View Full Version : Make No Mistake: This Is War

04-22-2007, 10:35 AM
22 April Washington Post commentary - Make No Mistake: This Is War (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/20/AR2007042001940.html) by Secretary of Homeland Defense Michael Chertoff.

As the rubble of the Twin Towers smoldered in 2001, no one could have imagined a day when America's leaders would be criticized for being tough in protecting Americans from further acts of war...

Since Sept. 11, a conspiracy-minded fringe has claimed that American officials plotted the destruction. But when scholars such as Zbigniew Brzezinski accuse our leaders of falsely depicting or hyping a "war on terror" to promote a "culture of fear," it's clear that historical revisionism has gone mainstream.

Brzezinski stated the obvious in describing terrorism as a tactic, not an enemy ["Terrorized by 'War on Terror,' Outlook, March 25]. But this misses the point. We are at war with a global movement and ideology whose members seek to advance totalitarian aims through terrorism. Brzezinski is deeply mistaken to mock the notion that we are at war and to suggest that we should adopt "more muted reactions" to acts of terrorism.

The impulse to minimize the threat we face is eerily reminiscent of the way America's leaders played down the Ayatollah Khomeini's revolutionary fanaticism in the late 1970s. That naive approach ultimately foundered on the kidnapping of our diplomats in Tehran.

A sensible strategy against al-Qaeda and others in its ideological terror network begins with recognizing the scope of the threat they pose. Al-Qaeda and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st-century global network.

Is this actually a war? Well, the short answer comes from our enemies. Osama bin Laden's fatwa of Feb. 23, 1998, was a declaration of war, a self-serving accusation that America had somehow declared war on Islam, followed by a "ruling" to "kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military . . . in any country where it is possible to do it."...

Dr Jack
04-22-2007, 08:46 PM
Here's the original column by Zbigniew Brzezinski that Secretary Chertoff refers to:


The "war on terror" has created a culture of fear in America. The Bush administration's elevation of these three words into a national mantra since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact on American democracy, on America's psyche and on U.S. standing in the world. Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability to effectively confront the real challenges we face from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound -- is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves. The phrase itself is meaningless. It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies. Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare -- political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

LT GEN (Ret) Paul Van Riper offered remarks at the Middle East Institute’s Boardroom in Washington, DC on March 6, 2007 entitled "A Military Perpective on the Emerging Global Security Environment."


From the conference report:

He (LT GEN Van Riper) went on to argue that the “Global War on Terror” is a misnomer and that the current conflict should instead be understood as a campaign against a “Global Islamist Insurgency.” The term “War on Terror” implies that the US is conducting a broad struggle against a methodology, “terror,” while the label “Global Islamist Insurgency” much more accurately describes the nature of the threat that the US faces. Lt. Gen. Van Riper also found fault with the label “global,” as the last truly global war was World War II. During the Second World War, the entire American population was mobilized; this is in contrast to the current situation where the Marines and Army are at war, but “Americans are at the mall.” The general population knows comparatively little about the current war. This lack of public knowledge and engagement in the conflict exemplifies the problem with the term “global.” If the nation itself is not at war, then the conflict that is taking place cannot truly be considered global.

04-23-2007, 07:12 AM
And, in the "real world", a politician who declares a war on a "Global Islamist Insurgency" would be committing political, and possibly even actual, suicide.

Fortunately for them, political pundits are not restricted to the same rules that political leaders must follow.

04-24-2007, 07:04 AM
24 April NY Times - U.S. Command Shortens Life of ‘Long War’ as a Reference (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/24/washington/24policy.html) by Michael Gordon.

When the Bush administration has sought to explain its strategy for fighting terrorism, it has often said the United States is involved in a “long war” against Islamic extremists.

The phrase was coined by Gen. John P. Abizaid before he retired as head of the Central Command. It was intended to signal to the American public that the country was involved in a lengthy struggle that went well beyond the war in Iraq and was political as well as military.

It would be a test of wills against “Islamofascism,” as President Bush once put it. It would also be a historic challenge that spanned generations much like the battles against Communism.

As it turned out, however, the long war turned out to be surprisingly short-lived, at least at the command that pioneered the term. After taking over last month as the head of Central Command, Adm. William J. Fallon quietly retired the phrase...

04-24-2007, 05:22 PM
Admiral Fallon is tacking to the political winds, which have shifted left here and in the UK as insiders in the Democratic and Labor party as well as the larger international relations elite hope that forcing a change of nomenclature will allow a quiet tightening of the military ROE to discourage " aggressive" engagement of terrorists and move al Qaida and related groups off the public's news radar.

It is a forlorn hope. The greater MENA belt of states are not weathering globalization very well, or demographic changes, or economic liberalization, or political liberalization...or..or..or ad infinitum. Except for a few bright spots, the region is awash in potential failed states and pent-up frustrations of underemployed young men from good families with educations that they cannot use on top of legions of semi-illiterates for whom the future holds even less.

This societal disintegration intersects with the increasing ideological radicalization of each "generation" of Islamist terrorists and religious militants already gravitating to strong Takfiri positions. What's next ? Apocalyptic Mahdism ?

Changing labels to reduce friction is one thing, searching for euphamisms to deny reality for short-term political dividends courts disaster down the road. Islamist movements may not represent an existential challenge in the same sense as did Moscow, but as a threat it is serious enough. It is also here to stay.

04-24-2007, 05:40 PM
Beats "Islamofascism (http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/08/10/washington.terror.plot/index.html)" and other stupidities.

04-26-2007, 06:44 PM
...those engaged in not liking us, or how about those struggling to reconcile differences with the West? Both sound culturally relevant, even lovely to me. If Bush doesn't veto the bill just passed by the Senate, we can call them the Unbeatables. Binny and the Unbeatables, a new name for AQ and those actively engaged in supporting his ideology, but it almost sounds like a heavy metal band. You have to admit the names makes it easier to pretend such people can be marginalized, even negotiated with and dealt with in a civilized manner.