A Menagerie of Outspoken Opinions on Science, World Politics, and Geek Culture

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Is the War On Terror Winnable?

Many thanks to Sandor for the honor and privilege of posting my own thoughts here while he is attending a Very Importand conference. Something about Dragons and Orcs, which everyone knows should not ever be ignored. ;)

Apologies ahead of time for any inelegance in form as compared to Sandor's refined prose.

Without further ado, onto a question of war:


President Bush's (mis)statement the other day claiming that the War on Terror (henceforth WOT) could not be won was more accurate than I think most people are willing to accept.

Terrorism is a method. It is not a distinct opponent that anyone can identify and target, rather it is a tool that widely disparate and often disorganized groups of people can use to great effect in their cause.

Among many things required to win a war, one of the big ones is that you must know who the targets are. Another is that you must have the popular support of your citizenry. The fundamental error of our current approach is that we haven't officially and definitively identified for the citizens of the U.S. just who is the current enemy in a very broad war. And the Lauer/Bush exchange perfectly demonstrated the naive ignorance of the Left as to who the enemy is, and the failure of the Right in explaining and reminding the world of who that enemy is.

In a narrow sense, our clearest and best organized enemy in the WOT is the deeply fundamentalist wing of Islam that violently divides the world in two, Dar al-Harb, and Dar al-Islam.

In a broader sense, that war also includes those people and nations who enable terrorists: Moderate Islamists who tacitly approve through inaction and non-condemnation of terrist members of their faith. Also included are China, Russia, France and Germany who have each continued to play the cynical game of trading values and lasting peace for profit and short-term immunity from attack.

In the end, however, the WOT can not be won simply by destroying those players, or by convincing them to abandon Cold War era foreign policies. As long as there is a human being willing to attack others indiscriminately, the tool of Terror will always be in play. And I would submit that there will never be a lack of people willing to wield that tool, and consequentially, there will never be an end to terrorism,.

The rationale behind the the Bush Administration's demure explanation is quite simply driven by the influence of the media and the delicate sensibilities of the Left. Bush knows, in the case of this battle in the War on Terror, he cannot come out and say definitively: Our enemy today is Islamofascism. The media will not allow a full explanation of this sort of statement. It will not allow for the case to be made clearly before playing the race card, signifying the end of rational debate, and the beginning of a dizzying spin into inaction and national self-recrimination.

These are the consequences of a lost PC war: Political Correctness was aimed primarily and to the most scathing effect at conservative "offenders" and now, when we most need someone to speak plainly about the threats we face, our President has blinked, and left the door open for anyone with a political axe to grind to question a patently absurd aspect of the WOT as waged under his administration.

The War On Terror will never be won, any more than the War On Drugs, or Poverty, or Cockroaches. The battle against our enemies this day however, can most assuredly be won, and I believe will be won. Furthermore, actively promoting the growth of democracy has in the past, and will in the future, help ease the conditions which decieve people into thinking violence against innocents is a winning strategy.

So while the media and the Democrats play their silly "gotcha" game over a poorly stated concept, and while Bush fumbles to clear things up while kowtowing to the PC gods, the rest of us should try to keep above the fray and not allow ourselves to be confused by semantic arguments that have absolutely nothing to do with policy. Politics are what they are. We the people need to keep our eyes on the prize and make our decisions based upon the realities of the world, not the machinations of political campaigns and their camp followers.