In the quick wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Decider George set the banner in the winds of war.
In a national address that night, he set the tone for the next seven years, blubbering: “The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts. I’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
Nine days later, the culprit was found and the war president described this new terror war in a speech before a joint session of Congress — “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.”
And what is this brave US leader currently doing?
Leading the troops? Talking strategy with military commanders?
Yesterday in the New York Times:
- With Mr. Bushâ€™s job approval ratings at historic lows, political analysts have long said Republican candidates simply do not want to be seen with him.
But now, with the election just days away, it seems that Republican candidates do not want Mr. Bush to be seen, period.
â€œOne of McCainâ€™s biggest challenges has been how to deal with Bush, and he never quite got it right,â€ said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist who ran Bob Doleâ€™s 1996 presidential campaign.
â€œNow, the best thing is silence.â€
Out of sight might mean out of mind, but not now.
(Illustration found here).
And what about the all-powerful Global War on Terror, spawned from a Pentagon gone mad with military prowess, able to strike revulsion into the very heart of the terrorist, hiding in weddings, farmhouses, schools and open roads.
This war — ‘unlike any other we have ever seen‘ — has been, like Decider George’s entire horrible tenure in office, an unmitigated disaster.
- Yet, to a considerable extent, that very enterprise has become a fiction, a gimmicky phrase employed to lend an appearance of cohesion to a panoply of activities that, in reality, are contradictory, counterproductive, or at the very least beside the point.
In this sense, the global war on terror relates to terrorism precisely as the war on drugs relates to drug abuse and dependence: declaring a state of permanent “war” sustains the pretense of actually dealing with a serious problem, even as policymakers pay lip-service to the problem’s actual sources. The war on drugs is a very expensive fraud. So, too, is the Global War on Terror.
There’s nothing inherently wrong in fighting simultaneously on several fronts, as long as actions on front A are compatible with those on front B, and together contribute to overall success. Unfortunately, that is not the case with the Global War on Terror.
We have instead an illustration of what Winston Churchill once referred to as a pudding without a theme: a war devoid of strategic purpose.
Yet there is a purpose:
- President Bush will bequeath to his successor the ultimate self-licking ice cream cone.
To defense contractors, lobbyists, think-tankers, ambitious military officers, the hosts of Sunday morning talk shows, and the Douglas Feith-like creatures who maneuver to become players in the ultimate power game, the Global War on Terror is a boon, an enterprise redolent with opportunity and promising to extend decades into the future.
After near-eight years, we still have the sense Decider George will do one more real-stupid thing before he leaves office.
Buried deep in his bunker, he won’t have to worry until he has to come up for air in January.
However, his confused, dangerous war on terror has become the greatest terror.