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How to Lose the War on Terror; Bush's Ten Rules

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On June 28th, Foreign Policy and the Center for American Progress released a survey of 116 foreign-policy experts where 84 percent said that the US is not winning the war on terror. This panel included Democrats, Independents, and Republicans; 71 percent of the "conservatives" polled gave the Bush Administration bad marks on fighting terrorism. How is it possible that the United States, which annually spends nearly as much on defense as all the other nations of the world combined, is losing the war on terror? Here's how, you follow George Bush's ten "rules".

1. Tell Americans that the war on terror will be "a lengthy campaign" and then don't involve them in it. Don't ask them to make any sacrifice, such as reducing their fossil-fuel consumption. Don't give them an activity to do that will foster community and allay their fears. Instead, tell them to go shopping. Implore them to trust the President because "he's a Christian."

2. Resist formation of an independent commission to investigate what happened on 9/11. When public outcry forces the creation of this commission, feign cooperation with it, and resist all requests for information. Classify massive amounts of material as "top secret" and deny access to independent investigators. When the 9/11 Commission publishes its recommendations, thank them vociferously, pledge your cooperation, and then don't implement any of their suggestions. Don't do anything that suggests you made a mistake prior to the terrorist attacks.

3. Make the conduct of the war on terror the exclusive responsibility of the Department of Defense. Dismiss the advice of national-security experts that effective anti-terror efforts involve diplomacy, covert operations, economic sanctions, and law enforcement, as well as military action. Surround yourself with advisers who have either never been in the military, or, if they have, avoided active duty. Make your Administration's motto, "We know best because we have no experience in war."

4. Abandon diplomacy. Argue that terrorists only respond to the use of force. Distill the nature of the conflict into one simplistic phrase, "you are either with us or against us." Disdain any action directed at the roots of terrorism. Promise the American public that the US will lead an anti-terror coalition, then turn off all the potential coalition partners with your hypocrisy and arrogance. Promote anti-American sentiment so virulent that wherever you go you must carry your own "green-zone" security bubble.

5. When you are on the edge of scoring a decisive victory in Afghanistan, don't follow through. Even when you've trapped Osama bin Laden and the other Al Qaeda leaders, don't follow the advice of your military and send in American troops, instead rely on mercenaries. Use the Afghanistan war as the testing ground for your Secretary of Defense's unproven theory about how to wage modern war: over-reliance on technology and underutilization of American troops. Ignore the fact that he has never led troops or even been in battle.

6. Once you've occupied Afghanistan, and the Afghans look at you as liberators, treat them as a colony rather than a fledgling democracy. Spend billions of dollars on the military aspect of the mission, but not the funds necessary to guarantee that the Afghan economy stabilizes or that civil society blooms. Make sure that all the big contracts go to your U.S. political supporters and not to local contractors.

7. When you are on the brink of pacifying Afghanistan and eradicating the roots of terrorism, shift your focus to Iraq. Lie to the American people about every aspect of this war: its justification, cost, duration, and the impact on the war on terror.

8. Ask for international support but abandon institutions such as the UN and the Court of Justice. Mock the United Nations by appointing John Bolton as the US Ambassador after he's said, "There is no such thing as the United Nations. United States makes the U.N. work, when it wants it to work." Beg the international community for support in Iraq but refuse to work with it on issues such as global warming and arms control. Eschew cooperation; ask only, "What have you done for me lately?"

9. Ask the military for a comprehensive plan for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and then ignore it. Shove everyone who disagrees with you out of the military or your Administration. Keep saying that you see signs of progress even when the situation steadily deteriorates. Steadfastly ignore all indicators that your ill-advised actions have strengthened the insurgency and advanced the terrorist cause.

10. Adopt the same "the ends justify the means" mentality that characterizes the terrorists. Develop a reputation for hypocrisy and brutality to the extent that other nations can't distinguish you from your adversaries. Never admit a mistake and never ask for advice. Remember, you believe that winning is everything.
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Bob Burnett is a Berkeley writer. In a previous life he was one of the executive founders of Cisco Systems.
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