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."

Friday, June 30, 2006

A New Kind of Peace

Those who claim we are "at war" cite Afghanistan, Iraq and the "war on Terror" (often as one entity). As for Iraq and Afghanistan, Bush assures us our troops are stationed in those nations at the request of their democratically elected, sovereign governments, and he insists there is no civil war in either place. So how can we be "at war" in Iraq or Afghanistan when there is no war there? Yes, our troops are in danger over there, but that does not mean our nation is at war.

As for Al Qaeda, it's not a country--it doesn't even have a structure. It has--at most--a few thousand adherents scattered around the world, and when we capture suspected members, we call them "detainees," not prisoners of war. In fact, they're so "irregular" that Bush says even the parts of the Geneva convention dealing with irregular forces do not apply to them. The situation with Al Qaeda is so different from a war that even Rumsfeld has to call it a "new kind" of war.

But it's not a new kind of war. It's a new kind of peace.

Was Great Britain "at war" in Northern Ireland? Were we "at war" with Timothy McVeigh? Are we still "at war" in Korea? We were truly "at war" with the USSR from 1945-1990? We can be attacked, remain under threat, and may deploy our troops to dangerous places far away--but that does not mean we are in a state of war. If we're going to prosper in this new era, we really need to lose the old 20th century "war" mentality altogether, because Al Qaeda cannot be defeated through military action.

It's not a matter of law enforcement either--because they go beyond domestic law, and don't fit international law that well either. We're in a new kind of peace, and exterminating Al Qaeda is a matter of international peace enforcement. Maybe those are better terms for our times...?


Anonymous said...

Dr. Strangelove is correct. It's not just a new concept of war that is before us. We have to come up with a new definition of peace as well. Or at least, that level of threat and conflict that we will regard as "back ground noise." We have to put isolated (and even repeated) terrorist attacks into perspective. Is it neccessary to complete reorganize our method of government in response to even a large terrorist attack? Should we respond differently to state sponsored terror groups than to terrorist "NGOs"?

These are questions we have not dealt with directly but there is precedent upon which we can build. Buccaneers and Privateers of the 17th and 18th centuries share many characteristics with terrorists. So do modern Transnational Corporations for that matter. Existing international law already provides for such non-governmental activity on the international stage. But we do need to have a discussion about how terrorists and terrorism fit into our world.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I agree that we have to redefine peace. But the government is inconsistant in its characterization of "war". On one hand they tell us that we are nation at war with a war president. But then we have detainees rather than POWs as LTG accurately points out. So there is a congative disconnect somewhere.

The framers decided that war would be declared only by Congress because they came from a time when only states waged war. That time is long over. We, as noted in previous posts, wage war on abstract concepts all the time- poverty, drugs, terrorism, etc. We wage war the way Arabs wage jihad. It is a generic term now. 

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

USWest and RbR may have missed somewhat the point of my original post. As both RbR and USWest reiterated, the Bush administration has no coherent concept of the "war on terror." Such inconsistency arises because our response to Al Qaeda is not a "new kind of war."

A better way to frame the situation would be as a new kind of peace. Not only would such a re-framing reduce the kind of knee-jerk reactions and hysteria that come along with the word "war," but it also recognizes that the solution will cannot be a military one.

Anonymous said...

Well, I am not sure I get it because you aren't really telling me what your new kind of "peace" is. Your "new kind of peace" seems to be a state of low grade "war". So in that context I am not sur "war" and "peace" have any really meaning. They are both shades of gray, semantics, if you will.

I think what you imply in your examples is that we have to accept terrorism as part of daily life without being alarmed by it. That is what RBR is saying. Attached to that, you seem to advocate some type of hybird use of force that involves military and intelligence, but not on a large scale. You may even imply that the way it is handled has to change. I am unclear about what what I am not "getting" in your post. What does it mean in operational terms?  

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

Yes, USWest, I was indeed making a semantic point, not an operational point. My post was a suggestion of how better to frame our efforts to stop Al Qaeda. I do not believe that it is a trivial matter whether we think of ourselves as being at war or in peace. You said that we wage war as a generic term now (e.g. against drugs or poverty) but unlike the "war on terror," those other so-called wars are understood to be just loose metaphors--even Bush would not attempt to claim wartime powers to combat urban blight.

The "war" label (even if you call it a 'low grade' war) still comes with a lot of baggage (much of which has been discussed on this blog) that blinds one to the simple truth that Al Qaeda does not pose (or at least no longer poses) a threat to our peace and security to which there is a military solution. It's a matter of intelligence, improved security procedures, and international cooperation.

The reason I said that I felt you were not responding to my post was that I had already discussed in detail what you wrote in your comment--half of my post was about how the Bush administration has been inconsistent its characterization of "war." It felt like you had just skimmed my post, or just answered RbR's comment without reading my post at all. It's just kinda frustrating to wait for comments and then get a response that says, "yes, OK, but the truth is X," when "X" is what you said in the first place.

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