Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The War on Terror and the "Good War"

World War II is remembered nostalgically as "The Good War." The reference is to the essential goodness in the cause for which Americans were fighting in the 1940s: The utter destruction of fascist totalitarianism and its threat to world freedom. The U.S. is engaged in no less of a Manichaean struggle today, although sometimes the Bush administration's public relations strategy has not been effective enough in selling that point (see Melvin Laird's argument to this effect). Jules Crittenden has an essay up today at the Boston Herald arguing that the enemies of the Bush foreign policy have taken advantage of the adminstration's (early) laid-back approach to selling the global war on terror. It's a very interesting piece. Here's the opening:

Some people just don’t get it. Five years on, some people remain unaware that this is war; that we are facing an enemy that will do anything in its power to destroy us. The fact that on any given day we are free to fly around the world, drive our cars without restriction and buy as much food as we like in rich variety seems to have confused them. The lack of U-boats attacking the shipping lanes has lulled some people into thinking this is not actually a war. Not a real war, certainly not a good war, not like World War II. They mock the very notion that it is a war, having fun with the name “Global War on Terror.” They put forward the notion that, like almost everything else in our American lives, this thing that has been called a war is a choice. A bad choice. Who can blame them? Even fighting in this war, unlike most of the great wars our that threatened our existence in the past, is a choice made by a small percentage of Americans who have joined the Armed Forces. George Bush, while announcing that we were at war five years ago, made a decision to encourage Americans to go about their business as usual. Rather than mobilizing the country for war, he decided he could fight this unconventional war by unconventional means, and with the forces already at hand. Normalcy had its uses as a weapon. It showed that our enemy could not hobble us. In other respects, it was a mistake. With our military now hyperextended in Iraq, we could use an army twice as large or even larger. Our enemies are emboldened by the belief that we are tied down in Iraq. Iran, correctly identified by Bush as an evil menace, is doing everything it can to live up to that reputation. Somalia, which we walked away from under Bill Clinton, is now under the control of al-Qaeda sympathizers. Syria, at best, turns a blind eye to the terrorists who torment Iraq. The Taliban in Afghanistan have stepped up operations to an unprecedented level in an effort to destablize that country. Bush chose not to treat this as total war, insisting it could be done with some finetuning of the resources at hand. His domestic opposition has taken that idea several steps farther, insisting Islamic terrorism is a police problem that does not require military force and certainly not the suspension of some legal niceties. After all, they do not consider it an actual war of the sort faced by Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt when they destroyed cities and imprisoned anyone who threatened the security of the nation.
It is an actual war, of course, and our progress in Iraq and elsewhere is bringing positive change, despite the efforts of the mainstream media to sabotage the way forward.


Brad said...

"The U.S. is engaged in no less of a Manichaean struggle today..."

That's almost funny. Is this a parody of those right-wingnut sites?

Oh, wait...

Donald Douglas said...

Brad, you're funny. Thanks for the visit and do come again.