It has struck me as odd for many years. We continue to war on things. For instance, we have had a war on poverty since the Johnson Administration. But alas, no victory. We have had a war on drugs for at least that long as well. Yet no victory there either. People think that using the appellation “war” means serious, I guess. A major concerted effort, maximizing our resources to the fullest. An assault, as opposed to a defensive posture. This suggests action not reaction. All this is some how preferred over, well, something else.
Since 9/11, we have been engaged in a war on terrorism. Not terrorists, but terrorism. For inexplicable reasons, that war is being waged with soldiers and munitions, although since terrorism is a concept, an idea, one would think it would be better waged by words. I’m just attempting to be logical in what I perceive to be largely an illogical world. I guess that is probably not helpful.
No mind that many of us saw the incongruity of such an approach. It appears that we are not alone, we mere creatures residing in our homes across American and perhaps the world. No, the great hulking thinking machine known as the Rand Corporation, unaffiliated and militaristic in its general approach to the world, actually has come to agree with lil’ old me. Well probably not exactly true, but they agree more with me than with Bush/McCain at least.
The Bushites and the McCainites argue strenuously that the war strategy, to be waged withsoldiers and munitions, is the approach to be taken. Always have. Bush made fun of Kerry in 2004 when Kerry suggested that terrorism was best addressed with police forces, not military forces. He was ridiculed as being utterly lacking in sense for such remarks.
It has been the firm belief of Dubya and other conservatives that terrorism arises out of countries, and so military action is the proper response.
Conservatives see the war on terror as a traditional war primarily involving the military because they see the main enemies as states. If you want to defeat a state, you need more than law enforcement and intelligence-gathering; you need armies. The conservative predisposition was summed up shortly after Sept. 11 by Charles Krauthammer. “Terrorists cannot operate without the succor and protection of governments,” he wrote, “The planet is divided into countries. Unless terrorists want to camp in Antarctica, they must live in sovereign states.”
The Rand Corp. claims this idea is simply false. The Bush and now McCain strategy for attacking radicalism by actual military operations, has according to Rand’s study not significantly reduced al-Qaeda at all. Additionally, they argue, such a strategy conveys a “warrior” status to radicals that they don’t deserve. Better to conceive of them and treat them as criminals.
They claim that al-Qaeda has remained strong, well organized and able to carry out attacks at will around the world. Rand calls for increased use of law enforcement and intelligence efforts to disrupt their networks and arrest their leaders. When actual military actions are necessary, local troops should be used whenever possible.
Unconvinced that McCain is of the same wrong opinion as Bush? McCain’s Chief Foreign policy strategist, Randy Scheunemann, had this to say about Obama’s intelligence, police action approach:
Barack Obama’sbelief that we should treat terrorists as nothing more than common criminals demonstrates a stunning and alarming misunderstanding of the threat we face from radical Islamic extremism. Obama holds up the prosecution of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 as a model for his administration, when in fact this failed approach of treating terrorism simply as a matter of law enforcement rather than a clear and present danger to the United States contributed to the tragedy of September 11th. This is change that will take us back to the failed policies of the past and every American should find this mindset troubling.
As Jason Linkins points out in his report at the Huffington Post, it is strange that Republicans seem to find no use for law enforcement, but consider them somehow unfit for this work. Yet, when we look at the record, it was and has been that same group that has foiled recent terrorist attempts. Such things as the “Millennium Plot” at LAX and the plan to bomb planes on their way to the US in England, were stopped by law enforcement, not armies.
Inside-Out the Beltway, wonders how the GOP will spin this one? How will McCain? After all, he was dead wrong about going into Iraq in the first place. Now we find that even the Rand Corporation claims he’s wrong in his entire approach to terrorism. Turns out the Democrats, starting with Kerry and moving to Obama have always been dead right on how to approach it.
Rand makes it point quite clearly it seems to me. They show that conventional military action has accounted for only 7% of the successes in removing terrorist threats.A full 40% of threats were removed by policing actions and a larger 43% by “politics.” This last one is most interesting. It refers to the fact that a terrorist group dissolves 43% of the time by “transition to the political process.” This suggests that working in a more diplomatic way proves effective. Albeit, when it does, it usually is because the group in question has relatively narrow goals, unlike the domination goals of al-Qaeda and groups like it. Still, it bears further investigation it seems to me.
All of our allies across the world have replaced the use of the words “war on terror” with counterterrorism. They see the significance of not giving unneeded status to what are nothing more than a criminal element in the world, bent on extracting what they want from the world through unspeakable acts perpetrated against innocents. While I am the first to admit, that in some cases, claims by radicals have some basis historically, I do not and will not condone their tactics. Still I am willing to try any and every legitimate, moral, and workable means of finding solutions.
If we want failure to continue, then by all means we need to elect John McCain. He has made it quite clear that he favors the same old policies as our stubborn head-in-the-sand prez. If you want solutions that work, I suggest you cast your vote for Obama, proven once again to have the right answers to today’s problems.