There is a certain happiness sighted when your bus comes along. It is of course a small specialized form of happiness and will never be a great thing.

-Richard Brautigan, The Old Bus

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Descent into Chaos on the bus

Finished Ahmed Rashid's new book, "Descent into Chaos." This is the book to read to understand why the Supreme Court's decision today to stand up to the Bush administration's lawlessness in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, is so important. This is the book to read to understand the consequences of our failure to finish the job in Afghanistan and the terrible cost that the Iraq distraction has extracted.

Rashid's 403 page book is backed up with 48 pages of footnotes documenting his sources and five pages of suggested reading. This is a scholarly work written by a Pakistani journalist who is considered an expert on the region.

This book offers an excellent overview of the geopolitics that influence the Central Asia region and a detailed examination of the consequences of our actions -- or lack thereof -- in Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asia.

Take as just one example, the consequences of the Bush administration's decision to abandon international norms of conduct in warfare and to pursue a course of lawlessness.

"For the greatest power on earth to wage its 'war on terrorism' by rejecting the very rules of war it is a signatory to, denying justice at home, undermining the U.S. Constitution, and then pressuring its allies to do the same set in motion a devastating denial of civilized instincts. America's example had the most impact in Afghanistan, where no legal system existed; in Pakistan, ruled by a military regime; and in Central Asia, where the world's most repressive dictatorships flourished. By following America's lead in promoting or condoning disappearances, torture and secret jails, these countries found their path to democracy and their struggle against Islamic extremism set back by decades. ... It could well be argued that over time Islamic extremists were emboldened rather than subdued by the travesty of justice the United States perpetrated. The people learned to hate America."
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States had an opportunity. The Bush administration failed that test, as it has failed so many tests.
"Bush promised a great transformation in 2001, and he has certainly transformed the world, but not in the way that any of us could ever have imagined. We now all have to live with the consequences, pick up the pieces, and help improve the world we are left with by tilting the earth's axis back to where it should be."
Read this book.

No comments: