“You never explain why they want to do us harm”

Glenn Greenwald rightly thinks this exchange reduces the brokenness of our system to its essence. It shows Helen Thomas repeatedly asking a very simple question, and the various ways White House terror expert John Brennan refuses to address  it.

(I especially love the journalist seated to her left. His supercilious stare over her shoulder, his fidgeting, his frowns. Finally, he just cuts her off and starts talking over her.)

Poor Helen. She looks like an exhausted wraith. I don’t imagine there was ever a time when White House press secretaries actually answered questions, but the mendacity took a turn for the worse not long after the dawn of the 21st century. I can only imagine this deranged, stylized theater of many words and no substance must be something saddening to her.

So back to the question of why. Writes Greenwald:

The evidence of what motivates Terrorism when directed at the U.S. is so overwhelming and undeniable that it takes an extreme propagandist to pretend it doesn’t exist.  What is Brennan so afraid of?  It’s true that religious fanaticism is a part of their collective motivation, but why can’t he just say what’s so obviously true:  “they claim that the U.S. is interfering in, occupying and bringing violence to their part of the world, they cite things like civilian deaths and our support for Israel and Guantanamo and torture, and claim that their terrorism is in retaliation”?

Can you spot the difference between Brennan’s attitude and the previous administration’s contention that “they hate us for our freedoms”? I can’t either.

Quite simply, don’t count on anyone with any clout in the national power structure ever addressing this question. As long as there is an insatiable, irrational, and evil entity out there, the military can’t be mobilized enough. The defense budget can’t be high enough. There is no battleground too distant. If this enemy had real grievances and demands, then maybe we could do something to improve the situation. Like pull our troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq and stop our murderous Predator attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, and now Yemen. Might even save us a little money. A trillion here, a trillion there. Pretty soon, you’re talking real money.

But that ain’t gonna happen. They’re Islamist crazies who will stop at nothing short of world domination.  And the bombs must keep dropping, the supplemental budgets must be rammed through, the money, in short, must keep flowing.

“You never explain why they want to do us harm”

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