As the mainstream media timorously shifts more of its attention to the factual lapses of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the campaign itself seems to not care. Or perhaps Trump is just stubborn. And if there are memos going out, his bigger backers don’t care either.
Enter Rudy Giuliani, the former New York Mayor who’s own legacy is heavily anchored in mistruths, coming to the aid of Trump in a speech seemingly pulled from the recesses of 2003 which depicts the Republicans as tough on terror and the Democrats as not tough.
Those Democrats who have not only continued the Bush Doctrine, but expanded it into new and exciting places!
At a Trump campaign event in Ohio yesterday, Rudy had the following to throw in the face of Barack Obama’s entire presidency:
“Before Obama came along, we didn’t have any successful radical Islamic terrorist attack inside the United States.”
Other outlets have pointed out that Giuliani literally referenced the 9-11 attacks seconds before, in the preceding sentence, while praising of the merits of Trump’s VP pick Mike Pence when he was a member of the Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committee.
The structure of the statement seemed a bit jumpy, as if it was ad-libbed at the last second to make sure there was a negative connotation made between Obama, Clinton and terrorism. Either that or it was a late addition to the actual speech made for the exact same purpose.
This is a comment with a specific target: the Fox News audience. That same Fox News which in 2014 was found to be accurate just 17 percent of the time according to PunditFact, and also boasts the least-informed consumer base in cable news media which has been hilariously consistent for years. So there’s definitely a particular crowd in the US, sympathetic to the rants of Trump and his biggest endorsers, who have been buttered up for years by the network’s misleading, emotionally charged tirades.
It’s a crowd whom you can take a stage and denounce all things deemed unpopular with no risk associated with deviating from fact. Like Trump’s supporters, these people gravitate towards rhetorical validation of their concerns, not factual validation. So you can get away with saying something to the likes of “Republicans are tough and the Democrats are far less tough.”
But let’s say that while reading about this story on the Internet, one harnessed the magic of that Internet and entered a query like, “islamic terrorist attacks in US” just to see what popped up. Again, because magic. What might they find?
They might find a poignant site called TheReligionOfPeace.com; the content of which immediately reveals an anti-Islamic agenda. On this site, which panders to the same crowd as Rudy was trying to invigorate, you’ll find a list of attacks by religious fundamentalists carried out on US soil. And if you further apply the magic of counting, it becomes clear that the anti-terrorism legacy which Giuliani boasts as a Republican point of pride is not all that impressive.
The site tallies 22 total attacks on US soil attributed to varying degrees of fundamentalism during the Bush era and 25 during the Obama years (so far).
I’m not going to get into comparing the violent deaths of other people to determine which group of assholes is better at swatting the hornets’ nest in the Near East, but it should be noted that the records are comparable with exceptions of Fort Hood in 2009, San Bernadino in 2015 and Orlando in 2016 (of which there is a worthy rebuttal). This is simply to point out that a conservative site sets up the respective tallies as nearly identical.
It’s actually a bit disgusting for Giuliani to play with the notion of mass killings in order to prop up a picture of Republicans which doesn’t even stand to the scrutiny of five seconds committed to Internet “research.” Furthermore, it obscures the function and form of terrorism.
Terrorism, as attributed to non-state actors, is a rapidly evolving phenomenon as opposed to state terrorism which is usually acted upon in accordance with foreign and domestic policy which last much longer.
The bottom line is that it should have been expected that terrorism against US targets would increase as a direct result from the successive wars launched in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The concept of blowback is not new. Concerns over destabilizing the Afghan government in the 1970s, in accordance with Operation Cyclone (which itself embodies an eerie reference to the Butterfly Effect) to bait a Soviet invasion, as well as arming the mujahideen thereafter, were aspects that the Carter administration was well aware of, according to former Vice President Zgbigniew Brzezinski in a 1998 interview:
What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Turns out, fighting the United States, and war in general, can be very expensive. Terrorism committed by non-state actors, especially with respect to groups like al-Qaeda who were known for large scale, spectacular attacks, cannot just happen on a whim. There are years of planning involved which include training, immigration, materials and other things which embedded cells need to accrue over time. Recall, al-Qaeda cells operating in the United States actually spent time learning how to fly airplanes before 9-11. Recall also that Osama bin Laden was less an intellectual, spiritual or tactical foundation for terrorism and more a financier.
Terrorists need to evolve. They need to seek out new tactics and new targets. Without the bureaucracy of a state, these tactics for dishing out violence can change far more rapidly than those of a nation-state. Also, alliances, splits and feuds have been a part of the process for a long time. From al-Qaeda came al-Nusra, also called al-Qaeda in Syria/the Levant. ISIS, also called Daesh, had its origins in Jordan in 1999 as the Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (JTJ) under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and swore allegiance to al-Qaeda after the 2003 invasion of Iraq where it gained notoriety during the insurgency against the US occupation before splitting with al-Qaeda in 2014 to gain splitting with al-Qaeda in 2014 and becoming what we know today.
This was all warned against, by the way. Criticisms of the proposed invasion of Iraq addressed concerns of power vacuums, opened borders and the increased likelihood of future terrorism. That’s the pesky thing about the future. Looming, not having happened yet. You can’t prove that swatting a hornet’s nest will result in getting stung, but it’s a good bet that keeps most people, I assume, from doing so on a regular basis.
In his 2006 work, Failed States, scholar and foreign policy critic Noam Chomsky argued that the United States, through its belligerent doctrine of pre-emptive war, made the future for the American people less secure and in so doing adopted the definition of a failed state which is based on the concept of a government no longer retaining a monopoly on the use of force and thereby forfeiting the security of its people.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the United States is subjected to terrorist acts by Islamic fundamentalists. This was said all along. But what was perhaps less obvious in 2003 or 2006, was how the elements which championed the cause for war would react in a future setting where and when the chickens came home to roost. A future setting where and when the critics would be proven right.
Now we know. The apparatus used to promote a post-fact discourse is wielded opportunistically to reinforce a version of events which is also not subject to the burdens of proof or history. The Democrats who carry out the same foreign policy as the preceding administration, and thus provoke the same responses, is simply written off as “weak” by the party not in power as a platitude to its voter base in order to promote the tired dichotomy of “tough” versus “not tough”.
Knowing what we know now, in the event of a Trump win and the inevitable application of the same foreign policy, any resulting terrorism that occurs on US soil would be blamed on the Democrats, and the Obama administration in particular. Same policy. Same warnings. Same results. All based on facts which are worthless to the voters who would keep this cycle going.