Welcome to the Terrordome

07.14.2005 | Russ Smith | International Affairs, Media Affairs | 2 Comments

It’s not surprising that one of the dumbest comments following the murders in London last week was issued by Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone. Wenner is a canny businessman, a baby-boomer entrepreneur who parlayed his idolatry of rock ’n’ roll stars into wealth and celebrity, but his understanding of politics has always been naive. His first question for a RS interview to newly elected President Bill Clinton in the summer of 1993 was “Are you having fun?”

Contributing to the blog The Huffington Post on July 7, less than 24 hours after al-Qaida bombs took the lives of more than 50 Londoners, Wenner wrote the following.

    Amid all the optimism surrounding Blair, Bono & Geldolf doing Live 8 and G-8, and the award of that most wonderful and pacific of international institutions and global brotherhood—the Olympics—what a grim thing to have happened. Violence rarely gets us anywhere; the PLO, the IRA, the SLA, among others have achieved so little with their terrorism. If the London bombings are the work of an Al Qaeda offshoot, then you have to fairly say, in the same way we condemn other’s terror, this is in part the result of Bush’s War on Iraq.

Never mind that the 1972 Olympic games in Munich were hardly “pacific,” or that Bob Geldolf’s pop extravaganza to raise awareness about poverty in Africa was a well-intentioned but ultimately fruitless feel-good exercise. Rather, it’s the narrow-minded and reflexive view of Wenner, and indeed a majority of left-wingers, that “Bush’s war” in Iraq is the sole reason people are slaughtered by jihadists, that is simplistic.

As I recall, the first (and mostly botched) attack on New York’s World Trade Center occurred in 1993, when Clinton was president and the United States wasn’t at war with any country. In addition, during the ’90s, the terrorist attacks in Kenya, Nairobi, and the U.S.S. Cole were carried out by fanatics who hated the Western world’s culture, not a specific Washington administration.

What do Wenner and his political soul mates believe was the cause of the Sept. 11 devastation? Oh, I forgot: Bush was at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, clearing brush instead of heeding “chatter” gathered by intelligence agencies.

Similarly, the elite media are in a hand-wringing dither about the latest atrocities. Consider the lead two paragraphs of Julie Hirschfeld Davis’ July 8 Sun news account, headlined “Attacks could build Bush’s support.” She writes: “For President Bush, who has made fighting terrorism a driving focus of his presidency, the London bombings were a brutal illustration of his frequent admonition that ‘the war on terror goes on.’

“But the attack in Britain, the closest U.S. ally, also pointed up a harsh reality for Bush: that four years after 9/11 and his declaration of war on terrorism, Western democracies remain vulnerable to incidents on their own soil.”

At first glance, those words might seem bland, even perfunctory, but in reality they display a deep misunderstanding of all that Bush, and his administration, have said for the past four years. The president never claimed that his foreign policy could possibly end terrorism during his White House tenure. After the end of World War II, America was engaged in a decades long “cold war” with the Soviet Union; the first part of the 21st century will surely be defined, at least politically and militarily, by the war against terrorists.

Let’s ignore, for the sake of argument, the vocal critics of the president who blindly hate Bush and oppose, automatically, any action, no matter how benign, the administration takes. So forget Michael Moore, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Maxine Waters, Whoopi Goldberg, New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman, and nearly anyone who writes for The Nation.

Concentrate instead on the very sizable number of generally reasonable citizens, mostly Democrats but not exclusively so, who are simply muddleheaded when the topic of how the U.S. should conduct itself in a shrinking, combustible world comes up. Their starting point is invariably Iraq, a “quagmire” they find so painfully unpleasant and inextricable that they just want immediate withdrawal, ignoring that such a pullout would vastly increase the death, destruction, and terrorism in the Middle East and beyond.

It’s often said that Bush should have concentrated solely on the capture of Osama bin Laden, and left Saddam Hussein in power, despite the fact that the latter was not only paying off the families of Palestinian suicide bombers $25,000 for the murder of Israelis, but still brazenly defying sanctions imposed by the United Nations as well. Does anyone really believe, objectively, that Saddam, still in control, wouldn’t just be marking time to wreak havoc against the West in general, and Israel in particular?

Bush’s audacious foreign policy, which has tipped over the traditional playing board in the Middle East, won’t be realized during his second term. And perhaps it will be in vain. But his defiant stand in taking the war to the jihadists, on their home turf, is far more courageous—morally and politically—than doing nothing aside from chasing bin Laden and hoping that everything will turn out OK.

Dear Sirs,

I find Mr. Smith's reading of Jan Wiener's article quiet disingenuous. Mr. Wiener use "pacific" was clearly referring to the peaceful events preceding the terrorist attacks in London and not to the terrorist organizations, which he listed afterwards.

The general point that Mr. Wiener was attempting to make, that these bombings where instigated by the war in Iraq, can be made either narrowly or broadly.

Broadly argued, the war in Iraq has set a tone of chaos and horror, by diverting important reasorces and attention from protecting our populations. This has allowed terrorist organizations to more easily fund raise from those who would otherwise not give monies and recruit mentally ill individuals for these operations.

Narrowly argued it now appears that four, if not more, of these terrorists were British nationals. Of particular discomfort is Mohammad Sidique Khan, a highly regarded and respected teaching assistant with a wife and daughter. It is highly unlikely that these men represent some deep sleeper cell but were instead motivated by the war in Iraq in some part and mental deficiency in another. I know this because I get my news from news sources and not from the Drudge Report.

Mr. Smith's general argument, which has followed that of Tony Blair's seems quite unlikely in view of the facts as we now know them. More unlikely still, since the CIA has also said that the war in Iraq has increased and not decreased the chances of a terrorist strike.

But let us not allow facts or analysis get in the way. Shall we just say that the terrorists have now taken the war to us?
07.14.2005 | Chester Careworth
The problem with Bush isn't that he's taking the fight to the enemy. This would be done by any president following September 11th 2001. Rather it is the fact that Bush is both concentrating our forces in the wrong part of the world, and also that he's basically orchestrating a defeat.

Let me remind you Mr. Smith that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda top brass are hiding in Afghanistan and Pakistan. President Bush has successfully routed the Taliban for a short period only to then pull the majority of the troops out of the country, and in effect given it up to a Taliban/Al-Qaeda counter attack.
While Saddam Hussain has been a minor irritant to the US in the 90s, it is actually Saudi-Arabia and Iran that fund, train and arm most militant Shiite and Sunni fanatics around the world. Yet President Bush is far less than couragous in confronting them.
Finally, President Bush has yet to fire and replace the incompetent Donald Rumsfeld who, if left to his own design, would have sent 65,000 troops to Iraq (less than half of the current deployment). How can you seriously view Iraq as a military success. Maybe you haven't served in the military (like Bush and Chenney) or served shortly as an aviator (like Rumsfeld). But wars are determined on the ground, and not in the air, as most insurgents do not fly. Yet, thanks to President's Bush's lack of courage to call this a war and resume the draft, we now face a certain defeat in Iraq. Such a defeat will be a huge boost to the terrorist cause rather than that of the West. By undermanning, ill-training, under-arming, and under-armoring our military President Bush has produced a self-fulfilling prophecy - Iraq now IS full of Jihad driven terrorist.
07.18.2005 | Doug Danner

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