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15 March 2004

The new front in the war on terror

Yesterday, on one of the news programs (I think it was “Face the
Nation”), Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, in discussing links to Al
Qaeda in the terrorist attacks in Spain, noted, “The–the one thing I
would say is there seem to be growing connections between terrorist

It’s one line in a one-hour program, but it was noteworthy enough to
put on the evening news broadcast in my market (Boston).  And
good political theorist and scientist that I am, I ask, “What does it

Well, we know that this is an administration scrupulous about its control
of message to the press (to the extent that it is now
producing its own “news” segments for local news
).  So it’s
hard to believe that anything is a throw-away comment.

The comment Rumsfeld made immediately struck me as the opening for
next phase of our national war on terror.  We’ve “dealt”
Iraq, we’re supposedly mounting a spring offensive against the
region of Pakistan-Afghanistan to find Osama, and we’ve aggressively
asserted the idea that we will root our terror wherever it

If terror groups are building linkages to one another, then there are
two consequences for American foreign policy and the world. 

  1. We can further expand our presence around the world (at
    theoretically, if not materially or militarily — even our military
    limits).  If all fights are parts of the war on terror, then
    become part of all of them.
  2. Consequently, we can continue to not find Al Qaeda, because we
    will fight a proxy war with people acting at his behest.

What’s funny is that we’ve been to number one before — it greatly
resembles our anti-Communist policy of the Cold War — with a couple
important exceptions.  First, we’re fighting a set of
instead of one.  Yeah, there’s Islamist totalitarianism, but if
link all the terrorist groups together, we’re lumping Islamists with
nationalists with directionless rebels.  Second, unlike with
Communist states that we can arrive at some accommodation with after
negotiation, there’s no one to talk to in the case of
So we’re constantly in a state of playing reaction games, rather than
being able to make initial moves of our own.

Posted in Politicks on 15 March 2004 at 11:26 am by Nate