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Friday, May 06, 2011

Refuting the new spin

Now that we're in a post-bin Laden world, a new meme is growing up that the war on terror is over or was a distraction. In fact, the argument goes, we didn't need the whole apparatus established by President Bush that liberals have long criticized. Charles Krauthammer takes a metaphorical hammer to this emerging spin.
The bin Laden operation is the perfect vindication of the war on terror. It was made possible precisely by the vast, warlike infrastructure that the Bush administration created post-9/11, a fierce regime of capture and interrogation, of dropped bombs and commando strikes. That regime, of course, followed the more conventional war that brought down the Taliban, scattered and decimated al-Qaeda and made bin Laden a fugitive.

Without all of this, the bin Laden operation could never have happened. Whence came the intelligence that led to Abbottabad? Many places, including from secret prisons in Romania and Poland; from terrorists seized and kidnapped, then subjected to interrogations, sometimes “harsh” or “enhanced”; from Gitmo detainees; from a huge bureaucratic apparatus of surveillance and eavesdropping. In other words, from a Global War on Terror infrastructure that critics, including Barack Obama himself, deplored as a tragic detour from American rectitude.
Even the war in Afghanistan that Democrats thought was the essential war when they could use it to oppose the war in Iraq now is being portrayed as unnecessary to the task of taking down bin Laden.
Really? We could never have pulled off the bin Laden raid without a major military presence in Afghanistan. The choppers came from our massive base at Bagram. The jump-off point was Jalalabad. The intelligence-gathering drones fly over Pakistan by grace of an alliance (unreliable but indispensable) forged with the United States to fight the war in Afghanistan.
There is a reason why it is so important to push back on the argument that we can now declare victory and go back to a pre-9/11 approach to fighting terrorism.
You want to say we’ve now won the war? Fine. It’s at least an arguable proposition. After all, the war on terror will end one day, and we will return to policing the odd terrorist nut case. I would argue, however, that while bin Laden’s death marks an extremely important inflection point in the fight against jihadism, it’s far too early to declare victory.

Now, it is one thing to have an argument about whether it’s over. It’s quite another to claim that our reaching this happy day — during which we can even be debating whether victory has been achieved — has nothing to do with the war on terror of the previous decade. Al-Qaeda is not subsiding on its own. It is not retiring from the field, having seen the error of its ways. It is not disappearing because of some inexorable law of history or nature. It is in retreat because of the terrible defeats it suffered once America decided to take up arms against it, a campaign (once) known as the war on terror.


Ron K said...

just because osama is supposed to be dead, doesn't mean the war on terror is over, far from it. look at the turmoil in the Mideast, we have to yet to feel the repercussions from that, we are still feeling the repercussions from carter and Iran. the dynamics of the war on terror have definitely changed. not for the better, remember they have patience, something the American people should have learned from the World Trade Center, the first time they tried to take it down they failed, but they tried again and succeeded. What did the IRA tell the PM of Britain, you have to be lucky all the time, we only need to get lucky once.

mark said...

Has anyone been more outspoken than republican Ron Paul in promoting this "spin"? But of course, you can't go after another republican. Might make the teabag party upset.

Pat Patterson said...

Since the article was basically sampling other writers and didn't even mention either political party then why should Krauthammer mention Ron Paul at all? And mark shows a distinct lack of knowledge as many Republicans, conservatives and Tea Party supporters think that Ron Paul is an idiot isolationist and don't trust him one bit. But then that would have required mark to read beyond the headlines of more than one article.

mark said...

I wasn't referring to Krauthammer, but to all of you who "think that Ron Paul is an idiot isolationist and don't trust him." Why not speak up? He is far to the left of Obama on this issue, yet you've given him a pass. More evidence that the teabag party is in control.

Pat Patterson said...

We do speak up mark the problem is that you chose not to listen. And describing your fellow citizens in such derogatory terms belies an animosity that proves the narrow mindedness that you often have.

Dr Weevil said...

"Might make the" what? "party upset", mark? You know Betsy teaches high school, you know her students read her site, and yet you continue to use a vile obscenity in her comments. If you can't express your political opinions without using language designed to degrade and defile your opponents, maybe you should not be posting comments at all. After all, such comments actually degrade you more than anyone else.