My mind went into a spin when I first saw it…

02 Oct

I refer to what might seem like excessive optimism in the September Atlantic Monthly: James Fallows, “Declaring Victory”. (Unfortunately, having some years ago been excessively open on their website, Atlantic has now gone too far in the opposite direction, so you must read this article on paper in your library.) What you can read online though is a follow-up summary: Can We Still Declare Victory?.

…Politically motivated violence has been a reality of modern life, and will continue to be so. The news, and where it happened, reinforces this point…

A state of war with no clear end point makes it more likely for a country to overreact in ways that hurt itself, especially by losing the moral high ground that was crucial to America’s victory in the Cold War. It also makes it harder for the country to do the patient work of tracking down, catching, and thwarting the “copycat” groups, since that depends so heavily on relations with allied countries and with sympathetic Muslim groups. Remember: it was police work, surveillance, and patient cultivation of sources that broke the airline bombing ring – not speeches about a state of war.

If Americans lose their heads when they hear of a threat, they do the terrorists’ work for them. They can harm themselves in short- and long-term ways far more than any hostile group could do. The effort to destroy terrorist groups goes on. It is more likely to succeed if the war is over…

So what he is really arguing is that the usefulness of the “War on Terror”, as conceived in Bush’s rhetoric, is over, and ought to be over, as it has probably caused the US more problems than it has set out to solve. This is worth considering.

And now we have in the Sydney Morning Herald a brief account of Bob Woodward’s new book State of Denial, which I am sure will be a good read, but surely the jury is no longer out on this one: George Bush, to whose wagon our John Howard has hitched his star so firmly, is undoubtedly one of the worst presidents the USA has ever had. I have got beyond following day by day, as The Poet does, the latest sorry chapter in his reign. What’s the point? Smirking Chimp, which is of course more than a bit partisan, can feed your doubts about Bush any day of the week, as can almost all the Current Affairs sites over there on the right of this page. It is just such a shame the Americans have inflicted Bush and all the other freaks in his baggage train on the rest of us for so long. Come the next election they may make a wiser choice; let’s hope so.

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Posted by on October 2, 2006 in Current affairs, News and Current Affairs, Politics


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