Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Is the War on Terror Unwinnable?

Recently President Bush said in an interview that the war on terror wasn't a war we could "win" but that we could make it harder for terrorists to operate. In defense of the statement, which was pounced upon by press and opponents, Republicans say that Bush was merely pointing out that the War on Terror is not a conventional war - that it won't produce a surrender. In other words, we won't know when it will be over if ever.

THANK YOU! Bush has now publicly admitted that the War on Terror is more like the War on Drugs or the Cold War than it is like World War II. The political science community has known this since even before 9/11. Nice to see that the President has come around.

However, will Bush go all the way and stop using this unconventional and interminable "war" as a justification for everything from tax cuts for the top 1% of the income distribution to concentrated police powers to corporate give aways? I won't hold my breath.

Also, it points to how this "war" should be fought. If we were talking about a nation, it could be that we could invade country X and having taken it over, defeat some batch of terrorists and then move on to the next military campaign. But if we take the view that the War on Terror is "unconventional" it becomes less of a military and more of a law enforcement/political effort. Remember, we didn't win the Cold War by invading Eastern Europe. We won it by convincing the vast majority of East Europeans that our way was better. And we didn't even put much effort into convincing them (aside from a few radio broadcasts). We simply lived our prosperous, relatively free lives in open view of them. They did the rest.

The War on Terror will be over when anti-American/anti-Western recruiters are marginalized in their own communities. If we keep bombing those communities, such recruiters will be lionized not marginalized. We should use military force sparingly and with extreme precision. Most of our effort should be directed at "winning hearts and minds."


Raised By Republicans said...

OK, no sooner do I post something saying that Bush recognized that the "war on terror" would go on without end and wasn't really a war in the conventional sense. Now, he has "clarified" his position and said that the war is winnable. Now, I'd like a clarification of the clarification.

Geez, when you flip flop, its best flop onto the right answer.

Also Bush said, "'We will win by staying on the offensive, we will win by spreading liberty,' Bush told the veterans." (from By SCOTT LINDLAW, Associated Press Writer). I wasn't aware spreading liberty was a key part of the Bush strategy. I wonder where he's been spreading it because all he's spread around these parts smells a bit different...

Anonymous said...

It seems to be a case of "the beatings will continue until moral improves." Perfectly logical...

Bell Curve said...

This is a huge gaffe on Bush's part, no matter how you slice it. He looks like a flip-flopper trying to get out of his flip-flop, and as RbR points out, he can't use the War On Terror as an excuse for everything any more. Good for the Dems for taking a page out of the Republican playbook and calling him immediately on it (though they still have a ways to go in that category...) What a bad time to make a mistake like that, too.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The problem is, Bush was right the first time. As Madeleine Albright said before the 9/11 commission last Spring: You can't win a war against an abstract noun ("terrorism"). What you CAN do is defeat terrorISTS, and help remove the conditions that produce terrorism -- namely massive anti-western/anti-american feeling in certain parts of the world, coupled with the desperation of hopeless poverty and political repression. That is the smart way to combat terrorism. The president makes a mockery of those who analogize terrorism to crime, but that's the proper comparison. Like crime, you must fight it by targeting criminals and by attacking the social causes.