Tuesday, November 21, 2006

War on Terrorism Doomed to Failure?

Patrick Seale in Al-Hayat (Nov 17, 2006) notes that Dr Louise Richardson, in a recent book, What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat, has written what many others of us have been saying - shouting into the wind - for some time: "'The declaration of a global war on terrorism has been a terrible mistake and is doomed to failure.'" The difference now is that this desperate assertion is finally getting a hearing. Seale points out that finally there is now a discussion in the decision making circles about the condition of the world after six years of Bush II's foreign policy. At least now the nature of the situation can be discussed, now that no one is claiming that the "liberal media" have exaggerated the problem. Seale also quotes George Soros: "The war on terror cannot be won." Rather, "an endless war against an unseen enemy is doing great damage to our power and prestige abroad and to our open society at home. It has led to a dangerous extension of executive powers; it has tarnished our adherence to universal human rights; it has inhibited the critical process that is at the heart of an open society; and it has cost a lot of money."
What to do about so great a disaster is, finally, the new question. U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of US forces in the Middle East, says he has the answer: the solution is to fight it out in Iraq. This he declared in congressional committees last Wednesday. But at the same time he rejected calls to either boost U.S. troop levels to quell the violence or to start a phased withdrawal from Iraq. And in a speech last Friday he said that if the world does not find a way to stem the rise of Islamic militancy, it will face a third world war.
Dangerous as the situation is, as he presents it, he doesn't want to increase the level of US commitment to Iraq. That seems like more of the same: On the one hand our leaders tell us that the situation is desperate; on the other hand they don't want to make the kind of commitment that would be necessary to deal with a situation so desperate that it could lead to world war III. Given such doublemindedness, what hope is there that a serious commitment will be made to address the ever worsening situation in the Middle East and Central Asia?

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