After reading neo-con historian Victor Davis Hanson’s Is the War on Terror Over? at Real Clear Politics at first I thought that maybe I should change his nickname from Pangloss to Don Quixote. Hansen as usual wants, like Quixote to believe and see problems in the most simplistic way. Then again Hanson doesn’t possess Don Quixote’s better qualities such as a code of honor or a sympathetic nievete.
Even onetime neo-conservative Francis Fukuyama, who in 1998 called for the preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein, believes “war” is the “wrong metaphor” for our struggle against the terrorists.
Others point out that motley Islamic terrorists lack the resources of the Nazi Wehrmacht or the Soviet Union.
This thinking may seem understandable given the ineffectiveness of al-Qaida to kill many Americans after 9/11. Or it may also reflect hopes that if we only leave Iraq, radical Islam will wither away. But it is dead wrong for a number of reasons.
What is the glaringly obvious error here. Hansen is literate enough to know better, but has maliciously created a straw man and filled him with arguments that have never been made. No Democrat has ever said that by leaving Iraq that Al-Qaeda will simply go away. Why is he even conflicting Iraq with al-Queda. There can be no other reason then to mislead his readers. The vast majority of those committing violence in Iraq are Iraqis. Who are they killing, mostly other Iraqis. Even most of the attacks by Al-Qaeda (foreign fighters that came across the border because of Bush and Rumsfeld’s ineptitude) are directed at the Iraqis. Most of those people taken into custody by the surge are Iraqis,
In the Washington Post article however Capt. Valenti is quoted as saying that of the 18,000 detainees in the American-run prisons in Iraq, only 250 are foreign fighters. That’s a little over 1 per cent. So where have all the “terrorists” come from? Or are they all Iraqis?
Here we go again. Neocons like Hansen use the terms Iraq, Muslim, al-Qaida, and insurgents interchangeably as though they were all the same thing and they are all an imminent threat to America. This is absurd, dishonest and deeply immoral. This all leads back to another imaginary windmill of the neocon imagination the infamous Iraq as flypaper hypothesis – The reason we haven’t had another attack by Al-Qaeda is that Bush the windmill slayer is keeping them too busy in Iraq. This is like saying that someone can’t eat and watch TV at the same time. Or the extension of the flypaper theory – if we leave Iraq Al-Qaeda will follow us back to America. Hanson inadvertently refutes that argument,
First, Islamic terrorists plotting attacks are arrested periodically in both Europe and the United States. Just last week a leaked British report detailed al-Qaida’s plans for future “large-scale” operations. We shouldn’t be blamed for being alarmist when our alarmism has resulted in our safety at home for the past five years.
Hanson admits that being in Iraq has not stopped Al-Qaeda plots and that the best tools to stop those plots are intelligence gathering – or what some might call good old fashioned police work. Keeping an eye on the bad guys and breaking up their gangs. He even dances around the fact that no one state (country) is the center of Islamic jihadism,
This inability to tie a state to its support for terrorism is our greatest obstacle in this war – and our enemies’ greatest advantage.
This is the problem with Hanson and Bush supporters in general when it comes to understanding the problem of non-state terrorism. Hanson and Bush see it as an advantage for the terrorists. It could be turned to the advantage of the U.S. and vast majority of the world who wants nothing to do with terrorists. Terrorists depend on failed and weak states, like the ones that Bush has created in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can’t speak for every liberal or the last remaining thinking Republicans, but most of them seem to have this one major objection to Bush – that because he doesn’t know what he is doing he has been weak and ineffective. Our problem with Bush and the rabid Right is that they are not only less then competent in fighting terrorism, but have made so many people victims of their incompetence – they’re the Keystone Cops of anti-terror. If we were not wasting resources and creating world wide resentment in Iraq we could direct more of our efforts toward tracking down actual terrorists instead of giving them target practice in Iraq and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda in Iraq May Not Be Threat Here
Al-Qaeda in Iraq is the United States’ most formidable enemy in that country. But unlike Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda organization in Pakistan, U.S. intelligence officials and outside experts believe, the Iraqi branch poses little danger to the security of the U.S. homeland.
and this also from Hanson,
A germ, some spent nuclear fuel or a vial of nerve gas could cause as much mayhem and calamity as an armored division in Hitler’s army. The Soviets were considered rational enemies who accepted the bleak laws of nuclear deterrence. But the jihadists claim that they welcome death if their martyrdom results in thousands of dead Americans.
Sounds like an awful possibility. Does Hanson name one person with one quote that has said we shouldn’t try and stop that kind of thing from happening? NO of course not because there is no such person. Pangloss is just confusing his fetid imagination with what will happen if the U.S. seeks a political and economic solution to Iraq and untangle ourselves from that counter productive quagmire. Day after day, boiler plate nonsensical tirade after tirade for the neocons Iraq is the be all end all answer to stopping another 9-11. It is that thinking that leaves America open to another attack – by directing resources, planning and sacrificing American toward the windmills of their minds. Iraq didn’t attack us on 9-11, Al-Qaeda did and the Right doesn’t seem to care the least about that cold hard fact – they even seem to have contempt for the idea that it even matters in their scatter shot war on terror, Mitt Romney, in an interview with the Associated Press referring to Bin Laden,
“It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”
Terror is bigger than one person…. So I don’t know where he is. You know, I just don’t spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.
How can America trust the Right to get radical Islamic terrorism under control if they can’t decide who the enemy is or just don’t know. They have spilled more innocent blood then Al-Qaeda, that should be a clue to any rational person that they’ve become more an out of control lynch mob then defenders of justice and freedom.
Major Tetley: Other men with families have had to die for this sort of thing. It’s too bad, but it’s justice.
Donald Martin: Justice? What do you care about justice? You don’t even care whether you’ve got the right men or not. All you know is you’ve lost something and somebody’s got to be punished.
from the movie The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
From three years ago and as true now as it was then, War College Study Calls Iraq a ‘Detour’ – Institute’s report warns anti-terror campaign may launch ‘open-ended and gratuitous conflict.’
A report published by the Army War College criticizes the Bush administration’s global war on terrorism as “unfocused” and contends that the war in Iraq is “unnecessary” and a “detour” that has diverted attention and resources from the threat posed by Al Qaeda.
The report warns that the administration’s global war on terrorism may have set the United States “on a course of open-ended and gratuitous conflict with states and non-state entities that pose no serious threat to the United States.”
The report by Jeffrey Record, a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, calls for downsizing the war on terrorism and focusing instead on the threat from Al Qaeda, the terror network responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as well as other sites around the world.
“The global war on terrorism as presently defined and conducted is strategically unfocused, promises much more than it can deliver, and threatens to dissipate U.S. military and other resources in an endless and hopeless search for absolute security,” Record wrote, concluding his 56-page monograph. “The United States may be able to defeat, even destroy, Al Qaeda, but it cannot rid the world of terrorism, much less evil.”
Record calls the war in Iraq “an unnecessary preventative war” that has “diverted attention and resources away from securing the American homeland against further assault by an undeterrable Al Qaeda.” The Iraq war was a “detour” from the war on terrorism, he said.
The Right swings back and forth between shrillness and diulsion when it comes to Iraq and terrorism. Rudy Guilani just did his best Cheney impression the other day warning us that we’re once again going to condemn the entire nation to certain death if we don’t drink the kool-aid and see terorism the way they see it. The opposite is true, terror and multiple wars might well continue an entire generation if we let the rabid Righties like Hanson keep confusing actual terrorism with their delusions. One more big bad straw man from Hanson – the only kind of enemy that the Right is capable of defeating,
This is a strange war. Our successes in avoiding attack convince some that the real danger has passed. And when we kill jihadists abroad, we are told it is peripheral to the war or only incites more terrorism.
One supposes there are a few people out there somewhere that think the danger of another 9-11 style attack is past or that capturing or killing actual terrorists incites more terrorism, but again Hanson is keeping their identities secret – that is not the official stance of the Democratic Party as far as I know. Bush and by proxy, his supporters are the ones that have let Afghanistan slip back into the hands of war lords and the Taliban and let Bin Laden get away- Not Hillary Clinton or John Kerry. Bush is the one that lied us into Iraq and let the country plunge head long into civil strife – not Harry Reid or Barrack Obama. Hanson needs to do what the Right always refuses to do, look in the mirror. There they will find America’s greatest obstacle to making America and the world safer.