The War on Terror Is Here to Stay
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  • Pete

    Putting political correctness aside, it would be more accurate to label the ‘war on terrorism’ as the ‘war against the Islamists,’ don’t you think?

    • johngbarker

      I agree and I fear that someday an attack will occur so horrific that it will precipitate a general war with Islam. Democracies can become quite ruthless when sufficiently aroused.

    • Andrew Allison

      Unhappily, radical Islam has made the two synonymous.

  • rheddles

    ‘So this is not a clash of civilizations, and it is not a “war against Islam.”’

    Wishful thinking. Islam has a 1500 year track record that suggests this is only the latest battle in a long string from a movement that has spread by the sword from its inception.

    Just as not every German was a Nazi aspiring to membership in the SS, not every Muslim is aspiring to join al Qaeda. Nonetheless, to rid us of this pernicious ideology, we will ultimately be forced to take action that will affect them all. This is just another step down a path to that destination.

    With respect to this specific incident, two questions come to mind.

    First, why take this action now? Undoubtedly they “chatter” all the time. If we are closing every embassy, the information can’t be very specific or actionable.

    Second, al Qaeda hasn’t learned how to communicate outside means that can be intercepted by NSA? Really? You would think they would have caught on by now. They aren’t stupid, far from it. Or are they “chattering” with no intent to take action but simply to elicit a reaction? What will it mean on September 1 when no action has occurred?

    • Blaton Hardey

      “to rid us of this pernicious ideology, we will ultimately be forced to take action that will affect them all. ” Please articulate your genocidal phantasies more clearly.

      • Andrew Allison

        Allow me:

        “I studied the Koran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.
        So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinionto be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.

        Letter to Arthur de Gobineau, 22 October 1843, Tocqueville Reader, p. 229

      • rheddles

        Was the war against fascism genocidal?

        • Blaton Hardey

          What is that “action” that would affect all Muslims?

          • rheddles

            General war.

          • Blaton Hardey

            What should be the general strategy in that general war?

          • rheddles

            That is a good question and one to which I do not have a pat response. The strategy will depend to a large extent on who provides the provocation and how. But at some point, the terrorists will go too far and the link to a state will be too clear for us to continue to ignore reality.

            As important as the strategy will be the goal. We really didn’t worry a lot about war goals in WWII until 1945. And even then there was a lot of disagreement and what actually happened was different.

            We have to find a way to bring these guys into modernity or find a way to live together without them becoming modern. I think the later is impossible in that their internal pressures to enter the modern world are too difficult for them to overcome, even if we cooperate. But the former may be very difficult as there is tremendous inertia in these societies. This is a much more difficult problem than WWII, actually.

            But no one will really worry about it until the blood letting is done and one side or the other has prevailed.

          • Blaton Hardey

            So there’s going to be a huge war with good guys vs bad guys all over again… I see.

          • rheddles

            Yup. It’s happened before and it will again. You might be interested in The Cousin’s Wars

          • Blaton Hardey

            Awesome! Can’t wait for it.

    • jimb82

      Today is Eid, so no work was getting done this week anyway. Sort of like Thanksgiving week, or the week between Christmas and New Year’s. My guess is, a lot of key Embassy personnel are on vacation this week, knowing it’s Eid week, so the embassies and consulates would have had skeleton crews. That doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real, but it does mean that the opportunity cost of leaving the embassies and consulates closed is minimal. Now, if we’re not back to work next week, that’s a problem. But this week is not a big deal.

      • rheddles

        Any time Americans cower it is a big deal.

  • jimb82

    It is historically normal for the US to be at war. For most of our history we’ve faced a low-level threat on the western frontier that we would call terrorism today. Throughout the 20th Century, especially in the first half, we intervened in any number of Caribbean and Central American countries, not to mention Russia and China. Then after WWII we had the Cold War. A condition of peace is abnormal. We need to accept that one of the costs of being the richest, most powerful nation on the planet is that we have professionals on the frontier fighting. That’s just the way it is.

  • From Pakistan to Morocco there are countries and societies wrestling with demons we can’t control and casting desperately about for answers we can’t supply. That’s a reality that is hard for Americans to accept, but accept it we must. If there are any answers for what’s troubling the Middle East, we don’t have them—yet our interests continue to demand that we be entangled in its politics.

    I must disagree … we have the answers; the same answers that turned Japan and its neighbors from militarism to peace and prosperity … that kept Germany and its neighbors from becoming a quagmire of insurgency after Hitler did us all a favor and shot himself.

    We know the answer … the problem is, these dysfunctional states refuse to accept it … in part, because we don’t make that answer clear ourselves.

    We have let our guilt over past colonialism/imperialism push us into a moral equivalence that treats dictator and democrat with equal, sovereign respect … sapping our resolve to insist upon acceptance of that answer by these dysfunctional states … settling instead for appearances of mere “democracy” as the total answer when it is only a part of it that is easily hijacked to foster tyranny instead.

    The answer is: governance that respects the same self-evident truths that ours does, protecting those unalienable rights from even a majority vote in large part by limiting the power of government over individual lives.

    Until free nations INSIST, by word and deed, that such governance is the price of admission to the modern civilization they have established, the dysfunctions, and their threat to the rest of us will continue. It will truly be “war without end”, no matter how we try to turn away from it and say we are at “peace”.

    Without freedom … and the respect for and protection of it by those charged with governance … the only sure peace is that of the grave.

  • Matthew Brotchie

    The vast majority of these groups receive most of their funding from Saudi Arabia and for reasons that may be realpolitik, plutocratic, or maybe a mix of both, we refuse to address this.

    It seems as if we have spent the last 12 years going around the world swatting wayward wasps while not only ignoring the nest, but empowering it, allowing it to enlarge itself. Until I hear an honest explanation for this toxic phenomenon all punditry on the War will sound like empty, futile posturing.

  • gwvanderleun

    It’s very clear

    Our bombs are here to stay ;

    Not for a year

    But ever and a day.

    The red and the blue

    Those social models we knew

    Are just passing fancies,

    And in time will go !

    But, oh my dear,

    Our prophet is here to stay.

    Together we’re

    Going a long, long way

    In time the Obama may crumble,

    Republicans may tumble,

    There’re only made of clay,

    But our bombs are here to stay.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “The “Arab democracy” approach to the problem of terrorism that dominated both the Bush and Obama presidencies was a classic example of American “quick fix” thinking. Get democracy going, or so the thinking went, and we marginalize al-Qaeda, make people happy, and the war on terror comes to an end. What defeated both Bush and Obama was really the same thing: the deep resistance of the Middle East to American quick fixes. The political, religious, cultural, and social issues that keep that part of the world under stress and set the conditions for al-Qaeda-type movements to arise are deeply rooted. Worse, we really don’t have the answers to them.”

    That is just loser talk! I’m sure similar things were said about the many dictatorships in South America 30 years ago, or the old Warsaw Pact countries 20 years ago. The fact is Arab cultures now recognize the legitimacy of the Purple fingers, and this is a fundamental change that al-Qaeda can do nothing about. America has made progress, and it would have been much greater had we continued to protect the seed of democracy that we planted in Iraq, until it had grown into a fine strong tree that could stand on its own (Iraq was the perfect place to create a powerful diverse and efficient economy as an example to all Arabs). Instead Obama abandoned the seedling and now it’s caught the Arab root rot of corruption and megalomaniacs.

  • Lyle7

    I’m not convinced it isn’t a clash of civilizations. At the very least there is an internal civilization conflict going on between competing ideologies, something akin to the conflict between authoritarian communism and democratic capitalism.

  • Blaton Hardey

    From a security perspective, drone strikes, super-surveillance, undressing people at airports (and all those other great inventions that will make the 21st century awesome) make perfect sense. And I assume they have prevented a not so small number of atrocities around the globe. But Al Qaeda and company will adapt to that, so this will be an endless struggle (worth fighting nonetheless, in my opinion). The government can’t turn terrorism into something nice, it can just make it less bad for everyone.

    There is something that can turn from horrible to nice, though: America’s relations with those people in the greater middle east who are NOT murderous lowlifes. I’m not thinking about giving dubious speeches in Cairo. I’m thinking of business, education, culture. Making it easier for Saudi, Egyptian, Iraqi, Iranian, … civilians to get in touch with Americans (and vice versa) in a meaningful way that benefits both, is just as valuable as investing billions in a global game of whack-a-mole.

    It wouldn’t change the big questions of geopolitics and bearded crazies will still blow things up every once in a while, but in the meantime, life is better for everyone.

    • Matthew Schultz

      It’s a tricky situation. There is a large and vocal segment of the Muslim world that views the presence of nonbelievers in the Middle East as offensive–an unholy violation of the sacred land of Mohammed. The kind of business, education and cultural relationships we in the West see as beneficial to others will be viewed with suspicion, even malice, by some in the Middle East.

      The Koran also has some rather negative things to say about Muslims making friends with nonbelievers, especially Jews and Christians.

  • Atanu Maulik

    The Cold War lasted 45 years. The threat to US was far greater and the stakes far higher. The Americans fought it brilliantly while living their lives and having fun all at the same time. There is no reason why they can’t do it this time also. This war is just 10 yrs old. No reason to get bored so soon.

  • lukelea

    The forces of order and stability are weak across much of the region . . . True, but the forces of disorder and instability, at least the Al-Qaeda ones, are weak across the rest of the world. Our trillion dollar war on terror strikes me as a disproportionate response to an exaggerated threat. Scattered groups of barely-armed jihadis are not comparable to the old Soviet Union, though you would never know it from reading the papers. Is the American public being manipulated by whoever profits from this war on terror?

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