ummm... a "coalition of the willing?"

Posted by: trashhauler on September 13, 2007 at 2:05 AM | PERMALINK

If Edwards wants to win he'd better come up with a snappier name. The American Public is used to being MARKETED TO.

Posted by: MNPundit on September 13, 2007 at 2:39 AM | PERMALINK

am: "Why does Kevin blandly peddle lies?"

Truth is not rendered false, simply because you lack both the mental capacity and emotional maturity to deal with it.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 13, 2007 at 3:04 AM | PERMALINK

MNPundit: "If Edwards wants to win he'd better come up with a snappier name."

How about "Operation Testicular Fortitude"?

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on September 13, 2007 at 3:09 AM | PERMALINK

am: Yes, I plead guilty, I deliberately omitted from my comment the vital qualification that the occupation of Iraq has one success to its credit: the recreation of the great marshes north of Bssra drained vengefully by Saddam. But I'm still waiting for your examples of successful or even serious American policies to address my four categories of swampiness, or evidence that neocons don't believe in military force.

Posted by: James Wimberley on September 13, 2007 at 6:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Draining the swamp" is one of those phrases that has an appealing sound but what it represents is so nebulous that is next to meaningless. "Addressing the root causes of Islamicist terrorism" is a bit more meaningful, but, of course, the important questions are how to properly identify what those causes are and how to go about doing addressing them.

I would suggest that a good general approach is to assume that most people, in most nations, in most cultures, prefer to live lives where they can spend their time fruitfully enjoying their family and friends and do basically fulfilling work that provides them with sufficient money to meet their needs and important desires. In other words, most people do not naturally gravitate to terrorism (though, of course, there will always be a small number that do for whatever reason; e.g. Timothy McVeigh). If we take that as our beginning orientation I believe we should be able to find common ground through dialogue with people in Islamic societies to address the "root causes" - at least enough to reduce the number of peripheral characters that are being drawn into terrorist groups. I believe an emphasis on that approach could very well lead to a situation where, for the most part, we may eventually be able to address most of Islamic terrorism with the same approaches we do with domestic terrorists like extreme white supremacists - essentially police action rather than military action. Even if it doesn't mitigate things that far, such an approach would probably produce results that make the effort worthwhile.

Posted by: TK on September 13, 2007 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

Come to think of it, though, there is no reason to limit the CITO idea to policemen. All of the member nations could contribute troops, as well. We could call it, ummm... a "coalition of the willing?"

Hmmm...or one could call it a United Nations Rapid Reaction Force.

But that would imply that we'd have to buy lots more black helicopters, I suppose.

Posted by: JM on September 13, 2007 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

Another cogent, well thought out, damn near brilliant idea from Edwards. The one candidate with the smartest plans on counter-terrorism, healthcare, the environment, education is all but ignored by the msm except when it comes to it's superficial attacks.

If this plan had been presented by Hillary (or even Obama) it would have been haled, hyped and praised by the msm. But the msm (WaPo in particular) are trying to doing to Edwards what they did to Gore. They are building a narrative of Hillary the national defense maven and anything that doesn't support their neocon candidate doesn't get printed.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 13, 2007 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

What Chrissy said. Edwards has great, well-thought-out ideas out there, from implementing universal health coverage to reducing poverty to combatting terrorism.

Getting anyone in the MSM to talk about them is like pulling teeth.

As Atrios said this morning, "it's really just time to push back against the fact that campaign discussion has been transformed almost entirely into catty amateur theater criticism."

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on September 13, 2007 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

He also wants us *completely* out of Iraq by Nov 2008, IIRC.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on September 13, 2007 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

But, follow the hair stylist, is soooo much easier than trying to use the follow the money, connect the dots, follow the logic or in-depth reporting style of journalism.

So much was learned by emulating Kit Seeley, Bumiller and Dowd in 2000. Then it was follow the brown suit. Hiss and snarls sell.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 13, 2007 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

But how do defense contractors benefit from common-sense, effective solutions that don't require hundreds of billions in additional expenditures? The goal is not to defeat terrorism, but to profit from it.

Bingo! McCord nails it.

Posted by: Stefan on September 13, 2007 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Bingo! McCord nails it.

As does Chrissy, beautifully, at 9:46.

Posted by: shortstop on September 13, 2007 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

There is already something like this in existence: the Global Counter-Terrorism Force (GCTF) structure set up by the Bush administration.

There is almost nothing in Edward's proposal that hasn't already been done for GCTF. As near as I can tell, the big difference is that Edwards wants to give it a name evocative of NATO. (Considering the fate of SEATO and CENTO, this might be bad luck.)

Posted by: A Nonny Mouse on September 13, 2007 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

A Nonny Mouse: Global Counter-Terrorism Force set up by the bush admin? Exactly what are you talking about and what have they accomplished and when and where have they met?. Mouse, I smell a rat.

Posted by: Chrissy on September 13, 2007 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Last week John Edwards proposed the creation of an international Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization (CITO).

Smacks of "Global war on terrorism" which has always been a bad name. One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Who gets to decide which one is the terrorist?

I'd suggest taking existing treaties like NATO and expanding them to include terrorist issues.

Posted by: SJRSM on September 13, 2007 at 1:16 PM | PERMALINK

am: "Why does Kevin blandly peddle lies?"

Gosh, suddenly many years' worth of Kevin's honest and mutable inquiry has been rendered false by your amazingly clever locution. Please go ahead and have your cookie now.

Posted by: Kenji on September 13, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

Smacks of "Global war on terrorism" which has always been a bad name. One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. Who gets to decide which one is the terrorist? Posted by: SJRSM

I volunteer.

A freedom fighter would be a Palestinian blowing things and people up in Israel, as foreigners have been occupying his people's land for about 60 years.

A Saudi hijacking a plane in the U.S. and then flying it into a building here is a terrorist. At heart, his beef is with his own government and the relationship it has with the Great Satan, aka the U.S. However, he feels impotent, apparently (and perhaps in more than one way), to affect change at home so he attacks softer targets in the U.S. because he believes our government's relationship with his government aids and abets oppression at home. (Fuck all! He's right.)

He's willing to kill Americans who, in reality, have no control over our government's policies, but, apparently, doesn't want to kill "innocents" at home. Otherwise, he'd have hijack a plane in Jordon and had flown it into a Saudi government building or palace. That's there version of "draining the swap."

Of course, we could really save a whole lot of money and effort in international police work by simply pulling our military out of the ME, dramatically reducing our financial and official dealings with countries where most of the terrorists come from, and, here's the tough part, weaning ourselves off oil.

Oh, never mind. Let's just keep bombing shit and supporting repressive regimes around the globe. The general public seems to be happy with the status quo. Otherwise, they'd have lynched pretty much the entire Bush administration about two years ago.

Posted by: JeffII on September 13, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK
...I'd suggest taking existing treaties like NATO and expanding them to include terrorist issues. SJRSM at 1:16 PM
Bush had NATO join in the invasion of Iraq based on its policy of an attack on one is an attack on all if the attack originated outside the borders. Otherwise, it's an internal matter, as black helicopter conservatives would demand. You need to pay attention. Posted by: Mike on September 14, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Counterterrorism and Intelligence Treaty Organization"

So the approach is going to be all stick and no carrot?

Great the militerizaion of our domestic drug policy worked so well, why no!

Posted by: freejack on September 14, 2007 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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