It’s just a word

Last Sunday the Washington Post published a poorly argued op-ed critique of Zbignew Brzezinski’s claim that the “war on terror” is anything but. Now the Hoover Institute’s V.D.Hanson shows that he can do Chertoff one better. He can claim that those who reject the term or the metaphor for the war on terror want thereby to abandon the efforts against terrorists. He writes:

> Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, goes further, assuring us that we are terrorized mostly by the false idea of a war on terror — not the jihadists themselves.

>Even one-time neo-conservative Francis Fukuyama, who called for the preemptive removal of Saddam Hussein in 1998, believes “war” is the “wrong metaphor” for our struggle against terrorists.

>Others point out that motley Islamic terrorists lack the resources of the Nazi Wehrmacht or the Soviet Union.

>This thinking may seem understandable given the ineffectiveness of Al Qaeda to kill many Americans after Sept. 11. Or it may also reflect hopes that if we only leave Iraq, radical Islam would wither away. But it is dead wrong for a number of reasons.

>First, Islamic terrorists plotting attacks are arrested periodically in Europe and the United States. Last week, a leaked British report detailed Al Qaeda’s plans for future “large-scale” operations. We shouldn’t be blamed for being alarmist when our alarmism has resulted in our safety at home for the past five years.

How stupid is that? If we have learned anything–which we obviously haven’t–terrorists are not dissuaded by firey rhetoric and Churchillian war metaphors. One might even argue that they are inspired by the privilege of waging war with us. Perhaps we should just let them be the criminal thugs they are and let the police deal with them.

3 thoughts on “It’s just a word”

  1. i know you’ve hit this before, but for a historian, hanson’s history is pretty spotty. witness the carnage:

    “Second, have we forgotten that Nazi Germany was never able to kill 3,000 Americans on our homeland?”

    no, but every june, we remember when they did so on the shores of Normandy and the streets of Europe.

    “Did Japan ever destroy 16 acres in Manhattan or hit the nerve center of the U.S. military?”

    okay this is just too easy. the answer to the first part is no, obviously, but i guess hanson has never heard of PEARL HARBOR, where the “nerve center” of the Navy (which, at the time, was pretty much the nerve center for the Marines, the Air Corps, and the Army amphib units–in short, the U.S. military), the Pacific Fleet, was severely crippled.

    more importantly, he uses his own version of history to bolster the case for continued preemptive war. it’s intellectually dishonest and borderline disrespectful to parade WWII as the moral justification for a war arrived at via lies, continued by bully pulpit politics, and prolonged by people to preoccupied with their own legacies to admit their mistakes.

  2. holy. crap. second time through, i finally caught the last line’s real power. get this:

    ” until…we end their oil stranglehold over the world economy.”

    finalmente! a conservative jagbag has finally brought himself to admit the realt reason we have been fighting this war since 1991–we want our own little oil cabal in the middle of the desert.

  3. As I look over the original post perhaps it’s not super clear that he’s suggesting that those who want to change the language and conceptual framework of the war on terror are somehow not every bit as motivated by concerns for public safety. Al Qaeda’s planning attacks doesn’t vindicate Hanson’s point. It merely underscores his failure to comprehend Brzezinski’s.

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